Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (well, not exactly that)

American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, ...
American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, and the American flag
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Why I happened to think of the oft used American expression "Stuck between a rock and a hard place" in regard to what I was going to write for this post now escapes me, but it happened to pop into my mind as I was considering my post for today which I was thinking of as a transition post of sorts.   I could have just as easily said "I'm between my Monday post and the post I'll be putting up this coming Sunday".    What I guess I had on on my mind was the consideration of how to remind readers about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge which opened this past Monday and how to drop a few clues about my next Battle of the Bands post which will be coming up this Sunday February 1st.

        Perhaps the more precise way of stating the theme of this current post would be "Stuck between a great big A to Z sign-up list and a rock song".    I guess that wouldn't sound as catchy as an American idiom that has an origin now obscure to most of us, but with a meaning that seems pretty obvious.

           I had to look up that expression out of curiosity and found that it is a theme that appears in nearly every culture dating back to ancient times.   The gist of the saying has to do with being in a dilemma in which any solution is not particularly a good one.  Well!  That being the case the phrase then has no real relevance in relation to my topic for this post.   Imagine me going off on some weird tangent that has little to do with anything.  Yes, that's par for the course I guess--to use a golf idiom that I never paid much attention to the fact that it had anything to do with golf until this moment as I used it.  Come to think of it I don't really say "That's par for the course" very often but there it was just popping into my head.

          Oddly enough I started this post over an hour ago with just the title and went downstairs to watch one of the few TV shows that I follow these days.   The Flash on the CW network is a pretty decent show for the superhero genre which is something I've grown weary of in recent years.  But that's another story for another day (is that another idiom?).  The point I wanted to make about going to watch The Flash after composing the title for this post was that among the opening lines of dialogue in this particular episode one of the characters said they were "stuck between a rock and a hard place" and I found that to be a bit weird considering the circumstances.  Serendipitous perhaps.  I don't know, but at least this gave me a reason to use one of my favorite words "Serendipitous" (or any variation of that word).  Just thought I'd toss that out to you.

          So looking back to Monday, did you get your name on the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Linky list yet?   As I write this, the list is stalled at #330, but I'm sure that as you read this the list will have progressed much more.  The list will be open until April so if you haven't decided whether or not to participate you do have time.  However, get into the community spirit and join now so you can mix and mingle and start making new friends and reacquainting yourself with old ones.  If you don't join in before the list closes you might be a bit blue thinking about the relationships that might have been and you missed out on.   Well maybe that's a bit dramatic, but it's my sales pitch.  I'll be doing that now and then between now and April, brothers and sisters, cause I don't want anyone to cry or feel left out of the fun.

         Maybe you've been catching hints of song clues along with lots of herrings, red and every other color you can think of, and the reason for the clues has to do with Battle of the Bands.  I was shocked that my previous Battle of the Bands post likely broke a record of most votes so far for any Battle of mine and maybe any other Battles of participating bloggers.  A total of 40 votes were received on that Battle.  I had fears that the voter turn-out would be far lower since I broke my own rules and used 3 song versions including one that lasted about 10 minutes.   Thanks voters!  I'll be taking this same route one more time (please bear with me) with 3 songs with one clip that is again about 10 minutes.  Never fear though, there will be two short ones and you can just vote between those if you'd like.

           That's about it for me here at Tossing It Out for today.  I won't even mention that Friday will be my birthday and I'll have a special little post to commemorate that event.  Oh, I guess I did mention it.  I didn't mean to do that--yeah right!   Even if you miss my birthday don't miss my Battle of the Bands post on Sunday or I'll be feeling blue.   Guess I'd better say bye-bye.  Love you, brothers and sisters.

             Did you join the A to Z list yet?    Do you ever wonder about the idioms that people often use?    Can you guess what song I'll be using on my Battle of the Band post?



Monday, January 26, 2015

The Big Sign-Up Day Is Here At Last! ( #AtoZChallenge )


       Six years ago while trying to come up with something that might boost my blog following and readership, I came up with the first Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.   Thinking that the concept was nothing more than my own personal stunt to get some attention for my own blog, the interest that others had in joining me in the event caught my attention.   I realized that this blogging event was something that others could enjoy and also reap the benefits for their own blogging.   This was how it all began and now here we are ready to head into our 6th annual April Blogging Challenge!

       With five Challenges behind us and thousands of bloggers having participated in one or more Challenges, the A to Z Challenge community is now extensive with members coming from all over the globe.   The Challenge of 2015 might just be the biggest ever.   If you are planning to join us then today is the first day to get on the list.  The sign-up list will be open until April for any of you who want to think some more about joining.  You have plenty of time, but don't wait too long or you might forget.   No point in waiting when you can sign up now.

          The A to Z Challenge has become so big that there is no way that I could keep this going on my own at the large scale it now is.  I am deeply indebted to the A to Z Team for all the work they have been doing so far and will be doing in the months to come.  Later in this post you will find a list of these A to Z Co-hosts and the links to their blogs.  Show your appreciation to them by following each of their blogs and getting to know them.  This is a great Team!   And of course this Challenge wouldn't be the success that it is without all of you wonderful bloggers.  Thanks to all of you!

          Read on for some important guidelines on participation and hints to make your Challenge experience the best it can possibly be.

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

The premise of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) 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 3 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.

To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts or 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:

ANIMALS: (AN)
ART: (AR)
BOOKS/REVIEWS: (BO)
CRAFTS: (CR)
CULINARY: (CU)
EDUCATION: (ED)
FASHION: (FA)
FILM/MOVIES: (FM)
GAMING: (GA)
GARDENING: (GR)
HISTORY: (HI)
HUMOR: (HU)
LIFESTYLE: (LI )
MEMOIR: (ME)
MUSIC: (MU)
MYTHOLOGY: (MY)
PERSONAL: (PR)
PHOTOGRAPHY: (PH)
POLITICS: (PO)
SCIENCE: (SC)
SOCIAL MEDIA: (SO)
SPORTS: (SP)
TRAVEL: (TR)
WRITING/STORYTELLING: (WR)
ADULT CONTENT: (AC)

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
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
S. L. Hennessy @ Pensuasion
C. Lee McKenzie @ The Write Game
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
Susan Gourley @ Susan Says
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing
Lisa Buie-Collard, Author

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

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



       Now let's get ready to Blog from A to Z!

       If you're thinking about not participating this year, what's holding you back?   What do you think is the best aspect of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge?      Do you have any questions about this year's Challenge or is anything in this post not quite clear to you?


Friday, January 23, 2015

Are You Ready for Monday? & BOTB Results


Munchkins (specifically the "Lollipop Gui...
I'm keeping things short since it's Friday.
Munchkins (specifically the "Lollipop Guild") as depicted in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
          I'll keep things relatively short today since it's Friday.  Well, don't know what that has to do with anything, but Friday seems like a good day to run quickly into the week-end.   Of course if I keep a post short that might be a noteworthy event.   So I'll try.

Monday's Coming!!

       Duh!   Of course Monday comes after the weekend is over.  What's so great about Monday?   It's opening day for A to Z sign-ups!!  Are you ready to get your name high on the list?   Actually it doesn't matter where you are on the list just so you're on it.    You'll have two months to decide, but get on early and you can start socializing with the others who have joined in early.   Jump in soon and start spreading the word about April!  For more information about what I'm talking about please visit the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog.

Battle of the Bands Results

         The results are in for my Battle of the Bands of January 15th.   My 3 way contest experiment went better than I expected.  Several of you did watch the long video of the Dames version of "I Only Have Eyes for You" and that version, which is where my vote went, ended up with an admirable 11 votes.

          The jazz version by Chris Connor and Maynard Ferguson was appreciated by many but still only got 4 votes.

           The winner--and not really a surprise--was the Flamingos version which ran away with 25 votes.   This is the version that most of us are more familiar hearing and it is a pretty great version of the song.

Final Vote

Flamingos          25

Chris Connor       4

Busby Berkeley   11

        Next Battle of the Bands will be on Sunday February 1st.   My next round will be similar to this last one.   And I'll be celebrating a birthday with my next Battle.  No, not my birthday which will be next Friday, but an artist connected to the song I'll be pitting in Battle celebrates his birthday on February 1st.   I'll be once again including a third bonus version of said song along with another movie clip.   It's a good one I assure you.   It's a big classic song so I can't imagine that there is anyone who hasn't heard it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Remembering (and Not Remembering)


The wedding vow kiss.  The white you see in the round window is the blizzard on the beach.
(Sorry about the picture quality--I haven't figured out about editing photos on my new computer and these were the best quality photos I had access to)

          Hands down the best wedding I've been to was that of my daughter Ada and her fine husband Tom Zdanowicz.   Or should I say. since just about all of the weddings I've been to were very nice and I wouldn't want to slight any of them to say one was better than another, Tom and Ada's 2009 wedding was probably the most amazing due to the circumstances surrounding it which also made that event highly memorable.

           In order to make things easier for those of us who were attending the New Jersey event from out of town, the wedding was planned for December 19 in order to coincide with holiday vacations.  My wife and I would have been going back east anyway in order to visit family, so having the wedding during that time seemed like the best way to accommodate us as well as the others coming from California and other places.

          When I say amazing it's because one of the biggest snow storms in recent northeastern U.S. history hit on that wedding day.   Since all arrangements had been made and people had traveled from all over, postponing to another day was not feasible.  Despite the weather the wedding would go on for whomever was able to make it through the snow.  Incredibly nearly everyone did show up, including some who drove hundreds of miles through inclement weather.   What I feared could be a ruined wedding turned out to be a big success with a good crowd who had a great time as the blizzard roared outside.

The happy couple at the head table with the snowy beach in the background with a might blizzard underway.

          Getting to the facility was somewhat scary.  Traffic was light, but the roads were covered in ever deepening snow.  It was slow going, but everyone arrived early with time to mingle and get acclimated to the beautiful facility.  The place where the wedding was held was on the Jersey beach and had large windows through which in the darkness past the raging snowstorm ocean waves could be faintly seen.  What a sight!  Watching the wedding ceremony was hypnotic with the blowing snow seen through the windows that acted as a dramatic backdrop.

         Now here's the part of the story that has to do with my Battle of the Bands post that featured the song "I Only Have Eyes For You".    Earlier in the year Ada and Tom had come to visit us in California at which time Tom was going to ask my blessings for him to marry my daughter and then he would propose to her.   I think Tom is a great guy and I was thrilled that they were going to get married later that year.   Of course I approved!  They were one excited happy couple.

         One evening during their visit I pulled my recently acquired Busby Berkeley DVD box set off the shelf because I wanted them to see some of the great dance numbers found in the films.  They were especially impressed by my favorite piece which happened to be that song "I Only Have Eyes For You".   Then, at the wedding during their dance together, I didn't even realize they were using that same song.  Maybe it was the typical father-of-the-bride jitters or the distraction of the snowy weather.   Or perhaps it was because the version they used was the one by the Flamingos and it was so different that I didn't even make the connection to the original version I had played for them earlier that summer.

         Ada pointed out to me later what song they had used and I was so thrilled that they had chosen that particular song.   Maybe it was a combination of a lot of things that made me miss that song connection, but now I clearly remember what I did not immediately remember that night.  Now I can't imagine ever forgetting that amazing wedding.

Tom and Ada dancing to "I Only Have Eyes For You" by the Flamingos

         As a postscript I should mention that the evening wrapped up successfully though the crowd probably started dispersing earlier than they might have had under different weather circumstances.  We all partied and had a great time, but at about 11 PM the shuttle service which had delivered most of the guests to the site from the hotel where we were staying or parked decided that they should start taking groups back.

         Going back was even scarier than getting there as the snow had not relented and the roads were getting really bad.  Several runs were made by the shuttle vans that had been hired for the occasion.   My wife and I and her family members were on about the third run.  Many in her family had never been in the snow before so I'm sure this was memorable to them.   The next morning we awoke to a fantastical hotel parking lot winter wonderland covered in snow.  Cold, beautiful, and a heck of a good time for all of us.   I don't imagine any of us will ever forget that New Jersey trip and a truly magical wedding.

        Were you in the big winter storm of December 2009?    Have you ever attended an event that you thought might be a disaster but it turned out great?   Are there any songs that you've heard played but didn't recognize because it was a different version than what you had been accustomed to hearing or had expected to hear?

         If you still haven't voted on my most recent Battle of the Bands post you can still have your vote counted if you get it in by tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon after which I will tally the votes I've received up to that time in order to determine the winner.  Please visit "I Only Have Eyes For You" and tell us your favorite version.