Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

09-20-2016 Journal – Jim Croce Remembered!   Leave a comment

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I’ve had the pleasure over the years of listening to and sometimes enjoying many styles of music.  I have eclectic tastes ranging from opera to blues to jazz but by far many of my most favorite singers have been the balladeers such as Gordon Lightfoot, Harry Chapin, and of course, Jim Croce.

Both Harry Chapin and Jim Croce died before their time which was a great loss to me and remains so to this day. It’s been 43 years sine Croce was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana and 35 years since Chapin died in 1981 in a car accident.

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Here’s a short blurb on Croce’s death.  He’ll always remain on my IPod and continue to make me smile when I listen to his music.

“On Thursday, September 20, 1973, during Croce’s Life and Times tour and the day before his ABC single “I Got a Name” was released, Croce, Muehleisen, and five others died when their chartered Beechcraft E18S crashed into a tree, while taking off from the Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Others killed in the crash were pilot Robert N. Elliott, musician Maury Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose, and road manager Dennis Rast. Croce had just completed a concert at Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches and was flying to Sherman, Texas, for a concert at Austin College. The plane crashed an hour after the concert. Jim Croce was 30 years old.”

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R.I.P. JIM

YOU’RE STILL MISSED

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09-02-2016 Journal – Big Easy-2!   Leave a comment

The first day in NO was coming to an end and we decided to just hit the streets and roam around to get a better feel for things.  It was just getting dark and we were both starving. That airline food really is a joke.  We stumbled on a place on the north end of the French Quarter called Coops.  It’s one of those places with a questionable first impression and it was filled with mostly local residents some of which were way out there.  Of course we immediately went in to sample some good old Cajun food and we weren’t sorry.

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My rule #1 for eating in NO. Go local!

I ordered my usual ice cold Chardonnay while my better-half discovered a new love. She ordered a Big Easy IPA that’s brewed locally.  She fell in love with the brew which meant I would have a few more of them on my credit card in the coming days. . . AND I DID!  She ordered some sort of shrimp dish while I stepped outside the box once again. I dined on rabbit and alligator sausage jambalaya.  I hate to say this about the rabbit but if cooked properly it tastes just like chicken. No eye rolling please. We were finally cooled down by the air conditioning and decided to continue our walking tour.  Temps were still in the low nineties at dusk.

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We stopped at a number of small shops when we saw something interesting and to use their air conditioning. I’d already sweat through my clothes and would do so many more times during our stay.

NO is known as an artist colony and one of the reasons I love this place so much. We saw murals and sculptures just about everywhere we went. Here are two samples from our first night.

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We spent a lot of time looking at art work displayed in galleries and also on the street in Jackson Square.  Some of it was really good, some just OK, and others that were unbelievably bad.  To each their own I guess.  We continued our walk into Jackson Square where the line of horse drawn carriages were waiting for customers.

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We were at the end of a very long day and headed back to our hotel for the night.  That little pool in the courtyard I posted about earlier was the best thing that happened to us the entire day. Off with the clothes, into the swim suits, and into all of that lovely cool water.  We chatted with some new friends from Germany at the pool, finished our drinks and went off to bed. Our room felt like a refrigerator and thank god for that.

MORE TO COME

08-31-2016 Journal – The Big Easy!   Leave a comment

Well, my better-half and I arrived home last night after spending 6 glorious days in the party capitol of the USA . . . New Orleans.  If I disregard our god awful experiences with Jet Blue then we had a great time.  It’s been a number of years since I visited NOLA but I was thrilled to see that it was the same old exciting place that I remembered.  The evidence of Katrina’s visit eleven years ago has been all but erased.

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I grabbed this shot from their website because mine was blurry as hell.

I booked our hotel in an off-the-beaten-path location located in the old creole section of NO on Burgundy Street, 2 blocks north of Bourbon Street. The St. Pierre hotel was once the NO Jazz Museum but has since been converted into an hotel.

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It consists of a group of 150 year old creole homes joined together with small intimate courtyards and swimming pools hidden from street view.  If you ever visit there you need to know this is not the Hilton or Weston style of hotel.  This is an old building with 150 years of character and an 1850’s atmosphere.  We loved going native for a few days and would do it again in a heartbeat.

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This pool was 30 feet from our room. This is the view looking down from the balcony.

The weather was typical NO. It was 90 plus degrees all week with never less than 80% humidity. It was feel-like temperature of over 100 degrees.  Even though the heat was brutal that pool made it bearable. We visited it twice a day to cool off and have a drink and meet people from all over the world who were also staying there. Just fabulous.

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Another view of the courtyard from our balcony.

This posting is just the start of our trip. I’ll probably continue posting on our other activities for the next week or so. There was a lot to see and maybe I can give you a little taste of how it felt to be there.

IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE WEEK BUT WE’RE GLAD TO BE HOME.

07-29-2015 Journal–A Night in South Canada!   Leave a comment

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I’m only making a joke about South Canada.  My better-half and I spent our evening yesterday enjoying some of the crowds and nightlife in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  I call it south Canada because the majority of people I mingled with last night were speaking French.  Does anyone but me think that the French language is sexy?

I’ve had a fantasy since age eleven that had me moving to France, meeting a beautiful French women, and having her whisper sweet nothings in my ear forever.  Last night will probably be as close as I ever get to fulfilling that fantasy.  I sat next to a rather attractive women who spoke to the bartender in French to order a drink.  I have no idea what she ordered but that sexy voice speaking French really got me going.  Am I a bad man?  If I am, I don’t think I care that I am.

We started out in the Strike Zone Bar with drinks and a great baked haddock dinner. Then it was a nice walk to the Pier and the beach in the center of town where a concert was in progress. The Salvation Army was out in force, had erected a rather cool stage, and the group “Unbound” was rocking the house.

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After their final set we set off to the amusement park to throw away some of our hard earned money on those normally hokey carnival style games.  I dropped five bucks throwing ten stupid whiffle balls into holes trying to win a stuffed animal. Fortunately I didn’t win, thank God.  The last thing we need is more stuffed animals in our house.  I already feel like I’m living with Jim Henson as it is.

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Here are a few snaps I  took as we walked around.

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It’s a requirement of my better-half to make the obligatory trip to the arcade to rub elbows and everything else we have with the crowds of people and to play a few games of Skee Ball.  It allows her to reminisce for a few minutes about bringing her kids here when they were growing up.  Since they’ve grown up and gone I get to be their stand-in.

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Our last stop for the night was at DQ for ice cream and I went a little overboard. I’ve been dreaming about a big disgustingly unhealthy banana split since last summer. I violated every eating rule established by my healthcare experts and pigged out.  It was freaking orgasmic to say the least.

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And so ended another night in South Canada where fun was being had by all. We’ll be returning soon on a future weekend to spend the afternoon on the beach and the night cruising around and enjoying the beautiful weather.  I may be forced to sign up for a night school course to bone up on my French language skills. I need to know how to order a Jack Daniels and Pepsi like they do in Quebec.

07-23-2015 Journal – Love Me, Amy!   Leave a comment

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‘My New Workout Buddy’

I had a great workout yesterday. Normally I’d spend forty-five minutes on the treadmill and all the while watching some ridiculous television rerun.  I’ve been doing my workouts every other day for the last year and a half but as time goes by it becoming more of a boring task than a healthy approach to my life. On top of that I’m tired of hearing myself bitching and complaining about it endlessly. I’ve discovered over the years that I have the uncanny ability to annoy even myself and not just others.

With the upcoming cutting of my TV umbilical cord I’ve begun taking steps to prepare myself for what I’m sure will be a certain amount of withdrawal from my life-long television addiction.  It will difficult I’m sure but absolutely necessary.

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‘I’d judge that as a 9.5’

I’ve turned away from my exercising in front of the television to embracing an old love . . . music. I’ve never considered turning to music  on the treadmill because I’ve always loved music and hated mandatory exercise. Mixing the two seemed somehow wrong. I was forced to rethink my entire approach to these things because cable television is making me insane.

I’ve had an IPod full of thousands of songs for years but have used it sparingly.  I’ve always disliked wearing ear buds because the accompanying loss of hearing of my surroundings makes me wary and uncomfortable. Yesterday I jumped on the treadmill, put in my ear buds, and turned on my IPod. The silence of the world was replaced for the first twenty minutes by those politically incorrect Dixie Chicks who pissed me off years ago as they did a large segment of the country. I still love their music but detest their political naiveté.

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‘President Bush’s Fav’s’

The next twenty-five minutes were consumed by the late darling of the British Isles, Amy Winehouse.  I love her brash lyrics and low and sexy sound.  She made the remaining time fly by and I actually found myself totally entranced by her music and my memories of her. It was wonderful.

I guess I accomplished three things yesterday.  I kicked my TV habit, I had a kick-ass workout, and I began a new love affair with my IPod and Ms. Winehouse.

To quote one of Amy’s lyrics, "Where is my moral parallel?". My answer is the same as hers . . ."I have none."

FADE TO BLACK

01-02-2015 Journal – Welcome to 2015!   Leave a comment

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Well we’ve all survived another year.  I guess we should be congratulated but maybe not.  Over the New Years holiday I made the mistake of catching up on some TV watching. I should have known better but as always I thought there might be something interesting on. How stupid am I?

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I was working on a project and had the TV playing in the background. I was excited about the project since I’ve been working on it for more years than I care to think about.  I was working intently but my subconscious was inundated with three hours of religious doom and gloom. The "End of Days" and "Armageddon" we’re just some of the topics I was hearing and it depressed me enough that I turned the channel. I then found myself in the midst of a mini-marathon of the Walking Dead program which for me was even worse than the religious nonsense. 

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The bottom line was that I disconnected the damn TV and fell back on the good old reliable music that I love.  I recently created a new playlist which is killer. It’s a collection of three of my all time favorite female blues singers, Anita Baker, Billie Holiday, and Amy Winehouse.  It was absolutely wonderful with Billie singing Loverman,  followed closely by Amy singing Back to Black, and then Anita bringing it home with Sweet Love. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

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Back to this crazy project of mine.  Over a ten year period back in the nineties I created a collection of collages containing articles and things from my life. Some were four feet square with an variety of other sizes as well. I called them my life panels.  I always intended to have them framed and then put together to create a wall.  Here I am twenty-five years later and even though they’ve been in storage for all of that time they still look pretty good. They’ve never been displayed at all but have moved from place to place with with me awaiting enough wall space to put them up. 

This current man-cave of mine has slowly turned into someplace special but I still don’t have enough wall space.  I solved that problem this week by turning my life panels into the ceiling above my computer desk. The picture that follows was taken as I was lying on my back on the floor looking up.

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What better way to start 2015 than to resurrect my life panels and to display them proudly.  I can now lean back in my chair and see more than twenty years of my life displayed for my enjoyment. Happy New Year to me. . . .

AND TO YOU!

08-10-2014 Journal Entry – A Birthday Surprise or Two!   4 comments

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My last vacation of the summer has ended with the return of my better-half from her recent trip. She arrived late last night and fell into bed exhausted from all of the driving. She was wound pretty tight but dropped into a dead sleep within minutes of her head hitting the pillow. I knew I was in for a blow-by-blow description of the entire trip as soon as I woke up in the morning.  Boy was I ever right.

She was moving kind of slow in the morning but after a couple cups of good strong coffee she finally appeared almost human. I rolled out early myself to get my forty minutes on the treadmill out of the way.  As I came upstairs from the workout she surprised me with a belated birthday gift and a promise of a steak dinner with all the trimmings later on.  I honestly never expected that because I’m not a someone who’s a big birthday celebrator.

We started the day with a food shopping trip to refill the larders.  It was a nice day with sunny skies and warm weather and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. We made a visit to the local Walmart, purchased a little of everything, and then just wandered around for a while to people watch.  It was then that I began thinking of the dinner she was planning and what I could contribute.

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As you’re aware if you read this blog often enough you know I’m a amateur winemaker. When we arrived home I went directly to my wine cellar to find a wine to compliment that beautiful steak she was going to prepare. I’ve been told by many people that homemade fruit wines usually loose their flavor after being bottled for more than two years.  I found a few bottles of a strawberry wine that I made in 2003.  At the time that wine was excellent and laughingly became known as the dancing wine.  If you drank more than two glasses you’d be overwhelmed with the desire to dance your ass off.  After eleven years I wasn’t exactly sure what we’d find.

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‘It Was a Very Good Year’

Upon returning home we moved to the deck for an hour of total relaxation slowly sipping on a glass of wine that smelled wonderful and tasted even better.  Two glasses each and we were aglow. I was shocked at how good the wine still was after all of those years in the bottle. We decided to take a short break, fire up the grill, and prepare the food for dinner.  The steak was cooked medium rare and melt-your-mouth tender. Aluminum foil wrapped vegetables from the garden finished the meal off rather nicely.  It was then time for a second bottle which went down even easier than the first.

It was great birthday celebration that was totally unexpected and I can report officially that we both were pleased with the end result. I just love happy endings. 

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It’s now the morning after and I have another tidbit of information to pass along.  That freaking wine while having excellent taste also brings along with it a mind-numbing hangover. I truthfully think I’m gonna die. Even the good coffee that usually saves the day isn’t working worth a damn. I’ll end this posting now because I need a power nap and a few dozen extra strength Tylenols.

Don’t come to my impending funeral, you’ll be disappointed. Happy Birthday to me.

10-01-2013   Leave a comment

I’ve been mentioning the Fryeburg Fair for a month now and today was the day.  We were up at dawn and enroute to pickup the better-half’s daughter and one year old grandson.  I’d  pounded down two quick cups of coffee to get my heart started and to keep me alert during the fifty minute drive to Fryeburg, Maine.  It was early, I hadn’t slept all that well, and I knew it was going to be a very long day.

I was looking forward to taking the grandson to his first Fair but everything else was up for grabs.  As we entered the town of Fryeburg traffic was exactly as expected, grid lock.  We moved very slowly through town to the area where the fairgrounds are located and parked in the front yard of a local resident for $5.00 bucks.  Every house on the street approaching the fairgrounds has a sign up and a person waving a flag trying to entice idiots like us to park with them.  Depending on the size of their yard they can turn a nice profit during Fair week.  We unloaded the two hundred pounds of baby stuff, threw the little guy into his high-tech stroller and began walking the short distance to the main entrance of the fairgrounds.

When I say there were thousands of people swarming the area I’m not kidding.  I have a minor phobia about large crowds and close quarters and I knew today was going to test me in a big way. 

The better-half has a few things during every Fair visit that have become a tradition for her such as immediately buying a stack of postcards, a giant plastic coffee mug, and chowing down on a box of french fries.  It took just a few minutes for those three items to be scratched from her to-do list and the rest of us were finally permitted to find a freaking rest room.

The crowds continued to grow, the sun came out, and it turned into a beautiful yet sweltering day.  During the drive to the Fair the temperature was in the low fifties but within an hour of our arrival it started climbing into the mid seventies.  An absolute scorcher as it turned out.

We visited exhibits, nibbled at various food items and delivered the grandson to the petting zoo for an introduction to a few of Mother Natures favorite animals.  He was curious for a moment as he and his mother were mobbed by a herd of small goats looking for the food they were carrying. His interests in the goats waned a bit but then he discovered the straw covering the floor.  It held his interest almost as long as the goats.  Maybe next year he’ll be more interested in the animals. 

We sat for a time in the shade of a tree and listened to a local performer singing a selection of songs and making nice with the crowd.  We were able to catch our breath, cool off a little, and change our damp little boy.  He had some fun clapping with the music and trying to dance and smiling and giggling at everyone.  It was pretty cool.

It was as expected a very long day.  We visited more animals, barns, horses, oxen, cattle, chickens, and llamas than I ever want to see again.  We ate more food, drank more water and made many more trips to the restrooms.  That for me is the biggest racket of all at this Fair.  They have an assigned attendant in each restroom who I was expected to tip after relieving myself.  Of course I left no tip because I refuse to pay someone to stand there and direct me to a urinal and then watch me take a leak.  Something is just wrong and a little creepy about that and I refused to participate.  I’d love to see just how those folks would list that job on their resume.  I won’t even try to guess.

It was finally four o’clock and we’d been roaming around for almost eight hours.  My back hurt, my feet hurt, I was hot and sweaty, and the baby was getting a little cranky.  The better-half and her daughter were exhausted as well and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there.  So we did.

The soft seats of that car were the best part of the day.  The baby instantly fell asleep and we made our way home.  I was happy to be involved with his first official Fair visit and we were able to document it with hundreds of photographs.  Next year he’ll be walking, talking, and be a little more aware of what’s going on around him.  I’m already looking forward to that.

I’d really like to write more but I’m heading for the shower and then our nice soft bed. I am pooped.  

09-05-2013   Leave a comment

I’ve stated thousands of times in the past that I’m NOT a fan of Country music.  My constant exposure to it as forced on me by my better-half has really and truly dulled my senses.  I’ve made my peace with that because I had no effing choice but just between you and I, I still hate C & W music.

I could give you any number of reasons why I hate it from the nerve shattering nasal twine of many of the singers to their choices of really stupid song titles and lyrics.  The following song titles have been discovered and passed on to you just to prove my point.  I’m not saying any of these titles made the Billboard charts but  they are just as stupid as I predicted.

  • I’ll Marry You Tomorrow But Let’s Honeymoon Tonight
  • I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well
  • She’s Looking Better After Every Beer
  • I Ain’t Gone To Bed With No Ugly Women, But I Shore Woke Up With A Few
  • I’m So Miserable Without You, It’s Like Having You Here
  • I’ve Got Tears In My Ears From Lyin’ On My Back and Cryin’ Over You
  • She’s Actin’ Single and I’m Drinkin’ Doubles
  • I Still Miss You, Baby, But My Aim’s Gettin’ Better
  • Her Teeth Were Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure
  • How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?
  • I Fell In A Pile Of You And Got Love All Over Me
  • I Keep Forgettin’ I Forgot About You
  • I’m Just A Bug On The Windshield Of Life
  • If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me
  • My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, And I Don’t Love Jesus
  • My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend, And I Sure Do Miss Him
  • She Got The Ring And I Got The Finger
  • Thank God And Greyhound She’s Gone
  • You Can’t Have Your Kate And Edith Too

So to those of you shit-kicking country folk out there you’d better get on-line as soon as possible and order this list of songs.  I’d hurry if I were you because rumor has it that the demand is huge and you might be placed on a waiting list.  They also may require that you take a short  IQ test to insure you’re stupid enough to own them.  

I’m writing this while my better-half is at work and I’ll do whatever I can to keep her from reading this posting tonight. She’s sure to throw a hissy fit and make me listen to even more of this alleged music than before. I’m not sure I could survive that.  Hep me Jesus and Yee Haw, Y’all.