Monday, November 30, 2015

Something to Look Forward to

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Coming Tomorrow!

        Thanksgiving is now history and we've gotten through another weekend.  Now I'm looking forward to the next big thing--and I don't mean Christmas.

          What I'm talking about is my blog post for tomorrow.  Coming up I have another combination post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group and Battle of the Bands.  As has become my custom when I'm participating in more than one blog event, I've tied together my BOTB song pick with the theme of my #IWSG post.  Hope you'll enjoy what I have in store.   I'm anxious to free this song from my brain as it has been lingering in my head for many days now.

          I think it's a pretty great tune--not exactly a Christmas song, but certainly a timely song.  I was singing it yesterday as my wife and I were out driving and she liked it a lot.  And I can think of at least one blogger who will appreciate the song as well as one of the artists I'll be featuring.  In the end though I hope this song will stir souls and have meaning for most of you.  Considering the times in which we are living, I can't help but think the subject matter will touch all of you in some way.

         And that's just tomorrow.  There are more things coming your way in the days, weeks, and months to come.  Let's hope they're all or mostly all good things.

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What's Ahead?

         We can count out those easy open beer cans since pop tops have long been the norm.  And who uses a "church key" anymore anyway?  No, I'm not talking technological advances here.  And I'm not talking Christmas, New Year's, or any other special event day though all of those are certainly coming and would be appropriate to talk about.  I'm just biding my Monday post day time to provide a preview of what's coming up at Tossing It Out.

          My BOTB results post will appear on Monday December 7th along with the December Question of the Month.   This month Michael at A Life Examined has posed what I think is kind of a tough one, but I'll come up with some kind of answer, you can be assured. 

           There will be another Battle of the Bands post on December 15th which will be similar to my first December BOTB post.  Then things might get a little sketchy between that post and the January 1st BOTB post--you know, Christmas holidays and all.   

            But then along with my January 15th Battle of the Bands post I'll be participating in the Backstage Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently and Sister Celluloid.  You might have noticed the badge for this at the top of my sidebar.  Once again the post of that day will be a combined post with a common theme.

             In February I'll be dwelling on thoughts of love and other unrelated things.  That's still a ways off, but I'm thinking on ideas already.

            Speaking of the not so distant future, something will be coming our way in April that I'm sure you can guess.  It has something to do with the alphabet.   Most of you probably know what I'm talking about, but if you scroll down my side bar you can get some hints.   It's something that I've been doing every April for the past few years along with many other bloggers.   We'll speak more of that later.

           No matter how troubled the times are that we live in, we just keep moving forward as though things will get better.  I for one believe they will.

           Do you sometimes feel unsettled about where our world is going?    What are some of the things that are troubling you these days?   Are you planning to participate in any of the events I've mentioned?   

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Day Late and a Few Dollars Short (#BOTB Winner)

English: Trump Hotel in Las Vegas (tilt corrected)
Trump Hotel in Las Vegas  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       As of my writing of this post, it's been a few hours since my having returned from a short vacation to Las Vegas with my wife.  We'd gone there to meet up with our daughter and her family--she was there for a conference for a few days and my wife wanted to be able to spend some time with them.  It was a nice little vacation trip and I only lost about fifty dollars or so playing the slots.  Not a bad sum to have lost, but I'd rather had come home with my pockets bulging with winnings.

       I had made reservations for four nights at Harrah's which is where we'd usually been staying for our past several visits.   Later my wife requested that I add Saturday night to our stay.  The rate was increased for that night and the hotel said we'd have to change rooms, so for about the same price I found that we could move to the Trump Hotel for the one night so that's what we decided to do.  We'd never stayed in a Trump property so we thought why not check it out with all the current Trump hoopla and all.

       In the end I'm glad we made that decision because the Trump is indeed a beautiful hotel.  The pricing was essentially the same as other properties that I had checked so it wasn't like we could have saved much without staying at some property with which we were unfamiliar or one that might have been a dump.   No dump the Trump.  Not in our normal budgetary range, but it was a fun stay even though we weren't in the room very long.

      Everything in Vegas is so much more expensive than it used to be years ago.  I didn't see any advertisements about the ninety-nine cent shrimp cocktails or $6.99 buffets.  Vegas is crowds of people--though it wasn't as crowded as I'd seen on previous visits--and casinos reeking of cigarette smoke--though not as bad as it used to be.  I think less people smoke these days.

      Everywhere we went there were opportunities to spend, spend, spend and plenty of people doing just that.   We tried to take care about our own spending, but money seems to fly out of your pockets--or get charged to your credit card--wherever you go.  Bye-bye hard-earned money.  Play now, pay later.

        We left early enough on Sunday to avoid the worst traffic heading back to Los Angeles.  Aside from a couple of slow downs, the trip went smoothly.  We got home before dark (thank goodness) and I collapsed on the bed for a one hour nap.  Then for dinner I opened a big can of hot and spicy Juanita's menudo and ate all three servings of the tripe and hominy stew in a spicy broth all by my lonesome.  My wife won't even try the stuff and leaves the room when I eat it.  What can I say other than I have acquired a taste for menudo and get a craving for it every now and then.

         And that brings me to the Battle of the Band winner between the two versions of the song "Preso".    And the preceding story explains in part why this winner announcement post is coming a day or two later than everyone else's.

The Winner:  "Preso"

       My most recent Battle of the Bands post featured the Spanish language song "Preso" as performed by Mexican artists Cristian Castro and Aleks Syntek.  I wasn't overly surprised about which version won the most votes, though I didn't expect the victory to be so overwhelming.

       First let me explain which version I voted for and why.  When I listen to music, no matter what language it's in, I tend not to listen to the lyrics as much as I take in the overall effect of the music along with the style of the vocals.  I'm more interested in how a song sounds than what it says.  Prior to putting this Battle together I never really thought about what the song was about so lyrics were of no influence on me.

        The romantic styling of Cristian Castro is something that I enjoy listening to and there's nothing bad I can say about this artist.   His style is soothing and comforting like a bowl of good chicken noodle soup.  When I'm in the mood for soothing and comforting and romantic then give me Castro's version.

         On the other hand, for me at least, Syntek has an original modern sound that I can dig--he's the menudo of my soup analogy (not to be confused with the band Menudo).  As I'd mentioned in my previous post, Syntek first caught my attention when I saw the video for his very cool song Historias De Danzón Y De Arrabal.   Later I realized that I had the José José tribute album which included Syntek's version of "Preso".   I like the edgy style of Syntek's recording right from the sampling of the violins at the opening to the catchy funk style that he uses in his version.
         My vote goes to the Aleks Syntek version of "Preso".     I can listen to this version more often than the Castro version though that's not to cast any aspersion on the romantic styling that Castro puts into his.  They are both good to my ears.

         Most of you were not in agreement with me on this as can be seen in the final outcome of the voting.

Final Vote Tally

Cristian Castro                26 votes

Aleks Syntek                   12 votes

       As a bonus I offer the video of Historias De Danzón Y De Arrabal which has become a favorite song and video for me.  This song gives a good idea of the type of pop music that I enjoy.    Hope you'll take a listen and let me know what you think.

         My next Battle of the Bands post will be on Tuesday December 1st.  At that time I will be presenting a song for our times and one related to the season in a sense.  One of my artist choices will be one that Stephen T McCarthy loves while the other he may not like so much.  I'm going to take my chances with this Battle.   You won't want to miss it!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Preso (#BOTB)

        It's November 15th which means the end of the year is growing nearer.  It also means that it's time for another installment of Battle of the Bands!   This event which takes place on the 1st and 15th of each month was started by Far Away Eyes at Far Away Series Blogger Stephen T McCarthy maintains the participant list and answers your questions about the event--you can find his blog with a list of participants at  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   

        Here's what I'm asking of you:  Listen to the song versions 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 Battles to vote on.

        And now my song pick for this round of Battle of the Bands:


        "Preso" is Spanish for "prisoner" or "imprisoned".   In this song the term is used as a metaphor for being so involved in a love relationship that it's like being hopelessly ensnared.   The song first appeared on the album Gracias by popular Mexican singer José José in 1981.  If you're interested in hearing the original version then click here, but please don't vote on this version.

Here are the contestants for your consideration:

Cristian Castro  "Preso"  (2011)

       To start this Battle we have the uber romantic song styling of Cristian Castro.  Mexican singing star Castro is the son of the renown actress/entertainer Verónica Castro  and popular comedian/actor Manuel "El Loco" Valdes .  Cristian started his acting career as a baby when he began appearing in telenovelas and commercials with his mother.  In 1992 when he was still a teenager he recorded his first album and has recorded many since.

       Castro's version of "Preso" stays true to the original recording by José José.

Aleks Syntek  "Preso"  (1998)

        Considered by some to be a genius of pop music, Aleks Syntek first caught my attention in 2006 when I heard his amazing recording of the song Historias De Danzón Y De Arrabal (linked here in case you're interested--it's well worth hearing and the video is very nicely produced).  After I bought Syntek's album Leccion de Vuelo and enjoyed it for a while I discovered Syntek's version of "Preso" on the José José tribute album that I had owned for several years but apparently not listened to very often.

       Syntek has received and been nominated for many awards for his music and his albums have garnered gold and platinum record status.  He was also part of the first judging panel on the Mexican version of the television show The Voice.   This is a favorite version of Guilie Castillo-Oriard who this past Wednesday introduced my song choice for the BOTB round. If you missed Guilie's guest post I hope you'll check it out. Thanks again Guilie.

          Now take a listen to the techno pop version of "Preso" by Aleks Syntek.

Time to Vote!

         Exercise your freedom to vote!   Please don't let the language deter you from enjoying these song versions--you don't have to understand the words to appreciate the music. Which song version do you like the best? Judge what you hear in the above videos. Which version do you prefer? It's up to you to help determine the winner.

      Please vote on your favorite 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

DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Janie Junebug Righting & Editing.
Book Lover

J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Holli's Hoots and Hollers


Results on Monday November 23rd

       Due to my schedule in the upcoming week, the winner of this Battle will be announced on Monday November 23rd.  After that day, during the Thanksgiving week my posting could be sporadic to none.  I'll figure that out when the time comes.

       Now please vote!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Power of the mind

English: Unlimited Potential of the Human Mind
 Unlimited Potential of the Human Mind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
      If you saw Guilie Castillo Oriard's guest post from Wednesday, you know what song I've picked for my Battle of the Bands post this Sunday November 15th.  She's already told you that I'll be using the Mexican hit song "Preso" which was originally performed by José José .  If you missed Guilie's post I hope you'll go back to check it out and leave her a word of encouragement or whatever you want to tell her.   And though I don't need to give any more song clues, I will continue to stay on the topic that Guilie and I have been discussing--prison as a metaphor.

        Actually I'd like to expand on the subject of the mind and how it can affect our physical existence and our perception of our world.  This is a huge topic so I can only scratch the surface in one single blog post.  I'll return to this one day I'm sure.  It's the kind of topic you could write a book about and many have already been written.

The Mental Prison Metaphor

      If we are considering a metaphorical prison we are not necessarily dealing with a physical place with walls and locked doors, nor are we thinking of sentencing times administered by a judge.  A symbolic prison metaphor instead entails a matter of the personal perception of ones own circumstance.  We may feel trapped by real things such as a job, a relationship, or a financial situation for example, but in reality if we are able to adjust our own thinking we can be free from that prison of perception.   The prison devised by the mind is confining, but only to the extent that the mind is willing or able to do this.

      The mind has extraordinary power that most, if not all of us have not tapped. Our minds can set us free or keep us imprisoned.  Knowledge of how to use the mind can help us find that freedom, but sometimes we settle into a comfortable place that fears any change in our situation.  We are mostly confined by that fear and the unwillingness to step out of the comfort zone.

        Fear, health, finances, or personal circumstances can all be forces that hold us back, but ultimately these are mostly a matter of mind.   The mind can put all of these things into proper perspective and even control the root of the problems.  Indeed, the mind can make us sick as well as bring us healing.  What we are and what we do with what we have available to us is measured by and ultimately controlled by the mind.      

       What powers do you think the human mind has?   What holds you back from overcoming your life obstacles by using the power of your mind?    Do you think the power of suggestion is viable to influencing your personal condition or do you think this is mostly an illusion?

         Join me here on Sunday November 15th for the Battle of the Bands showdown between two very different cover versions of José José's "Preso".