#ROW80 Round 4 2012: World Series check-in

I’m not all that interested, since neither the Braves nor the White Sox are in it, but the World Series starts tonight. We have the AL Champion Detroit Tigers versus the NL Champion San Francisco Giants. Good luck to both of them. I guess that I like the Giants in this for three reasons: 1) They knocked the St. Louis Cardinals out of the running, after the Cards did the same thing to the Braves; 2) Detroit won the AL Central, knocking the White Sox out of contention; and 3) my brother and his family live in the Bay Area.

Anyway, it wasn’t as good a week as last week was. Still not a bad one.

Writing: After having gotten the one piece into shape and sending it out last Tuesday, I haven’t started putting words onto the screen for the next story. I do have it plotted out, however, so I’ll be starting that as soon as later this evening. Definitely after Jeopardy!

Reading: Read Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks For Authors (and Screenwriters!) because Gene Lempp made it sound so good. And it was. Then got started with Crossed, Ally Condie’s second book of the Matched Trilogy, mostly because I couldn’t seem to find Sheldon Siegel’s book amid all of the romance that Mary has been loading onto my Kindle since the battery in hers lasts about four hours. The lithium-ion batteries are great, but they’re very easy to burn out.

Twitter: Twitter is my new best friend, social media-wise. I’ve learned that using hash tags makes it easy to read the conversations that I want, while avoiding the things that I don’t (e.g. politics). I catch up on things when I’m riding around with Mary and when I’m sitting in the car while she’s shopping. More fun than barking at other people.

ROW80 Support: I have made a point of visiting fellow ROWers and leaving comments for them, mostly for the blogs that I follow on WordPress. I have subscribed by email to those non-Wordpress blogs that offer it, so my emailbox has been quite full lately.

Hope everyone else has been having a good week. Until next time, straight ahead.

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Two For Tuesday: Koko Taylor

Little history: when I was in high school in the Chicago area in the early Seventies, a guy who called himself Johnny “Funky” Twist played a couple of concerts at my high school. He was a favorite of a friend of mine and I, and we tried to catch him whenever he played in the area. And, as too often happens with acts like him, he dropped off the face of the earth. Couldn’t find him anywhere.

A couple of years later, I was talking to another friend of mine and happened to mention Johnny Twist. He said, “Skinny guy, gold teeth, plays a Flying V? He plays with Koko Taylor these days.” I found out that Koko was playing that weekend at a Far North Side bar named Biddy Mulligan’s, called my friend from high school, and said, “We gotta go!” (Fortunately, Illinois had changed the drinking age to nineteen a year or so before.)

Anyway, we went to the place, and damned if he wasn’t playing the guitar and putting on a show before Koko Taylor took the stage. A few minutes later, Koko came out… and absolutely blew me away. On a break, I got to meet her, her husband “Pops,” Vince Chappelle (her drummer, who was busy working the crowd and selling her latest album at the time, I Got What It Takes), and Johnny Twist himself. It has to be one of the most amazing experiences I’d had up to that point, and still ranks way up there. From that point on, any time she was playing Biddy’s, I went to see her, even after Johnny left the band.

Koko was born Cora Walton in Shelby County, Tennessee in 1928, the daughter of a sharecropper. In 1952 she and Pops moved to Chicago, and she started playing the blues clubs in the late 1950’s. Legendary bass player and composer Willie Dixon discovered her in the early 1960’s and helped her get her first contract with Chess Records. Her first single, Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” went to #4 on the R&B charts in 1966, and was the song she was best known for. In 1975, she signed with Alligator Records and recorded nine albums for them, and performed regularly in the Chicago area until she died of complications after surgery in 2009.

“Wang Dang Doodle,” her biggest hit, is the first song here. Accompanying her are Marion “Little Walter” Jacobs on harmonica and Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor on the guitar. This was filmed in 1967. The second song, a cover of Magic Sam’s “That’s Why I’m Cryin’,” is from I Got What It Takes, her first Alligator album.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane, and enjoyed the music of Koko Taylor, your Two For Tuesday, October 23, 2012.

#ROW80 Round 4 2012: Straight Ahead

Arnie Berle is a jazz guitar and saxophone player and instructor, currently at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He has written numerous instruction manuals for Mel Bay Publications, many of which found their way into my collection over the years. He also wrote a monthly column for Guitar Player magazine for a number of years, and at the end of each column, he would say, “Until next time, straight ahead.” I always thought that was a good way to end the column, just him saying “Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll see you next month.” I thought it was a good way to start this post, because that’s pretty much what I’ve done this week. here we are, goal by goal:

Write at least an hour each day: I picked a way to go with the short story I was talking about last week, and wrote and rewrote it for somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours a day until last night, when I sent it to the members of my writers’ group. I figured that I had looked at it enough, and that it was best to get some new eyes on it. Plus, one of the members of the group is the proprietor of the world I was writing about, and I wanted to make sure that I had gotten it right. Which means it’s time to start the next story, of course.

Visit other ROW80 blogs: Not quite as good of a job this past week as the week before. I think I was too excited about the story I was writing. Sorry. Everyone looks like they’re doing so well, all I can think of to say is, “Good for you! Straight ahead!” I realize that’s trite, but it’s sincere. My whole reason for starting the blog was that I wanted to hang out with you guys. And I mean that.

Spend half an hour a day, three times a week, on Twitter: I’m spending more time there, and am starting to notice that there are people who do nothing but post links to their books. After reading Damyanti’s post last week, I find myself a whole lot less codependent about unfollowing “The Special Ones.” I admit, I tweet links to these posts because WordPress makes it easy to do so, but I’m starting to focus on tweeting more than just links and retweets. It’s a real learning process.

Learn to read like a writer: I finished the “enjoyment” read of Matched and am ready to start tackling Crossed, the next book in the series. I’ll do that after I finish PJ O’Rourke’s book. The queue ahead of Crossed contains a Western steampunk novella that Kait Nolan recommended and a book on string theory that I wanted to read because I don’t have enough headaches and because it came up in the story I was writing. I’m learning a lot from O’Rourke’s book on writing humor, and no doubt I will be reading it every election year for the rest of my life. As for Matched, I probably need to get to the analysis soon, because right now it’s in the pile to be sold to the used book store.

So, it’s been a good week. If I don’t see you before next week, straight ahead.

Two for Tuesday: Henry Mancini

Did you ever get the feeling that you were forgetting something? I realized just a few minutes ago I hadn’t posted the Two for Tuesday for today.

In honor of my parents’ wedding anniversary (58 years today; shame that neither of them lived to see it), today’s guest artist is the late, great Henry Mancini, the composer of “Moon River,” a tune popularized by the late Andy Williams, who celebrated his Two For Tuesday two weeks ago. During the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, you might remember that I did a post on him and his collaborations with director/producer Blake Edwards. I included a number of Mancini’s songs in that post (and you’re welcome to visit it, by the way), so I’ll try to make this unique.

He was born Enrico Nicola Mancini in the Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio in 1924. After serving in World War II (where he participated in the liberation of a concentration camp), he became the pianist for the re-formed Glenn Miller Orchestra, and spent his time there working on his composing and arranging skills. In 1952, he joined the music department at Universal Pictures, and composed the music for over a hundred movies, including The Glenn Miller Story, for which he received his first Oscar nomination. Going freelance in 1958, he wrote the theme song for the TV show Peter Gunn, the first of many collaborations with Blake Edwards. He was a prolific composer, arranger, and performer who remained active until his death of pancreatic cancer in 1994.

You’ve heard the first song here if you were a fan of the TV show Newhart in the Eighties (and who wasn’t?). This is the full theme; the one used for television was about half as long. (I have to say, to be fair, that the show was a favorite of ours because Bob Newhart was a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, also our alma mater.) The second song, “Experiment in Terror,” was written for Blake Edwards’ 1962 movie of the same name, starring Glenn Ford and Lee Remick. Those of us who lived in the Chicago area know it better as the theme from Creature Features, WGN-TV’s Saturday night horror film.

There are literally hundreds of Mancini songs, performed by a wide variety of artists, that people have posted to YouTube, a sign that Henry’s music is ageless and has a broad appeal to people of all ages. I hope I’ve given you enough of a taste that you spend some time and check those out.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!