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!

Friday, January 29, 2016

#AtoZChallenge Update, but Wait!--There's More!

        The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is still over two months away from the starting date, but sign-ups and chatter are going strong.   So far in the first week the list is hovering somewhere around 500 bloggers.  No telling where this number will go in the next couple months, but you can help it grow by signing up now if you haven't done so yet and then spreading the word.

         Check out the A to Z Blog for available media sites.  We have something that should appeal to just about everyone including a Facebook page, Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, and other fun things that I'm still trying to grasp.  If you don't find your favorite online place then let us know and maybe one of the A to Z Team members can set something up.  Twitter chats will be starting up again on February 28th.  Watch the blog for details.

         We're all about outreach in trying to spread the word about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and we count on you to help us.  Be sure to not only post about A to Z on your own blog, but tweet the links to any other A to Z mentions you see and get the buzz going on your own favorite sites.   Recruit your blogging friends to join you in April.   If you know someone who's been thinking about starting a blog, help them get it going and then lead them to the April Challenge to engage these new bloggers into the community.   A to Z is all about networking so we count on the participants to let others know what's going on.

          Let's aim for another big year of blogging through the alphabet!

Lost & Found: Valentine's Edition

        If you're looking for a networking opportunity before April, have you checked out the Lost & Found blog hop?   This one is coming up on Monday February 1st (that's this coming Monday!).  So far over 70 bloggers have signed up to tell their own stories about the loves they've lost or found.  This should be interesting with a mix of all sorts of posts.   You have a story to tell so why not share it with us.   For more info and the sign-up list visit Lost & Found: Valentine's Edition.  Besides me, the hosts for this event are Guilie Castillo-Oriard, Elizabeth Seckman, Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey, and Alex J Cavanaugh.

No Excuses!

       There's always something going on in the world of blogging so none of you can say that you don't have ample opportunities to network and grow your blog.  Sign up to one of these events or any of the other myriad hops, fests, or what have you.   Visit and comment on the blogs of others.  The January slump is ending and now it's time to get back into blogging high gear.   

          What blogging events are coming up in which you will be participating?    Have you been in a bit of a blog slump lately?    What is your favorite online site for networking or just looking?

Monday, January 25, 2016

A to Z Time Is Here!

        At this point need I say much more than A to Z sign-up time starts today.  Some of you have been asking and many have been waiting.   Now the wait is over.  You can sign up today or anytime between now and April 1st.  No fooling!  But don't you fool around too long to decide.  Sign up soon and start planning out your April strategy if you haven't started already.

         I've got my theme and I've already started mapping out my posts.   I'll tell you more in March when it comes time for the Great Theme Reveal.  Find out more about this and other points of the Challenge at the A to Z Challenge Blog.   Follow that site for news about the Challenge as well as helpful hints about blogging and social media.

          This will be the 7th Annual Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  If you've never participated this will be a great year to join in the fun.  If you've skipped a year or two why not come back for another try?  There are so many advantages to participating such as honing blogging and writing skills, building blog content, and most of all networking to build community.  Meet the Challenge in 2016 to show the world and, most of all, yourself that you have what it takes to be a blogging maven.

          Now lets get down to the business of the day:

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined below so you sign onto the list correctly!

The premise is simple:  The A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays .  And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. 

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE

We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list. 

Blogs must be on an open platform – no Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – and comments enabled. Please make it easy for visitors to comment on your blog.

To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Once the Challenge begins, blogs showing no activity or those that miss five days in a row will be removed. 

Please note your blog name and number in all correspondences. Remember that as blogs are removed, your number WILL change. 

There are categories for those looking for like-minded blogs. Select ONE category code and enter it after your blog’s title/name. The code applies to your blog, not your theme for the Challenge and is purely optional. See the first few blogs on the list for examples. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows: 


Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so we know you are participating and link to the A to Z Challenge Blog.

For more information we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts: 

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Heather M. Gardner
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
AJ @ A J Lauer
Pam Margolis @ An Unconventional Librarian
Damyanti Biswas @ Daily Write
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing

We also have a Facebook Page
Email address is
Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z

Sign up below and join us for a month of alphabet fun! 

Find sign-up list here.


         We're gonna have a great time in 2016!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Gone With the Wind: Who Blew Away Whom (#BOTB Results)

A Silly Gone with the Wind Story

Screenshot of the title page from the trailer ...
Screenshot of the title page from the trailer for the film
Gone with the Wind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       My previous post featured a discussion about Clark Gable and his 1939 film Idiot's Delight.  When I think of Clark Gable my mind invariably turns to Gone With the Wind (GWTW).   Who hasn't seen this epic film also from 1939.   It's on television fairly regularly and available on just about any media source.  That wasn't the case when I first saw the Civil War classic.

        All of my life I'd been aware of GWTW.   I'd often heard it mentioned in discussions about film and read about it in articles here and there.  The film was legendary, but it wasn't shown anywhere where I had access to it.  Perhaps the reason why I'd become aware of the film was partly due to write-ups about it when it had gone into re-release in 1961, 1967, or 1971.  I didn't see it during any of those releases, but I'm sure I'd gotten "wind" of it.

        Finally when it was rereleased in the theaters in 1974 and showed up in my hometown of Maryville, Tennessee I made sure that I wouldn't miss it this time.  I was in college at the time. I knew it was a great film, but I couldn't get any of my friends to go see it with me so I went by myself.

         It was a weeknight so the theater wasn't very full.  The theater was a relatively small venue, but with only 30 or 40 people in the audience it looked bigger than it really was.  The film began and I was engrossed.  When intermission came I thought the film was over. It seemed like an odd way to end the movie but I could see how that could have made an ending.  After all in the 70's there were plenty of films with endings that didn't really seem like endings.  Though it didn't make a lot of sense to me, I figured they must have edited out the part where Rhett says "Damn". That was the controversy that I'd heard so much about.  So anyway, I went ahead and left. 

        When I got to my van I realized that I was the only one who had left the theater. That's when I realized it was only an intermission.  So I wouldn't seem like a total fool if anyone had seen me go to my van I pretended to be looking for something.  Then I sheepishly went back inside hoping that nobody would notice.  The handful of those in attendance were finding their seats or they were already seated waiting for the second half of the film to begin.  No one was paying attention to me so my stupidity apparently had gone unnoticed.

       Fortunately I did see the film to its end. I've seen the film several times since. We have 3 different DVD versions of the film all given to my wife and I as gifts. The gift givers knew it was a film that we both loved.  Now if we want to see GWTW we don't have to wait for a theater showing.  We can watch the film whenever we want.  Getting to see movies is so much easier than it used to be and that's pretty darn cool.

(This post was inspired by a comment originally left at Janie Junebug's site on June 14, 2014)

Battle of the Band Results

        My most recent Battle of the Bands featured two different songs from the film Idiot's Delight.  The outcome of this match was not really a surprise to me and probably won't be a surprise to anyone else.  Actually I feared a shut-out on this though I knew my own vote would save me from this fate.  Thankfully a few of you agreed with my pick so the outcome wasn't quite as one-sided as I had expected.

         The choice was between two songs--"Puttin' on the Ritz" and "How Strange".  The performers weren't supposed to be the criteria for voting though many of you enjoyed "Ritz" as delivered by Clark Gable and Les Blondes as did I.  However, the novelty of seeing and hearing Gable in a rare song and dance was not enough to sway me.

         In my view, "Puttin' on the Ritz" is more of a novelty song that works best in context of a visual presentation.   Typically we see the song performed as a grand dance number.  The song lends itself well to dance, especially tap dance, due to it's syncopation and quirky time signatures.   It's a fun tune, not one that I would call particularly melodic, but with a memorable melody and rhythm that gets toes to tapping and listeners to hum along.   I like musical pieces like this, but it's not what I would sit around listening to for musical pleasure.

          On the other hand, "How Strange" is hauntingly beautiful.   In the version I used, the instrumental opening with what I presume is a viola lures me with it's exotic melody.  Originally the song was a Russian tune that was later adapted with English lyrics.   Since the outset of my Battle "How Strange" is the song that has predominated the playlist in my head.   That's the deciding factor for me.  The song or song version that persists most in my memory, moving me and touching something within me, is the winner in the end.  So based on this my vote goes to the song "How Strange".    Some help for that song, but not enough to even put it close to a win in this contest.

Final Vote

Puttin' on the Ritz             26 votes

How Strange                       9 votes

Coming Up!

       My next Battle on Monday February 1st will be part of a perfect storm of blogging events.   Coinciding with the Battle of the Bands will be the Lost & Found: Valentine's Edition Blog Hop and Michael G D'Agostino's Question of the Month--everything all wrapped up in one tidy package.  You can get more info by clicking on the preceding links.   Hope you'll consider in joining in with your own posts about lost and found loves--we all have a story to tell.

        On Monday the sign-ups for the annual Blogging from A to Z April Challenge will open.  This will be the 7th year of the event!  It's almost hard for me to believe, but it's true.  Consider joining us again if you've done this in the past or if you've never done this then it's a must for any blogger.   Make new friends and hone your blogging skills.  The A to Z Challenge is now blogging legend and you can become a part of the legacy.  Not only you can, but you should!

       Have you signed up for the Lost & Found Blog Hop yet?   Will you be doing the A to Z Challenge this year?   What is the biggest factor in deciding what songs or song versions you like best? 


Friday, January 15, 2016

Idiot's Delight (#BOTB & Backstage Blogathon)

        Some of you might be old enough to remember "Double Features" at the theater.  Back then you'd buy a ticket to see not only two movies, but newsreels, cartoons, and other special features.   My allusion to this is because my post today has to do with movies.   And as I frequently do, I've combined two blogging events into a double feature of the Backstage Blogathon and Battle of the Bands.  Read on for more explanations of each event as well as my take on the film Idiot's Delight...

Backstage Blogathon

In the Backstage Blogathon (click on the link for more info and the list of participating blogs) participants pick a film made before 1970 that has something to do with the workings of show biz.  This is a blog hop that definitely fits my interests in show business.   In this post I'll be also presenting a Battle of the Bands between two songs from the film I've chosen.  But more on that later. First the film...  

Idiot's Delight

        When this film came on TCM this past November I was compelled to watch it and I'm glad I did.  I'd never heard of the film prior to that night, but after watching it I knew that I had my film for the Backstage Blogathon.

      What was not to draw me into watching this film?   It's a Clark Gable film made in 1939, the same year the actor starred in Gone With The Wind.  It's a film about vaudeville which is a subject that I'm very fond of.  And what about this:  Clark Gable plays the role of a vaudevillian song and dance man.  To my knowledge this is the only film where Gable can be seen singing and dancing and he does a pretty nice job of carrying it off.

       Based on an award-winning stage play, the film version of Idiot's Delight plays heavily on the comedic talents of Clark Gable.  The story is a fun romp that begins in the early days of vaudeville then spans World War One, the Great Depression, and the onset of the Nazi Occupation of Europe prior to the Second World War.  Gable's character goes from a relatively successful vaudeville act then through the decline of that entertainment era to the drudgery of touring small venues in Europe with a female back-up group called "Les Blondes".

        While passing through the Alps, Gable and the girls get stranded in a resort with an assortment of other travelers.  This is when things get interesting as we become aware that the Nazis have arrived and life as these travelers have known it is about to undergo some drastic change.

        No spoilers from me--you'll have to watch this film yourself if you're interested in the outcome.  Besides Gable's performance in the film, I enjoyed seeing another favorite actor, a young Burgess Meredith, playing the role of a peace activist.  He gives an impassioned antiwar speech that seems like a message from the scriptwriter--a unique interjection into the story.   Most of all I like the way show business and life on the road is depicted.   We see that all is not glitz and glamour as we see the reality of a typical performer's lifestyle.

         I found Idiot's Delight to be funny with fascinating political commentary and sexual suggestiveness without being overly lascivious or crude.  Nothing like we'd see in similar films in current times.  There is a smart subtlety to the dialogue.  There are also more serious and darker undertones that are not overbearing, but they exist as a matter of fact.

          Idiot's Delight is a show business film that I look forward to seeing again.  If you're a Clark Gable fan you've got to see this film if for no other reason than to see his song and dance performances.   I never knew he had that side to his talent.

Battle of the Bands

 Battle of the Bands is the blogging event first introduced by our friends at Far Away Series and  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.
       I'm doing things a bit differently this time around in order to continue with my overview of the film Idiot's Delight.   In this Battle you don't have to necessarily judge according to the song versions presented here.   Vote instead on the song you like the best.   One song you undoubtedly know while the other is likely new to you.  Both songs appear in the film.

Clark Gable "Puttin' On The Ritz"  (1939)

        I'm sure most of you have heard this song.  "Puttin' on the Ritz" was written in 1927 by Irving Berlin.  Over the years the song has been heard in numerous movies and television shows.  In 1983 the song was revived to hit status by German synth-pop star Taco.  Whatever happened to that guy anyway?

        Here's "Puttin' on the Ritz" as performed by Clark Gable and Les Blondes in the 1939 film Idiot's Delight.  Don't necessarily judge the performance, but how much you like the song itself.

Ted Fio Rito   "How Strange"  (1939)

        This version isn't from the film.  However the song not only is part of the film soundtrack, but is also mentioned in the stage play by the original Russian name "Kak Stranna," originally a song by composer B.A. Prozorovsky and later adapted to English.  This song is quite different from "Puttin' on the Ritz", but maybe this style is more to your liking.

Time to Vote!

        This is nothing new to most of you, but if you're visiting a Battle of the Band post for the first time then let me briefly explain.  Please give each song version a fair listen to decide which one you prefer over the other.   If you don't like either then at least tell us which recording was least innocuous to you.  This comes down to your preference and it's as easy as that.

      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.
J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers


Be ReInVintaged

Results on Friday January 22nd
        You've got a week to cast your vote, but try to do it soon so you don't forget!  I've got more planned for January including the opening of the A to Z Challenge Sign-Up List.  For information about the April A to Z Blog Challenge visit the official A to Z Blog.  

      My memoir blog Wrote By Rote is also participating in the Backstage Blogathon so I hope you'll visit that post as well.

       And if you've not yet signed up for the Lost & Found: Valentine's Blog Hop be sure to click the preceding link to read all about it.  

        Have you seen the film Idiot's Delight?   Have you read or seen the play?   Did you know that Clark Gable could sing and dance?   What are some films that took you by surprise?

Monday, January 11, 2016

What Does "Manhattan" Say To You?

Français : L'île de Manhattan vue d'hélicoptère.
Photo by: Clément Bardot  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      Today I want to try something a bit different.  This will mostly require your help.  I'll explain my plan and let you take it from there if you're willing to do so.

        What I'm referring to is a future project here at Tossing It Out.  Bear with me--I assure you that there is some semblance of method to my madness all to be revealed at a later date.  The success of the outcome of this project will depend to some extent on your response to what I'm asking.  If there is no or not enough response from my readers then I'll be on my own.   Either way this project will happen with or without you.

          It's simple really.   Or complex if you'd like to go in that direction.  It's free form.  Or structured if that is what you prefer.  It's now--or it's later if you need some time to think.  We've got some time.  This project will occur in a few months, but I hope to get most of my input before then so I can organize everything properly.

          Are you ready?  Here it is:

What comes to your mind when you hear the word "Manhattan"?

           It's a word like a magic breath.  For some it invokes a place or even a history.  Or is it more than that to you?  Maybe it's something rather than someplace.  I want to hear your story about "Manhattan".  Perhaps you can write a story with "Manhattan" as the theme.  Or write a poem--Manhattan is a poetic sounding word don't you think?  Simply give me your impression of the word as a vision appears in your mind inspired by that word.

          Leave your thoughts in the comment section if they aren't too long.  Write a post on your own blog and send me the link to it.  If you've already done a Manhattan themed post sometime in the past then send me the link to that.  Write me a guest post that I can use when my project begins to appear.

           I'll use anything you provide me in the comment section or that you send me otherwise.  Once I have all comments and other contributions assembled, they will appear on Tossing It Out as a special event series over many days and I will link to your blog or use other links that you'd like me to use.   You can consider my request to be a prompt to be used for a writing exercise, a challenge, or an opportunity to get your blog link and name out to a wider audience.

           So send me something if you'd like.  My email can be found in the "Post a Comment" disclaimer section below.  Or leave your comment with your word association based on "Manhattan".   If you even just leave me a sentence in reference to "Manhattan", I'll turn it into a complete post and give you credit for it.   I want to hear about "Manhattan".   Tell me something, anything and you will have a future spot in my special project.

            Daft--perhaps.  I may have to make this up as I go.   Hope you'll make this easier for me by providing me inspiration from your mind.


Friday, January 8, 2016

The Boy Has Arrived (As Have My #BOTB Results)

English: rain
Rain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Out of Character in California

      El Niño has stormed in with great vigor here in Southern California. Cold, cloudy, and intermittently rainy, the predicted weather phenomena is dumping much needed precipitation on the drought-stricken desert land of SoCal and forecasters are promising more to come. Let's hope this rainfall takes care of some of the water problems and Governor Jerry Brown can shut up about it. Of course like any dutiful politician Governor Moonbeam will continue spouting off about something, be it a bullet train or whatever hokum he rattles about in the months to come.

       The problem with the rain is that now that I'm shaking off my sickness acquired during the holiday break, I'm trying to avoid getting all wet and cold so now I'm waiting for a break in the rain so I can restock our empty pantries after our vacation return. Now that we're home I guess we probably should start eating in again and stop going out for food. I think we need to eat sometimes, but probably don't need to be going to fast food joints or restaurants or wherever.

So what else is new?

      Well, we've got that Lost & Found: Valentine's Edition Blog Hop featuring your special stories and thoughts about the subject of love come and gone.  You can click on the preceding link in order to get more info and to sign up.  Or you can click on the badge in my sidebar.  We're getting good participation so far and I think we're going to get some excellent entries.  It happens on February 1st and if you do the Battle of the Bands on that day don't worry:  You can combine the two events with a song expressing the topic--so far a few of us will be doing just that.


         On January 15 I'll be joining in the Backstage Blogathon which will also coincide with a Battle of the Bands post. If you're a film buff you will definitely want to check this out. Click the badge in my sidebar for details.

Battle of the Bands!  Battle of the Bands!

        I've already mentioned it twice in this post so I might as well do it again.  After all today is the day when the winner of my most recent Battle is to be announced.   This Battle was a good one to start the new year--"What's New" was the song and the competing artists were Artie Shaw with Helen Forrest on vocals against the Nelson Riddle Orchestra featuring Linda Ronstadt on vocals. 

        The outcome of this Battle actually surprised me.  Since Linda Ronstadt was the more contemporary choice and most likely had the greater name recognition I figured her version to be the shoo-in.  Boy, was I off on that forecast!   

        As for my own vote I really wavered on my favorite as I love both of these versions.   It's hard to beat that big band sound of Artie Shaw to my ears and Helen Forrest does a splendid job with the vocals.  Though some voters found Ronstadt's version to be too slow, boring, and sad, I think she puts a sense of drama depicting a wistful conversational tone to what she is singing which to me is very appropriate for the melancholy sentiment of the song.  Nelson Riddle's orchestral arrangement is lush and dripping with sentimentality.  I really like what they do with the song.

         For me it was a tough choice, but in the end I'm going to go with the majority and choose the multifaceted arrangement of Artie Shaw's big band.  I hear the audience noise in the background of the recording and realize it was done live.  I wish I could go back in time to be there.  Great stuff!

Final Vote Tally

Artie Shaw with Helen Forrest              17 votes

Linda Ronstadt with Nelson Riddle      11 votes

       How's the weather where you are?   Do you usually eat home-cooked meals or take-out?    Were you surprised about the outcome of this Battle?

        Next Battle of the Bands post will appear on January 15th!  Hey, that's next Friday!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mid-Week Mish Mash for #IWSG

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

         I'm not going to start off the new year talking about any of my insecurities as there are bigger things for the #IWSG with the announcement of the story picks for the new #IWSG short story anthology.   The winners have plenty to feel secure about in being included in what will be an outstanding collection of stories.  For details be sure to visit Alex J Cavanaugh and get your copy of the book today.

Lost & Found:  Valentine's Edition Blog Hop

     Sign ups started on Monday and have been going well.  This should be a fun event with a lot of interesting and varied entries.   You've got until the end of the month to sign up for Lost & Found which will happen on February 1st.  

     If you haven't signed up yet, here is another opportunity:


Battle of the Bands

      My current Battle of the Bands contest is still open for voting.  For those who might not be familiar with Battle of the Bands or have not voted in my current Battle, be sure to stop by my What's New post and vote for your favorite song version.  Read about Battle of the Bands at the blog of Stephen T McCarthy.   The winner of my Battle will be announced this coming Friday January 8th.

Our Old Friend A to Z Coming Soon

     Another Blogging from A to Z Challenge is coming in April and sign-ups will open on January 25th.   Have you started getting posts ready yet?    Visit the A to Z Challenge Blog tomorrow (Thursday January 7th) for some helpful tips from A to Z veteran Jolie Du Pre.

        What big things do you have in store for 2016?   Did you submit a story to the #IWSG anthology?     Will you join us for the Lost & Found Blog Hop?