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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Friday, November 15, 2019

I'd Rather Have the Blues (#BOTB)


Ho, ho, ho and all that nonsensical holiday stuff.   Hard to believe that Thanksgiving 2019 is upon us and soon Christmas 2019 will be just another memory.  Time to be happy everyone!



Blue (or is it "Blah") Christmas

      I'm in no mood for holiday seasons or joyful times of gathering together to celebrate.   It's not that I'm particularly unhappy or sad in any way.  I'm just not in the spirit of things.  Not planning to go anywhere this year and not even interested in doing any festive decorating.  Just have to put it all away again when the new year comes.

      No, I don't have the blues.  I guess it's more like the blahs.  Maybe the blues would be better?  At least it would mean feeling something.

       But feelings be damned!   Give me logic any day.  Feelings just get us in trouble, lead us to do dumb things.   Maybe if we all relied less on feelings and more on logic then maybe the world would make more sense.   Everything seems so crazy and lacking sense these days.

         But blahs don't inspire much.  Maybe I'd rather have the blues...



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 there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle excepting over these summer months.   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.


I"d Rather Have the Blues

        One of my favorite films is the 1955 noir classic Kiss Me Deadly.   This ominous classic has provided inspiration to many films that came after it including Tarantino's Pulp FictionKiss Me Deadly is a film that I didn't see for the first time until sometime in the 90's (after reading about it in a review of Pulp Fiction).  It's now among the films that I added to my DVD collection and find myself watching periodically.  I would rank this high in my list of favorite movies.

           As the film opens, tough guy L.A. detective Mike Hammer is driving a lonely stretch of road at night when he encounters a barely dressed woman running in the middle of the highway.  He picks her up and the mysteries begin.  As the opening credits roll across dark highway scenes, we hear on the car radio a melancholy song by Nat King Cole which I offer for your listening enjoyment, but please don't vote on this version.  Other artists usually don't do too well when put up against Cole, but you might want to hear this original version before moving on to the Battle...





....and now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's move on to the contestants in this episode of Battle of the Bands...

Please vote for one of the following:

Lauren White   "I'd Rather Have the Blues"   (2016)

      Lauren is a jazz singer and actress who currently lives in Los Angeles.   I wonder if she's got the blahs like I've got of late in my L.A. life?  Nah--I doubt it...






Pat Dinizio   "I'd Rather Have the Blues"   (1997)

        Singer Pat Dinizio was a founding member of The Smithereens.  I used to listen to them back in the nineties I guess.  Dinizio died in 2017.   Maybe right now he'd rather have the blues...










Time to Vote!

    
    Are you as torn between these two versions as I am?  D
o you have a preference between these two choices?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind. Which version do you like the best?   You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

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


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

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside 

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Friday November 22nd

         Take some time to savor these luscious recordings and come to a decision on your favorite.  Inquiring minds want to know.  And so do I...

            How's the spirit of the holiday season creeping up on you this year?   Are you ready for some big times?   Would you prefer to be snowed in with complete provisions for comfortable living in a nice cabin in the mountains?















Friday, November 8, 2019

End of the Road Battle ( #BOTB Results )




Not much to say today so I won't say much except who won the Battle of the Bands....





Battle of the Bands Results



         My most recent Battle was between two versions of a song called "Road to Cairo" which was written by David Ackles who was also the first contender.  The second version was by Julie Driscoll backed by Brian Auger and the Trinity. 

         As some of you also said, it was a close choice.  I would have been fine with either as a winner and at first it was a real horse race.  My vote for David Ackles didn't affect the win much as he clearly was the front runner with no help from me...

Final Vote Tally

David Ackles                 13 votes

Brian Auger & Co.           8 votes




Next Battle on Friday November 15th

       I'm not writing any novel, but I've got plenty to keep me busy!  How about you?








Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A Stickler for Detail ( #IWSG )



Have you ever read a story where the author has made some glaring errors that made you lose all credibility in the story being told?  I don't want to be that author...




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 November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!




November 6 question - What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

 It's All in the Details
        
         As I had mentioned in my previous post (which is a Battle of the Bands post if you'd be so kind to visit and vote), my last successful attempt at doing NaNoWriMo was in 2010 when I wrote a science fiction novel called Time Light.  Even though the story is science fiction, it takes place in 1965 Chicago.  Written in diary entry form, I was dealing with actual dates and places in history so it was important (to me at least) to be as accurate as I could in every way.

         In order to achieve accuracy, I spent hours on Google looking up places, police procedures and equipment, the daily weather conditions, transportation routes (bus and rail, etc), and even what was playing on television on certain specific days.  Anything that begged for a detail in the story that could potentially (though probably not likely) be questioned by a reader in the know was meticulously researched so that any reader could accept what I was saying as possibly real.  

         A reader like I often tend to be needs to be convinced that the story one is investing in has a reasonable degree of credibility.   A single glaring error or inconsistency might put into question other elements of the written work which can detract from reading pleasure.

          Though it would be unlikely that many (if any at all) would question the daily weather in a story that has real dates and times, my researching of the weather conditions was one my stranger Google searches.  Fortunately, I found numerous resources available on line with weather records dating back to further than my interests necessitated in this case.  The weather for the  year 1965 is well documented in numerous sites.

          I realize that this sort of detail might seem rather trivial and nonessential to many, but for me it was important.  As I was conceiving the story I was also living it in my mind so that every detail had to make me feel like I was there.  If it worked for me then hopefully it would work even for the most discerning reader.

           Frequently I've heard writers mention that researching can be fun and I would agree with that.  I love the researching part more than the writing part.  To me, the researching is an essential part of any writing especially when the writer doesn't actually know all the real details or facts.

           What is the strangest thing you've ever googled for a story or some other written work?  Do you strive for the greatest amount of accuracy when you start delving into details?    Why should anyone care about what the weather was in the time period where a story takes place?


Don't forget to vote on my Battle of the Bands!   (click the link to get there)













Friday, November 1, 2019

Road to Cairo ( #Battle of the Bands )



     A fella told me this here road leads to Cairo.  I got to get me a ride.  I got to go back, go back to my children.  I got to see my little bride...


   
       Once again another Halloween is passed as we now approach Christmas with a stopover in Thanksgiving season.  Time is flying, but I'll dispense with that cliche.  Besides I've said it before in blog posts of past years--and you may very well have too.

         However, I will acknowledge this November season when so many of you may be participating (or, like me, in the past have participated) in National Novel Writing Month.  Good luck to all of you who will be making this attempt at writing yet another--or a first--novel.

          I'll be sitting this one out as I have in the past few years.  Writing a novel is currently not at the forefront of my agendas. It's not so much that I've lost interest in writing a novel, but there are other things that I want to focus on for now.

        I finished two NANO novels in the past, one being in 2010 a science fiction story called Time Light.  Most of that story takes place in 1965 Chicago.  At one point the action diverts to a road trip down to Cairo, Illinois.  So, in honor of NANO and one of my own attempts, comes another 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 there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle excepting over these summer months.   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.


David Ackles   "Road to Cairo"  (1968)

         Typically I wouldn't use an original version by an artist, but since David Ackles is probably unknown to many of you, I don't mind starting this Battle off with his original version of "Road to Cairo".  I first discovered Ackles when I picked up his self-titled debut album in the cut-out bins.  What a find!  Great performances of some fantastic songs.  Ackles should have been more acclaimed than he was.  See what you think of his version of this song...






Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity  "Road to Cairo"  (1968)

         Who could top the David Ackles version?   Maybe this version.  This was released a few months after David Ackles came out with his version.  I've been a big fan of Brian Auger since 1969 when I saw his group with Julie Driscoll on the Tom Jones television show.  This is a great version of the Ackles song, but is it as good as Ackles himself?   You decide...





Time to Vote!

    
    Are you as torn between these two versions as I am?  D
o you have a preference between these two choices?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind. Which version do you like the best?   You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

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


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

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside 

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Friday November 8th

         I'll be here, will you?  And I'll also be here on Wednesday the 6th for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Now you novelists--get to writing.  And the rest of you do what you need to do.


Are you writing a novel this November?   Are you writing anything this November?   What are you going to do in November if not writing? 

      





Monday, October 21, 2019

Still Still for the Most Part, But Still Busy ( #BOTB Results )



         Most of us usually hate waiting, but we're always waiting for something.   Even once we get to the front of the line and think that the wait is finally over, we are really just part of that bigger wait of waiting for the next waiting thing to  happen.  That is, of course, until we reach our final resting place, though maybe it would be more appropriate to substitute "resting" with "waiting"...


Can't recall whose birthday this was for--someone in my wife's family in Ecuador I think, but I guess the celebrant is likely gone by now since the photo was taken 11 years ago.

So For Now...

        This week we have my youngest daughter's family visiting.  There's two kids--2 and 11 years of age--and it's been fun seeing them.  Seeing my own daughter at an age that I was some 30 years ago makes me ever more aware of my circumstance of present age.   Then I  think of someone who might be 98 years old like a few of my current friends and realize that I still have 30 years before I get where they are.  Guess I just have to wait and see what happens in my own life.

         There are some math questions in these previous sentences if you feel like figuring them out.  In the meantime I've got to go to a party.  I've taken a few minutes on Saturday morning to compose this post since my weekend may be unpredictable.  Besides, I have written enough for anyone to think about if they inclined to do so.  But then, we all have busy lives even when it doesn't seem that busy...


Battle of the Bands Results





           There has been some general agreement that certain artists are almost sure winners in these Battles.  In other words, it might be a risk to pit a lesser known artist against some powerhouse like Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, or Glen Miller.  Tommy Dorsey probably fits under this description too and my Battle used this artist's version of the song "In the Still of the Night" up against the more modern Neville Brothers.  I guess I should have known Tommy Dorsey would be the favorite, but in the end it all evened out.

         Still, I like the Neville Brothers version so much that I thought they might have a chance in this Battle.  That is the version that I voted for--I mean it's such a nice laid back flowing version of the song.  And considering the contest, it was not a bad outcome at all...

Final Vote Tally

Tommy Dorsey             9

Neville Brothers           9



Next Battle on Friday November 1

         I'm not doing NaNoWriMo again this year just as I have not done it since many years ago.  Some of you might, and if so, I wish you well.  So, everyone have a happy Halloween--I probably won't be doing that either--and see you here again on Friday November 1st!


             What is the thing you seem to spend most time waiting for?   Would you rather hold the place in line for someone else or only for your self?    How many people do you know who are over 90?  





     


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

In the Still of the Night (#BOTB)

Forget about a Liberal Arts education if you really want to be useful in this world.  Learn a trade or something in the medical profession.  A solid knowledge of computers is valuable.  I wish I'd known all this way back when...

Fall colors in Tennessee trees (photo by Arlee Bird)


           The last time I posted on this site I mentioned that my computer had died and I was looking for a new one.   I'm still going to be looking, but--wonder of wonders--my Lenovo desktop that I've had for the past seven years decided to return to the world of the living (and the blogging).  Not sure what happened, but I guess I've been granted a reprieve for the time being.

         Maybe there's something symbolic or metaphorical here, but I'll just settle for stuff happening in the mysterious (to me) world of computers.  I still want another computer though.  For now there's no hurry.  Instead, in this lull of computer concerns, I'll have another Battle of the Bands.  What better way to pass time in this still of the night...


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.


In the Still of the Night


          In the Still of the Night was written by Cole Porter for the 1937 film Rosalie.  Originally sung in the film by Nelson Eddy, the song has been recorded by many artists since.


Tommy Dorsey Orchestra   "In the Still of the Night"  (1937)

          Here's one of those BOTB candidates that might be a tough one to beat.  I know there are more than a few big band fans out there.  I dedicate this Battle to you.   This recording first hit the pop charts on October 16, 1937--82 years ago!  The recording eventually peaked at number 3 on the hit charts.  Is it a hit with you?





Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers "In the Still of the Night"  (1990)

         When I first heard this version it was on an ABC television special that coincided with the album release of  Red Hot + Blue, which was to raise awareness and benefit AIDS.  The songs on the album were versions of Cole Porter tunes done by several popular artists.  The Neville Brothers blew me away with their version.  I thought Aaron Neville had the voice of an angel.  Still sounds good to me.  How about you? 







Time to Vote!

        Okay, don't just sit there being still.  Get busy and vote!  Which version 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 October 21st

         In the meantime I'm going to be enjoying some visiting family in the upcoming week, but I'll try my best to make it for my results post.  That is, computer willing.  I'll still be a bit on edge with this computer thing.  But that's okay.  Things always seem to work out somehow.

           Do you think a college education is a necessity in today's world?   If you were (are) considering going (back) to college, what would you likely major in?  Has fall weather come to your town yet?









Monday, October 7, 2019

Computer Connection? ( #BOTB Results )



       I'll be keeping this post short and basic.   Looks like my Lenovo desktop computer has gone kaput.   I really can't complain since I inherited it from my late stepfather in 2012 and he'd had it for a couple years prior to that.  I guess I shouldn't complain about a good computer that has given me seven years of reliable service.  I'm going to miss that good old computer.

      For now I'm using my wife's computer, but that is going to have to be a very short term solution.  My old notebook computer kind of ground to an interminable state of slowness and is no longer functional.   I guess that means New Computer Time!  Any suggestions?

      What I want to find is not only a basic warhorse for composing blog posts, looking up stuff, taking care of business, and checking emails, but also something good for doing home music recording and some video editing.  Currently I'm doing research regarding this, but any input from those in the know might be helpful.

       Any thoughts?  In the meantime my online activity will be drastically curtailed until I find the best solution for me.  Maybe if this crash was destined to happen then this might have been a good time for it.  Still, I'd rather not have to deal with this expense and computer search.

       C'est la vie!

Rainbow Connection Battle

         My most recent Battle was between The Carpenters and Willie Nelson performing The Muppet Movie song "Rainbow Connection".   What a great turnout for a fight to the finish Battle!  At first it looked like Willie was going to take a handy win and then the Muppet fan club must have entered the fray to bring them up to the leader. 

         As some of you also indicated, The Carpenters did a lovely version though it was a bit saccharine like sugar infused maple sugar on sweet hotcakes.  That was my take as well.  I thought Willie gave a more genuine performance that exuded more sentiment than sweetness.  My vote goes to Willie and that brought the final tally to a tie vote.   I'm okay with that since that means the race was pretty even...



Final Vote Tally

The Carpenters                13

Willie Nelson                   13



Next Battle on Tuesday October 15th

         Well, this will happen hopefully as long as I can resolve my computer situation.  I will do what I can until then.  Why can't they just make computers that last forever...

          What kind of computer do you use?   How long have you been using it?   Where have you found to be the best place to buy a good new computer?


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Rainbow Connection (#BOTB) ( #IWSG )

"I've heard that story before--a lot. Every time I hear it, there might be a few variations, but it's still basically the same story.  A good story is always worth retelling..."
                --a possible character from some future work I might write?


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 October 2 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!




October 2 question - It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?


           As I typically try to approach things, I'm going to address this question with logic--or what seems most logical to me.  Using the old philosophical position that art imitates life, we might further extend it to a simpler concept that simply says "Art imitates".  Art is essentially the reproduction of that which has been seen or imagined.

           Monkey see, monkey do is the beginning of the process of learning and creating.  Learning to write and learning to read go hand in hand.  One cannot learn to write without first learning to read. And then there are the rules that must be learned so that we are all reading and writing from the same or a similar fundamental perspective.  Reading provides us with a sense of the rules of language and gives us examples of the ways in which other experienced writers use language.

          When we read more, we learn more and gain more experience.  We establish our voice by reading and hearing the voices of others.  We build our world upon the worlds others have built before us and with the help of those building the world around us.  By reading we keep up with trends in the literary market (good business sense) and try on the voices of others in order to further develop our own voice (good artistic strategy).  

          We should never stop reading because then our writing voice and idea development can stagnate.  If we stop our reading at our last favorite book then we are more likely to parrot that book rather than amalgamating many ideas, concepts and styles into something that is more true to who we are as writers.  Reading what others have written is perhaps comparable to a writing education in which we learn what exactly appeals most to us as writers.
       
          It's kind of like the song from The Muppet Movie where Kermit ponders the question: "Why are there so many songs about rainbows?"  We all have seen rainbows and the impact on each of us is our unique experience.  And when we've seen one rainbow we don't mind looking at the next one.

        Which brings us to a Battle of the Bands match using versions of Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection"...

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.

Rainbow Connection

       This song was written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher for the 1979 film The Muppet Movie.  In the film the song is sung by Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) and has since been recorded by numerous artists.   I dedicate this Battle to our BOTB "host" Stephen T. McCarthy as I know he likes both of the artists I'm using.  For me this is a very tough choice as each artist brings their own special touch to the song.

        I also dedicate this Battle to all of the dreamers out there which means all of us.  If we aren't dreaming, we aren't living...


The Carpenters    "Rainbow Connection"  (1981)




Willie Nelson  "Rainbow Connection"   (2001)








Time to Vote!

        Now it's time for the music connection.  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 October 7th

          I'll be tallying the votes on Sunday so you've got a few days to get yours in.  But don't delay!  Vote now!

           What types of literature do you predominately read?   What do you tend to avoid reading?  For those who write, does reading the works of others tend to lead you to imitation or inspiration?