This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

This blog is part of my life journey. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me and maybe join in the discussion...

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

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Western Movies ( #BOTB & #IWSG )

         Just tossed this post together quickly so I could toss it out to you...


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 December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Sylvia Ney, Liesbet @ Roaming About Cathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre



December 2 question - Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

       
         Presently this question is rather moot for me since I haven't been doing much writing other than my blog posts.  Same as last year and the year before.  

       Thinking to past times of my life, my writing times were circumstantial.  For several years running, in the span after Christmas and before New Year's Eve,  I would write an epic poem about the previous year of my life.  Spring time of some years seemed to inspire certain fluxes of writing. 

          The influence of certain environmental factors usually prods me to take up the pen--or these days get on my computer.  Maybe it's a period of writing inspired by rain, not so much since I've been in California, but years ago when I lived in Tennessee.

         Or like when I was still in high school.  For some reason I started watching westerns on television.  In the sixties my selection was extremely limited and yet there seemed to be a number of westerns that I watched.  I found these western movies very compelling and apparently something kicked in my writing mind.

         My imagination fueled I started writing not westerns, but stories and songs that somehow were inspired by western movies. I could have watched those shows at any time of the year I suppose and it would have been what I was doing and not where I was in time or even place.

         And like I said, the question is moot for me.  I'm retired and I'm in California. I should be writing more but I'm not.  It could be any time of year for me I suppose.


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.

Western Movies

        This Battle is between two different artists performing two different songs with a western movie theme.  Please take a listen to discern your favorite of the two.


David Crosby   "Cowboy Movie" (1971)






Mountain   "Theme from an Imaginary Western"  (1970)





Time to Vote!
        
          You've witnessed the showdown so now you be the judge.  The boys are waiting for your answer.  You've got til sundown, but why not vote now?    Which version do you prefer?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  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

 ‘Storms and Stardust’ 

  '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 Tuesday December 8th
       
          What more can I say?  And I might not say that much on that post other than who won.  I feel like I'm in a waiting room with Marley's Ghosts of Christmases.  Actually, this year has been like going through a series of waiting rooms and I've been waiting so long that I've forgotten what I'm supposed to be waiting on.







Monday, November 23, 2020

And Now Some Words from Lockdown Land ( #BOTB Results )

 

         Disneyland has been closed most of this year and my guess is that a good many of the businesses around the theme park will be closed from now on because they cannot sustain.  Thanks Governor Gavin Newsome who is in the running for worst state governor along with Andrew Cuomo and Gretchen Whitmer.   May they all win in a three-way tie.  RECALL THEM ALL!




Battle of the Bands Results


   

         My latest Battle didn't win over many hearts and perhaps came closer to giving heart attacks.  Can't say I was particularly thrilled with this Battle but I didn't hate either version that I offered in this round either.  I wouldn't make a habit of listening to either, but they were okay and one was as good (or bad) as the other as far as I am concerned.

         The Battle featured the artists Naytronix and Lee Being with their trip hopped versions of the Janet Jackson hit "What Have You Done for Me Lately?"  Since there was more of a psychedelic sound to the Naytronix cover that is the one upon which I bestowed my vote.


Final Vote Tally

Naytronix         5 votes

Lee Being         6 votes


Next Battle on ????

      I'll probably go ahead and do another Battle on Tuesday December 1st, but it will depend on my mood and maybe other factors.  Then again I might just be watching TV or something.  Did somebody say something about Christmas?   Heck, I'm not even sure what I'm going to do about Thanksgiving yet.  I think Governor Newsome has cancelled all such things.  For now, things are kind of up in the air for me--and I don't mean that I'm juggling.











Sunday, November 15, 2020

What Have You Done For Me Lately (#BOTB)


   Crap!  My computer decided to do another upgrade or something and is taking a long time to work again.  Long story condensed, I'm borrowing my wife's laptop.  This post will be simpler than usual...


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.


What Have You Done for Me Lately

         It all started when I was reading about a group called Deerhoof.  Or maybe I had seen a video or heard their music somewhere.  Anyway, I read where they'd recorded a version of the song made famous by Janet Jackson.  So looking for it on YouTube I didn't find it, but I found other versions of the song and figured, why not?  There's another Battle for me.

         I don't know anything about these artists and I'm not going to do the research.  I just want to get off this computer.  Here they are.  You decide...


Naytronix (ft tUnE-yArDs) - What Have You Done For Me Lately  (2015)






Lee Being   "What Have You Done for Me Lately"  (?)








Time to Vote!
        
          Okay, so I know this might not be your cuppa Joe, but maybe you can suck it up and play along.  Please?   Which version do you prefer?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  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

 ‘Storms and Stardust’ 

  '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 Monday November 23







Monday, November 9, 2020

The Side Show Never Ends ( #BOTB Results )

 Old friends can be like a fine wine that we savor as pleasant thoughts linger in our memories or they can be like leftovers gone bad in the refrigerator leaving a bad smell.  I think it's time to clean out my fridge...

The Year of Side Show


Arlee in Ottawa Ontario
                            Arlee Bird in Ottawa Ontario

      The yearly vacations that my wife have taken have been the highlights of the past decade plus-- those years since I lost the last job I had until being forced into retirement.   During those years we were able to spend quality time with family and friends, including those who have since passed on.  If I had still been working we would not have been able to take such lengthy trips.  Fortunately, my wife was still deriving a good income from her teaching job and with her summers off we had several weeks that allowed us to travel.  They were good times.  Some of the best.

       One of the most memorable summers was that of 2016.  We drove north from Los Angeles to British Colombia and then for several days traversed the breadth of Canada to Quebec where we veered back down into the United States via New England as we continued to stays in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas before heading back home to California. 

       It was a grand tour filled with so many amazing places and so many wonderful people.  And so so many good memories.  Part of those memories were in the music that served as our soundtrack for that remarkable summer trip. 

      Shortly prior to embarking on that journey I discovered a musical that latched onto my interest like few have ever done.  I have long been a fan of musicals and finding the Broadway musical Side Show was an exciting discovery for me.  As I recall, I first heard a song from the musical on some radio show and it so captured my attention that I began investigating this hitherto unknown to me musical.

        After discovering that two different Broadway show recordings had been released I then found that most of the songs could be found on YouTube.  As I listened to the songs on YouTube it was a quick decision for me to locate both versions on Amazon and order them before we would leave on our vacation trip.   We would have our trip soundtrack.

        We listened to both CDs daily, sometimes more than once and even repeatedly. I memorized every detail of the music.  My wife and I would try to decide which version was best.  Our preference would change from day to day, but the two of us fell in love with the musical.

         Part of the draw for me was the story--it was based on true life characters.  The Hilton Sisters were very attractive twins who performed in vaudeville and films.  They were hugely popular in Europe and the United States.  What made them particularly unique was the fact that they were Siamese twins conjoined at the hip.  Their attractive appearance made them all the more appealing to audiences.

          Gaining fame and popularity in side shows and stage show circuits, they caught the attention of Hollywood.  You may have seen them in their most well-known film, Tod Browning's Freaks. After that film appearance their popularity lessened and they struggled to keep working.  They starred in one more film in 1951.  Chained for Life was loosely based on their lives and the musical Side Show seems to have taken some ideas from that film.  After that it was tough times for the Hiltons.

           My late former boss Philip Morris from Charlotte NC used to tell stories about meeting them in the sixties when he was working as a theatrical agent. Morris related how he was in a grocery store and saw them bagging groceries.  Apparently the store manager had felt bad for them and gave them the job since they were now essentially destitute and nearing sixty years old.  Philip Morris befriended them and found them occasional jobs at movie shows and other appearances.

           The deaths of the sisters seems especially poignant in our time. Sometime around New Year of 1969 they had contracted Hong Kong Flu (the pandemic that killed millions from 1968 to 1969) and Daisy died.   No one can say exactly what transpired at that point, but the forensic investigation suggested that Violet Hilton probably lived on another 2 to 4 days with her dead sister at her side.  They were discovered on January 4, 1969 after the grocery store owner reported to police that they had not shown up for work and he feared the worst.

           It's a sad story, but we got a decent musical from it.  Granted the musical has never gained much traction with the critics or the public, but I think the subject matter was perhaps too politically incorrect for our times.   Despite that, at least the Hilton Sisters got some final recognition that will live on for many.  In 2018 the city of Brighton and Hove, England honored them with a plaque in front of the house where they were born. At least they have some kind of legacy.  

          If you're a fan of musical theater I recommend that you check out some of the recordings that can be found on YouTube.  I'd like to see a movie made of the show, but I doubt that it will ever happen.



Battle of the Bands Results


          My most recent Battle used three different songs with the same title of "The Devil You Know."  Two of the choices were pretty standard modern rock fare by the artists Kovacs and Blues Saraceno" while the third came from the Broadway musical Side Show.  

         If you read my opening story then you can likely easily deduce that my own favorite tune was the one from  Side Show.   But I really liked the other two picks as well.  That's why I used them of course!  As I might have expected, my choice was the least favorite.  And Blues Saraceno's song sounded pretty good to me too.  Not a bad outcome over all.


Final Vote Tally

Kovacs                  4

Side Show             3

Blues Saraceno     5                 



Next Battle on Sunday November 15th

          Lord willing and I don't choke to death on my face mask, I'll have another Battle of the Bands installment on my usual 15th of the month appearance.  

   

        Do you have any Facebook friends that actually aren't friends and you really don't know?  Have you ever purged your friends list?   What has been your greatest benefit from being on Facebook? 





          

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Devil You Know (#BOTB #IWSG )

Sometimes it's best to be happy with what you've got, but often that's just not human nature.  I don't need this Communist Chinese Virus crap, but other than that life is good--for now at least...

      No need for me to say any more other than it's time for another...


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.


The Devil You Know

Definition of better the devil you know than the devil you don't. —used to say that it is better to deal with a difficult person or situation one knows than with a new person or situation that could be worse.    Merriam-Webster Dictionary

        This Battle of the Bands has been sitting in my queue for a few years now.  Now seems like as good of a time as any to use it.  Not much to say about why, but maybe you can figure out. Whatever the case, it probably doesn't matter why I'm using it now.  I just want you to take a listen and vote for your favorite song.

       What we have here is three totally different artists performing three totally different songs with the same title.  Hope you enjoy.  And more importantly PLEASE VOTE!


Kovacs - "The Devil You Know"   (2015)


           Kovacs comes from The Netherlands. She starts off the Battle with her devilish tune.  What do you think?
       






  Side Show  "The Devil You Know"  (1997)

          Side Show is a musical that first appeared on Broadway in 1997 and then was revived for another attempt in 2014.  Neither time did the show make a particularly big impact.  However since my discovery of the musical in 2016 it has become one of my favorite musicals.  From that musical comes this song called "The Devil You Know"...






Blues Saraceno - "The Devil You Know" (2018)


           From Los Angeles we have rock guitarist Blues Saraceno.  He's collaborated with a number of artists, most notably with a stint playing guitar with the group Poison.  Again, he's contributing his song with the title "The Devil You Know"...

      



Time to Vote!
        
           This week is all about voting so be sure to vote on this Battle to let your preference be known.   Which version do you prefer?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  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

 ‘Storms and Stardust’ 

  '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 Monday November 9th



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 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!



November 4 question - Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?


       Mention Flannery O'Conner and you've got my attention.  She's one of my favorite writers.  And I like what she said about her purpose in writing.   The oft-given advice to writers is to write what you know and I think O'Connor was onto something in her suggestion of writing to discover what one knows.  After all, sometimes we don't always know what we know until it's come to mind and we've given it some thought. 

     Initially I was first drawn to writing in order to tell stories--to entertain.  Soon after I started writing I realized that I wanted to do more than entertain:  I wanted to say something about my world view and the things I've learned in life.  This is probably why I've been more drawn to writing non-fiction in more recent years. 

        Maybe it's partly a desire to create a legacy for myself, but mostly I just want to share a philosophy of life through sharing my experiences and whatever it is I have learned in my years of living.  I still want to entertain.  Not many of us relish reading something boring so I try to make things interesting.  

       So why do I write what I write?  To share who I am and what I believe.  That's probably at the root of most artistic expression I suppose.  We create based on what we know having a desire to share our knowledge with others.   What do you think?   Why do you write? 


Does anyone else feel like they've been living the plot of a dystopian novel?





Thursday, October 22, 2020

Who Had the Better Parachute? ( #BOTB Results )

 Darkness has been coming earlier and a coolness has drenched the Los Angeles atmosphere.  I hope it stays this way for a while.  It's looks like it could rain.  Maybe it will.  Whatever happens is good.  Find good in everything.  That's what I try to believe most of the time...



Battle of the Bands Results


Parachute Showdown

      My most recent Battle was two Los Angeles area groups doing different songs with the same name of "Parachute".   

      I liked both performances a great deal so either was a winner for me.  But going with style, I prefer that dreamy kind of psychedelic style of Covet so I'll give my vote to their song.  And thusly I avoid a tie.  But, yeah, for me it's Covet.

Final Vote Tally

Thee Lakesiders                6 votes

Covet                                 8 votes


Next Battle on Sunday November 1

        Will I be the only one with a Battle on that day?  Will any of us still be here at the end of that week?   Is 2020 almost over?




Thursday, October 15, 2020

Parachute ( #BOTB )

       The year 2020 so far has been free-falling for months.  At some point we're going to crash.  Somebody hand me a parachute so I can soften the landing...

        Just the other day I was watching a local show about music in the area.  The featured act particularly caught my attention. Curious to hear more I looked them up on YouTube where I found among their several songs a song called "Parachute".  And so 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.


Parachute

        I don't know how many songs have the title "Parachute".  It's kind of a good metaphor so I'd think there could be a number of them.  Being lazy I decided to stop after I'd found two, both bands with ties to Los Angeles.   They're different enough in style that I'm thinking votes might be well distributed.  But you've got to vote.  Take a listen...


Thee Lakesiders   "Parachute"  (2018)

      This young Chicano duo from Los Angeles has a retro sound that evokes fifties music yet they are firmly rooted in the lowrider culture from whence they came. 








Covet   "Parachute"  (2020)

         This "Math Rock" trio from California features the multi-talented guitar virtuoso Yvette Young.  The band began as an instrumental group, but as this video displays, Yvette is a good singer as well.







Time to Vote!
        
           As you float back to the here and now on planet Earth maybe you can cast a vote.  Now let your opinion be heard!  Which version do you prefer?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  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

 ‘Storms and Stardust’ 

  '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 Thursday October 22nd









Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Out of the Box and In Again ( #IWSG & #BOTB Results )

 From a personal perspective, the COVID absurdity came along at the best time in my life--I'm not in school, not working a job, not having to socialize with anyone for any reason.  Being retired, the lockdowns and restrictions haven't mattered to me since I'm mostly doing the same thing now that I've been doing over the past few years.  And so I'll keep telling myself...




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 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!



October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

        If I were a working writer then I'd be working at writing and making money at it.  Since I'm doing neither then the term working writer doesn't apply to me.  The most writing work I've been doing of late is writing these blog posts so I don't consider that to be much in the way of work and I'm certainly not making any money writing.  

         So I guess my writing these days would be more as a hobbyist and I'm doing a pretty lousy job at that as well.  One should have some degree of passion in pursuing a hobby.  My passion just ain't there either.  These days when I write I'm more in a mood of just getting it out of the way rather than immersing myself in the joy of the experience of writing.

        Recently I dug my old stamp collection from childhood out of the closet.  Perusing some of the old albums and other items from those days of pursuing my hobby of philately, old memories came back to me of the excitement of the quest to fill blank spaces in my albums and the hours of pleasure derived in organizing and studying my stamp collection.  I was passionate about that hobby in those younger days.  But then, I eventually put my stamps away into a box labeled "Stamp Collection" and it has remained stowed away with my other life stuff until it found its way into the closet where it now resides--next to another box labeled "Writing".  

        That probably pretty well sums up my writing life these days.  Stuff stored away in boxes or recesses of memory.  Hopefully this is a temporary state of affairs.  Just like the COVID restrictions.  I'd like to think that this too shall pass.

          Everything does eventually...



Battle of the Bands Results




    Lithium

      My most recent Battle featured two versions of the Nirvana song "Lithium" and it did not go over too well with my visitors.  Firstly, I was surprised how many of the commenters didn't seem to know the song.   I've heard that song so often even though I was never a big Nirvana fan.  I guess it wasn't as memorable a tune as I thought it was.

      And once again, my eclectic tastes and predilection for the weird was apparently a bit off putting to those who did vote.  Not many cared for the song nor either version that I presented in my Battle.  Maybe I should stick to more known entities, but I like to go off into the woods sometimes--well, maybe a lot of the time.

       I liked both versions a great deal (that's why I used these versions).  Since I was a kid I've liked Middle Eastern music.  My favorite Led Zep song?  "Kashmir" of course.  I've long enjoyed exotic sounds from around the world and when you add the modern touch of rock and pop, for me it can be very engaging.  

        When it comes to jazz music I am especially fond of jazz trios--primarily with instrumentation in the mode of The Bad Plus.  Crazy improvisation with sharp percussion grooves cool with me.  Then with the somewhat psycho sounding vocals added on top of it all I was understanding the crave for lithium.  That version was out of sight and over the moon to use vernacular of another age.

        It was a tough choice for me because I could have gone in either direction (Middle East or Far West?).  In the final analysis I had to go with The Bad Plus.  I have to admit I didn't expect so much dislike or ambivalence to these versions, but in the end whatever preference there was turned out pretty equal.  

       I'll call this Battle a good outcome with an asterisk*


Final Vote Tally

Shefita                       6 votes

The Bad Plus             5 votes


Next Battle of the Bands on Thursday October 15th

           I plan to be here then.  Will you join me?