Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Another Brick in the Wall (BOTB) (#IWSG)

Insecure Writer's Support Group
         It's time again for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the monthly event hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.   You too can join in on the fun and education by going to the link in previous sentence and adding your blog link.   But don't add your link unless you plan on actually being a part of the blog exchange.  A link with no #IWSG related content is like a hollow brick which weakens the wall in which that brick is placed.   After all, support is what #IWSG is all about.  

         And after you've read my contribution to the September #IWSG, please continue on to vote in my first September entry in my 2015 Battle of the Bands series.   Also, be sure to check Alex's blog on Wednesday September 2nd for a big #IWSG announcement.

Another Brick in the Wall

“Don't let schooling interfere with your education.” Mark Twain
A brick wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      Life is filled with walls that are needed as well as those that are desired.  Walls can protect us from the elements, keep us secure from potentially harmful intruders, and provide privacy when we don't want others to see us.   However, there are sometimes those walls that stand in our way to keep us from moving forward.  Schooling and formal education are sometimes walls that become barriers to our creativity.

      We sometimes construct our own walls that limit us.  Our communities, friends, and family members can put up walls that are obstacles to be overcome.  With so many walls confronting our paths to success it's often left up to each of us to find our own ways around or over these walls.

       When I was in school as a kid and then later in college, I played by the rules when they made sense to me or when it was a matter of doing what I needed to in order to keep on progressing.  Sometimes however I armed myself with a sense of humor, a stubborn persistence, or pure logic and reason to make it to the other side of whatever wall stood in my way.

         In these days of my life there are still the walls that must be overcome in whatever ways they need conquering.  Ultimately there are few things that can hold us back more than ourselves.  I am my biggest hindrance.   I build walls and then have to figure a way to knock them down.   Not building those walls in the first place would be the biggest time saver and eliminator of stress.

       There are enough walls that life puts before us without us raising our own silly walls.  Count me guilty of putting up walls of excuses, distraction, and dalliance.  What about you?   Are you aware of the walls that keep you from reaching your goals?

Battle of the Bands:  Another Brick in the Wall

       With back to school time here again I wanted to find a song that seemed most appropriate for the occasion.  "Another Brick in the Wall" was the song that popped into my mind very first thing.  I attempted a playful approach on my previous post using a topic with controversy woven together with hints about the song I was going to use for this Battle.  However most readers were drawn into the controversy and entered into a very stimulating debate on the education related topics.   Only one commenter offered up a guess and she guessed correctly--congratulations Birgit.

       Most of you are probably familiar with this song by Pink Floyd, but if not you can find the original version by clicking here.   Don't vote on their version--only use it for reference.  The song has been covered numerous times and in various styles.   This Battle of the Bands edition offers two versions that are very different from the original.

Daria Plyushko "Another Brick in the Wall" (2011?)

        This Russian fashion model has several music and fashion videos on YouTube, but otherwise I didn't find much about her.   Take a listen to her laid back lazy sounding version of  "Another Brick in the Wall".   Since this is a "chill" version it has a comparably lengthy instrumental intro to set the mood, but then again this version is only a few seconds over three minutes so it's pretty darn short despite that instrumental intro.

Gavino Loche  "Another Brick in the Wall"  (2013?)

        In other BOTB contests between vocal and instrumental versions, some of you prefer hearing the lyrics.  Maybe you'll prefer the previous version because of that, but then again the virtuosity displayed by Gavino Loche might sway some voters.   I'm sure the musicians out there will especially appreciate this version of the Pink Floyd song.  

Time to Vote!

          Don't let anything stand in your way to keep you from voting on this Battle.   Which song version do you like the best?   Surely you think one is better than the other even if you don't like either presentation as much as the original version.  Just 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 (or which one was the least objectionable to your ears).  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



DC Relief Battle of the Bands

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Women:  We Shall Overcome  

Book Lover

J. A. Scott  

Quiet Laughter

Results on Monday September 7th

         My Labor Day post next Monday will have the results of the above Battle of the Bands post.    Please vote!   Battle of the Bands works better when I have votes to count.  Also next Monday I'll be posting for the Question of the Month which is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined.   I hope you'll be here for these postings.

         What "walls" have been standing in the way of your personal progress?  How do you get past the walls that hinder you in life?    Has anything in your educational history had a detrimental effect upon your creativity?  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Does Government Want to CONTROL Us?

1920s cartoon, showing man standing at microph...
1920s cartoon, showing man standing at microphone with his mouth wide open and the text "I'M A SMART GUY". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     Would you believe that a good many schools now are starting school before Labor Day?   Would you believe that some school districts have already been in session since the end of July?   How about some schools are going to a year round schedule or have at least tried this in some form or another?

       Whatever happened to summer vacation and all the fun kid things that went with that?   Sorry about that, kids.  Big brother has decided to screw you out of your childhood and prepare you for a bleak future world where everyone is the same.  Make believe and thinking differently is not allowed unless it's the kind of different sanctioned by the "brave new world" of groupthink.

      They claim they want our kids to get smart yet they really want to dumb us all down so we can conform to their every whim.  It's all about control.  Of course, government is in the business of control.  That's what laws and regulations are all about.   This makes sense to keep an orderly structure to society--to a degree.

       Do we need government telling us what we can eat or drink that is beyond the useful action of making sure consumables are safe for us and won't kill us because of contamination or something of that nature?   What we decide to ingest and consume should be a matter of personal choice should it not?  Same with schools.  Teachers should have more control of the classroom under the guidance of local directives, but it makes little sense for the federal government to have an across the board agenda to homogenize society.  Rural areas have different concerns that urban areas.   A concentration of one cultural group in one area of the country might be a good reason to adapt a school system to that group, but not a reason to impose those cultural needs on every school system.

       The old American dream has been corrupted.   We missed it by that much!  Now the question is can we get it back?   The freedom train has been derailed by politically correct elements of society that want to change the story of the United States and alter the meaning of words that tell our story now.  The old totalitarianism trick is being pulled on us and anyone who is out of step with what the powers-that-be want is getting the duct tape across the mouth treatment and ostracization by those who are allowed to shout them down.
        In my blog post from 2013 Do You Know What Your Children Are Learning in School? I discussed the matter of government control as related to the federal government's intrusion on schools with the Common Core curriculum.   This educational initiative will undoubtedly become a big issue in the 2016 presidential race.  Common Core certainly has its proponents, but it is also facing vigorous resistance from its opponents.   Hopefully, voters will take a closer look at Common Core before continuing to allow it to turn our children into submissive clones.  Common Core is more than an educational agenda, it's a political agenda.   Certain elements of the ruling forces in this world would like nothing better than to see a degradation of the United States by weakening what this nation represents.  Despite what we think about our democracy, we may not actually have as much control over government as we'd like to believe.

         There will be many loud voices on all sides of every argument in the year to come.  Let's hope the voices on the side of what will be best for this nation will stay strong and remain loud.  "You can't move mountains by whispering at them," said chanteuse Pink.    Floyd Lawson, the barber and purveyor of homespun observations from The Andy Griffith Show, might have interjected with "I thought Calvin Coolidge said that."  

       Uh, no Floyd, Pink is attributed to having made that particular statement.  However Calvin Coolidge is credited with the following:

"We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.... If the foundation is firm, the superstructure will stand." -Calvin Coolidge

"If in a free republic a great government is the product of a great people, they will look to themselves rather than government for success..."  -- Calvin Coolidge

"Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." -- Calvin Coolidge

“Patriotism is easy to understand in America; it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.” 
― Calvin Coolidge

     Though it wasn't Calvin Coolidge, there is some disagreement on who said the following, but I think it's worth mentioning:

“When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”---Thomas Jefferson (according to some sources)

     Battle of the Bands Coming!

            Reading through my above rant you might have gotten some hint of what my next Battle of the Bands song will be.   Actually I think I made it so obvious to anyone who knows the song that I'd be very surprised if no one gets it.  Let me know in the comments what you think my next song choice will be.  My next Battle of the Bands will be combined with my Insecure Writer's Support Group post and will appear on Tuesday September 1st.

          Do you think political correctness has gotten out of hand in the United States?   Is it important for school kids to have an old-fashioned summer vacation?    Did you recognize what classic television comedy show I was alluding to in my post (other than The Andy Griffith Show)?

Monday, August 24, 2015

And Now for a Corny Blog Post

Arlee Bird cornsorting with the corny mascot of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

      Blogger friends!   Lend me your ears!   Sometimes I realize I resort to corn on Tossing It Out, but in this post I've got the real thing.  There's more than just a kernel of truth to this post--there's a whole bunch of kernels.  

        In our recent trip across country from New Jersey back to Los Angeles, my wife and I traversed a number of the agricultural states of America's Heartland and were impressed by the farmland we passed on our journey.  It was mostly corn fields, but also many other crops that I, being no agriculturist, could not identify.  I'm guessing we might have seen a lot of soy, peas, and other plantings.  Then there were the vast fields of sunflowers in South Dakota that kept Tina Downey on my mind.  If you'll remember, A to Z Team member Tina Downey passed away a year ago on August 23rd and we sorely miss her.  Seeing those sunflowers was kind like a tribute in her memory.

Mitchell, South Dakota

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

      If there are any among you who have heard of Mitchell, South Dakota then you are surely familiar with a true oddity of America Heartland legend--"The World's Only Corn Palace".   This was one place that we had to stop for as it is a unique landmark.

       The Corn Palace is the centerpiece of the city's yearly Corn Palace Festival as well as being the locale of many other festivities throughout the year.  The building has a basketball court that is used for local college and high school games and a stage that has featured many name acts in its long history.  

During the peak tourist season the main Corn Palace floor becomes a veritable souvenir department store.  That black rectangle in the background is the vast stage.
      In fact yours truly played the Corn Palace a number of times in the 70's and 80's when I was touring with the World of Fantasy Players so I was well familiar with this venue which was another reason I wanted to revisit this world renown facility.   They've made a lot of improvements since I was there last.   The place looked fine and was bustling with tourists on the Thursday afternoon when we visited.

       The most unique feature of the Corn Palace and what gives it its name is that the mural mosaics on the exterior and interior are made up entirely of ears of colored corn and other parts of the corn plants.  Each year the old murals are stripped and replaced with new ones.  This is a pretty amazing feat that takes weeks of tedious work to complete.

      This year's Corn Palace Festival begins this coming Thursday August 26th running through Sunday August 30th.   Some of the featured acts this year are Tony Orlando and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  You can still make it if you are so inclined, but I'm not sure about motel availability as the event draws thousands each year.

      Durn it all!   I just missed it!  Shucks!

My wife couldn't resist the shopping at the souvenir booths on the Corn Palace basketball court. 

A blog giant posing with a giant of peas.  Can you guess who is who?

        Earlier in the day prior to reaching Mitchell, South Dakota we made a quick stop off at Blue Earth, Minnesota.   I was actually getting off the interstate to find a place where my wife could buy some Minnesota souvenirs and we happened upon this tribute to the Jolly Green Giant.  Blue Earth is home to a Green Giant museum as the city played a vital role in the company's history.  Each year in July Blue Earth holds a Giant Days Festival.  By the way Blue Earth also claims to being the place of origin of the ice cream sandwich--that's what they say at least.

         And now for you Green Giant fans--remember this?


          I'd forgotten all about this crazy song from the group that gave us that most notorious version of the song "Louie, Louie" and then even before I got to Blue Earth, Minnesota I heard this song played on the radio.  Some kind premonition maybe?   Oh, peas...

           Have you visited either of these nutty Roadside Attractions?   Do you have any unique festivals in or near the community where you live?   What is the oddest place you've ever visited?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bucking Some Dang Blogs & BOTB Results for Bodang Buck

Arlee Bird promoting A to Z Challenge at Mt. Rushmore

     Finally!  I'm back from one of my longest vacations ever.   It's been a great summer for me and my wife.  We've spanned the United States from coast to coast and seen plenty of the wonderful sights this country has to offer.  We've also enjoyed the company of family members and friends whom we don't get to see enough.

       Now, coming back to the usual routine of our most-of-the-year life, it's time once again for me to reassess my life and everything in it.  One of the first things I'm going to be tackling is my subscriptions to a number of Wordpress blogs that I've followed over the years.  There are many that I regularly read and comment on and they never seem to acknowledge the existence of my blogs.  I've already begun unsubscribing to many of those.

       Don't get me wrong, there are a number of Wordpress bloggers who have seemed to figure out how to cross comment on my Blogger platform and those will stay on my list.  I appreciate the support of the Battle of the Band bloggers  'Curious as a Cathy'Sound of One Hand TypingThe Doglady's Den,  Angel's Bark as well as a few other WP bloggers who regularly comment at Tossing It Out or Wrote By Rote.   I'm not dropping any of these bloggers and I hope we continue to have long meaningful relationships in the years to come.

      Maybe I'm being a bit petty about this, but my time is as valuable as anyone else's and even if I'm just taking a few seconds to delete notifications from my email it all adds up.  I need to start restructuring my time better and it's going to start with certain blogs.   No point in reading some of those blogs or leaving comments that never get reciprocated.  My comments on those blogs might get answered in some instances, but I'd appreciate some of those bloggers just letting me know that I mean something to them beyond my visiting their blogs.  

      Sorry for this bit of nonsense, but it's been bugging me.  It's time to do something about it--again.  If you have a Wordpress blog and feel that I might unjustifiably unsubscribe from your blog, please leave me a comment below so I know you are out there and what your thoughts are about my current course of action.

Bodang Buck Results

      The two versions I offered for the song Bodang Buck were so similar that I'm not surprised by the narrow margin of the outcome.   Some of you suggested that you couldn't explain why you chose the version you did, but if it wasn't a matter of a coin toss or some other such decision making process, I guess it was just a matter of which one sounded better at the time you listened to it.

      Since I have a history with this McGuinness Flint tune from having owned the album back in the 70's (and still having it in my collection), their version has been ingrained in my mind.  The McGuinness Flint album is a long time favorite of mine.  It has some fine tunes and the band has a good sound.  So that's where my vote goes.  Jonny Young Four did a great job with the song, but I prefer the instrumentation and subtler vocals of the Flint version.

Final Voting Results:

Jonny Young Four       10

McGuinness Flint         14

      My next Battle of the Bands post will be on Tuesday September 1 and will be combined with that month's Insecure Writer's Support Group post.    However I'll have at least one post next week so I hope you stop by for that or those whichever the case may be.

      Does anyone else share my frustration about bloggers who won't cross blogging platforms to leave comments?   If you've ever unsubscribed from a blog, why did you do it?   How was your summer?