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, July 27, 2015

Do You Make an Effort to be Annoying?

       Some people tend to annoy me.  Maybe not always, but there are times when I get annoyed by certain people.   I'm not sure if they are specifically going out of their way to annoy me or if it's just a matter of relational conflict or rivalry or maybe something else.  I suppose I come across in a similar way to certain people.

        My recent visit with my sisters in Tennessee seems to bear this out.  I know they were peeved by some of my actions and I was certainly irritated with them at times.  My brother doesn't usually annoy me, but still we come from a family of teasers and he has his moments.  And don't get me wrong about this--I love my brothers and sisters dearly.

        I tend to be a patient and forgiving person so I usually forget the annoyances rather quickly and rarely hold a grudge against people or stay angry for long.  On the other hand I've known people who don't seem to let go of bad feelings and if they have it out for someone else they can get downright mean and rude at times.

          People should try to work out misunderstandings and disagreements.  The world is enough of a mess without any of us adding more ugliness to it all.  The blogosphere is usually a pretty safe place where most people are either always nice or just avoid conflict.  Yet sometimes we do see some annoying sides of bloggers flare up.  I wish this weren't so, but then again I wish the world in general could be a nicer place.

         I'll admit that sometimes I apparently come across as very annoying, especially to my sisters, but I guess it's all part of the family dynamics at play.  I'm more careful with friends and acquaintances.  If I come across as annoying to other bloggers then it's probably just a matter of the opinions I hold or the way I say things.  I don't mean to be annoying if that's the perception that anyone ever has of me.

        So what's your excuse--why are you annoying?   Do you think you are annoying?  Has anyone ever indicated to you that you annoyed them?   Do you feel there is any merit or justification in annoying others, being opinionated in a harsh way, or holding lasting grudges?  Do I ever annoy you and if so, in what way?

Coming this Saturday August 1st!

       I don't want to think about how quickly time goes by.  What a cliche!  But I guess it's so commonly said because it's true for all of us and becomes truer the older we get.  The fact remains that August is almost here and the first of that month will arrive this coming Saturday.

        So why do I bring this up?    Well, as most of you know by now it's because the first of the month means it's time for Battle of the Bands.  This Saturday post will take the place of my Monday post which also means my Question of the Month post will come early and coincide with Battle of the Bands.  Be here for both.   I've got a kind of nutty Battle of the Bands match scheduled, but I like it.  I hope you will like it too.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Did the U.S. Really Land on the Moon? (BOTB results)

December 7–19: Apollo 17, the last manned Moon...
December 7–19: Apollo 17, the last manned Moon mission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      Since I'm in no position to get into any involved posts at the present, I'll just pose a question for you:

Do you think the U.S. lunar missions were real or faked?

     Apparently the Russians have some doubt as expressed in an article in The Daily Mail.  Check out the blog post by Battle of the Bands host Stephen T. McCarthy where he poses the same question of doubt.    Did the U.S. go to the moon or not?  What do you think?

Battle of the Bands Results

       One thing that was not faked is the guaranteed status of a classic song standard in my most recent Battle of the Bands post featuring the song "How High the Moon".   The featured performances were by Mitchell Ayres and Mary Ann Mercer who and were up against the classic hit version by Les Paul and Mary Ford.

        I had anticipated a possible blowout with all votes going to the Paul/Ford version. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was not what happened.  Actually what surprised me most was that some voters indicated that they were not familiar with the famous Paul/Ford rendition and in some cases not even the song itself.  Maybe it was that lack of bias that helped Ayres get votes, but more likely it was the classic smooth big band sound.   The Ayres recording fared far better than I had expected.

        As for my own vote, I've always liked the Les Paul and Mary Ford version. There's no doubt as to the significance in musical history regarding this version.  However my own personal musical taste draws me to the orchestrated version of Ayres.    I prefer the melodic vocals of Mercer and the sweeping sounds of the big band.  So my vote goes to Mitchell Ayres and Mary Ann Mercer.

Final Tally

Les Paul/Mary Ford              16 Votes

Mitchell Ayres/Mary Ann Mercer    14 Votes

     Watch for my next very strange Battle of the Bands post on August 1st.  If you're afraid of clowns this one might disturb you.  Then again it might surprise you.  It will prove to be a royal battle.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How High the Moon (BOTB)

         Here we are in the middle of July and rushing toward summer's end.   But it's only the 15th of the month and that means it's time for another Battle of the Bands.   Yes sirree, this is an event that takes place on the 1st and 15th of each month.   Far Away Eyes at Far Away Series gets the credit for first conceiving this homage to music.  Stephen T McCarthy maintains the participant list and answers your questions about the event--you can find his blog with the list of participants at  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This is not at all complicated:  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 Battles to vote on.

How High the Moon

      Since my last Battle covered the vast Milky Way galaxy I thought I'd bring this one a little closer to home and focus on the moon.  Or more precisely, how high the moon.   Actually this song has nothing to do with the 238,900 miles from the Earth to the Moon, but is merely a somewhat nonsensical poetic rumination on love, romance, and the longing heart.  The song written by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis first appeared in the 1940 Broadway stage musical revue Two for the Show.

       Now a standard jazz tune, "How High the Moon" has been recorded by numerous artists and performed by a great many more.  If all of the performances of the song were to be placed one after another they would reach to the moon.  Actually I made that up, but it somehow seemed appropriate.

        It was very difficult to pick just two versions so I went with two contrasting versions.  This is one of those songs that could be used for many Battles in the future.   So many great stylings of the song to be had, but here are the two I settled for:

Les Paul and Mary Ford "How High the Moon" (1951)

       Probably the most well known recording of this classic song is by this duo.  Their version was #1 on the charts for nine weeks.  With the innovative multitrack recording pioneered by inventor and guitar virtuoso Les Paul, the recording portended the effects that became commonplace for artists to follow.   Fast and snappy, this version rocks.

Mitchell Ayres and his Fashions In Music with Mary Ann Mercer "How High the Moon" (1940)
       A hint of his classical music background comes through on this recording by Mitchell Ayres.   After his short stint with his Fashions in Music orchestra, Ayres went on to conduct orchestras for artists like the Andrews Sisters and Perry Como.  In 1969 Ayres died at age 60 after being hit by a car in Las Vegas where he was working as the musical conductor for Connie Francis at the Landmark Hotel.  Coming a decade prior to the hit by Les Paul and Mary Ford, this is among the first recordings of "How High the Moon"--a bit more sophisticated than the 1951 hit without the rocking and rolling.

Time to Vote!

          There you have it--two great versions of one great song.  Which do you like the best?   Please don't use the excuse that you don't like the music or you don't know this song.  You don't have to like the music and it doesn't matter if you've never heard it before.  Just judge what you hear.  Which version do you prefer?    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 (or which one was the least objectionable to your ears).  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



DC Relief Battle of the Bands

Shady Dell Music and Memories   

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Women:  We Shall Overcome  

Alex J. Cavanaugh 

Book Lover

J. A. Scott  (New this round!)

Results on Monday July 20th

         You've got until Sunday afternoon July 19th to cast your vote.    You'll get the final vote tally for this Battle on my post of Monday July 20th.   Please vote!   Battle of the Bands seems to be more interesting when we get votes.

          Are you aware of Les Paul's contributions to modern music?   Do you like to hear old standards ramped up a bit with rock and roll rhythms?     Have you ever written romantic poetry using the moon as your inspiration?  

Monday, July 13, 2015

And Now the Intensity Begins

Eternal clock
Eternal clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part One is Nearly Done

      My first three weeks of "vacation" have been relatively computer friendly.  Though I've not been able to visit all of your blogs as much as I might when I'm home, I have nevertheless been able to make reasonable rounds in keeping up with many of your blogs.  Sorry to those of you I have missed, but I think you might understand.

      So far I've been able to keep up with the Battle of the Bands posts reasonably well and I've managed to continue posting on my blog Wrote By Rote where I've been attempting to report on my vacation activities and reflect on my trip in general.  Things are about to change I think.

        First of all I need to wrap up as much as I can here in Tennessee. My time is running out here and there's much to do.  I will not get it all done, but I'll focus on the main things.  For more on my thoughts about this you can read my most recent post at Wrote By Rote.

Moving On

       On Thursday I'll be departing for a brief visit to Charlotte, NC where I'll be visiting my old employer's headquarters and catching up with some of my old work friends.  Friday night I'll head up to Danville, Virginia where I'll be seeing my son.    Then Sunday I'll start making my way to New Jersey where I'll be for three more weeks.  This is when my blogging time might get pinched.   I'll likely be doing a lot of  babysitting and playing the Grandpa role for my four grandchildren who live there.

        For one thing, a new grand baby arrived on July 8th.  Thomas John Z came into this world at 20 inches long with a weight of 8 lbs 10 oz.  Mama Ada Z has her hands full already with a four year old and an eighteen-month old.  She is going to have to have the patience of a saint in the years ahead.  Some of you might remember my daughter Ada Z as the designer of the badge for the 2012 A to Z Challenge.        

Thomas John Z born July 8, 2015

     Proud Dad Tom Sr had been starting to feel overwhelmed in a house full of females so now he has an ally in Baby Tom.  My son-in-law is a big Chicago Bears fan and an ex-football player himself and I'm sure he'll have his son in training with the pigskin as soon as he can.  Mama Ada already has reported that she calms the new arrival best when she hums the "Bear Down" song.  I don't know that song, but I guess I'll be learning it soon enough.

Proud big sister Lillee with new baby brother.
     Giving Ada ample time to tend to Baby Thomas I'll be spending time with the sisters Lillee and Grace and also my other granddaughter Marley who will soon be 7 years old.  I'm sure by the time my wife arrives from Houston on August 5th I'll be welcoming her relief in helping me with the girls.  And I know she's excited as well to see all of the New Jersey grandkids.

Time Flies!

       My month in New Jersey will fly by I know.   I've got granddad duties slated for that time, but hopefully there will also be some time for my blogging duties.  Maybe I'll still be able to meet with some bloggers if meetings can be arranged.  Also I'm waiting for word concerning a meeting in the Big Apple.  If I can swing this it could have some big implications for me.  I'm hoping, but I'm also prepared for it all to fall through.  Life goes on no matter what and I will simply make up a new strategy if that's what's necessary.  I'm not saying any more about this since right now there's not much to say.

       I've got Battle of the Bands posts scheduled through August so those will be appearing on the proper days.  I hope I can participate adequately for each posting--I will do my best.  The one that will probably pose the biggest problem for me is the BOTB post on August 15th.  I'll be in the midst of the most intensive travel days of all as we make our way across the country back to L.A.  Then my life will be back to normal--or maybe better.  Time will tell and that telling will come quickly.

        Be sure to come back this Wednesday July 15th for my next Battle of the Bands when I'll be featuring a song about the distance of a notable celestial body.

       Will I be anywhere near you in the weeks to come?   Can you guess what my song choice will be in the next Battle of the Bands?   Anyone want to come help me babysit? 

Monday, July 6, 2015

BOTB winner and Question of the Month

   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 this month's question:

"What are three things that you'd do tomorrow if you weren't blocked by fear?"

      This is a tough question for me.  There are many things I might consider doing if I had the finances to do them.  Fear can come in many forms as well so maybe I would need to define what fear is for me.    Then of course I would have to consider my current physical state.  There are some daring things that might be exciting to consider but could I do them?   I doubt whether you'll find me climbing a mountain no matter if I could afford it or not.

      In the final analysis it would not be so much fear that might hold me back from doing certain things as it would be a certain lack of boldness and initiative.  Also how would my doing certain things affect my home and family life?   Taking steps toward doing one thing often entails sacrificing certain other things in life that can impact how I live my life now.

      So what would I do tomorrow if I weren't particularly blocked by my concern over the possible outcome?  Here's my three:

1)  Skydiving is an idea that thrills me, but I'd have to overcome some fears to do it.

2)  Some kind of underwater activity like scuba diving sounds exciting, but I have a fear of large bodies of water or places where I could possibly drown.

3}  I'd like to be on top of a mountain but getting there seems somewhat frightening to me.  But yeah, I'd like to make it to the top of a mountain which could entail climbing.  It's something that's unlikely to happen.  

       What does fear prevent you from doing?       


Battle of the Bands Results

        The Battle this round was between Sia and Jimmy Little with their renditions of "Under the Milky Way".   Maybe I need to get in the horse race business because this Battle was another close one.

        My vote for Jimmy Little never wavered though I thought Sia offered a formidable threat with her spacey trippy version of the song.   I did like what Sia did with this song, but the lure of the cool jazz, the horn riffs, and the female background singer in Little's version won me over the most as it did many of you.

Final Vote Tally:

Sia             16 votes

Jimmy Little    18 votes 

        Another Battle comes up on Wednesday July 15th.   For the next one I'm going to stay with a space theme using a song that first debuted in 1940 and then made its biggest splash on the charts eleven years later.  A ton of artists have recorded this song over the years which gave me plenty to choose from in order to stage a good battle.

        Any guess as to my next song choice?   

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Under the Milky Way (#IWSG) & ( #BOTB )

Insecure Writer's Support Group
        We start the second half of 2015 with the first Wednesday falling on the first day of the month of July which as you probably know means it's time again for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the monthly event hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This is the time when writers from all over the globe discuss writing and all of the conflicting good and bad feelings that come with the pursuit of the literary arts. This is a forum for commiseration and encouragement. Maybe things aren't going quite like you'd like or maybe you're a bit nervous about what the future holds. You might even be riding the high horse of success and feel like you're winning the race. Whatever your circumstance join us and tell us what you're thinking.  When you finish with this portion of my post please continue on to vote on my Battle of the Bands post which you'll find on down the page.

Nothing New Under the Milky Way

        As I'd indicated in my last #IWSG post,  I've cut back for the summer as far as blogging and possibly for much else in the way of writing.  Not many current writing insecurities at the moment.   On the other hand the recurring thought at the back of my mind about whether I've got original ideas always tends to pop up now and then.   Even this topic of originality seems like one I've done before or read on someone else's blog or possible both of these.  

         That's okay though.  I don't know how many movies I've seen, books I've read, songs I've heard, or blog posts that I've composed seem vaguely familiar if not outright "been there done that."  Originality is not all that original and everything is derivative of something that came before it.  If this were not the case we probably wouldn't understand or even appreciate that totally new experience.  As someone much wiser than I once said:
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.------Ecclesiastes 1:9
        Or to adapt that saying to my theme today: There is nothing new under the Milky Way.  Since our sun is just one of a whole bunch of stars in our galaxy, that rephrasing makes the concept all the bigger.   So I guess I'm not going to worry much about the concept of absolute originality.    I'll just try to formulate that old idea that pops into my head into my own style and inject as much me into it as I can.   


Battle of the Bands

          Sultry summer days are here for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere and for those of us with unobstructed skies we may gaze up through the expanse of the Milky Way to wonder what's next for this small planet of ours.   
        One thing that is now is another Battle of the Bands.  It's July 1st, so since this event happens on the 1st and 15th of each month let's have some music fun and education.   As I mentioned in my May 22nd post, this event has become a favorite of mine.   We have Far Away Eyes at Far Away Series  to thank for conceiving this homage to music.  Stephen T McCarthy carried on from there and now has some of the list of participants at  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands More participants can be found on my page and maybe even elsewhere.  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 Battles to vote on.

Under the Milky Way

      If I were to compile a top 500 list of my favorite songs of all time, "Under the Milky Way" would undoubtedly fit somewhere on that list.   I'm not sure how high I'd rank it since I'd need to start compiling that list and this would probably take some time.  In fact, if I were doing a Soundtrack of My Life series like Robin at Your Daily Dose has been doing, I'd probably consider this song to be one of my picks.

       This is one of those songs where I remember when I first heard it on the radio.   The song really grabbed me and as soon as I made it to a record store I bought the cassette album that the song came from.  Now not only is the song a favorite, I would probably list the band that originally recorded it--The Church--as one of my favorite bands.  They've done some great music as far as my taste goes.  If you would like to hear the original version of the song you can click here, but please don't vote on this version.

        I had no idea how many artists had covered this song until I started exploring YouTube.  There are some outstanding versions to be found so it was a tough selection for me.  I finally narrowed the choices down to two that I found to be particularly interesting.

Here are the versions for today's Battle:

Sia  "Under the Milky Way"  (2010)

         Sia has been a popular multi-award winning artist over the past several years with hits like "Titanium" and "Chandelier".   Like the band The Church, Sia comes from Australia.

 Jimmy Little "Under the Milky Way Tonight"  (1999)

         Also from Australia, Jimmy Little cites Nat King Cole and country music artist Jim Reeves as his major influences--interesting combination.  Jimmy Little died in 2012 at age 75.    In 2005 Little told Peter Thompson, on the ABC-TV program Talking Heads, how he would like to be remembered, "I just want people to remember me as a nice person who was fair-minded and had a bit of talent that put it to good use."[4] (cited from Wikipedia).  

Time to Vote!

        Come on and join the fun! Please don't try to use the excuse that you don't like the music or you don't know the song.   You don't have to like the music. Just let us know which version you prefer? It's up to you to 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 (or which one was the least bad to your ears). 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



DC Relief Battle of the Bands

Shady Dell Music and Memories   

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Women:  We Shall Overcome  

Book Lover

J. A. Scott  

Holli's Hoots and Hollers

Results on Monday July 6th

         I'm going to cut the lead time to the winner announcement short this time around. You'll get the final vote tally for this Battle on my post of Monday July 6th. You can vote on today's Battle of the Bands post until Sunday July 5th which will be when I make my final vote count. Please vote!

        Did you ever come up with an idea that you thought was completely original only to find that something like it had already been done before?   Do you ever do a Google search for your ideas to see how original they are?    Are you a fan of the song "Under the Milky Way" and/or the group The Church?