Writer’s Workshop: Islands And Such

A friend of mine once told me he uses the Columbus Method of typing. I asked him to explain what he meant, and he told me, “Find an island and land on it.”

Seriously, today the the prompt I’ve chosen is to base my post on the word “island,” and it made me think of the islands I’ve been on. And it struck me that every island I’ve ever been to was for work, or a work-related activity.

  • Puerto Rico I went to San Juan on a consulting assignment to their water company, PRASA. Thanks to missed connections in Miami and the fact that Puerto Rico is on Atlantic time, I arrived at 3 AM, and had a weird cab ride to the hotel where the driver stopped in his neighborhood and picked up a couple of his friends. The rest of the trip was pretty much taxi to the client from the hotel, taxi to the hotel from the client. My manager told me when I got back that they wanted me to spend a couple of months there to fix whatever issues they had. It never materialized.
  • Singapore I think I spent more time in the air getting to Singapore than I spent there. I was there to conduct a two-day class, arrived the day before, and left after the class. Singapore, at that time of the year, was exactly twelve hours ahead of Atlanta, and when I got back to the hotel after a day of teaching, I put on my tech support guy hat and supported classes that were ongoing in the US. Singapore is veddy, veddy British, don’t you know, even though most of the people are Asian, so I felt comfortable being there, but again, I spent a lot of time in taxis between the hotel and the client site.
  • Hong Kong I wondered if I should include Hong Kong, because I just stopped there on the way to Singapore and spent all my time in the airport. Interesting thing about public restrooms in Asia: there are usually one or two stalls which house a squat toilet. No, I never used one. I’ll save that bucket list item for my next life.
  • Manhattan I’ve spent a lot of time in Manhattan, relatively speaking, and it’s a very interesting place. To a lot of folks, Manhattan is New York. The first time I had sushi was in Manhattan. I got the sushi platter where the food just kept coming and coming. When I got my plate, I saw this blob of green stuff sitting on it. I figured, okay, green things are cool, picked it up and stuck the whole thing in my mouth. That was my introduction to wasabi, which if you’ve never had it is Japanese horseradish, except in most Japanese restaurants it’s hot mustard, horseradish, and green food coloring, which produces a flavor simiar to the real stuff, but a whole lot hotter. My last few trips were made to a client near Ground Zero, and I got the chance to see the aftermath about a year later. There was a chain-link fence surrounding the site, and people had hung clothing and other personal items from the victims on it. Very somber.
  • Long Island Several of my trips sent me to locations on Long Island, or as they say on Long Island, “Lawn Guyland.” I got lost on my way to a client site and ended up in Amityville, which I understand is at the very tip of the island. The client site was about ten minutes from my hotel. I had another trip where the client was a bank on a street corner in Flushing in what looked like a residential neighborhood. It was a small chain of banks, and evidently it was the only place they had a training facility.
  • O’ahu Yes, I had a couple of business trips to Hawai’i. I did a training class for a number of warehouse people in a facility near the airport, which was also where Dole had a processing plant, so the air was constantly redolent with the smell of pineapples. I made the mistake of wearing a tie, and one of the participants literally cut it off. “We don’t wear ties here,” she said. Listen, I remember the original Hawai’i Five-O, and those guys wore ties…
  • Hilton Head My company had an award called King’s Court, which one generally won by collecting a bunch of “attaboy” letters from clients. I managed to do so within my first year by spending all my time on the road, so my reward was to take Mary with me and go on the road to Hilton Head, where a full slate of activities was planned: golf (which we don’t do), sail (which we don’t to), play tennis (ditto). We nevertheless had an okay time.
  • Great Britain My list of islands originally ended with Hilton Head, then I remembered that Great Britain is also an island. Mary and I took a belated honeymoon there, spending a week in Edinburgh and a week in London, then I went to The Netherlands and England on a product-launch tour, where I trained our European associates.
  • Australia And, while I was writing the last entry, I remembered that Australia, while a continent, is also an island. I spent a week there, again training, this time our Australian associates. My friends saw to it that I had plenty to do while I was there, and one of the things was walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I managed to get lost one evening, going away from the water when I should have been going toward it, and that is a pretty interesting experience.

There isn’t much chance that I’ll be traveling much in the near future. Mary hates to go anywhere by plane, and travel is not a particularly handicap-friendly activity. I was never much for taking advantage of being in a foreign land to do sightseeing. But, ya know, maybe in my next life…

Two For Tuesday: Apollo 100 and Hot Butter

As I mentioned the other day, I plan on doing bands from my high school days through the end of August, at which time I’ll move on to a new theme. (If you have any ideas for a new theme, by all means, I’m open to suggestions.) I’ll count down the five acts that were most popular in August, but for this post and the next, I want to feature a couple of “one-hit wonders” that I especially liked.

One of them is Apollo 100. They were a British instrumental band led by multi-instrumentalist Tom Parker who had one hit in 1972, “Joy,” a rendering of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring.” It spent four weeks in the Top Ten, peaking at #6.

The other is Hot Butter, led by keyboardist Stan Free. They had a novelty hit in 1972 with “Popcorn,” a synthpop song which displayed the capabilities of the Moog Synthesizer. It was a cover of composer Gershon Kingsley’s 1969 song. It spent four weeks in the Top Ten, peaking at #9.

Neither Apollo 100 nor Hot Butter lasted very long. Apollo 100 broke up in 1973 after having released two albums, while Hot Butter released five albums and lasted through 1978. They recorded some good music, much of which is available on YouTube.

Apollo 100 and Hot Butter, your Two for Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

Monday’s Music Moves Me: European Favorites

So the theme for today is “European Favorites,” and as always, when faced with a prompt like this, a lot of what I choose to feature here depends on my interpretation of the prompt. Here’s how I’m interpreting it: Songs by European artists that are favorites of mine. And, just to make things interesting, I’m not including artists from the United Kingdom or Ireland. Here goes:

  1. Edith Piaf, “La Vie En Rose” The classic from Ms. Piaf, this was recorded in 1956.
  2. Gipsy Kings, “Volare” The Gipsy Kings are gitanos, Berber-Moroccan and Spanish Gypsies who fled Catalonia to France during the Spanish Civil War. From their 1989 album Mosaique.
  3. ABBA, “Waterloo” Sweden’s ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with this entry. It was their first international hit.
  4. Kraftwerk, “Autobahn” I chose one of the shorter versions of this; the full song is over twenty minutes. As the name might imply, Kraftwerk is German.
  5. Django Reinhardt, “Echoes of France” Django is a Belgian Gypsy, a Manouche. This is from 1946, after the liberation of France. The song is based on “La Marseillaise“, the French National Anthem.
  6. Horst Jankowski, “A Walk In The Black Forest” Classically-trained German pianist Jankowski is best known for light pieces like this one.
  7. Mocedades, “Eres Tu” Another Eurovision contestant, this was Spain’s entry in the 1973 contest, but didn’t win. Nonetheless, it was an international hit, and Amaya Uranga’s voice is lovely.
  8. Bent Fabric, “Alley Cat” Bent Fabricius-Bjerre was born in Denmark in 1924. This was a hot single in 1962.
  9. The Singing Nun, “Dominique” Belgian Jeanne Deckers, who took the name Souer Sourire as a Dominican nun, had a big hit with this in the Sixties, and was played by Debbie Reynolds in the 1966 movie. Every Catholic household had a copy of the album when it came out, it seemed.
  10. Nena, “99 Luftballons” Title track from their 1983 album, it’s a German-language antiwar protest song.

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for July 17, 2017.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Cathy, and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


The Midpoint Of July Week That Was

This edition of The Week That Was is sponsored by new Lysol Spray. Destroys germs and mold, eliminates fungus and odors instantly!

Also makes excellent torches…

The Week That Was

I’m trying the Linux WordPress editor, which runs separately from the browser, because although it’s the ugly blue, the delay is gone. Anyway, it’s time for the weekly summary…

It was a freebie day on Monday, so I featured ten of your “destination” songs. On Friday for the 5×2, I featured ten more. I still have quite a few, but won’t feature them tomorrow, because we have a theme for tomorrow: European favorites. Should be fun. Be sure not to miss it.

Much to the chagrin of some of you, I featured The Partridge Family on Tuesday. Those of us who remember the TV show and the songs (which were sung by David Cassidy, with backup vocals by his stepmom, Shirley Jones) have a certain fondness for those days. As I commented to someone, those of us who had a less-than-stellar social life during those years had Laurie Partridge and Marcia and Jan Brady to keep us company on Friday nights (and for the girls, Greg and Bobby Brady and Keith and Danny Partridge).

I borrowed an image quote that said nice things about the old entertainment centers from the Fifties and Sixties (the ones with the TV, AM/FM radio, turntable, and liquor cabinet) as opposed to flat-screen TVs and the like today. Visual and sound quality might be better on the equipment today, but you couldn’t beat the old entertainment centers as pieces of furniture. We had several discussions about the quality of furniture then versus the quality of furniture now. In the past, stuff was made to last…

I wrote about the two World Series champions I’ve been able to celebrate, the 1995 Atlanta Braves and the 2005 Chicago White Sox, and about being a baseball fan in general. Uncle Jack, one of my influences in choosing the White Sox to root for, lamented that the ChiSox are in the midst of a rebuild. True that, but now that I think about it, they’ve been in a rebuild most of the years I’ve followed them. Rebuilding a baseball team, when the team’s management realizes that the team they have has no chance of winning and they need to reboot, is generally undertaken when the general manager of the team has made so many stupid decisions that he gets fired and they bring someone in that has to start by getting rid of anyone that can’t help the team in the immediate future and restocking the farm system with as many high-quality prospects as they can accumulate. It’s hard to be patient, though…


We were supposed to use the title of the most-recent book we’ve read as the prompt for the stream of consciousness post. The books I read don’t have fun titles, by which I mean the kind of titles I can have fun writing about. So I found a book among the ones Amazon was recommending for Mary called Playing With Fire. I was a dangerous little bastard when I was a kid, that’s all I’ll say about that.


Voting is currently open for my latest Battle of the Bands, which pits two songs called “Galway Bay” against each other. I’ll post the results on Saturday, so get your votes in before then.

Yes, I promised you a quiz or meme or whatever you call it, and I got the first draft written. I’m rethinking some of the questions so the answers don’t require an essay. Apart from that, nothing special is planned, though tomorrow’s Monday’s Music Moves Me will be interesting, and as I’m reaching the end of the list of people who were popular during my high school years, I’ll be featuring someone from the top six on Tuesday. My eyes are peeled for more funny stuff for One-Liner Wednesday, I have prompts for Thursday’s Writer’s Workshop, I’ll be doing more destination songs on Friday, and Linda hasn’t given us the prompt yet, so you’ll just have to wait and see what I come up with for Saturday. Plus, the results of my latest Battle of the Bands.

And that’s it for this edition of The Week That Was. See you in the funny papers!