This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Something's Brewing

cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and co...
cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and cocoa powder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Something's brewing and I don't mean the hot chocolate or apple cider and I'm not talking about a belated Christmas pudding.  What's cooking isn't food or drink, but blogging activities coming up in the next month or so.  Now that this year is almost a done deal, let's look ahead to how 2016 will be kicking off.

Battle of the Bands  

         Tossing It Out will continue to participate in the Battle of the Bands postings on the 1st and 15th of each month.  You're always welcomed to join us with your own song Battles, but even if you aren't posting your own contest I hope you'll visit mine and vote on your favorite version.  The first Battle on my blog for 2016 will come up on Friday January 1st.   The song I'll be using will be an oldie.  It isn't new, but I won't tell you what.   Though in a way I've hinted at the song in the previous sentence--the words of the title are there.

Insecure Writer's Support Group

          The Insecure Writer's Support Group has been hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh for a few years now.   Tossing It Out has been a part of this event since it first appeared in the blogosphere.

Backstage Blogathon

          On January 15th I'll be joining in on the Backstage Blogathon where participants pick a film made before 1970 that has something to do with the workings of show biz.  This is a blog share that definitely fits my interests.   In that same post I'll be presenting a Battle of the Bands with a song that I think is appropriate for the film I've selected.  

A to Z Challenge

          Sign-ups for the 2016 April A to Z Challenge will open on Monday January 25th.  For information about the A to Z Challenge visit the A to Z Challenge Blog.  Lot's of things start happening once sign-ups open.  Watch the blog site.

Lost and Found:  The Valentine's Edition

         On February 1st I'll be involved in this blogfest in honor of Valentine's Day.  Posts can be about anything concerning the subject of love discovered or love lost.   More details on this after the 1st of January.   I'll be combining my "Lost and Found" post with a Battle of the Bands song pick based on this same topic of love.

Watch This Space...

         Hope everyone had a great Christmas and are enjoying some holiday time.  Have a safe New Year!  

           Do you have any special plans for the upcoming year?  Do you know what you're doing tomorrow?     Are you a planner or a take things as the come sort of person?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Juggling Museum & BOTB Results

The Juggling Jacksons promo shot 1966--That's Arlee
standing behind Dad.
The Juggling Jacksons

        Some of you might have seen my post at Wrote By Rote (my memoir blog) concerning my family's donation to the Historical Juggling Props Museum.   If you missed it you can see our contributions here and here.  The web site for the Museum is fun to peruse especially if you're not close enough to visit the actual museum display in person.

         So far there isn't much video available on YouTube of anything Juggling Jacksons related, but below is a brief video of my sister Joy and I a few years ago goofing off in her kitchen with an enthusiastic audience cheering us on.  Hopefully one day I'll get some other video transferred and up on YouTube.

Battle of the Bands Results
(for 12/15/2015)


      If you missed the Battle that goes with these results you can visit here, but the vote has been decided. I wasn't overly surprised by the outcome of this Battle considering how my previous Battle turned out. The readers who vote on my BOTB posts tend to be traditionalists where it comes to music so techno or more extreme forms of rock or other genres usually don't go over that well. It's gone that way in this contest as well.

     The version of "Trouble of the World" as performed by Rose Stone and the Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir is a rousing rendition that I can't resist liking. This interpretation of the song reflects a joyousness that one might expect on leaving this world into the security of God's heavenly realm. Right from the opening electric guitar riff to the vocal interplay, this song is filled with so much energy. My favorite part of this recording is the steady solid drumbeat. My head gets to bobbin', my toes a-tappin', and I just want to get up on my feets and praise the lord all over the house. This is musical dynamite.

     On the other hand, Mahom is tough for many listeners to get into. For my part I didn't even finish listening during my first sampling of the song. I quickly decided to use another version and believe me, I found many great versions. However, I returned to the Mahom version to give it a fair chance. Noting the points of comparison and contrast between the Rose Stone version I began to see an interesting Battle in the works.

     No one listened to these versions side by side as many times as I did--and I listened to them repeatedly. My opinion of Mahom began changing as I listened more. The performance version from The Ladykillers is no doubt outstanding, but in the end the version I keep hearing in my head now--the one that sticks with me most--is the version by Mahom. Sure it's computer driven music, but I find the sound to be innovative as well as clever. The vocals are very pleasant to my ears. Taking all things into account my favorite version is now Mahom though I certainly cannot dispute anyone's vote for Rose Stone.

     Two great renditions, but my vote goes to Mahom.

Final Vote Talley

Rose Stone    26 votes

Mahom           8 votes

         Have a Very Merry Christmas and be sure to join me here for my next Battle which will open on New Year's Day with a very appropriate song for the season.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Deju Vu 2015

      Once again D.L. Hammons is hosting the Deju Vu Blogfest.  This is the blogging event where participants are invited to share one of their lesser performing blog posts in order to give a wider audience one more chance to read what they may have missed.  My post comes from early January of 2015.  This post addresses the subject of passion versus obsession.

Is It Passion or Obsession?

English: On a pedestal in Another Place
 On a pedestal in Another Place (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        When I first started Tossing It Out in late 2009 I became so excited about blogging that it became one of my main topics of conversation with anyone who might listen.  I began to research the topic of blogging and read everything I could find about it in order to become a better blogger.  My thoughts became focused on my blog most of my waking hours and sometimes even into sleep.

          There were probably those who thought my interest in blogging had become a somewhat annoying obsession.  Some supported me in helping me to grow my base of followers while others politely indulged me as I babbled incessantly about this or that aspect of social media.  After a few months I even had business cards printed so it would be easier for people to remember my blog address in order to read it later.   Few of those cards reaped new readers to my knowledge, but having them was helpful in some cases if for no other reason than to open up the conversation to the topic of blogging.

         It took me about a year and a half to temper my obsession to a point of more reasonably subdued passion.   These days I still maintain a strong interest in blogging, but I no longer see it as my big mission in life.  Now it is a tool for my platform, to use that common cliche of branding and marketing.   Blogging is fun for me, but I don't force it on anyone and only bring it up if the subject seems appropriate to introduce to a conversation.

         When I was younger I went through periods where I developed certain interests in which I invested time, thought, and money.   For example I had a passion for stamp collecting from about third grade until my early high school years.   Then there were the periods when I became very involved with model building or immersing myself in anything related to science fiction and monsters.   Like an artist who can be evaluated by his creative stages, my life has seen periods of interests, sometimes for prolonged periods and other times short-lived.

         My biggest material passion has been for music.  Once I started working in my late teens and had more money to spend, I began buying records albums on a regular basis.  This passion for music peaked in the 80's when I voraciously began to accumulate cassette tapes (that was the medium of choice at that time) until I was carrying hundreds of them in my van as I traveled about in my road show days.

        There have been many phases in my life when I have pursued interests with a fervency that might be called passion.  On the other hand, my pursuits might be more correctly considered as hobbies or interests.   I'm certainly no different than others in this respect.   If we don't have certain interests that define us to some extent then we can seem rather dimensionless and boring.

          In all of our lives we have each undoubtedly had best friends with whom we shared hours of time.  Many times those friendships can end in sweet--or sometimes bitter--parting as we move on in our lives.  We might be left with longings for their companionship and fond memories as life carries us onward into new relationships or life pursuits, but we often move on without those old friends.  This is just part of the progression of life--friends who become hazy happy memories as well as those friends with whom we might stay connected with for many years or even the rest of our lives.   It would be abnormal and uncomfortable  to obsess on a friend or acquaintance so most of us allow the space necessary to nurture the relationship or we quietly drift apart if that is the destiny of things.

          And then there is love in the sense of romance and long term bonds.  This is the love that leads to marriage and family for many of us.   We find that singular object of our affection with whom we want to share life in the deepest sense that lives can be shared.  The ideal societal goal is to find a monogamous partner with whom we can have children and build families.  This takes a strong commitment involving passion that falls short of stifling obsession of ownership yet an obsession to make the relationship work.   Things don't always turn out as planned, but most of us have that ideal to work toward.

          To love someone in a way that we idolize them in the purest sense, not in any bizarre obsessive way, should be a goal in committed relationships.   We should not burn with a possessive nature that stifles the other or desire to control another with some sense of ownership much like a stamp collector might long to possess a coveted stamp for his collection, but we should have a focus that makes that partner our one and only, the only shining star that we see in a celestial tapestry filled with stars.   If we walk into a roomful of people, our one true love is the one to whom our eyes are drawn with admiration and the deepest satisfaction in being a part of that person's life.  That is the ideal, though often not the reality.

         True love is the stuff of stories.  It's that irrational emotion that brings out the poet in many of us.  It can be fun, wonderful, and even scary. What we might define as love is the most scary when the obsession creeps within us creating the stalker mentality.   A criminal passion can make us do crazy things, but the pure beautiful passion that is true love brings us as close to heaven as any earthbound human can be.   I want a burning desire or yearning that transcends possessiveness or control and becomes more akin to personal sacrifice for the sake of love in a similar way that a believer might have toward God.  Not a replacement to loving God, but next in line to love for God.   The most reverent of feelings that two humans can have for one another.   This is a fine dream in my eyes and something for which to strive.

          When do you think a passionate love devolves into aberrant obsession?    Do you feel uncomfortable when someone admires you in the sense of placing you on a pedestal?   Do you enjoy blogging more or less now than when you first started?

Voting for Battle of the Bands continues until Sunday so if you've not yet voted please click here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Trouble of the World #2 (#BOTB)

         Ever tried voting in the Battle of the Bands yet?   If not why don't you give this one a try?   You don't have to know anything about music other than which song you like hearing the best.  It doesn't matter whether or not you know the song or the artists, just listen to let us know which one sounds best to your ears. 

          And now...

           Here we are--the last Battle of the Bands for the year 2015.  Another Christmas is upon us as we await the coming of still another year.  But not yet.   We still have this one last Battle of the Bands post.  This event which takes place on the 1st and 15th of each month was started by Far Away Eyes at Far Away Series Blogger Stephen T McCarthy maintains the participant list and answers your questions about the event--you can find his blog with a list of participants at  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   

        Here's what I'm asking of you:  Listen to the song versions 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 Battles to vote on.

        And now my song pick for this round of Battle of the Bands:

"Trouble of the World"

         As I hinted at in my previous winner announcement post, this is a song that I could use for several months worth of Battles.  There are so many interesting and enjoyable versions done in so many different ways.  Listening to many of these versions kept me engaged for some time as I tried to come up with versions that had similar elements while being worlds apart.  It's a big world after all that is not only filled with many problems, but filled with many differing tastes and likes.  Now here's your chance to listen and contrast and then decide which version you enjoy the most.

 Rose Stone et al  "Trouble of the World"  (2004)

         In the first round of voting when I used this song on December 1st, Sheboyganboy Six must have been on my wavelength of thought when he suggested that he would have liked to have seen me use a version of this song from the soundtrack of the film The Ladykillers.   His prescient comment foreshadowed the Part Two post that I had waiting in the wings.   Here's a more traditional uptempo choir version of "Trouble of the World".   This might get you to clapping your hands and dancing around the room.

Mahom "Trouble of the World" (2014)

        In another collaborative vocal version, from their album The Skankin' Cat, the French dub electro group Mahom starts out lightly, sounding almost Christmassy in feel, but then breaks into a jarring bit of reggae electronica.   Don't dismiss this version too quickly.  Upon first hearing I had no intent of using this version as I didn't much care for it.  Then I listened again, and then again, and then after several listenings this version started taking hold of me.  Now I like it a great deal.  See what you think.

Time to Vote!

        You might like or not like either of these versions, but whatever the case please give each one a fair listen to decide which version you prefer over the other.   I think they're both enjoyable--I have an inclination toward one version, but I'm still wavering a bit.  What about you?

      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

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Janie Junebug Righting & Editing.
Book Lover

J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers


Be ReInVintaged

Results on Monday December 21st (I Hope!)

       I might be facing a challenge to get the results post up by next Monday, but I'll try my darndest to do so.  It's a busy season I know and I'm sure it's the same with you.   My blogging activity might be rather sporadic in the next few weeks, but that's the nature of the season.   Stay calm.   We've got this and there's no reason to be troubled by what we've got filling up our lives.   Be happy in these times.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Making Do

Visit the Historical Juggling Props Museum (Photo by David Cain)


       Sometimes my father would open his juggling act saying, “There are good jugglers and there are lousy jugglers. Tonight you get to see a double feature–a juggler who’s good and lousy.”   Though he wasn't the greatest juggler he was pretty darn good.  And he was funny which is why his solo act was centered on comedy topped off with some pretty darn good juggling.

        My father knew how to apply his talents to at least get by if not excel in whatever he was doing.  I've tried to do the same in my life.   Looking back on things, I guess I've managed well. I’m not a very good juggler, but I spent years making a living as a professional juggler. Even now I’m always dropping stuff.  Perhaps someday I can pick up some of it.

        It’s not so much how good you are as much as it is what you do with what you’ve got and the lucky breaks you encounter along life’s way.  I've encountered many fortuitous circumstances in my life journey.   Hopefully many more lie in wait on the road that lies ahead.

         Hope you'll excuse my rambling.  I'm just filling my Monday space with content as I wait for my Battle of the Bands post coming up tomorrow.   No song clues in this current post.   The clues can be found in my two previous posts.

          In any case, please stop by tomorrow to vote on my next Battle.

        Are you making do?    Are you pretty adept at adapting to new situations?    What in your life has flustered you the most?

      A portion of this post originally appeared in a comment I left on Loni Townsend's Squirrel Talk.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Will Troubles Ever Cease? (BOTB) & Question of the Month

P question
P question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Will Troubles Ever Cease?     

      When I decided to use "Trouble of the World" as my Battle of the Bands pick I was thinking about the troubles that have been and those to come.  No sooner than the voting began on my Battle a new trouble in the United States reared its ugly head with the shootings just up the road from me in San Bernardino.   I don't think we've seen any end to this type of event.

       Today--the day of this posting on December 7th-- being Pearl Harbor Day I can't help but wonder if this will be when the next attack occurs.  Or will they pick a more subtle time.  With the Christmas season approaching I'm probably not the only one experiencing some sense of uneasiness or expectation that something else is coming.   Our jihadist enemies would like nothing more than to spoil the happiness and good will of the season.  They want us to be afraid.   And perhaps more than anything they would like to see economic collapse and dire social discord to befall the "Great Satan" of the United States of America.

       What's next?   I certainly don't know, but the current administration of our government isn't gaining any confidence from me.  I'm not sure the proper issues are being addressed here.  I could go on, but I have a Battle of the Bands winner to announce as well as a Question of the Month to discuss.


         My song pick this time around was "Trouble of the World" which was a song that easily fell into my state of mind at the time I began preparing the post.   As the days went on after my choosing this song, my choice seemed prescient with the Paris attacks along with the everyday violence going on in the Mideast as well as right here in my homeland, the "good ol' U.S.A.".   It's easy for me to sink into these troubles so let me address the song and the Battle.

         This is one of those songs that I liked when I first heard it and liked even more with each subsequent listening.  There a so many good and very different versions of this song that I could do a bunch of battles with it.  But let me stick with the Battle at hand--

           Mahalia Jackson's version of the song is so exquisite in its sparseness, yet with so much spiritual depth.  I'm not the biggest fan of this style of singing, still Jackson pulls it off well and I can really get into what she's singing.  The organ, piano, and drum trio takes me nicely into the groove of the recording.   It's like church at the jazz club.

         The version by Kevin Max starts out powerfully with a fine background in the instrument department.  Some voters did not care for fuzzy guitar sounds.  This is something I do like along with the backing vocals, the trumpet, and the solid trio like the one Mahalia Jackson used except a bit heavier.

        Late at night or maybe when I'm in a low time I'd prefer the version by Mahalia Jackson.  Her version dives into my soul with comfort.  However most of the time to energize me a bit more I'd prefer to listen to the Kevin Max version--his style is more to my personal preference.  So my vote goes to Kevin Max.

 Final Vote Tally:

Mahalia Jackson      22 Votes

Kevin Max               17 Votes

       And now for the victory lap here's Mahalia Jackson's version of "Trouble of the World" as heard in the 1959 film Imitation of Life.

       Please be here on December 15th for another round of music Battle.  Next time I'll be using two versions of a song I like a great deal.  It's a song for our times.  A few of you already know what song I'll be using.

        The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I'll be answering a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants.

Here is the question for December:

Which one social convention would you get rid of?

      For the most part social conventions help maintain a certain sense of order when people encounter each other or are gathered together in groups.   I'm not opposed to most accepted norms of societal behavior as they are guidelines as to how we should properly act when with others so that others are not left to feel uncomfortable and we can easily adapt without creating a disturbance.   Social conventions typically make sense and keep things under control.

      One social convention that I think hinders us in many ways is the unwillingness to discuss controversial things like politics and religion (just taking two topics as an example).   Most of us have lost sight of reasoned civil discourse where difficult issues can be talked about without parties becoming angry or upset.

        We hear the tales of places with "safe zones" or where speakers are shouted down by those who disagree.   Sadly, intelligence and logic have often been abandoned in order to let feelings rule.   If only people could sit down to examine issues of disagreement with a calm collected approach, maybe we'd learn more and begin to think rationally about the world.   And if one party disagrees we learn the basis of that disagreement rather than name-calling or even violent reactions.

          To quote the dubious character Rodney King with an added twist, "Can't we all just get along and learn to talk about our differences like intelligent people?"

          Who would you most like to understand?   Do you feel misunderstood?  Are there any others who are different than you with whom you can discuss differences comfortably?


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Trouble of the World (BOTB) & (#IWSG)

       Don't struggle with insecurity.  There are plenty of other things to get you down in this world without getting troubled over your writing.  And you're not alone:  There are more of us out here so don't feel alone. 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.  Join me today for a double whammy of the #IWSG and later down the page you'll find this month's Battle of the Bands.

Don't Be Troubled by the Writing

        There are so many things happening in this old world of ours that sometimes our writing woes seem pretty insignificant.   My sense as to why so many readers prefer escapist literature such as fantasy and sci fi is that it takes them away from the fears and woes of the present day.  As for me I'd rather read non-fiction or stories that tend to be closer to my life experience.  That has been my inclination regarding my own writing as well.

         My earlier writing preference leaned toward science fiction and fanciful stories.  I might continue to try to write in those veins someday, but for now I'm looking in other directions.  Writing my blog posts has helped.   It's not exactly where I want to be as a writer, but stylistically I'm closer when I write my blog posts.   Now it's a matter of doing more writing beyond the blog.

         But in the meantime, there is so much going on--so much that could make a person just want to run away and just survive the best they can.   Where is this world going?  And will writing make any real difference for any of us?    I guess it's an outlet like watching television or taking a hike on a nature trail or whatever we do to get away to escape.   An outlet.   Not like a discount mall, but a way to vent our minds.  Lord knows my mind needs venting.

Battle of the Bands

         December 1st of 2015 is here which means the end of the year is at our back door.  It's also time for another installment of Battle of the Bands.   This event which takes place on the 1st and 15th of each month was started by Far Away Eyes at Far Away Series Blogger Stephen T McCarthy maintains the participant list and answers your questions about the event--you can find his blog with a list of participants at  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   

        Here's what I'm asking of you:  Listen to the song versions 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 Battles to vote on.

        And now my song pick for this round of Battle of the Bands:

"Trouble of the World"

      Also known as "Soon Ah Will Be Done", the song "Trouble of the World" is by most accounts a traditional Negro spiritual from the days of slavery.  Later the song was formally arranged by 20th century composer and choir director William L. Dawson--his name will occasionally be credited on recordings of the song though usually the credit is listed as "Traditional".    There are so many wonderful recordings of this song on YouTube that I could go for months having Battles that pitted the various versions against each other.

      After I decided to use the song for a BOTB contest, news reports of terrorist attacks and so many other distressing events only served to emphasize the relevance of this song in our times.  In past years I and other BOTB players have used traditional Christmas songs in our contests.   Indeed this is not a traditional song of the Season, but since it has Christian subject matter I feel that the song is one that could easily be included in many Christmas programs.

        Whatever the case may be, I'm using it because it's a darn good song that turns our minds to the birth of Jesus Christ and the messages he delivered to all of us.   Our lives on this Earth are relatively short so we shouldn't get too overwhelmed by all the troubles we face while here.

        Here are what I think are a couple of the better recordings of this song.  I hope you enjoy them and are perhaps even blessed by them.

Mahalia Jackson "Trouble of the World" (1956)

       My first exposure to Mahalia Jackson's version of "Trouble of the World"  was in the heart-wrenching 1959 film remake of Imitation of Life which featured Lana Turner, Sandra Dee, and Mahalia Jackson herself.  If you like tear-jerkers, you won't find many more powerful than this film.  I've watched this many times and it never fails to leave me teary eyed.   I highly recommend this fine film about racial injustice and family ties.  A good tag line for this film might be a quote from the character Annie:  "How do you tell a child that she was born to be hurt?"   If you have not seen this film yet I encourage you to find it and then let me know what you think.  I'm starting to cry just thinking about it.

       In the mean time here's Mahalia Jackson's soulful rendition of "Trouble of the World".

Kevin Max "Trouble of the World" (2007)

       Known as a vocalist with popular contemporary Christian groups dc Talk and Audio Adrenaline, Kevin Max also has a well established solo career with a number of LP's and EP's to his name.  His version of "Trouble of the World" maintains the spirit of the rendition by Jackson while updating it with a solid rock spiritual sound and some very tasty instrumentation.

       If Mahalia's version didn't grab you too much then maybe Max's version will do a bit more for you.   Take a listen and compare.

For an alternate link if video below is not viewable please try this one:  Trouble of the World

Time to Vote!

         Do you like one of these versions better than the other?   Don't let the subject matter of this song be a deterrent to your participation. Which song version do you enjoy the most? Judge what you hear in the above videos.  It's up to you to help determine the winner.

      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

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Janie Junebug Righting & Editing.
Book Lover

J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers


Results on Monday December 7th

       What could be much more appropriate than announcing the winner of this contest on December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day.   Talk about trouble in the world and after 75 years things seem to have only gotten worse.  I know this is the "Merry" season, but still it's hard to escape the fact that peace and compassion are often so elusive in our world.

        Do you find yourself somewhat fixated at times on the troubles in this world?   What do you think is the biggest world trouble that we face?   Do you sometimes find it difficult to enjoy escapist literature when there are so many real problems to be addressed in our lives?