Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was "Time". The posts are of a more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical bent. No time management tips in this theme, but stuff intended to make you think.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...


Friday, December 15, 2017

Fun in Los Angeles (#BOTB)

Montage of Los Angeles pictures on Commons
Montage of Los Angeles pictures on Commons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are You Ready for Some Fun?

          I've been living in the Los Angeles area for over 26 years now and rarely go many places.  There are several places like Venice Beach, La Brea Tar Pits, Griffith Park or Hollywood that I've been to many times.   Those are places I know from repeated visits having taken out-of-town folk there.  Everybody goes to those kinds of places.  And they're not overly expensive like going to Disneyland which if anyone is going, they can go without me.  

         Then there are those places you pass through or pass by.  Sometimes I'll linger in those places if I'm looking for some restaurant that I've heard about. But looking out as I drive through I see a lot of those nondescript urban areas of mysterious factories, an assortment of businesses, and clusters of older housing.  That's where a lot of people live and this is their neighborhood.  I'd say my neighborhood might look strange to some people just passing by.  But I think it all looks pretty normal.

         That's where you'll usually find me--home in my neighborhood where everything seems pretty normal. Still, there are plenty of  people who are getting out and about.  Some are tourists seeing the highlights.  Some are just people doing the everyday stuff that they as people do. In my Band Battle today I'll be looking at both groups from two different musical perspectives.

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   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.

Filmed in L.A.

          In this Battle I present two music videos filmed in Los Angeles but from very different points of view.  This Battle was inspired by Stephen T McCarthy's post with a Los Angeles theme.  Though the songs I'm using are not geographically specific the videos are most definitely filmed in the Los Angeles area.  The perspectives are very different as are the musical styles.  Hope you enjoy these...

Jenny and the Mexicats   "Verde Mas Alla"  (2012)

     Trumpet player Jenny Ball from the United Kingdom was eighteen when, while touring with an orchestra, met up with a couple of Mexican musicians at a flamenco bar in Spain.  After some "let's start a band" dreaming, the trio joined up with a Spanish cajón player to begin producing a delightful mix of traditional and pop music styles.  Jenny learned enough Spanish to begin writing songs in the language and the band began recording.  Now based in Mexico City, Jenny and her Cats continue to make great music in English as well as Spanish.

       Over the past couple years Jenny and the Mexicats has become one of my favorite bands.  These highly talented musicians play an eclectic mix that ranges from traditional flamenco to rock and a bunch of styles in between.  Many of their songs appearing on YouTube have as many as two or three video versions with additional live videos shot by fans.  The band has chosen to remain independent, recording under their own Mexicat label.

      The song "Verde Más Allá"  or "Green Beyond" is about a woman who has apparently extricated herself from a relationship and is enjoying her life.  She prefers not to work, but to spend her days dancing and drinking pints of Caguama beer and just having the best time that she can have.  As to the "green" in the title there is some controversy about what it means, but taking Jenny's word for it she would rather the listener come up with their own interpretation.  It makes me think of the old expression "The grass is greener on the other side" which fits with the rest of the song story.

      This video version of the song is basically a tourist view of Los Angeles with stops in Venice Beach, Griffith Park, and Hollywood.  These are some of the places I typically would take visitors who had not been to Los Angeles before.  In fact, the guitar player at the 1:06 mark in the video is a guy who I've seen in most of my own visits to Venice Beach.

       Enjoy the music and take in some of the sights here in Los Angeles. This is pretty much where I'd take you if you were visiting me...

Postino   "I Love It"  (2013)

       Not much in the way of lyrics to this song--the title says it all. This bit of crazy jazzy electronica was devised by the South Korean music producer Junho Lee who is based in London.  There is some hot playing in the soundtrack and what can one say about the visuals?   Guff.com says it well I think:  "For those who have never been to LA, this is actually normal. This isn't even a music video. It's just a typical Thursday here."

        No tourist spots in the video, but there are the typical things one might see while driving in Los Angeles--or walking around town dressed like something out of Where the Wild Things Are.  I particularly get a kick out of the scene in the convenience store and later on the bridge when the little boy tries to hold the girl's hand.  Watch for those bits because they are a hoot.

         If this song doesn't get you moving on the first hearing then play it a few times and I can almost guarantee you'll be moving with the beat if not dancing outright.  Maybe I'm weird--okay I'll admit it:  I'm weird.  I like this one.

Time to Vote!

You got songs and you got videos.   Which song version do you like best?   Which video did you enjoy the most?   You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.  The videos are both relatively shosrt.

        Please vote on your favorites 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

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Cherdo on the Flipside 

Winner of this Battle Announced on December 21st

         Since I'll be taking some time off starting next Friday December 22nd, I'll be posting the winner of this Battle on Thursday the 21st.  That gives you plenty of time to vote.  And if you're obsessive like I am then you might be listening to both of these videos a number of times between now and then.  Please vote and then come back on Thursday to see if your choice came out on top.   I'll also be telling you then what is in store for Tossing It Out after that.

     Do you have any favorite tourist attractions near you where you would tend to take house guests?   When you visit someone do they usually take you to places they consider highlights?   Do go out to visit attractions near you?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Happy 20th Anniversary!

December 13, 1997 
              Twenty years ago on this date my lovely wife and I were married at Trinity Baptist Church in Downey California.   At that time we merged my family of three daughters with Betty and her daughter.  In those years we have watched our daughters grow into beautiful successful women who among them have given us six grandchildren to date.       

         It has been a great ride that has whizzed by far too quickly.  I look forward to many more years ahead  filled with travel, spending time with family, and just enjoying our time together.

        I love you Betty!  You have made my life special and especially beautiful.  I thank you for that and I thank God for bringing us together.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Watching the World Go By (#BOTB Results)

The dreamer in me makes me see this world as a wonderful place.  Then this old world slaps me around and knocks me down leaving me battered and bruised.   Still, I intend to make the Dreamer win--even if it kills me...

Arlee Bird with daughter Ada @ 1984

       Life seems much like a parade to me.  Sometimes I might be just watching it go by while at other times I'm marching in step to the flow of it all.  All might be crazy wonderful in one moment, then comes just the moving forward, ever forward.   No matter what,  we're all a part of that parade whether it be marching, watching, or just knowing that it keeps on going.

        Sometime around Thanksgiving of 1964, my family's juggling act participated in the Chicago Christmas Parade.  We were living in northeastern Indiana at the time--about 40 miles from The Loop as downtown Chicago is called.  The parade was there. 

         We had to leave the house at some wee hour of the morning.  We got dressed in our show apparel before leaving and put heavy coats over that because it was very cold.  Chicagoland tends to get extremely bitter harsh cold in late November.  Now here we were driving in the middle of the night dressed in silly costumes.  My father said we had to do it.  And my sister and I would each get $25 which was not bad for a thirteen year old like I was at the time.

         My father drove to a designated area where we could park and assemble with the parade which was organizing in a staging area.  We shucked our coats into the car.  Now my father and I were only wearing tuxedos with those thin pants that didn't offer much protection from the cold, but I guess it was better than my mother and sister who were wearing short costumes with black fishnets.

        I can't say how long that parade was but it was a long way to walk in the freezing cold while juggling.  Exerting the activity of both of those actions did warm us all up considerably.  At first the wooden handles of the clubs we were juggling slapping against our cold hands stung as though we'd been slapped in our open hands with a cane.   It hurt.  The cold hurt.  I was numb from being cold, tired, and generally overwhelmed by everything all around me.  And walking and juggling and walking and juggling.

        At the end of the parade route, we simply stopped juggling and got in a taxicab that took us back to the car.  I'm sure my father had that heat blasting in no time.  I had survived and now I would have twenty-five bucks.  My legs burned like they were on fire.  The numbness was gradually going away, but at the time it seemed like it lasted forever.

         I only marched in one other parade juggling along with my family.  We got paid for that one too.  It was a 4th of July parade in Johnson City, Tennessee.  Damn!  It was hot!  I'm not sure what's worse:  Juggling in a Christmas parade in Chicago or a July parade in Tennessee.   Neither I'd say.  They're both just fine because here I am still marching along.   Those parades were just parts of a much bigger parade.  I hope it still has a way to go, but when it does end I hope there's a warm taxi waiting for me.

Battle of the Bands Results

Where Is Your Heart?

        In my recent Battle between versions of "The Song from Moulin Rouge" known later as "Where Is Your Heart?", vocalist Joni James dominated the voting.  My vote goes to her version as well.  While the jazzed up Jonah Jones version is slick and catchy (it's been playing in my head a lot over the past couple of weeks), Joni's version is a lush melancholy arrangement such as the ones I've been used to hearing since childhood.  As many of you noted, the slower version is more fitting to the song's lyrics and intent.

       Without the lyrics and played at a faster tempo, Jonah Jones presents a fun performance that as both Stephen T. McCarthy and I noted as being similar to the style of the Ray Coniff Singers who were popular during the 1960s.  Or as Michael Todd pointed out in his humorous observation, "while I was listening to the Jonah Jones Quartet rendition, I was expecting to hear "Manamana" as sung by the Muppets".    Yeah, I can hear it.

      The Jonah Jones rendition has a lot of entertainment value and it's good music as well.  I liked it a lot.  But the version sung by Joni James has a lot of heart (that's appropriate) and evokes the emotion that the song intends.  Both versions are winners, but in this contest Joni James takes the trophy.

Final Vote Tally

Jonah Jones         7 votes

Joni James          12 votes

Next Battle on Friday December 15th

         There might be a post or two between now and then.  I live by whim these days.  That is unless I absolutely have to do something.  My next Battle will be one inspired by Stephen T McCarthy's recent Los Angeles showdown.    What you can expect to see on Tossing It Out next time are two different songs that are not exactly about Los Angeles, but both are filmed in Los Angeles from very different perspectives.  It's gonna be weird.

          Do you enjoy weird?   Do you like parades?   What are some parades you have been in (don't forget your school days!)?