Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Question - 2011

Sultry Diana Krall vocalizes with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra backing her....

"What Are You Doing New Years Eve". Credits:

Saturday, December 24, 2011


May holiday celebrations bring your family much joy and pleasure with loved ones and friends whether they live near or distant.

Here's a classic Christmas song, "Sleigh Ride," sung by husband and wife, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme:

(Remember LPs?)

(From the 1965 LP: "Goodyear's Great Songs Of Christmas Album 5"
(Columbia Special Products CSP-238-S)

Technological communication systems today bring us close across the miles allowing an ease of frequent contact unlike any time before. We have simple cell phones ranging to the more complex smart phones like the iPhone and Androids, other digital devices. Small netbooks to larger laptops and desktop computers are in use. Email, instant messaging, texting, twittering -- social networks are popular. There are iPods and the latest iPad iteration with evolving competitive gadgetry, plus hundreds of thousands of applications. There's a never-ending steady stream of new digital creations to fascinate, intrigue, challenge, frustrate and confuse us.

I'm particularly enamored with Skype (quickly and easily downloaded free from the Internet) which allows real time interaction with picture and sound for conversations that enhance relationships with friends and family.

I've especially enjoyed Skyping this year since more loved ones are doing so, too. I was pleasantly surprised this week with contact from an older family member who has been able to add Skyping capability to life skills he has been gradually reacquiring since a life-threatening medical event years ago, coupled with subsequent medical issues, impeded his computer digital activities.

I've especially enjoyed keeping up in real time with Skype's audio and video of my grandson born early this year who I finally met this past fall. I traveled east for a delightful time rockin’, singin’, talkin’, readin’, and playin’ with him. I even shared some time with his parents! Meeting again with his other grandparents is always fun, too.

I'm really delighted to periodically see and talk with my grandson via Skype with his Dad providing technical assistance as the little one reaches for a keyboard or touch screen. I've been impressed with how Grandson attends to my face on the screen, may recognize my voice, and responds dialogue-like verbally with beginning sounds though they don't yet make intelligible words. I've been delighted to watch him in real time walking with the support of his push toy, grasping food bites that also can be smushed for finger painting on his table between bites, and his eventually cuddling at bedtime.

Just today, Christmas Eve, (when I'm writing this) I was treated to a video of Grandson now walking independently! Life has suddenly become even more interesting for his parents and their two cats as those of us who are parents know only too well.

Computers will be a given in my Grandson's life, just as television was for his parents. Neither technology existed in my young life except in the comic strips, fantasy and science fiction.

Wishing each of you a very Merry Christmas and most Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Commemorating lives forever altered on Sunday, December 7, 1941

My deepest gratitude to all those whose lives were sacrificed to preserve our lives and freedom.

… with each passing year fewer people vividly recall the day

… some may only recall parents or grandparents describing the day

… others may have encountered written, pictorial or video historical accounts of the day

This event led to WWII -- the war naively believed to be the war to end all wars.

Monday, December 05, 2011

MARIAH - Some Call the Wind

Strong windy weather is happening where I live. Racing through the mountain passes and canyons tonight, and the next two nights, are predicted 40-50 mph winds arriving in my area about 2 A.M. -- much weaker than earlier winds. We can expect continuing winds for another week. Due to the drying nature of these winds wild fires persist in being a significant dangerous risk.

I’m being reminded of “Mariah,” or “They Call the Wind Maria,” composed by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe as the song was titled for “Paint Your Wagon,” a 1951 Broadway musical, later a 1969 film.

Singer, orchestra leader, Vaughn Monroe offers his “Mariah” version.

Incidentally, I recall Vaughn Monroe making a guest appearance on the ‘50’s-‘60’s television talk show with which I was associated. He was exceptionally nice and impressed me even further when he spent time after the show providing counsel to a young “girl singer” -- as female vocalists were referred to then. She had arrived from a nearby small town to audition with our Quintet a few weeks earlier, impressing all of us with her vocal talent. Coincidentally, her name was “Marie” (I’ve forgotten her last name.) With the help of music world contacts, including through our show’s host, she relocated to successfully and regularly perform in Chicago clubs. She surprised me with a visit when she returned home a few years later, having chosen for the time being to leave the music business and start a family. We lost touch but I've often wondered how her future unfolded.

On with my present personal windy saga.....
Batten down the hatches, shutter the windows, tie down loose ends has recently become the mantra for those of us living in Southern California’s Los Angeles area. We’re accustomed to what we know as Santa Ana Winds this time of year, but they’ve taken on high velocity ferocity this season. Hurricane strength winds (75 mph to 150 mph) without the rain have been gusting through our valleys. Thousands of homes and businesses are still without power they lost five days ago.

Uprooted trees have fallen into the streets, crashed on to houses, crushed cars, coupled with felled power poles and lines generally wrecking havoc. Traffic lights at major intersections ceased to flash. Some businesses had generators for backup power. Others had to close or were forced to conduct business using old-fashioned mathematics with hand-held battery powered devices, or simple paper and pen to compute sales and make change.

Here’s Frankie Laine, reported to have been in his eighties when he sang this Mariah rendition.

My personal wind experience began last Wednesday night with weather alerts we could expect some strong winds in the mornings wee hours. I became sleepy so retired unusually early, but recall being awakened around 1 A.M. to rushing wind sounds outside my bedroom window. Knowing there was little to be done, I went back to sleep.

Thursday morning when I finally left the comfort of my warm bed I encountered unusually cold air and discovered a household power outage had rendered my furnace impotent. I determined to save my cell phone battery since my land line was still operative. The following hours of news on my battery powered radio increasingly revealed the wind’s widespread damaging effects.

Only small branches had blown into my front yard, which I was able to gather for placement in my green recycle bin. I had a good-natured laugh at myself when I discovered I'd need to wait for power to get the bin because I forgot the procedure for raising the garage door when there’s no electricity. Even more ridiculous, I couldn’t locate the instruction book I received when I had the door installed only a few years ago. I did have the key to the back door into the garage, but I didn’t want to drag the bin into the backyard, around to the front, then back again. Later in the afternoon when I still had no power I phoned the electric company. A recorded message for my area stated electric service was not expected until Friday’s early hours.

I was able to keep appointments Thursday, so could see for myself on nearby streets trees down, one's upper branches barely missing a house. After learning power was on south of famed Route 66 in our city I decided to attend a movie downtown in the late afternoon. The movie theater auditorium was much colder than I had hoped, but “Descendants” film setting in the sunny warm-appearing Hawaiian scenes allowed me to partly suspend reality. I was disappointed when I returned home to find the power still off. Just as I was readying to treat myself to a hot dinner out, the lights came on.

This whole experience has provided me an emergency dry run using some items from what I had always thought of as being for earthquake preparedness. I think I want a solar powered battery charger because we had sun, and little wind during the day.

Eddie Fisher’s “Mariah” is quite enjoyable I think, though he was never one of my favored male vocalists – or “boy singers.”

I don't hear any wind outside, but those gusts come suddenly and seemingly from nowhere. I’ll write here again – if I haven’t blown away!