This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

The Challenge of 2019 was the 10th! Since this was kind of a milestone year for A to Z my theme was a retrospective of sorts, looking at my 10 years as a blogger as well as ruminations about my life as it is and as I hope it yet can be. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me for this part of my journey...

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

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Can't Take My Eyes Off of You ( #BOTB )


        Other people are a favorite pastime for most of us.  We like to see what others are doing.  Just think if there were no people on television.  It would be like looking out a window at a view that was always changing, but without people it would likely soon get old--and wordless....

     
A cool scene for a hot day:  Skating at Ober Gatlnburg in the Smoky Mountains
Who You Lookin' At

         Who doesn't like people watching?  We watch others for entertainment, satisfying curiosity, or instruction. YouTube is filled with videos of people doing nutty or endearing things.  It's become a go to site for me when I want to watch how others do something like household chores or simple repairs that I might want to attempt on my own.  If I can see somebody else do it then I figure I can possibly do it as well.

        Then, there are those objects of fixation, admiration, or adoration. It might be your spouse, kids, pet, car, or whatever it is that you want to have for your own The desire can sometimes be so strong that it can work adversely against us. Perhaps you can recall some instance in your own life of wanting someone or something so badly that it can lead to feelings of despondency or even reckless behavior.

         In other cases, our focus on something might help us to become better as we continue to strive to obtain that which we achingly long for.  We practice, we work, we write, and we dream.

           Or we might just have a Battle of the Bands...
       

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.


Can't Take My Eyes Off of You

         My Battle theme for this month is eyes.  The previous Battle featured "Eye in the Sky" which is essentially about watching someone for the purpose of spying on their thoughts and actions. In this next Battle we'll look at two very different versions of the song "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" which was originally a big hit for Frankie Valli of the vocal group The Four Seasons.   You've undoubtedly heard this original version (don't vote on it please!) and if not, you've surely heard some version of this song which has been recorded numerous times and appeared often in films, etc.  This classic is a true standard tune of our times.

        In the following Battle we'll compare two very different sounding as well as different approaches to this hit.  One of these you will likely be unfamiliar with while the other was a big hit in the nineties.  I actually own the albums where each of these versions first appeared so I'm a fan of both.  However, I like one better than the other.  Which do you like best?


Daniel Amos  "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"   (1995)

         Daniel Amos is the name of a contemporary Christian rock group that first appeared on the scene in 1974.   Under the leadership of Terry Scott Taylor,the group and its members have recorded numerous albums to this day not only as Daniel Amos, but also in various other guises.  To me, Taylor is a music genius and his group and solo projects are among my favorites.  Though they usually do original tunes, in this case they performed this cover.  In Taylor's approach here the song is sung almost as a hymn of adoration to God...





Lauryn Hill   "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"   (1998)

        Formerly with the hip-hop group The Fugees, Lauryn Hill parted ways to release the highly acclaimed monster hit album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill which is where her version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" first appeared. She takes a pretty radical approach to the tune and I think it works very well. What do you think?....








Time to Vote!

        Now all eyes are on you!  Which artist do you like best?   Pick one and have some fun!  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

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'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 Monday September 23
          As we head into fall, I'll announce the results of the final Battle of the summer of 2019.  I don't even want to think about winter right now.  It seems like January was just a few weeks ago.  Time is careening at an unbelievable speed!

           These days, what is the focus of your greatest love, admiration, or attention?  In your younger days did you ever fall under the affliction of "puppy love"?    Do you have a secret love that you dare not tell anyone about (except here of course)?  


         


Monday, September 9, 2019

The Eyes Have It ( #BOTB Results )


         Who's watching you?  Who are you watching?  I'm always keeping my eyes on something or someone.  And if someone's looking at me what should I do about it other than ignore it.  Unless, of course, it becomes too creepy and a bit of disconcerting nuisance.  Then I'm not sure what I'd do since I've never had it happen before--or at least not that I could see...

         One of the creepiest songs that I can think of is "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".   I mean, really--"He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake."  That sounds more like a stalker to me than some benevolent overseeing benefactor who gives us gifts once a year.  And only if we've been good! 

          Something I like to do sometimes when I'm on the computer is go to a street view from Google Maps and start virtually driving some road.  It's amazing how much of the world they've got covered.  One night I lost myself for hours driving through streets of a city in the Philippines. It was almost like being there.  It's more difficult to go down the street where I live. It's in a gated community and I guess the Google mapping vehicles couldn't get in.  At least I have that bit of privacy.

         On occasion I'll see mapping vehicles driving around our area.  They are not just from Google either.  I've seen other companies taking their own pictures.  Then there are those satellite views on Google Maps.  When I look at my neighborhood view I can see my van parked in the driveway when I zoom in.  As I scroll across the page the image appears in 3-D.  I'm pretty sure that if I angled that image just right, I could look in the windows to see inside.  Yes, there I am.  Hi everybody!

         Just think if that satellite view were live streaming.  We'd all be watching each other watch each other.  Great.  Another time-consuming waste of time.  I needed another one of those.


Battle of the Bands Results




          Out of the gate Parralox took a lead in this most recent Battle, but Noa was never too far behind.  The lady did a mighty fine version of "Eye in the Sky" and I did enjoy it a great deal.  However being such a fan of the Parsons original, I preferred the updated electro-pop sound of the Parralox cover and that's who I gave my vote to. 


Final Vote Tally

Parralox     13 votes

Noa             9 votes


Next Battle of the Bands Post on Sunday September 15th

       In fact this will be my next post on this blog or any other.  This next Battle will also be between two covers about "eyes"--a big hit that has been covered many times over the years.  You might guess what it is pretty quickly, but you'll find out for sure on Sunday the 15th.   Don't ever lose focus of what's really important.

           What is one thing that you try to never lose focus of?   Have you ever looked at internet images of your house taken from a mapper or a satellite?   Do you ever drive the virtual streets and highways on Google Maps Streetview?








Wednesday, September 4, 2019

No Place Like--Where? ( #ISWG )


I dream of places, people, things and situations.  I dream by day and I dream by night.  If my dreams turned into shiny gold coins then I'd be a wealthy man.  It could happen you know...
                                                                   Arlee Bird

An East Tennessee Lake scene


The Insecure Writer's Support Group

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





The co-hosts for the September 4 posting of the IWSG are Gwen Gardner,Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!


September 4 question - If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

          Since I consider myself to be a logical person, the answer to this is easy:  If I were to sit down to write I'd prefer to be right here at home at my computer.  When I'm away from home I get so distracted by my surroundings or people I'm with I might never do any writing.  

         If I were to take a retreat for the sole purpose of writing, I'd want a mountain setting like my old home East Tennessee or maybe somewhere in western Virginia--specifically Marion.  But that could be very expensive unless I outright moved there.  So that dream is impractical in my real world.  

        Besides, near my desk and in my home I have my office and all its stuff and my house and all my life stuff.  To be unfettered by such and financially free to travel to an unlimited extent and support my away-from-home lifestyle in a comfortable way, I might want to have a summer place in upstate New York or maybe somewhere in New England.  

           If I were to stay in the western half of the U.S. I might opt for someplace like Sedona Arizona or Colorado Springs.  But there go the distractions.  With so many beautiful places to see in such places I can see the advantage of just staying at home in my urbanity from which I'd prefer not be in traffic and just stay home for the most part.

         ...but wait a minute.  That's what I do all the time.  So why the heck am I not writing my next story?  

            Oh look, there's a squirrel...

        Are you more distracted at home or away?   What fires your imagination most?   Where do you feel more compelled to write?

         If you haven't voted on my current Battle of the Bands I'd be pleased if you'd take a moment to visit here and vote for your favorite song version.   Thanks in advance!







Sunday, September 1, 2019

Eye In the Sky (BOTB)


Why try to keep secrets anymore?  Someone somewhere knows what you've done and where you've been no matter how much you've tried to hide.  Eyes and ears are everywhere...


Eye in the Sky

         Image result for eye in the sky song meaning

      I've written about this 1982 song from Alan Parsons Project a few times on this blog (like here and here for example).   As I've mentioned before, this is one of my all time favorite songs of the rock era.  I still remember the first time I heard it on the radio (June 1982 in the parking lot of a supermarket in Billings Montana) when it blew me away as one of those consummate pop songs that would be around for a long time.  After nearly 40 years it's still a favorite song of mine.

       For quite some time this song has been lingering on my potential Battle of the Bands queue and I figured it was about time that I put this Battle into play.  Let's face it, "eyes" are everywhere and if someone isn't watching us then we are putting ourselves out there on social media for all the world to see.

       Also, since this Battle falls on a Sunday and I often like to go for a song with some spiritual connotation or remotely possible implications, "Eye in the Sky" gives a sense of omnipotence in the lyrics.  The song is not about God per se, but it makes me think.  And it sets up a theme for my two September Sunday Battles...


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.



Parralox  "Eye in the Sky"  (2013)

         If the Alan Parsons version doesn't ring a memory bell with you, then listen to this version by Australian synthpop group Parralox.  I'm sure you'll remember the song since their version is very similar to the original.   Maybe that's where you'd prefer to stay...





Noa   "Eye in the Sky"  (2002)

         From Israel we have the singer known as Noa.  She takes the slower approach in her cover.  I think it's mighty pretty sounding.  What do you think...






Time to Vote!

        Now all eyes are on you!  Which artist do you like best?   Pick one and have some fun!  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

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Monday September 9th

             On Wednesday September 4th I'll be adding my two cents for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, but voting for this current Battle of the Bands will be open until next Sunday the 8th.   Keep your eye on this blog for upcoming developments!

         What aspect of the intrusive nature of modern technology creeps you out most?    Who do you spy on?    Are you bothered by the amount of information other people, businesses, and the government knows about you?         






Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Take Your Percussion and Beat It! ( #BOTB Results )

    I don't know about my own six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, but I know about my personal connection to Paul Kohler and Dennison Jackson--the musicians in my most recent Battle of the Band match.   Here is that story...


       My first years of life were spent in Cleveland, Ohio.  This would have been from 1951-58 when the vaudevillian concept of variety shows took to the dance floors of night clubs across the United States.  Television was becoming an entertainment force with which to contend, but still Americans enjoyed nights out on the town filled with revelry and entertainment.

       During those years my parents worked most weekends in this club circuit performing their juggling act.  As a child I remember hearing the names of certain other performers popping up in my parents' conversations, and on occasion some of these acts would even stop at our house to visit. 

        There were quite a number of nationally known performers living in and around Cleveland at the time.  Over time acts would cross paths and form friendships.  One of my favorite acts was Paul Kohler.  He had established himself as the national xylophone champion in 1937 and had been a hot ticket on the show circuit for many years.

         I was fortunate enough to see Kohler's act on a few occasions.  Being a child at the time, I particularly liked his Christmas show where he would dress up in a bear costume and play his novelty xylophone numbers.  He'd be billed as "The Kohler Bear" and why wouldn't a kid like that?  For me though, his best musical novelty was when he'd play a flashy xylophone (or marimba) with dazzling lights using lighted percussion mallets.  It was pure eye candy combined with musical virtuosity.

          After we moved to San Diego California in 1959 the night club and show circuit basically dried up for my parents   During those few years my father began encouraging my younger sister to enter talent contests in the region.  With a unique act that combined acrobatic dancing with juggling and magic tricks, my sister started winning most every contest she entered.  Eventually her act made it to the top state competition in Sacramento.

          There's not much I remember about that contest that probably was in 1962.  My sister didn't win, but she came out as a finalist.  What I do remember is a teenage drummer who wowed the crowd with his drumming.  Beyond that--and what really captured my appreciation--this drummer had his kit and sticks painted with colorful fluorescent paints which, when the stage lights were doused and the stage was illuminated by black light, created a psychedelic display that drove the audience wild.

          As I figured was his due, that young drummer captured the top place in that talent show.  The name of that drummer was Dennison Jackson and he was the inspiration for my most recent Battle of the Bands...


Battle of the Bands Results



     
            I figured this would be just a silly slow summer Battle, but actually it was one of the closest races I've seen from beginning to end.  Going in I had no idea who would win this pairing and judging from the responses I'd say this was as much a vote on instrument preference as it was on artists talents (which both artists have an abundance of in my opinion).

           Close race that this was I ended up with the deciding vote.  It was a tough one for me, but based on childhood sentiments and a musical preference for xylophone I gave my vote to Paul Kohler...

Final Vote Tally

Paul Kohler                9

Dennison Jackson      8


Next Battle of the Bands on Sunday September 1st

          Yeah, it's almost fall.   I remember having this lament not so seemingly long ago, but it was really a year ago.   No point in saying much more than that.








Thursday, August 15, 2019

hard to beat Battle ( #BOTB ) Kohler vs Jackson


Look out folks cause here it comes:  The clink of the xylophone and the beating of drums!   Are you annoyed yet?...


Image result for rush drum kit
Neil Peart's drum kit. Photo by John Leyba, denverpost.com/reverb

       Over the years I've amassed a number of live concert albums.  Aside from distracting crowd sounds, one of the most dreaded moments for me of any concert recording is the drum solo.  Sometimes they are fantastic with a high level of creativity, but often--for me--it is agonizing filler that I might tend to skip over when it becomes too much for my listening enjoyment.

       For most of us there are likely certain musical instruments that can be grating to us at certain times (or maybe all the time).  I've come to appreciate just about any musical effort by someone who has honed their craft to some degree so I might be more musically tolerant than some of you.  But I can understand where some of you might not want anything but small doses of some instrument like the bagpipes (sorry John Holton).

       A few of you in my previous Battle commented about listening to harp music was something that was preferred in small to very small doses.  I guess this surprised me since I've always found harp music to be rather pleasant and relaxing. Guess it's just not everyone's thing.

         Maybe some of you feel the same about the xylophone. I have a great fondness for the xylophone though there are times when I'm in no mood to hear xylophone--at least not in the forefront of the music.  But a well placed xylophone part in a musical piece can be magical.

          For me, an instrument that you beat (in other words most percussion--and that includes drums and xylophones) can be extremely annoying just like someone beating on my head.  I've listened to  percussion ensemble pieces and I can't say that I'm a big fan.  I admire the skills.  I'm just not buying the record.

          But sometimes a percussion artist can pull off being center stage.  And when they're good they can be a joy to watch.  This "hard to beat" Battle between percussionists has been lingering in my queue for quite some time.  There's actually a story about my connection to these artists, but I'll save that for my Results post since those tend to be short anyway.

          So in the spirit of short music clips for the summer doldrums, hope you enjoy this kind of peculiar Battle...

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.


         No explanations for now.   Here are two clips of two different artists who beat their instruments.  Which performance do you like best?

Paul Kohler on Xylophone  (1951)





Dennison Jackson on Drums (2013)





Time to Vote!

    Enjoy what's left of summer, but first of all whip through this Battle and give us your verdict.  Listen to each video clip and judge solely on what you hear.  Which artist do you like best?   Pick one and have some fun!  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

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Wednesday August 21st

         Don't forget to see which artist grabs the most votes in this match.  And remember, I've got a story to tell about the artists in this Battle.  I guess it's kind of like my six degrees of separation story except it's only one degree.  Come back then.  For now I guess I'll just beat it...

        What musical instrument annoys you most?   What instrument can you listen to just about anytime and for extended periods?   Do you play or have you tried to learn to play any instruments?




Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Surprise, Surprise! ( #IWSG & #BOTB results )

       I've reached a point in my life where not much surprises me other than the things in the world that are out of my control--and really those things shouldn't surprise me much either...


The Insecure Writer's Support Group

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





The co-hosts for the August 7 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood,Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!



August 7 question - Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

        I can't say that my writing has necessarily taken me by surprise at any particular time other than when I've gone back to read writing from 30 or 40 years ago that actually sounds pretty good to me.  But then, I've got strange tastes.  For me, since high school and college, my writing has gone rather dormant.  If not had been for blogging and a couple goes at NaNoWriMo, my writing of the past decade might have been insignificant as in none to not very much. 

         Thanks to blogging I at least feel compelled to write certain things, but it's more like a homework assignment these days than any overpowering desire to write.  It's almost like I've sealed myself in a cocoon and am waiting for some exultative release from an inner funk.  

          Waiting could take forever and I ain't got time for that now...

Battle of the Bands Results



         I figured my recent Battle between Harpo Marx and Robert Maxell performing "From the Land of Sky Blue Water" would be a sweeping win for the zany harp player from the Marx Brothers.  He was my vote (after all, it was his clip that made me search out a competing version for a Battle of the Bands match) and I just kind of assumed that most voters would be inclining toward Harpo over the more obscure Robert Maxwell.

        Boy!  Was I wrong about that!

Final Vote Tally

Harpo Marx             5 votes

Robert Maxwell        11 votes


Next Battle on Thursday August 15th!










Thursday, August 1, 2019

From the Land of Sky Blue Water (#BOTB)

I'm not in Minnesota or even anyplace that might be called "Land of Sky Blue Waters", but considering I'm somewhere in the desert then water sounds pretty good right now...

Random photo that kind of relates to this post but not really.

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.

From the Land of Sky Blue Water

       No, this song is not from the Hamm's beer commercial that I recall hearing when I was a kid.  If you weren't around before 1970 or so, you likely don't remember that jingle which was indeed inspired by the original popular song from 1909. 

        This song first caught my attention a while back when I saw the Marx Brothers' film Go West and immediately wondered, "Is there a Battle of the Bands somewhere in this?"  As things tend to go in this BOTB phase of my blog, yes, there is a Battle to be played starting with the Harpo Marx version of the tune.

Harpo Marx   "From the Land of Sky Blue Water"  (1940)

      I always thought Harpo's harp routines were so clever and well performed from a musical standpoint.  Now this clip might be seen as inappropriate in some ways, but that's what the Marx Brothers were all about, weren't they?   Enjoy this first entry...





Robert Maxwell  "From the Land of Sky Blue Water"  (1962)

        Space-pop novelty jazz artist Robert Maxwell wrote or performed a lot of stuff that you've heard but didn't know what you were listening to.  One of my favorites was the "Song of the Nairobi Trio" which was used in a recurring sketch on "The Ernie Kovacs Show" in the early sixties.  Even though some of the more sophisticated comedy went over my 10 year old head, that show was a big favorite of mine back then.  Recently I saw some episodes on TCM when they were promoting a newly released DVD set that is still available.  I was tempted to get it, but then I look at all the various media I have now and figure I don't need more stuff.

       But enough rambling.   Must be the space age pop music.   Get ready for take off...






Time to Vote!

     Like I said, this is kind of a weird Battle perhaps, but give it a shot if you will.   The video might weigh things in a certain direction, but it's worth watching.  Or just listen to each tune and judge solely on what you hear.  Which artist do you like best?   Pick one and have some fun!  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

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Wednesday August 7th
   
           This will also be my next posting for The Insecure Writers Support Group.  At the moment though I'm not thinking much about writing.  I'm keeping my eyes on the road and my hands upon the wheel and enjoying my last couple days coming home.

         Is coming home one of your favorite parts of a vacation?  Are you an Ernie Kovacs fan?   Do you enjoy zany humor like Kovacs and the Marx Brothers?