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.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Did the Best Monster Win? ( #BOTB Results )

The monsters of our imagination can never be as bad as the real life monsters we have to deal with everyday, but then they are mere chimeric fairy tales that serve to distract us from real life horrors...

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Some of the Aurora models of classic movie monsters 

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Cover art from the Aurora monster model boxes

Me and My Monsters

       During my middle school years I immersed myself in model building.  Though I did build some model cars, planes, and even some ships, my primary focus was assembling and painting the monster model kits from the Aurora Company.  Over that period of two or three years I acquired nearly all of the monsters in the series--or that is, any of the kits available before 1966.  That's when I stopped building models and burned most of them.  It was a dumb thing to do, but it was just one of those adolescent stupid things like most of us probably do at some time.

        Still, those were some fun years sitting on my bedroom floor building models and listening to records by the Beatles and Tijuana Brass.  I was so into monsters back then--not only the model kits, but also the magazines like Famous Monsters which I faithfully bought whenever new issues appeared.

         It's really no surprise since I had loved monsters from early childhood.  Perhaps I was born with a familiarity with the Frankenstein monster--at least I seemed to have known that one since my earliest memories. However it was Godzilla that captured my imagination and often visited me in my dream life. 

          My parents took me to see the American version of the Japanese original film Godzilla: King of the Monsters! when it was first released in 1956.  I would have been five years old at the time, but I loved that film.  Where Frankenstein had more philosophical implications, Godzilla was an indictment as well as a bit of prophecy or warning to humankind.  Godzilla was not as scary to me as it was awe-inspiring as well as evocative to some innate sense of unseen powers. 

          Of all the monsters I think Godzilla is my favorite though I do think the Frankenstein movies have more thought-provoking stories and more interesting acting.  No matter what though, I enjoy a good monster.  Not bad monsters like we get in the real world...

Battle of the Monsters Results

Monster Songs

      In this latest Battle I presented "Frankenstein" by Edgar Winter Group and "Godzilla" by Blue Oyster Cult.  I'll admit that going into this Battle I had already decided that Blue Oyster Cult would get my vote. I've listened to them ever since the seventies where I'd mostly ignored Edgar Winter.  I do remember when their hit "Frankenstein" was getting a lot of airplay, but I didn't care for the song back then.

     As sometimes happens, I began listening to the Winter song and realized what a dynamite performance it really is.  As much as I like "Godzilla" the song, I've got to say the "Frankenstein" piece is a flashy display of virtuosity in a catchy musical package.  And that's why after the past week of listening I changed my vote to Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein".  What a great piece of music.

      After the actual voting opened I began to think there was going to be a landslide in favor of "Godzilla" but then the Frankie Fans showed up and stomped the big boy.  Still it was a pretty close Battle.  Not bad fellas...

Final Vote Tally

Edgar Winter Group            9 votes

Blue Oyster Cult                 7 votes

Next Battle on Saturday February 1st

         That will be a few days after my birthday--don't even want to think about how old I'll be.  But my wife and I will probably go away for an overnight stay somewhere nearby to celebrate.  It will be a pretty subdued celebration to my estimation.

       Did you ever build any kinds of models?  Do you remember the Aurora monster model series?  Have you ever destroyed something that you had previously put great time and effort into creating? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Battle of the Monsters ( #BOTB )

The monsters of our imagination are mostly representations of very real things that can fill us with apprehension and avoidance of facing those fears.  We always can blame things on the monsters...

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Frankenstein versus Godzilla

         Since Frankenstein came first in the roll call of famous monsters, he might hold the advantage in being the favorite of a good many fans of the horror genres.  And though the story is a European invention and takes place in Europe, thanks to Hollywood Frankenstein seems like more of  an American invention whereas Godzilla is definitely the spawn of post World War II Japan.

        The monster of the Frankenstein stories has been incorrectly referred to by his creator's surname --Dr. Frankenstein--and that misnomer has stuck ever since the original publication of the Mary Shelley novel in 1818.  The Frankenstein monster has appeared in numerous adaptions and derivations over the years, endearing him to monster fans throughout the world.

          The Frankenstein Monster's biggest film rival since 1954 has been the Japanese reptilian monster Godzilla who has also appeared many times since, primarily in Japanese made films.  While Dr. Frankenstein created his monster out of the body parts of dead humans, Godzilla was an already created being that was roused from a comatose sleep by nuclear radiation. 

          Both stories are warnings to humans not to play God and tamper with powers that are beyond us.  The outcomes of most of the stories of either monsters end with death and destruction humans and property, yet with a certain sympathetic view of the monstrous anti-heroes.  Over the years these monsters have become beloved by many as well as specters that can haunt our dark fantasies and nightmares. 

            As one might expect with beloved characters such as these, they have also inspired songs in their honor.   In this current round of Battle of the Bands you decide which monster has inspired your favorite song about them...

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.

Edgar Winter Group   "Frankenstein"  (1973)

          I'm using a long performance version of the song so it's up to you how long you want to listen to it.  It's a pretty cool version I think and maybe you'll agree.  Maybe you'll also think this is the best of the two monster songs in this Battle.   Prepare to rock...

Blue Oyster Cult    "Godzilla"   (1977)

          BOC did a lot songs with science fiction related themes, but with a group name that refers a group of aliens who guide Earth's history that shouldn't come as any surprise.  Considering the heavy metal nature of the group's music, it's also not surprising that one of their big hits would be about a big scary monster.   It's a real rocker, but the question here is whether you like this one better than the song by Edgar Winter.  The choice is yours...

Time to Vote!

         This is a monstrous decision, I know, but you better make a choice or else.  Personally I think both versions are powerful.  Which song do you prefer?  Which monster do you like the best?   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



'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 Wednesday January 22nd

         If you don't vote then watch out!  One or both monsters might come to haunt you!  Be sure to come back next Wednesday to see which monster hit you preferred and who really is king of the monsters.

          Which is your favorite Frankenstein movie?    Do you have a favorite Godzilla movie?   Which monster do you like best?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Beginnings ( #BOTB Results & #IWSG )

Another year has come and gone, leading to another beginning of another year which will come and go.  Personally I'm looking forward to another good one, but optimist that I tend to be I always look forward to more good years...

Arlee Bird several years ago before having shed a mustache and several pounds and those extra pounds were in no way connected to the mustache.

I'll get to my first Insecure Writer's Support Group of 2020 in a short while, but first let me report in the results of my first Battle of the Bands of this new year...

Battle of the Bands Results

         My Battle of the Bands for January 1, 2020 was between versions of Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years" as performed by the Isley Brothers and Jimmy Scott.  To my ears both versions were outstanding, but many of you seemed a bit disconcerted with Scott's vocals.  Upon first hearing his version (yes, the vocalist is Jimmy Scott who is a man) I was also a bit thrown off, but the overall musicianship in this rendition quickly won me over.  After all, I chose to use this version for a good reason:  I liked it!

      And because I liked the version by Jimmy Scott so much I decided to give my vote to that one.  As far as I'm concerned, the version by the Isleys is fantastic and I probably like both versions about equally, but Jimmy needs my vote.  His voice takes some getting used to, but he had the goods as far as putting forth a good jazz interpretation of a song.

Final Vote Tally

Isley Brothers         11 votes

Jimmy Scott              3 votes

Simply Red                1 stubborn vote


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 January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff.

January 8 question - What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just "know" suddenly you wanted to write?

           Among my fondest memories of childhood was listening to adults tell stories.  My mother entertained my sister and I with stories of her childhood.  Some of the show biz friends of my parents also told tales that captured my attention even though they likely thought I wasn't listening. And then there were the movies and television shows I would watch.  I grew up with stories and once I learned to read and write I was on my way to a fascination with writing.

         The first story I recall writing was a horror tale that I composed for a third grade class assignment.  Somehow naturally gravitating toward the "write what you know" school of thought, I drew upon my experiences of traveling across country with my family as we relocated from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to San Diego California. However the real writing inspiration came from Rod Serling's Twilight Zone.   

         As a fan of scary movies from early childhood, I was drawn to Twilight Zone soon after I had discovered the show on television.  I relished the surprise endings and the quirky stories fueled my imagination.  Far into college and into the present day that show--which still can be found regularly in television reruns and other sources--has influenced my writing to a great extent.  And it was watching that show that made me think that writing might be something I could potentially do one day.

          Maybe writing didn't turn out quite like I dreamed, but then those Twilight Zone shows had those surprise endings.  In my life I've lived plenty of stories with surprise endings.  The nice thing is that the big story is still continuing and more surprises are sure to come.

         Next post will be another Battle of the Bands on Wednesday January 15th!