TWENTY-TWENTY IS LONG SINCE OUT OF ACES

The lyrics seem to have more than normal meaning right now. Just think about these lines: “So if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces. For a taste of your whiskey, I’ll give you some advice.”



The Gambler

Kenny Rogers

On a warm summer’s evening
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us
And he began to speak
He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowin’ what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind my sayin’
I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of your whiskey
I’ll give you some advice”
So I handed him my bottle
And he drank down my last swallow
Then he bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light
And the night got deathly quiet
And his face lost all expression
Said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep”
And when he’d finished speakin’
He turned back toward the window
Crushed out his cigarette
Faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
But in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em (when to hold ’em)
Know when to fold ’em (when to fold ’em)
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Don Schlitz
The Gambler lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

So in case you have some kind of guitar, ukulele, or banjo — or something else (like a piano or mandolin or some such) you can play or strum, here are the chords. Transpose your heart out.

The Gambler

Key: D major, artist: Kenny Rogers, writer: Don Schlitz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe3bXVNZOfc

On a [D] warm summer’s evenin’ on a [G] train bound for [D] nowhere, I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to [A] sleep. So [D] we took turns a starin’ out the [G] window at the [D] darkness ’til [G] boredom over [D] took us, and [A] he began to [D] speak.

He said, [D] “Son, I’ve made a life out of [G] readin’ people’s [D] faces, and knowin’ what their cards were by the way they held their [A] eyes. And if [D] you don’t mind my sayin’, I can [G] see you’re out of [D] aces. For a [G] taste of your [D] whiskey I’ll [A] give you some [D] advice.”

So I [D] handed him my bottle and he [G] drank down my last [D] swallow. Then he bummed a cigarette and asked me for a [A] light. And the [D] night got deathly quiet, and his [G] face lost all ex[D]pression. Said, “If you’re [G] gonna play the [D] game, boy, ya gotta [A] learn to play it [D] right.

You got to [D] know when to hold ’em, [G] know when to [D] fold ’em, [G] know when to [D] walk away and know when to [A] run. You never [D] count [Em] your [D] money when you’re [G] sittin’ at the [D] table. There’ll be [G] time enough for [D] countin’ [A] when the dealin’s [D] done.

[D] Ev’ry gambler knows that the [G] secret to surv[D]ivin’ is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to [A] keep. ‘Cause [D] ev’ry hand’s a winner and [G] ev’ry hand’s a [D] loser, and the [G] best that you can [D] hope for is to [A] die in your [D] sleep.”

And [D] when he’d finished speakin’, he [G] turned back towards the [D] window, crushed out his cigarette and faded off to [A] sleep. And [D] somewhere in the darkness the [G] gambler, he broke [D] even. But [G] in his final [D] words I found an [A] ace that I could [D] keep.

You got to [D] know when to hold ’em, [G] know when to [D] fold ’em, [G] know when to [D] walk away and know when to [A] run. You never [D] count [Em] your [D] money when you’re [G] sittin’ at the [D] table. There’ll be [G] time enough for [D] countin’ [A] when the dealin’s [D] done.

A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE: A SEQUENCE OF ACTION

A Photo a Week Challenge: Action in Series

In summertime, when all the leaves and trees are green. Remember when summer was fun? And it was okay to just hang with friends and enjoy the pool? When will it happen again?

The man who wrote this song was a play announcer at Fenway Park. It was the only song he ever wrote and he was very proud of it.

Summertime Ready

Summertime SET

Summertime - GO

Anyone want to do it again?
Anyone want to do it again?

In memory of a summer so recently vanished.

I WON’T SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER – RICH PASCHALL

With my deepest apologies to Sid Wayne and Sherman Edwards, this is currently “The Happenings.”

September by the Blackstone

(I’ll be alone each and every night
While you’re away, we can Zoom or write)

(Bye-bye, this is our hell
Bye-bye, so wrong)

I won’t see you in September
I won’t see you when the summer’s through
Here we are (bye, baby, goodbye)
Avoiding the crowd at the station (bye, baby, goodbye)
Summer staycation (bye, baby bye, baby)
Is keeping you away (bye, baby, don’t cry)

Have a good time but remember
There is danger in the restaurants and the stores
I won’t see you in September
perhaps will see you nevermore

(counting the days while sequestered too)
(counting the hours ’til we both can Zoom)
No COVID, don’t die!
Stay healthy, please try
Bye, baby, goodbye (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
Stay healthy, don’t die! (bye-bye, it’s hell)

Have a good time but remember
There is danger at the beaches and the bars
I won’t see you in September
Or even the backseat of my car

(I’ll be alone but I’ll think of you)
(Send me a text and a Tik Tok too)

I won’t see you (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
In September (bye-bye, so long, stay well)
I’m hopin’ I’ll
See you (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
by December (bye-bye, so long, stay well)
Well, maybe I’ll
See you (bye-bye, so long, farewell)
can’t remember (bye-bye, so long, stay well)

Original Songwriters: Sid Wayne / Sherman Edwards 1958 Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Memory Lane Music Group (Foreign), Music Sales Corporation.

WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE

For all of the 21st century so far, I have been looking for music with social relevance.  Yes, there have been a few songs, but not much in these two decades.  And who are the young writers contributing songs with meaning this century?  Neil Young, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Chicago?  

Those guys are still at it, but in this era of social unrest, you might expect more young voices to be heard.  Getting a good deal of notice in recent years is the heavy metal group, Disturbed, and their rendition of The Sound of Silence.  If you are thinking the title is familiar, it is.  They covered the Simon and Garfunkel hit to great effect. 

simon-garfunkle-greatest-hits-album-cover

Enter The Young, When Songs Had Meaning

There was a time I will describe as being from late Beatles up to pre-disco when many songs had a deeper meaning, that is to say, a “social commentary”.  The air was filled with thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics.  Some will argue that these songs helped to sway a nation toward greater equality and away from a war of questionable merits.  For a while, many songwriters abandoned “Ooh baby, baby,” to write about war, race, poverty, inhumanity, and life in the ghetto rather than life on “easy street”.  This was an era in songwriting where the words were as important as the notes being played.

Here they come, yeah
Some are walking, some are riding
Here they come, yeah
And some are flying, some just gliding
Released after years of being kept in hiding
They’re climbing up the ladder rung by rung

Bob Dylan had been speaking to us for years, but suddenly so was McCartney and Lennon, then John Lennon on his own.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Carol King, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Reed, Marvin Gaye can all be added to a list that goes on and on.  There were some with just a few hits but a big social impact.

Enter the young, yeah
Yeah, they’ve learned how to think
Enter the young, yeah
More than you think they think
Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

My absolute favorite among the thoughtful lyrics were those done by a group called The Association.  They are probably best known for their hit songs “Cherish,” “Windy” and “Along Comes Mary.”  These songs are filled with clever rhymes and some unique wordplays.  “Cherish” taught me I could rhyme that word with “perish,” and I used it for a wedding lyric years later.

Yeah, here they come
Some with questions, some decisions
Here they come
And some with facts and some with visions

Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
To win a prize that no one’s ever won

They also commented on society in songs like “The Time It Is Today,” “Enter the Young,” and the biting and rather haunting sounds of “Requiem For The Masses.”  This was filled with the symbolism of those that died for the red, white and blue as well as dealing with the issues of race (“Black and white were the questions that so bothered him, he never asked, he was taught not to ask, but was on his lips as they buried him.)  Yes, the same group that gave us “Never My Love” could come around again and whack you with a social message…hard.

Here they come, yeah
Some are laughing, some are crying
Here they come
And some are doing, some are trying
Some are selling, some are buying
Some are living, some are dying
But demanding recognition one by one

They did get recognition, along with many other such groups, if only for a moment in musical history.  Where are the meaningful song lyrics of today?  I wonder.

Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare

I wore out this album as I found every song to be worthy of constant replay.  I was a teenager, I thought it was great.  All these years later, I still do.  I chose the video above as I could find no good performance video of this song. This one rendered the best sound.

Waiting on the World

It can be a frustrating experience waiting on the world to change. Will the younger composers of songs sing out on the current situation? Or will they see that as hopeless? Will they just wait their turn with the Sound of Silence? Must we continue to rely on the older generation for our social commentary in song? “We keep on waiting.”

And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want
That’s why we’re waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
The Sound of Silence by Paul Simon 1964 Universal Music Publishing Group
Enter The Young by Terry Kirkman 1966 Beachwood Music Corp.
Waiting on The World To Change by John Mayer 2006 Reach Music Publishing

See also: “Disturbed,” SERENDIPITY, November 23, 2018.
Take Some Time To Revive It,” A view of America from Chicago, the band. SERENDIPITY. July 30, 2020.

TAKE SOME TIME TO REVIVE IT

A view of America from Chicago, the band, by Rich Paschall

Chicago has been around for a long time. No, I don’t mean the city, I mean the band. In 1967, five guys from DePaul University recruited a sixth from Roosevelt University and started a band known as The Big Thing. Soon they recruited a tenor, moved to California, and changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority. In 1968 they released a self-titled, double album that included some of their biggest hits and led them down the road to a Hall of Fame career.  After the threat of legal action by the home town transit authority, the band shortened its name and the rest is pop history.

Chicago Water Tower (Photo credit: Nicholas G. Mertens)

Their pop, rock, jazz-infused sound was groundbreaking.  In an era of bands that included a guitar player, bass player, and drummer, Chicago’s music majors were letting a trumpet, a trombone, and a saxophone lead the way.  It was a sound that led to more groups backed by horns.

As with many bands of the time period, they had their share of songs with social messages.  A war protest song (It Better End Soon), a song following the moon-landing (Where Do We Go From Here?) and political commentary (Dialogue, Part I & II).  They certainly did not rely on this type of song, but they were not afraid of them either.

As the decades rolled on they just may have relied a little more heavily on ballads and soft rock.  That’s why it is interesting to find that Chicago came back with another album, Chicago Now, aka Chicago XXXVI, with a heavy reliance on the type of horn sounds of their early years and commentary on the American scene.

America, America is free!
America!
America is you and me!

America, the third track on Chicago Now, was actually available for download long before the album came out.  With music and lyrics by founding member Lee Loughnane, it is not a throwback to another era, but a push forward for a band that has done something older bands are reluctant to do.  That is, put out an album of new material and social commentary.

The dream was fading before our eyes
Take some time to revive it.
‘We the people’ must start right now
Don’t expect our leaders to show us how
They don’t have a clue what to do
If they knew how to stop this slide
We’d have seen some signs by now
To turn back the tide.

Lou Pardini provides keyboards and lead-vocals for this anthem.  The beauty of the chorus and its tight harmony is in contrast to the attack of Pardini on the verses.  At times he is almost at a growling pace as he delivers his lines and the song’s message.

We can’t keep havin’ you make our rules
When you treat us common folk like fools
It’s time to stand up for our rights
Put congress in our political sights.
Make them pass laws that help us all
The Founding Fathers echo
Will be heard in the hall
By the people, for the people, everyone equal.

Right now we probably need songs of social importance just as we had decades ago. We feel our leaders have gone astray again, and a strong message needs to be sent. Sometimes we can send that message in music. Watch the video below for the lyrics and yes, that is the Chicago skyline at the opening. What did you expect?

SUMMER SONGS – RICHARD PASCHALL

The Top 10 of a Musical Genius

From the time the Beach Boys hit the surf and the top of the charts in the 1960s, Brian Wilson has been considered a musical genius. His prolific songwriting propelled the careers of the original “Boys.” Their music remains popular to this day.

Wilson was not just trying to crank out rock and rolls songs for public consumption. He was trying to create a new sound, the “California” sound of blended harmonies and instruments. His obsessive work in the studio while seeking a certain type of perfection was both his strength and ultimately his weakness.

Brian Wilson

Today Brian is again touring, writing and producing. His opinions on music are held in high esteem by songwriters everywhere.  Many, including Paul McCartney, Bono, James Webb (American songwriter), and Rolling Stone Magazine, consider Wilson’s “God Only Knows” among the best songs of all time.

So when Brian offers an opinion regarding rock and roll music, it usually garners some attention.  A few years ago he gave us a top ten list of his favorite songs of summer.  To no one’s surprise, a couple of Beach Boys’ songs made the list, but there are also a few interesting choices:

1. Hot Fun In The Summertime: Sly and the Family Stone.
2. In The Summer Time: Mungo Jerry.
3. I Get Around: The Beach Boys.
4. Be My Baby: The Ronettes.
5. California Girls: The Beach Boys.
6. Give Me Some Lovin’: Spencer Davis Group.
7. Hey Jude: The Beatles.
8. Honky Tonk Women: The Rolling Stones.
9. My Obsession: The Rolling Stones.
10. Mony Mony: Tommy James and the Shondells.

I don’t know how some of these songs were chosen for a summertime list, but it is Brian’s list so he can do as he pleases.  I am happy to modify it a bit. You can follow with your own list in the comments if you are so inclined. First of all, any song I have to look up because I never heard of it needs to go.

“My Obsession” by the Rolling Stones is an early hit that really offers little in the way of music and lyrics.  It is certainly forgettable in every way and a surprise on any list provided by Wilson.  Of course, we all have early rock favorites that will probably sound weird to anyone else.  So, I am kicking that one off the list and replacing it with one of the Beach Boys’ top hits of all time, Little Surfer Girl.

Next, I have to replace the overdone Hey Jude. While McCartney still uses this epic to kill 10 minutes of every concert, I think it is time to retire it. Seriously, have you seen any performance of McCartney, live or on television, that did not contain an overblown version of this hit?  I can not associate it with summer anyway, so I am replacing it with “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful.  Every oldies station will indeed play the heck out of this song from now until Labor Day, but I never tire of it. That’s my standard.

I like “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Mony, Mony” but let’s replace them with Summer hits.  Add Jan and Dean’s number one hit from 1963, “Surf City.”  With a similar sound to the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean successfully rode the airwaves on their musical surfboards for many years, cashing in on the California style rock.  Another song I’m adding is “Saturday in the Park.” by Chicago — if for no other reason than to include a song from one of my all-time favorite bands, but will it make my Top Ten?

When I discovered Billboard’s list of the Top 30 Summer Songs I see there are a few more that could go on my list by the masters of their style, the Beach Boys.  Go forth and create your own list and enjoy the sounds of summer.

Yes, next week you will get my top ten summer songs that are really about summer. I know you can’t wait. Just sing Hot Fun In The Summertime until then.

IT’S THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Trump is an awful man. I can’t seem to find something positive to say about him and for me, that’s unusual. I can always empathize, even with very bad people (not including one ex-husband). But not Trump. For him, I can’t find a teardrop of compassion. He has no soul or conscience. He is a greedy, empty-headed abuser, liar, and racist.

Ponder the meaning of life, death, and stupidity. Ponder really hard!

Somehow, America made him president. At least a portion of voting Americans had a hand in his election as well as a lot of Russian bots. I would like to believe that not everyone knew what a complete disaster he’d be. We certainly didn’t expect the next plague, but others did. Our president fired the ones who tried to warn him this was coming and for all he knew, was already here. So here we are.

Plague spares no one. Wealth won’t protect you nor religion or politics. Prince Charles is ill but his 93-year-old mother is not. Boris Johnson was moved into the hospital today. My generation who have been dying for a while are now dying faster and more furiously. A lot of younger people are dying too. Plague is about as non-denominational as anything gets.

Many of us (sadly, including me) assumed that should Trump be elected (I had that awful feeling he would be elected), the weight of his office would force him to become a president. This didn’t happen, proving you get exactly what you vote for. It’s like marrying an abusive guy because you’re sure you are the one who will (finally) reform him.

Moral? If you elect a bad guy, making him president won’t improve him.

Previously, people (mostly) changed when they were elected to high office. Trump, on the other hand, is an ignoramus and proud of it, With an election getting close while all of us are locked down, my party — Democrats — haven’t completed their primaries or had a convention. There may not be a live convention. Exactly how we are going to choose a candidate is a bit whimsical.

A few folks wonder what there will be to govern if we won. This is one of the times when winning might not be in our best interests. We are going to be in a hot mess when the virus runs its course, which might take a lot longer than even our worst-case scenario suggests.

We can’t blame the plague entirely on Trump, but we can put a big luminescent sticker on his ghastly ass regarding the amount of damage it’s doing. His unwillingness to cope with the alarming predictions as well as his lack of concern what this outbreak would do to us — Americans — is not merely deplorable. It’s … well … breathtaking.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

It turns out leadership can only be as good as who we elect. Being a constitutional republic, we don’t have the option of voting out a bad prime minister and exchanging him or her for a nominally better one for any reason short of actual treason. We should have gone the Parliamentary route. If I go back in time, I think I’ll mention that to the “Founding Fathers.” I hate that phrase, by the way. Isn’t there something else we could call them? “Founding Fathers” is so … stiff.

Short of rewriting the constitution,  we are stuck. History will change us. Change the world. I think in 20 years, we won’t have this government. That might not be such a bad thing.

I wish I could live long enough to see how it comes together. I don’t think either me or Garry has enough decades to see how it turns out. My boomer generation won’t experience a lot of change. We are no longer part of the job market, no longer fighting for our standing in the world. Not climbing the greed and success ladder. We are pretty much done with ambition and were looking forward to some ease and relaxation before moving on.

Anyone who is still in the job market will feel the weight of it assuming the planet lets us continue to live on it. This month’s “National Geographic” magazine marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It lays out the optimistic and pessimistic views of the world to come. The pessimistic view is heartstopping. Makes the blood in your veins freeze. Even the optimistic look isn’t great. I got so demoralized, I couldn’t even look at the graphics.

This plague has blocked everything else. A new world awaits us and I hope it’s a better one. If better isn’t possible, functional might do the job.

Boomers didn’t ruin the world. We tried to improve it, but we didn’t get it done. The human race ganged up on the planet and we all ruined it together. We seem dead set to continue ruining it. Someone will need to fight to save it. Probably you guys, the ones who can’t resist a new iPhone at any price. You will have to give up a few things and do many other things differently.

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

It is hard but it’s your future. We old folks who you so eagerly blame for everything will be dead. Once upon a time, we too looked to our future and did the best we could with it. Our parents didn’t ‘get us’ at all. We look at our world and decided to change it. But for you, our time is done. We will return to the stars and the world will be yours. If you don’t fix it, you, your children, and grandchildren won’t have a livable world.

Activism isn’t easy, but maybe it’s time to detach from the toys. Earth used to be a nice place. It could be again. Good luck!

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac

Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”

Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

ON THE UPCOMING 50th ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Trump is an awful man. I can’t seem to find something positive to say about him and for me, that’s unusual. I can always empathize, even with very bad people (not including one ex-husband). But not Trump. For him, I can’t find a teardrop of compassion. He has no soul or conscience. He is a greedy, empty-headed abuser, liar, and racist.

Somehow, America made him president. At least a portion of voting Americans had a hand in his election as well as a lot of Russian bots. I would like to believe that not everyone knew what a complete disaster he’d be. We certainly didn’t expect the next plague, but others did. Our president fired the ones who tried to warn him this was coming and for all he knew, was already here. So here we are.

Plague spares no one. Wealth won’t protect you nor religion or politics. Prince Charles is ill but his 93-year-old mother is not. Boris Johnson was moved into the hospital today. My generation who have been dying for a while are now dying faster and more furiously. A lot of younger people are dying too. Plague is about as non-denominational as anything gets.

Many of us (sadly, including me) assumed that should Trump be elected (I had that awful feeling he would be elected), the weight of his office would force him to become a president. This didn’t happen, proving you get exactly what you vote for. It’s like marrying an abusive guy because you’re sure you are the one who will (finally) reform him.

Moral? If you elect a bad guy, making him president won’t improve him.

Previously, people (mostly) changed when they were elected to high office. Trump, on the other hand, is an ignoramus and proud of it, With an election getting close while all of us are locked down, my party — Democrats — haven’t completed their primaries or had a convention. There may not be a live convention. Exactly how we are going to choose a candidate is a bit whimsical.

A few folks wonder what there will be to govern if we won. This is one of the times when winning might not be in our best interests. We are going to be in a hot mess when the virus runs its course, which might take a lot longer than even our worst-case scenario suggests.

We can’t blame the plague entirely on Trump, but we can put a big luminescent sticker on his ghastly ass regarding the amount of damage it’s doing. His unwillingness to cope with the alarming predictions as well as his lack of concern what this outbreak would do to us — Americans — is not merely deplorable. It’s … well … breathtaking.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

It turns out leadership can only be as good as who we elect. Being a constitutional republic, we don’t have the option of voting out a bad prime minister and exchanging him or her for a nominally better one for any reason short of actual treason. We should have gone the Parliamentary route. If I go back in time, I think I’ll mention that to the “Founding Fathers.” I hate that phrase, by the way. Isn’t there something else we could call them? “Founding Fathers” is so … stiff.

Short of rewriting the constitution,  we are stuck. My understanding of history will change us. Change the world. I think in 20 years, we won’t have this same government. All things considered, that might not be such a bad thing.

I wish I could live long enough to see how it comes together. I don’t think either me or Garry has enough decades to see how it turns out. My boomer generation won’t experience a lot of change. We are no longer part of the job market, no longer fighting for our standing in the world. Not climbing the greed and success ladder. We are pretty much done with ambition and were looking forward to some ease and relaxation before moving on.

Anyone who is still in the job market will feel the weight of it assuming the planet lets us continue to live on it. This month’s “National Geographic” magazine marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It lays out the optimistic and pessimistic views of the world to come. The pessimistic view is heartstopping. Makes the blood in your veins freeze. Even the optimistic look isn’t great. I got so demoralized, I couldn’t even look at the graphics.

This plague has blocked everything else. A new world awaits us and I hope it’s a better one. If better isn’t possible, functional might do the job.

Boomers didn’t ruin the world. We tried to improve it, but we didn’t get it done. The human race ganged up on the planet and we all ruined it together. We seem dead set to continue ruining it. Someone will need to fight to save it. Probably you guys, the ones who can’t resist a new iPhone at any price. You will have to give up a few things and do many other things differently.

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

It is hard but it’s your future. We old folks who you so eagerly blame for everything will be dead. We will return to the stars and the world will be yours. If you don’t fix it, you, your children, and grandchildren won’t have a livable world.

Activism isn’t easy, but maybe it’s time to detach from toys and discover the world. Earth used to be a nice place. It could be again. Good luck.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac

Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”

Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

GOOGLY EYES – Marilyn Armstrong

I know I’ve posted this before, but I really like it so I’m doing it again! It makes me laugh every time I read it.

I woke up this morning with an earworm. Not your normal earworm. Mine was a 1920s earworm. It was a song my mother sang often and for once, she actually got the words right. Ask any member of my family and they will assure you: my mother never ever remembered the words to any song — except this one. She would sing words from other songs to whatever melody was bouncing around in her head. But she knew all the words to this one. It’s SUCH an earworm, once you listen to it, it just sort of sits in your head and goes around and around and around.

So I get up this morning and this is what I’m hearing, but without the scratches:

And by golly, the words I had in my head were dead on. Next, the obvious question arises:

How did Google get its name? – Mobilis In Mobile

The mysterious mysteries of the Internet

How did Google get its name?You may have read this kind of “official answer”: Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. The story goes, Kasner would have asked his nephew to invent a name for a very large number – ten to the power of one hundred, and Milton called it a googol. Blah-blah-blah!

Whatever say GSpecialists, Wikipedia or Google corporate itself, last Friday I discovered the secret when I was twittering with Orli. Google was named after Barney Google.*

Just listen to Barney Google’s song. No more to say!

One of you might write an essay on how, when and why granny Brin and/or Page was singing this song.


You may have read this kind of “official” answer: “Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner but I’d bet money (and I never bet money!) that Google was named after Barney Google.” The most popular comic strip in the U.S. for dozens of years … and still around even today.
Barney Google – The History

Now you know the truth about Google and somehow, it makes a lot more sense than
any other explanation I’ve heard!

LOOK FOR THE GOO GOO GOOGLY EYES – Marilyn Armstrong

I woke up this morning with an earworm. Not your normal earworm. Mine was a 1920s earworm. It was a song my mother sang often and for once, she actually got the words right. Ask any member of my family and they will assure you: my mother never ever remembered the words to any song — except this one. She would sing words from other songs to whatever melody was bouncing around in her head. But she knew all the words to this one. It’s SUCH an earworm, once you listen to it, it just sort of sits in your head and goes around and around and around.

So I get up this morning and this is what I’m hearing, but without the scratches:

And by golly, the words I had in my head were dead on.

How did Google get its name? – Mobilis In Mobile

The mysterious mysteries of the Internet

How did Google get its name?You may have read this kind of “official answer”: Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. The story goes, Kasner would have asked his nephew to invent a name for a very large number – ten to the power of one hundred, and Milton called it a googol. Blah-blah-blah!

Whatever say GSpecialists, Wikipedia or Google corporate itself, last Friday I discovered the secret when I was twittering with Orli. Google was named after Barney Google.*

Just listen to Barney Google’s song. No more to say!


You may have read the “official” answer that “Google derived its name from the word “googol,” a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. But I’d bet money (and I never bet money!) that Google was named after Barney Google.” It was the most popular comic strip in the U.S. for dozens of years … and is still around today.
Barney Google – The History

Now you know the truth about Google and somehow, it makes a lot more sense than
any other explanation I’ve heard!

THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT GOOGLE! – Marilyn Armstrong

I woke up this morning with an earworm. Not your normal earworm. Mine was a 1920s earworm. It was a song my mother sang often and for once, she actually got the words right. Ask any member of my family and they will assure you: my mother never ever remembered the words to any song — except this one. She would sing words from other songs to whatever melody was bouncing around in her head. But she knew all the words to this one. It’s SUCH an earworm, once you listen to it, it just sort of sits in your head and goes around and around and around.

So I get up this morning and this is what I’m hearing, but without the scratches:

And by golly, the words I had in my head were dead on. Next, the obvious question arises:

How did Google get its name? – Mobilis In Mobile

The mysterious mysteries of the Internet

How did Google get its name?You may have read this kind of “official answer”: Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. The story goes, Kasner would have asked his nephew to invent a name for a very large number – ten to the power of one hundred, and Milton called it a googol. Blah-blah-blah!

Whatever say GSpecialists, Wikipedia or Google corporate itself, last Friday I discovered the secret when I was twittering with Orli. Google was named after Barney Google.*

Just listen to Barney Google’s song. No more to say!

One of you might write an essay on how, when and why granny Brin and/or Page was singing this song.


You may have read this kind of “official” answer: “Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner but I’d bet money (and I never bet money!) that Google was named after Barney Google.” The most popular comic strip in the U.S. for dozens of years … and still around even today.
Barney Google – The History

Now you know the truth about Google and somehow, it makes a lot more sense than
any other explanation I’ve heard!

THE SONG IS YOU – Garry Armstrong

One of the great pleasures in my life these days is our car radio. Marilyn, in one of the most thoughtful of her gifts in this past year of discontent, signed us – me really – for Sirius Satellite radio, highlighted by the signature “Siriusly Sinatra” station.  It’s all Sinatra, 24-7.

Not just Sinatra. It’s all of the songs and artists from Tin Pan Alley’s swing halcyon days. Sinatra,  Dino, Sammy, Crosby, Ella, Nat Cole, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, The Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Irving Berlin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Kahn, Cole Porter, Rosie Clooney and other legendary musicians who performed under the umbrella of “Standards.” It’s not just cob-webby LP music. The station also features contemporary artists covering the classics that span more than a century. You’ll marvel at the likes of Springsteen, Dylan, Lady Gaga and Pink riffing Mel Torme, Sassy Sarah Vaughn, Peggy Lee, Etta James, Doris Day, Ol’ Blue Eyes and other voices. Tunesmiths from our youth.

This leads me into the theme of singing in the throne room as I assume most of us do — far from the madding crowd of critics. I don’t possess the same musical talent as my two younger brothers. Hell, it’s a miracle if I carry a tune. Lately, I’ve been serenading myself as I shave (very steady hand!).

Usually, it’s older standard music on the Sinatra station. Or maybe something Marilyn remembers her Mom singing from her childhood.  Marilyn says her Mom usually only remembered one stanza from a tune and would repeat it over and over again. I chuckle along with Marilyn because I do the same thing. Maybe two or three lines repeated myriad times until I forget those lyrics or  I’m done shaving. Then, I move into the shower. The water covering more old songs with misremembered lyrics.

It’s all good for me. Surely, I am the winner of The Lipton Tea Talent Scouts Show with Arthur Godfrey smiling and congratulating me. I’m gonna be the next Nat “King” Cole.  As sure as the turning of the earth!  I just need to pick the right song to cover.

A song that’s me!

Decades ago (The early 70’s), I used to walk around singing the very somber love ballad, “All For The Love Of A Girl.” It was the flip side of Johnny Horton’s “The Ballad of New Orleans.”  I sang “All For the Love …” with deep, sorrowful emotion. On or off the melody? I don’t remember. A lady friend asked, “Garry, why do you always sing such sad songs”?

I replied, “Because I’m sentimental.”

My friend shot back quickly, “No, You’re NOT!” And, you’re also not romantic.”   I suppressed anger and the blemish to my sensitivity.

Years later, the same performance, different song and a similar conversation with Marilyn who echoed the “No, you’re not sentimental. You may like sentimental songs and movies. But it doesn’t make you sentimental or a romantic.” This would lead down a conversational road I didn’t like. The difference between musical tastes and my own personality and behavior,  especially with people who cared about me.  The singer, not the song. But, as usual, I digress.

I chose our Wedding Song.  It was Nat Cole’s “For Sentimental Reasons.”  Marilyn and I slow danced, as bride and groom, to the dreamy ballad. It was supposed to be the standard for my behavior as Marilyn’s husband and dependable mate through good times and bad. The song proved steadier than the groom in the ensuing years.

It’s difficult living up to the romantic lyrics of a popular song when you’re dealing with bread and butter issues like bills, home repairs, and health care and working in the news business which is about as unromantic as work can be. The song isn’t always you. A very hard pill to swallow when you carry yourself off as a romantic or sentimental fella. Recognizing the difference is part of the long road to maturity, awkward when your 78th birthday is just a few, short months away.

Maybe this is part of what Frank Sinatra was trying to explain when we met half a century ago — another story in a different post. I never asked, but Sinatra told me he often felt at odds with some of his sad songs, the love affairs which supposedly went sour in smoky three o’clock in the morning gin joints.  I was the twenty-something filled with the angst of old movies and songs about love found and lost.  I still didn’t have a clue about being a three-dimensional guy ready to take on responsibility with the sensitivity essential to any meaningful relationship.

It would take a long, long time and still hasn’t been fully achieved. I always label myself – “a work in progress.”  The old love songs don’t always cover that ‘sharing and caring’ stuff.  Play “Misty” for me!

Another time travel stop for me and music. Autumn of 1959. I was brash, newly minted enlistee at Parris Island, the legendary basic training camp for young gyrenes. I was one of a very few “boots” of color and a damn Yankee in the deep south where Jim Crow still prevailed. Most of the other clean-shaven Marine wannabees were from below the Mason-Dixon line, deep in the heart of Dixie. Their music was Rebel Rock ‘n Roll, tempered with obscenities and insensitivity to anyone who was not a card-carrying beer and grits lover.

The southern music dominated our downtime. I was off in my own private world, serenading myself with the likes of “Mona Lisa”, “Stardust”, “Too Young” and “When I Fall In Love.”  My musical choices bought me a lot of grief with the good old boys. A lot of reprimands from the drill Instructors who already didn’t care for my “attitude” and added my music to their list of things for verbal reprimand.  I just laughed at them when they screamed at me. No hits of the week for me.

I got lost in a time warp when hard rock, heavy metal, rap, and hip-hop took over popular music. I guess I began to sound like my parents and grandparents wondering what happened to the good music of my early years. What happened to lyrics and melodies you could understand?

My fallback in music is the same as it is in movies. My one and only public karaoke performance was our local Tex-Mex restaurant maybe fifteen years ago. It was not my best performance, even by local standards. The restaurant closed a few years ago but I am sure some people still remember the magical night when I got up on stage, decked in western garb, reaching for the stars as I grabbed the mic and the music began. My heartfelt rendition of “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” fulfilled a lifelong dream.  I sang for applause, free drinks, and some scattered “More, more, more.”

A musical homage to all my movie cowboy heroes.

That song is me, Pilgrim.