FRAMED – GARRY ARMSTRONG

PHOTO CHALLENGE: FRAME


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Using parts of the landscape to frame the picture has always come naturally to me. Maybe it’s all those years of television videotape — and so many John Ford movies — but I automatically look for ways to frame a scene.

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It is not merely decorative. It also provides perspective and draws the eyes of the viewer into the scene … a principle that works for both still and moving pictures.

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Summertime … framed by trees and water. Downtown Uxbridge in August.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

CEE’S ODDBALLS ON A STEAMY SUMMER AFTERNOON

 Cees’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2016 Week 32


After weeks of no rain at all, suddenly we’ve been getting thunderstorms in the afternoon. It’s probably because of the heat and humidity. I remember, when I was a kid, when the weather got like this — before we had weather channels or 24 hours news or the internet — we expected thunderstorms. When you got a lot of heat and steamy air, you expected thunder and lightning to follow.

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We’d head for Mary’s house because she had a covered porch. There, we could play monopoly and watch the rain. Rainy afternoons are full of memories.

I am glad we’re finally getting some rain. It will take a lot of days like this to make up for the weeks of drought.

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IT’S TOO DARN HOT

We have been staying inside because that’s where the air conditioning is. It has been the heat wave from Hell with temperatures closing in at nearly 100 degrees (Farenheit) for weeks. And then, there’s the humidity,  closing in at nearly 100% pretty much all summer. Whatever it is they are marketing as air out there, it isn’t. For those of us with asthma or any other breathing issues, it’s unhealthy and possibly, unsafe to be outside.

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We had a long, drenching thunder-storm this afternoon. It should have cleared the air, but it didn’t. It did, however, give the plants a good watering, added a bit of desperately needed water to the aquifer, and refreshed the tinder-dry woods.

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The dogs sleep on the coolest surface they can find. Today, they are both on the hard floor because it’s too darn hot to sleep on the upholstery. I’d join them, but I probably would need the jaws of life to get me back up again.

Sometimes, you need a song to say it right. This is definitely, unquestionably the right song for the day. Maybe for the month.

THE SUMMER WIND

SONGS THAT COME BLOWING IN, by Rich Paschall


If you visited this space last Sunday, you saw the top Songs of Summer as given by the musical genius, Brian Wilson.  Those may have been songs that evoked thoughts of summer for Brian, but some were a real stretch of the imagination to me.  I promised you songs that are really about summer.

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Summertime by George Gershwin is arguably the most beloved summertime song ever. Great singers from Billie Holiday through Janis Joplin recorded magical versions of the song. Originally written by Gershwin for the 1935 modern opera, Porgy and Bess, rock and opera stars alike have recorded it. I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably have a favorite version.

When the Beach Boys put out a new album for their 50th anniversary, they served up a perfect piece of nostalgia with Summer’s Gone, written by Brian Wilson. He took lead on the record and in performance.  Unfortunately, they did not do it throughout the anniversary tour and there’s only one fan video from the last stop I can find.  Therefore, this tribute through old and new pictures will have to serve:

Now, the countdown:

10. Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, Nat King Cole, 1963.  If I heard it once, I heard it a million times (as the saying goes) while growing up.  I guess we must really have liked it. Cole was alive then and would turn up on variety shows to perform this.  Unfortunately, variety shows have disappeared.
9.  A Summer Song, Chad and Jeremy, 1964
8.  Summer Nights, from the play and movie, Grease.  It was “the word” for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.  If you can look past all the people who killed this song in karaoke, it might still be a favorite.
7.  In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry, 1970  The song filled with odd sounds and rhythms was a mega-hit for the British group.
6.  Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone  This one was at the top of the Brian Wilson list.

5.  Surfer Girl, the Beach Boys  This early Beach Boys hit remained a fan favorite through the years.  Almost 50 years after first recording it, they could still perform the harmonies with ease.  Well, if not with ease, then at least with a lot of coaching by Brian:

4.  Summer Rain, Johnny Rivers, 1968  It didn’t make it to the top of the charts, but it is one of those songs that keeps getting played.  Now in his 70s, Rivers is still performing his many hits.

3.  Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra, 1966  Wayne Newton first recorded the song in 1965, but it is Sinatra who had a hit the following year.

2.  Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts, 1972  Written and performed by Jim Seals and Dash Crofts.

1.  Summer in the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful, 1966  Released in July 1966, by August it was number 1.  The overplayed summer anthem included a car horn and jack hammer sounds to let you know you were in the city.

What are your summer favorites?

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 1960’s, Brian Wilson has been considered a musical genius. His prolific song-writing propelled the careers of the original “Boys.” Their music remains wildly 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.

Today Brian is again touring, writing and producing. His opinions on music are held in high esteem by song writers 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.  Recently 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 and you can follow with your own list in the comments if you are so inclined. First of all, any song I have to go find 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 over done 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.  It is true that every oldies station will 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 a number of 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.

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.  That would also include more by the masters of their style, the Beach Boys.  Go forth and create your own list and enjoy the sounds of summer.

THE NEXT TO LAST STOP

The Inconvenience Store, by Rich Paschall

It was a peaceful summer evening.  The sun had just set.  The air was warm and the light breeze was refreshing.  Jorge had walked three blocks from his small apartment to the local convenience store for a Big Drink and Big Sandwich combination.  He had little food at home and did not feel like making anything anyway.  It felt good to take a walk on such a pleasant evening.  There was nothing quite like summer in the city.

There were a few others in the small store but Jorge paid no attention to them.  He went directly to the soft drink machine and then on to the Sandwich Stop.  After he made his selection, he noticed there was a bit of a commotion at the front of the store.

Three young men rushed in.  They looked like they were in their late teens or early twenties.  Two were tall and wearing white t-shirts and baggy shorts.  The third was a large guy wearing a black sleeveless shirt with some design Jorge could not make out, and black baggy jeans.  The big guy was also carrying a machine gun or automatic rifle.  Jorge was unfamiliar with weapons and was not too sure.

Do Not Cross

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“Don’t anyone move,” the big guy commanded.  “Don’t anyone make a sound neither, not a sound.”

One of the others told the cashier to give him all the money if he wanted to live, and the third thief looked down all the aisles to see if anyone was hiding or there might be trouble there.  The few people in the store had not moved.  The aisle checker then stopped at the cooler and reached in for a twelve pack of beer, but paused like he did not know if he should steal it.

“Just take it,” the big guy shouted, “and let’s go.” He grabbed the beer and the thief at the counter only collected a small amount of money which he put in a backpack.

As they prepared to leave, there was a small whimper from the next aisle from where Jorge was standing.  In response, the big guy sprayed the aisles with bullets.  Jorge hit the floor.  There was a sharp burning sensation in his abdomen.  His head was groggy and he could not make himself move at all.  He slowly drifted away from the conscious world.

The cashier gasped and as the big guy got to the door he turned and sent a few shots in the direction of the cash register.  The convenience store worker had already hit the floor and shots went over the top of him and heavily damaged the display behind the counter.

As the thieves got to their car, the police were pulling up to the lot.  The cashier had set off a silent alarm when the trouble started and the response had finally arrived.  There was an exchange of gun fire as the young men were able to get in the car and out of the lot, with a squad car in pursuit.

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Two officers wearing bullet proof vests had their guns out and cautiously entered the store.  The cashier saw them in a monitor high on a wall and shouted, “Help them, help them.”

One officer carefully went around the counter to find the cashier lying on the floor.  He approached slowly with his gun pointed at the young man.  He had to be sure it was not a trick.  Finally he helped the trembling cashier to his feet.

The other officer looked down the aisles and immediately called for medical attention for multiple victims.  He searched the aisles before going over to one of the victims.  By the time he checked to see if the first one was alive, more police were in the store and in the parking lot.  One ambulance came onto the lot closely followed by another.  A police officer outside was now obviously taking charge of the scene and ordering onlookers away.  Paramedics rushed into the store and observed pools of blood in two different aisles.  There was a lot of damage caused by the bullets of just one man.

The next thing Jorge was aware of feeling was the burning of his stomach.  It was the sharpest pain of his life.  His head was heavy and he could not open his eyes.  It seemed, however, that he was now lying on his back, rather than face down on the tile floor of the convenience store.  In his stupor he could not tell where he was or even if he was alive.  He drifted off again.

Three adults were taken to The Resurrection Hospital.  It was the closest trauma center.  The Catholic hospital had become familiar with treating gunshot wounds.  It seems they saw someone every week who had been gunned down.  The victims may have suffered from a gang dispute, domestic violence, armed robbery or were just innocent bystanders.  The increase of guns had brought an increase of  gunshot victims to the Emergency Room.

Sometimes the medical staff could do little more than call the chaplain to say a prayer.

Back at the convenience store was one more victim.  A ten-year old boy was going to be taken directly to the morgue.  He would not whimper again.