Saturday, December 21, 2013


Seems I have one more post in me that I need to get out before we begin 2014. I've been saving this since about mid December. I really didn't want to spoil the mood by posting it before Christmas .

Anyway...a friend emailed this to me under the subject title 'This Should Make You Angry'. Personally is made me kind of sad. But, I'll let you decide how you feel about Lucy and her commentary on the Great US of A.


It's it a great country (the US). Where else can you get paid to visit  with your friends, lay around on the couch, and smoke weed...ALL DAY LONG!

Have a Happy New Year!

See you back here on the 1st of January for another exciting BATTLE OF THE BANDS.


Here we are, it's the 21st of December and I'm about to post the results for the final BATTLE OF THE BANDS for 2013. These past five months have really flown by, as is what usually happens when you're having fun, and BOTB has really been fun for me. I hope you all have had a good time also.

There have been so many interesting comments. It is apparent most of you have some sort of musical background. I don't like to talk too much about myself, but I'm gonna do it here for a little  bit anyway. This is some totally non-interesting FAE trivia (store it away,  maybe there will be a test - someday). I play the piano and obviously can read music. I've sung in choirs and 'the chorus'. I've even sung a duet or two (YIKES!). I don't consider myself to have a 'good' voice, but I do know something about music. BUT, more important that whatever silly or trivial musical knowledge I might have, I know what moves me, and that is what I expect from a really good piece of music whatever the genre. THAT, is also how I vote, both here at my own site and in the other BATTLES.

Now, on with my vote, but first the reason I decided to pit Mahalia and Sinead against each other.

I wanted to use 'Silent Night' as the song,  because, well, let's face it; when it comes to Christmas carols it is THE song. Rather than use another 'Bing' version or something that was overdone with a lot of backup and new fangled arrangements, I wanted something that was more simple, sung from the heart, something that felt really, Really, REALLY moving (at least to me). That led me to choose Mahalia right from the start...but who to put up against her? I listened to a lot of versions of 'Silent Night', most fairly obscure (mainly because I already knew the popular ones wouldn't stand up to MJ). Then I found Sinead.

Three of you stated outright that you really weren't a fan of Sinead (interesting that all three of you did vote for her) for various reasons. She certainly is NO stranger to controversy, from her shaved head to her religious and political commentary. She announced to the world that she suffered from mental illness and goes out in public to prove it. Her music tends toward the edgy and downright strange, BUT sometimes she seems to let her Spirit free and that is when her voice soars. I think that happens here on 'Silent Night'. (I must admit that the only other song of hers that I think this happens with  is 'One More Day' - The Funeral Song. You can check it out at YouTube. BTW, it was the inspiration for a very moving scene in one of my stories - maybe I'll tell you about it one day.)

I DO like both of these version, BUT my vote goes to Mahalia Jackson. I grew up hearing her music and it never fails to move me at the very foundation of my being. She believes it, she lives it, and you know it, when she sings it. This woman knows Jesus Christ on a very personal level. I can feel that in my soul.

In the end my vote isn't enough to give this BATTLE to Mahalia. The final tally is:

                                        Mahalia Jackson     4 votes

                                         Sinead O'Connor 10 votes

Finally, I want to leave you with a song that kind of embodies my Christmas Battle of the Bands. If you've been coming around here for more than the past six months, you know that I spent the last three Christmas' in the Caribbean. Down in de land of de blue waters, they sing everything with a little different beat. At first it was strange to me and then I kind of got used to it. This Christmas, although I DO love the blue waters of Lake Tahoe, I find that I miss the music of the Caribbean a little bit. So here is Miss Gladys Knight with a Caribbean version of 'Silent Night/O Holy Night'.


I don't plan to make an appearance here in this space again until after Christmas so I want to wish each and everyone of you the Merriest Christmas, and extend my prayer that you remember the Reason for the Season. I also want to thank you for your continued support of this dumb blonde who might be able to read music, but still doesn't know exactly where the commas go.

Come back on January 1, 2014, when I'll start the New Year off with another BATTLE OF THE BANDS!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Can you believe it? Only TEN days until Christmas. I love Christmas. I have to admit that  when it gets down to the wire, like this, I'm the biggest kid in the house. On Christmas Eve I can't get to sleep, I'm so excited for the morning. No matter how old I get the wonder of waking up and seeing all the presents under the tree and the stockings stuffed to the brim and spilling over, is something I look forward to for three hundred and sixty-four days. I especially love to see the faces of the little ones when they first set eyes on the tree.

We used to have a tradition in our house that Santa decorated the tree. On Christmas Eve we would set it up in the house, fill the stand with water, and then go to bed. In the morning not only would Santa have left presents (for those of us who had been good), but he also put all the lights and ornaments on the tree. Yeah, we didn't enjoy our tree for weeks before Christmas (and Santa didn't get much sleep), but it really made Christmas morning all the more magical.

This year I've added a new tradition; BATTLE OF THE BANDS. A few months ago when Mr. McCarthy talked me into doing this on a regular basis, I never figured that it would last this long or gather so much attention. This is Battle X and it has grown to six full time participants with a few of you dropping in every so often with your own BATTLES. Some of you gather a lot more votes than I do, but I really appreciate all who have come by regularly to view and vote on my choices for BATTLE OF THE BANDS.

Anyway...let's get on with it.  I had so many ideas of great Christmas songs it was hard to narrow it down to just two for this month. I originally was going to go with one sacred type song (hymn) and one of the more secular (popular-childlike) tunes, but at the last minute I changed my mind.

For this BATTLE I decided to go with the 'Queen Mother' of all  Christmas Carols. SILENT NIGHT. There are so many versions to choose from and after listening to what feels like hundreds, I have to admit that while I like some more than others, there is no way to really mess this wonderful song up. I've decided to go with two versions that are a tiny bit more obscure. One is a beautiful nod to a good friend (you know who you are) and the other an appropriate opponent. I'll let you listen, and see if you can determine why I choose to pit these two women against each other. 
First, sit back and close your eyes, then give you  heart and mind over to this version of Silent Night by Mahalia Jackson. 

For my second choice, I give you another singular voice, Sinead O'Connor. Another version best listened to through your heart.

Both these women sing without a lot of musical fanfare and no backup, but each lifts her voice in a clear decisive reverent hymn. Maybe neither is your very favorite version, but none the less these are my choices for BOTB X. Please cast your votes and let me know your reasons.

One more thought from me: Like 'O Holy Night' (my choice for BOTB IX), this songs speaks to my heart at this time of year. For me Christmas is both a Holy and Silent Night, when I hear the whisperings of the Spirit most clear.

I'll see you back here on the 21st, with my choice, your winner, and a SPECIAL CHRISTMAS TUNE, just for you guys. Now go on out there and check on the other participants starting with Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends the home of my partner in this particular crime, Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy (I'm sure he will publish the links to the other regular participants. You guys know me - far to cyber challenged to do that, this early in the morning). Everyone else posting a battle leave a comment to that effect and a link if possible, so everyone who stops by here can visit you also.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Surprised to see me back so soon. Well today a group of bloggers are roasting this bird


OOPS! Sorry wrong Bird. We're actually roasting this Bird.

You see today is Cheerfest 2.0. for more details and to check out the Linky List showing all the other bloggers enlisted to give Mr. Bird a good 'basting' you'll have to take a trip to Hawaii and visit Mark Koopmans

Cheerfest has a few rules, and since you all know I would never break the rules (Ha, ha, ha!) let's get started.

FIRST, there are four questions that we are asked to answer with respect to Mr. Arlee Bird:

1.  Why did Lee come up with the A-Z Challenge? 
        I dunno, maybe to make us all (more) crazy!

2.  If someone dreams about being a juggler what does it mean?
        Maybe that they like to keep all their balls up in the air.

3.  Is a post by Mr. Bird worth two in the bush?
        Usually I decline answering 'bush' questions but since you asked, a post by Mr. Bird is worth a certain amount of controversy and at least, a partridge in a pear tree. 

4.  Who would play Lee in a documentary?
         Definitely Brad Pitt. I would love to explain my reasoning, but we are only allowed +/- 20 words for each answer, so I'll have to leave it to your imagination.

SECOND, we're supposed to write a piece of FLASH FICTION using the following prompts:.


Oh, BTW this piece of FLASH FICTION is not supposed to exceed 100 words (HA, ha, ha!)

Well here goes +/- a few 100 words (You know me!).

'It was a cold and stormy night. Absolutely nobody should be on the road on a night like this, let alone this solitary traveler. The wind was whipping and TOSSING his thin BROWN JACKET like some crazed JUGGLER who was somewhat vertically CHALLENGEd. The mournful cry of a night BIRD startled this lone sojourner, so he sought refuge at the first farmhouse where light burst forth from each window.

A firm rap on the door and it flew open to reveal the most beautiful woman our traveler had ever seen. Being a man of humble means he begged shelter in the barn and was granted such. In the middle of the night a soft song was heard...'

Well, I'm over 100 words there, so again you'll have to use your imagination

THIRD, we are supposed to 'caption this picture:

             'Another fine, upstanding, young man gone wrong by the evils of circus life.'

Well there you have it. A fine roasting, toasting, roller coasting for that man about town the debonair Mr. Arlee Bird!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Time to announce the winner of BATTLE OF THE BANDS IX.

I have to tell you, I was surprised by all of the 'Celine hate' exposed in this BATTLE. Wow! Even the two of you who voted for her had a somewhat negative side to your comment. On the other hand, almost without exception everyone of you seemed to think this was a very special song. I definitely agree with you there.

I find it interesting that when you start to look up Christmas music is seems that Bing Crosby has covered just about every song out there from the spiritual to the secular. He does have a nice mellow tone that lends itself easily to so many of these great songs. I'm also fond of most of his old movies (where BTW he so often seemed to play a priest - or it that simply what he's most remembered for) it just isn't Christmas until I've sat down and watched 'White Christmas. He certainly was popular in this particular BATTLE.

Now to Celine. More than once someone expressed the feeling that Celine was just showing off what her voice could do.  I think someone even called it 'voice acrobatics'. On one hand I have to agree with you, but on the other I have to say; 'if you've got it, flaunt it'. What a shame  it would be if she didn't expose us  everything marvelous pipes can do. I suppose the same people who think she's showing off her assets, also think that Dolly Parton should wear nothing but muumuus so as not to her assets. Anyway...

Personally I've never been a big Celine fan. I only own one CD of hers ('These are Special Times', her Christmas album) and that was a gift. I never understood what all the fuss was about. I really didn't think she was so great that a special room was built in Las Vegas especially for her to perform in, but she sure did pack em in. BUT, in this BATTLE she gets my vote. Everything about this piece just shouts praise to me. It seems this is the way these Christmas hymns should be presented. Now don't get me wrong I also enjoy Bing's straight forward more mellow version, but in this case I think Celine's flaunting of her vocal range lends itself perfectly to this stirring melody and words of adoration. In then end even with my vote the totals are strongly in favor of Mr.  Crosby:       

        Bing Crosby     10 votes
        Celine Dion        3 votes (including mine)

It would seem that you guys are more the straight forward, mellow types. Well this was one of those times when there really wasn't a 'wrong' vote. How could there be with such a beautiful song.

Now check out some of the other sites to see how the voting went on their BATTLES. And come on back on the 15th for BATTLE OF THE BANDS X and some more Christmas Cheer!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


That quote just about sums up my personal feelings on insecurity lately. While I admit that I have had a hard time putting my butt in the chair and writing, I have been working on several projects in my head. I think I'm finally ready to attack the keyboard.

When I copied that little quote above it was linked to a blog written by Marc Chernoff. The blog title is 'Marc and Angel Hack Life or Practical Tips for Productive Living'. Marc had a list of eight reasons not to NEED the approval of others.  Since I think they are pretty interesting I would like to share them with you.

You only get one life to pursue the dreams that make you come alive

Someone else's approval is just another opinion

The only opinion that really matters is you own

Some people will never give you their approval anyway

Everyone's journey and perspective on life is totally different

First hand experience is often necessary for personal growth

Your intuition requires no approval

Life is too short to wait any longer

I can't say that I agree with Marc 100% on every point but some of them are right on the money. When it comes to writing in the world today, with the opportunities to self-publish, the approval of agents, editors, and the establishment is not so necessary other than to massage our egos. Sometimes it's more important to tell your stories, than to get recognition for them.

I for one am taking all of this to heart and planning of beginning 2014 with a positive attitude. It is my intention to finish up the edits on my current story and try to sell it. I have another idea that has been percolating for some time now, and I think it's time to get that one down on the screen. Finally, my first story 'Far Away Eyes' has been the stuff that is making up my dreams - I think that one wants to be reworked and see the light of day.

BTW - I think Marc's suggestions about overcoming our need for approval are pretty darn good for basic day to day life, no matter what your passion may be. That reminds me of another quote 'Whatever you are, be a good one.'- (attributed to A. Lincoln)

This is my final post for the year 2013 with the Insecure Writer's support Group. To learn more about this group or to read what some other Insecure Writer's have to say please go to The Source , click on the icon and check out some of the other posts (last I checked there were about 300 members).

Sunday, December 1, 2013


December 1, 2013; can you believe it? Only twenty-four more days til Christmas. I can hardly wait. I love Christmas. When I was a child I used to spend hours laying under the Christmas tree playing with the Nativity Set. I wanted desperately to spend the night sleeping under the tree but my mother would never let me. Anyway…

This month should prove to be the best BATTLE OF THE BANDS yet, because I figure almost everyone participating with be doing Christmas songs. I know for sure that I will and Mr. McCarthy has already stated his intention to do the same. Based on some of the other participants, I’ll bet they will also. (I am wondering if Todd Rundgren did a Christmas album.)

Well, what do ya say we get this Christmas party started. There are so many great songs to choose from, I really had a hard time, but I’m going to start with one of my favorite Christmas Hymns. ‘O Holy Night’. 

First a little history:
"O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noël") is a well-known Christmas carol composed byAdolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) byPlacide Cappeau (1808–1877). Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet, had been asked by a parish priest to write a Christmas poem.[1] Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight,[2]editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, created a singing edition based on Cappeau's French text in 1855. In both the French original and in the two familiar English versions of the carol, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus and of humanity's redemption. (courtesy of wikipedia)

I thought I would let the lady go first. Perhaps you'll recognize her.

Next up, the iconic gentleman Mr. Bing Crosby.

Alright, you guys know how this works. Cast your votes and tell me why. Then visit everyone else participating. Start with the Handsome and Dashing Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy at Ferret Faced Fascist Freinds, then check out that traveling man Mr. Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out. Finally, check the comment box at each site to see who else might decide to jump on the sleigh ride this month.
If you hadn’t heard we fulfilled the first contest with the November 15th BOTB and C.W. Martin was our winner. Mr. McCarthy and I are changing the contest up a bit. It will be more random and give everyone a better chance to win, but you will need to stay tuned for the details on some future post.
I’ll be lookin’ towards your comments and votes.