Today, fill your cup of life with sunshine and laughter.

30 October 2009

The ABC's of the World's Greatest Guitarists

Simple rules. Match up a musical topic with the letters of the alphabet.

Today's topic: World's Greatest Guitarists. I decided to include all musical genres because so many people aren't aware that, although the greatest rock guitar legend might have been Hendrix, he's actually only number 4 if you factor in classical, jazz, blues and country. Hail hail, Segovia! Reinhardt! Atkins!

A - Chet Atkins. Country.

B - Lenny Breau. Jazz.

C - Eric Clapton. Rock, Blues.

D - Al DiMeola. Fusion.

E - Rik Emmitt. Rock.

F - John Fahey. Folk, Contemporary fingerpicking.

G - Danny Gatton. Rockabilly.

H - Jimi Hendrix. Rock.

I - Tony Iommi. Rock.

J - Robert Johnson. Blues.

K - B.B. King. Blues.

L - Alex Lifeson. Rock.

M - Pat Metheny. Fusion.

N - Roy Nichols. Country.

O - Michael Orlando. Rock, Shred.

P - Les Paul. Jazz.

Q - Robert Quine. Rock.

R - Django Reinhardt. Jazz.

S - Andres Segovia. Classical.

T - Merle Travis. Country.

U - James Blood Ulmer. Jazz, Funk.

V - Stevie Ray Vaughn. Blues, Rock.

W - T-Bone Walker. Blues guitarist.

X - (no listing)

Y - Narciso Yepes. Classical.

Z - Frank Zappa. Rock.

21 October 2009

What is happening to our world?

Read this, had to share it. Strikes a few nerves, doncha think? How many of us have thought many of the same things? How many of us are guilty of some of these things? Can you be honest with yourself? This is the measure. It's NOT always "the other guy". If it was, these things wouldn't need to be said.

"It's a Damn Shame" by Larry Winget

I have been remiss in writing a good rant for a few weeks especially when so much has happened for me to rant about! I guess it is because that I have just been so overwhelmed with the disrespect, lack of civility and stupidity that is running rampant that I couldn’t focus on just one or two issues. And I still can’t! So I‘ve decided that you folks might be willing to put up with a series of short rants on all of the things that I am finding especially irritating in the news and in life these days. I hope you enjoy, if you want to share any of these, feel free but give credit and send folks over to the blog and to my fanpage on facebook. This little rant is obviously called, “It’s a damn shame……………….

”It’s a damn shame when someone writes on my Facebook page defending irresponsible behavior with the words “Personal responsibility is such a cliché. It’s a condescending over-used phrase that has become the stock answer to everything.” Yes! It is the answer to everything! And it’s a damn shame that people would rather do anything in this world than take responsibility for their actions, including dismissing the notion as cliché and condescending.

It’s a damn shame when all of us can’t be happy when one of us has something good happen. Obama gets the Nobel Peace Prize and it suddenly becomes a battle cry of the right wing about how he doesn’t deserve it. If your name isn’t Nobel or you aren’t on the committee then you don’t really have a say in his deservingness. Don’t say he didn’t earn it – it’s not up to you to decide that. The Nobel Peace Prize committee decided he was deserving so you don’t really get a say in who wins the award since you don’t sit on the committee. This is not about politics or whether you like Obama’s stance on … well, anything! It’s about the President of the United States gets recognized on the world stage for something good and our divisive political system can’t say “congratulations” and then move on to better things. Which means it’s a damn shame when important things like healthcare, the recession, Medicare, Social Security and other major issues are taking a backseat to this inane non-issue.

It’s a damn shame when instead of respectfully disagreeing with someone, that you must resort to name calling because you aren’t smart enough to justify your argument with facts, thoughts or civility.

It’s a damn shame that the guy who screams the loudest is considered the winner of an argument instead of the guy with the smartest, most well-thought out, logical point of view.

It’s a damn shame when the color of your skin or sexual orientation is still any kind of issue.

It’s a damn shame when a Cox Cable repairman (or any other repairman) can set an appointment, miss an appointment, and after being called to task over it have nothing to say about why he didn’t bother to show up or call to let me know he wasn’t coming. No apology. No remorse. No answer at all. I sit and waste a day waiting for a guy who evidently had no intention of coming in the first place. That is my weekend experience but it happens all over the world every day and it’s a damn shame!

It’s a damn shame when people can’t remember to say thank you for holding open a door or for spending your money with them.

It’s a damn shame when people will knock you down to get down an aisle or through a door and the words “excuse me” never cross their mind.

It’s a damn shame that it even crosses a man’s mind that jerking an award out of a little girl’s hands is acceptable behavior. Someone should have slapped Kanye West off the damn stage – THAT would have been the best video of the year. Where is Toby Keith when you really need him?

It’s a damn shame when you think it’s okay to spend more than you make and then honestly believe that the government owes you a handout or a bailout. You are an idiot and got yourself in your own mess so fix it yourself or suffer the consequences.

It’s a damn shame when people think that good thoughts are more important than hard work; when meditation has become more highly regarded than action; and when yoga classes are full and math classes are empty.

It’s a damn shame that people with money and jobs and who can afford to make their mortgage payments feel it is acceptable to walk away from their obligations because it makes sense “strategically” to do so. It’s called an obligation. You made a commitment. It’s a contract! You should keep your word even though it no longer “makes sense” to do so simply because you gave your word.

It’s a damn shame that parents have turned their children over to the television, the internet, their cell phone, the school system and their peers to raise them instead of stepping in with the firm hand of love to control the upbringing of their own children. (If you agree with that one, then you are going to love my next book, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Guide For Raising Responsible, Productive Adults.)

It’s a damn shame that people resort to talking heads on television and on the radio to do their thinking for them.

It’s a damn shame that reading is down yet television watching is up.

It’s a damn shame when television shows are made about people who think 18 kids is a good idea (the Duggers) and about self-centered, egotistical brats with 8 kids (Jon & Kate) and about single mothers on welfare with 6 kids who have 8 more kids (Octomom.) More than that, it’s a damn shame that people watch them.

It’s a damn shame when you spend more on your cup of coffee than you do to feed your child a healthy meal. (Not a Happy Meal – a healthy meal.)

It’s a damn shame that 25% of teenage girls have an STD. Parents, where the hell are you?

It’s a damn shame that daddies are too uninvolved to teach their little boys how to be men and to teach their little girls what a man is. (By the way, the idiots who appear on Big Brother and The Bachelor and the other reality shows are NOT real men.) A man knows how to act with integrity, ethics, honesty and knows how to treat others with respect, compassion and dignity. That lesson is being missed. Instead it is being replaced with a tolerance for insolence, arrogance, entitlement and disrespect.

It’s a damn shame that mommas let their little girls become obsessed with the shallow and the superficial. Parents have to display the behavior they want their kids to exhibit.

It’s a damn shame that two thirds of our country is obese and going to die early when they don’t have to.

It’s a damn shame that teachers get paid less than fast food workers. And it’s a damn shame that tenure allows the bad ones to keep their jobs and that low wages forces the good ones to look for other jobs.

It’s a damn shame that cops and fire fighters and soldiers get paid so little and politicians get paid so much.

It’s a damn shame when Monday Night Football is more important than making sure your kid is studying for their spelling test.

It’s a damn shame when texting in the movie theater is more important than respecting the people sitting around you putting up with your distraction.

It’s a damn shame that people think it’s okay to take a cell phone call during dinner with you at a restaurant.

MOSTLY, it’s a damn shame that any of this even needs to be said.


17 October 2009

The ABC's of Love Songs

I am such a music geek. I was sitting here perusing everyone's blogs in a random fashion and suddenly, while I was skimming Jay's blog, an idea popped, fully formed into my mind and wouldn't go away. Think it was the blog where all the items started with the letter L that triggered it ...

So now I feel bound to complete this. It's my own meme, one that I will hoard selfishly for myself because I'm sure NOBODY else is crazy enough to do it. It's mine, allllllllll mine! Bwahahahaha!

Presenting Coco's ABC's of Music. Each time I do this (IF I ever get crazy enough to do it again), I'll choose a slightly different theme. They'll all be about ... well, that's pretty obvious from the title, I guess. Please note that the opinions stated in this blog post are all mine and I'm entitled to them, so disagree if you wish. Don't make no nevermind to me.

This week's blog: LOVE SONGS

Not too original for a first, but ohhhhhhhhh, so many songs to choose from. Too easy! These are songs that have the capability to make the listener cringe with their syrupy sappy lyrics and maudlin string-laden back tracks, or to uplift and laud the glories of romantic love. I was going to add a playlist here, but I think too much would be too much. Maybe a couple, though. Just for fun ...

A - "At This Moment", from Billy Vera and the Beaters. I know you ALL remember this one ... it was on everyone's wedding playlist for about 20 years. My grandmother was a big "Alex Keaton" fan and she always loved this song because of the tv show that brought it to commercial success. For you, Gram. Love you always.

B - "Baby I'm A-Want You" by Bread. Memorable, for me, was the line that I mistakenly heard as "Your loving and affection gave me an erection" which was, for me, the most honest line EVER in a love song. You can't imagine how disappointed I was to learn the truth.

C - "Candida" by Tony Orlando and Dawn. Whoa! Flashback time. If I close my eyes, I can still see my rhythmically-challenged junior high school friend Carol trying to dance and clap to this song. We called her "Go-go". Which has nothing to do with the topic, but it is and besides - LMAO!

D - "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" by The Culture Club. To answer in a word: yes. This is one of those bland, insipid tunes with no personality of its own. Makeup, bizarre hair and freaky clothes can't disguise a lack of musical talent.

E - "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" by Bryan Adams. Yeesh. I'm usually so proud of our homegrown Canadian boy, but even nationalist pride has it's limits. The extreme in irrationally emotional claims.

F - "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain. Number one wedding song in most countrified regions of this nation for the better part of ten years. With lines like "I live only for your happiness", it sets the contemporary standard for sappy lyrics, but regresses the women's movement by decades.

G - "Game of Love" by Michelle Branch. Perfect example of "to heck with grammar or sense, let's make it rhyme". Notable quotes: " You guide me, divide me into one" and "You'll live for what I'm good for, it's knockin' down the door of your lovin' store". *blink blink* What the ...?? However, if you can ignore the nonsensical lyrics, the music is something else! A little bit of Santana makes all the difference in this song and turns it from pure schlock into listenable music.

H - "Hey Mickey" by Toni Basil. Oh Mickey, you're so ... aaaahhhhhhh, now it's in my head!!!! Make it stoppppppppp!!!!!!!

I - "I Miss You" by Klymaxx. I don't like breathily earnest little-girly voices. There was an entire sub-culture in music during the 80's which attempted, unsuccessfully, to follow in the footsteps of Blondie. The difference? Debbie Harry had the pipes to carry it off.

J - "Just Friends (Sunny)" by Musiq. Nearly passed this one over because I'm not a great connaisseur of hiphop music but I listened through and, although the music is repetitive as characterized in the genre, it was a great example of the sweetness and innocence of new love in the 21st century. Surprisingly to me, I really enjoyed it.

K - "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal. Whoever thought that romantic music had to be cheesy hasn't heard this song - it's amazing. From a poetic, musical and aesthetic standpoint, it takes me to my happy place. Always has, always will.

L - "Lady" by Styx, Little River Band and Kenny Rogers. I couldn't choose just one. Each one represents the late 70's to perfection. What a wonderful time it was to be a teenager in love.

M - "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega. Okay, I love this song and was looking for an excuse to include it. While not technically about "love", it really is a lovesong - just not about ONE woman ... this guy likes to share the wealth. My band plays this one every year by request, so it's not just me, is it?

N - "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin. No contest. If you find a guy who makes you feel like this, you're there, sister. 'Nuff said.

O - "Open Arms" by Journey. A classic band with a great big squooshy kissy-face heart. I like the band a lot - not entirely sold on the song though. It's a little too karaoke for my taste.

P - "Piece Of My Heart" by Big Brother and The Holding Company. Nobody does it like Janis. This is not just a song - it's a raw, unabashed rending of her soul. That's what made Janis more than just another blues singer. You got a piece of her everytime she sang.

Q - "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" by Andy Williams. Okay, so I had to reach back quite a way to find a "Q" song that qualified as romantic, but I think you'll agree that Andy Williams did romance with class.

R - "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx. There was a time when I couldn't listen to this song without cringing. As a music teacher, I have lost track of the number of beginner piano students who took lessons solely for the purpose of learning the intro to this song. Gahhhh! How many of you know how to play it, I wonder ...

S - "Someone Like You" by Van Morrison. For those of you who know me, you knew it was coming, right? *kowtows to the Great Van* Cheese, maybe, but of the finest, brandy-infused, palate-pleasing sort.

T - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" by the Righteous Brothers. My favourite version of this was performed by Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson in an absolutely wonderful British movie called "Truly, Madly, Deeply", and they captured the essence of joyous abandon with their rendition.

U - "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. Oh come on. The list wouldn't be complete without this classic. The master of romantic declarations.

V - "Venus in Blue Jeans" by Jimmy Clanton. Ah, the innocence of early rock n roll music. Romance and cheese combined with a liberal hand in such pithy metaphoric phrases as "Mona Lisa with a ponytail". Yup.

W - "Where Are You Now?" by Jimmy Harnen. Gahhhhhh! Okay, I have to cite this comment from, because it's damned funny and spot-on about this song. "There's a reason you've probably never heard of Jimmy Harnen. It's probably because he never sang again because some angry music fan tracked him down and tightly superglued a pacifier to his mouth, to industrial specs."

X - "Xanadu" by Olivia Newton John and ELO. My salute to the disco era. It wasn't all about dancing. There was also ... rollerskating. (note: Wasn't Andy Gibb a doll? *squee!*)

Y - "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers. I'm not picking on them. Honest ... they just did so many noteworthy lovesongs.

Z - "Zip Code" by the Five Americans. 60's pop is fun. Reminds me a little of the Monkees. The B-man likes this enough to dance to it. Repeatedly ...

16 October 2009


Zack, I pray every day that the demons that haunted you have finally left you in peace. It's peace that has been denied those of us you left behind when you took your life this week. Did you know that you would be missed? That grief would overwhelm this small community? Did you know you had touched so many lives in your 16 years of living? You've hurt a lot of people by this act and, no matter how desperate you may have felt, it wasn't right. I'm angry. Angry that the system let you down, angry that we couldn't help you, that we couldn't even see that you needed help, and I'm angry at you for thinking that suicide was the only way to resolve your problems. Right now, there is such great sympathy in my heart for the people you left behind - your family, your friends, your girlfriend - that I don't have much feeling left for you. Mostly just anger. I want to know if you thought about the people who love you before you did this. Did they factor at all in this decision? It's hard to believe you would have followed through if you had imagined the grief they feel now. You took a lot more than your life this week, Zack, but we'll pick up the pieces in time. The lessons you have taught us have been well-learned and you will be remembered though perhaps not as you might have wished to be. Be at peace.

12 October 2009


We celebrated 2 full weeks without incident yesterday. Cautiously optimistic that the current cocktail of meds is holding the seizures at bay, we pray a multitude of times every day that we can quickly force this into remission. It's just a matter of time. Money. Insurance. Now I can start looking at what this will mean for my sweetie over the longterm.

My close friend Rhonda has been a godsend - all three of her kids grew up with epilepsy and she's been able to talk me down many times. Her daughter Kyla, who is like my own daughter in a lot of ways, has spent time with the B-man talking to him about coping, especially at school. She encouraged me to put him back into tae kwondo and she swore that it would help him keep petit mal seizures at bay. Hmmm ... he's been back at it for just over two weeks ... I wonder.

So I've been less self-involved and my thoughts have not been consumed with my sweet boy's condition in recent days. I know I have not been a good friend to the people who are supporting me and I'm trying to spend more time reaching out. That's one awful character trait that I need to battle in myself - the urge to go to ground when things get rough. Something personal to work on.

Blessings on you, my dear ones. Thank you for sticking with me, even when I was pushing you away. Muuuuuuuuuahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!