The other day – Aphrodite wrote about these cute kids who talked about presidential history and one of them said basically he supported President Obama because gay people could marry. And while that is something that IACWE supports wholeheartedly…the point was made and I think rightly so – we need to be very careful about using children as props. I think it’s great that kids have a good heart…but at the end of the day – they will tend to support the position of the households they’re raised in. You can find that video HERE.
And the ugly side of that coin is indoctrination in all of it’s nastiness. Watch the video…and see how the church filled with adults ERUPTS with pride…
I’ve written a few posts on Bank of America‘s heartlessness in the past. Here’s another one…just as or even more egregious than the other BOA articles on this blog.
By the way, are these massive layoffs around the country conveniently timed for the election season by raising the number of unemployed in the country, thus keeping the economy weak for the purpose of making President Obama look inept?
Do these corporations, who are allegedly deemed to be “people“, even care about The United States of America? Does the GOP care? They all seem to be doing their best to sabotage President Obama’s chances of winning a second term, even at the cost of Americans’ losing their jobs and their homes. I’ve concluded a long time ago that the GOP and their Corporate buddies hate America!
There’s a photograph I’ve been seeing a lot lately since Tuesday. It’s one of those pictures that makes the old statement “a picture is worth a thousand words” ring true, yet in this case it doesn’t seem like a thousand words is even enough.
It’s a photograph of Bob Dylan receiving the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, on Tuesday from President Obama at the White House.
“I have to say that I am a really big fan,” the President said of Dylan. “I remember, you know, in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something about this country that was so vital.”
What he captured was part of the spirit as a civilian that made America what it is, with the courage to speak up when wrongs are being committed, when injustice is seen and needs to have a spotlight on it.
There’s nothing unpatriotic about that.
Through all the years, through all the songs, through all the performances in which Bob Dylan sang his songs — songs that reflect American freedom — here was a man who’d earned the right to have a Medal of Freedom placed over his chest.
Oh, I could play a ton of Bob Seger tunes in here. Yeah, I’m a fan of Bob, have been for many a year.
There’s still time to get deep into the Bob Seger collection … later. For grins, just to throw a curve, I won’t do that here today. But I will focus on a Bob Seger album.
I don’t remember exactly when or how I came across my old vinyl copy of the 1972 collection “Smokin’ OP’s,” but I had been listening to Seger’s music long before that time. I have to say, the first time I ever listened to him sing the first track, “Bo Diddley/Who Do You Love,” my admiration for Bob’s ability to belt out a rockin’ tune shot up to a whole new level.
It was singing that was straight from the gut, right from the heart. He was hungry. It was intense. He didn’t really let up on any song after that, through the entire album. He was definitely “smokin’ OP’s,” as in “other people’s songs.”
Seger has had so many great songs through the years, made albums much more popular than “Smokin’ OP’s.” But for my money, this one’s my favorite of them all.
I’m going to be fairly blunt here. Things have been ridiculously tight for us lately, more so now than at any time in the past seven months. And we’re down to one reliable vehicle … for now. That means there are a lot of logistics involved — a lot of daily planning and communication — in four family members’ needs to get anywhere, whether it’s a part-time job for my oldest son, looking for a job for my youngest son, getting our daughter to and from school, and a variety of needs for my lovely wife and me.
It doesn’t help that the one vehicle we have left running reliably is the most expensive to drive.
Losing our minivan last week to transmission trouble was quite a blow to our already fragile outlooks and psyches. We’ve been having to work to lift each other up, remind ourselves constantly to hold on to our faith, keep telling ourselves and each other to just pray and … hold on.
That hasn’t been easy.
On Tuesday, we had a “lifeline” tossed to us. Two people who are huge parts of our lives sent along that lifeline, something to help tide us over for a bit. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw what had been sent to us, to think that the people who each sent us a “lifeline” aren’t exactly in the greatest position to do that kind of thing themselves but they’re sitting prettier than we have been lately ourselves, and to think that I really don’t want to have to be in this position to where we need that kind of help.
Our gratitude for the generous lifeline is beyond measure, and I hope those who sent it to us realize that.
I still have big dreams for our future. I can still see a way to make those dreams become a reality, but some things need to shake loose that aren’t exactly in my control in order for that to begin to happen. I still believe, in time, that they will happen.
Part of the dreams that my lovely wife and I have are just to live comfortably, to help give our children a more comfortable and worry-free life. Nothing extravagant, just … comfortable.
We want to pay back those who have helped us along the way, starting with those who sent us the lifeline that was received on Tuesday when it really was needed — when I was really starting to have that awful feeling that it was getting harder to “breathe.” We want to pay them back, with interest. We’re not afraid of putting in any work that it takes to do that.
We want to live comfortably ourselves, yet still travel the world on mission trips in order to help others around the globe who need it, no matter where that might be — Haiti, Africa, South America, or right here in the United States. There are great needs all over the place, and that has been a part of our plans and our prayers for quite some time now … to help those in need, not thinking so much about ourselves.
We want to help others get the chance to “breathe easier,” much the same way we’ve been helped.
We’re holding on to that dream.
First, we have our own valleys to get through before we climb that mountain.
For some reason, upon receiving that “lifeline” from our loved ones on Tuesday, I kept thinking of a crucial scene toward the end of the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away,” where the main character has just returned home after several years being stranded alone on an island following a fatal plane crash in which only he survived.
Hanks’ character is sitting in the warmth of a friend’s home, sharing his feelings and experiences about his most desperate moments, his feelings about finally coming back to find that the woman he loved so deeply — the one he thought of as a “lifeline” while on that island, the one that kept him going day after day — belonged to someone else, because the woman he loved thought he was dead.
Hanks’ character realized he had to keep breathing, he had to go on, one day at a time.
So do we, until we reach that goal we have in mind. We still have a dream to work toward, a vision left to realize.
With a little help from our loved ones, like we received on Tuesday, we can make it. And we will be thankful that we have been blessed.
This Saturday night, June 2, I am playing in a concert with the West Valley Symphony of Utah, and I am excited to be performing with them except for the solo that I will be singing. That makes me a little nervous, but I will probably do fine. I have been taking voice lessons for a very long time. My voice is at least a three-octave range, it is actually higher but it’s three octaves at least. I am proud of my accomplishments, I want to start really using my voice and having it heard more.
However, I joined the symphony to help my violin playing get better and stronger. I am not trying to get to the point of playing my violin at the same level my voice is at, but performing in a symphony is a fun way to build up more skills only to progress into a better position as a private music teacher. I have to keep up with new techniques to perform better and teach my students better. Besides, the techniques that I learn are probably going help my students along because they will run into it also and I can be a better instructor for it.
Now, back to the performance on Saturday night. I will give you a taste of the songs that we will be performing that night.
“Land Race” is a song written by John Williams for the movie “Far and Away.” You see the characters racing a great distance on their horses or with a horse-drawn wagon running the horses full gallop until they come to a piece of land where they think they want that particular land as their own. This is a fun song to listen to, but I have to share a pet peeve I have in many movies. Horses can’t run at full speed for that great a distance as they are portrayed in movies. They are like people and can only run for a certain distance and that is all. However, with that said, horses can trot for many miles because trotting is not as fast as a full gallop but the horse can handle it.
Another piece we will be performing is “Once Upon A Time In The West.” I happen to be singing in this piece. In the next video, you can hear the vocalist singing and that will be me the night of the performance. The arrangement of the song on YouTube seems a little different in the arrangement than it does in the one we will actually be performing ourselves. I actually hit a higher pitch than this lady does in this song. But enjoy!
Here is another song that we will be performing, “Ashokan Farewell,” from the soundtrack of the PBS series “The Civil War.” Many individuals have heard this song and say they absolutely love it. It is a very beautiful piece that is played along with a love letter being read. Very moving, I might add. However, it is arranged for a symphony setting but I couldn’t find a video like that. So just imagine a symphony behind it instead of the simple guitar.
I love playing “The Trail Of Butch And Sundance,” but it was written by Donny Gilbert — our orchestra conductor — so it is not on YouTube. It is a very complicated piece, but I like it just the same. I can play the majority of it. But the part I don’t know, I just fake it really well and who will know the difference?
“American Overture” is another piece that we will play, and I love performing this song. I can play the majority of this one and feel quite comfortable with it. I hope you can enjoy it too, except the sample that I am letting you listen to is for a band and, of course, we are a symphony that has strings in it.
“John Henry” by Aaron Copland is another one that I have grown to love because I just love Copland’s music. He is one of my favorite composers. Listen for the sounds of the building of railroad tracks and you can even hear the train coming down the tracks with the wheels squealing.
“Last Of The Mohicans” is so fun to play as well as listen to. I can play this one very well on the violin, the notes are extremely high but I have learned those notes and the position well. Our percussion section ndoes a phenomenal job on this song, I love a song with good percussion. We only play the first piece, just under three minutes. I hope you enjoy it too, it is exactly how it would sound if we played it.
There are more songs, but I just wanted to give you a taste of what our symphony is going to sound like, and feel free to wish me luck on my singing part. Maybe I can talk my son into recording it so you could see me performing it yourself.
I have been practicing my violin since I was moved into the first violin section and I am doing quite well. I am now glad that I am in this section of the symphony after all. Maybe the good Lord thought that I should be in this section for a reason.
Editor’s Note: “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.
Please don’t expect me to pick one song off of each and every King Crimson album today. For one thing, there just might actually be too many albums to go through to pick even just one song from each of them. For another thing, there is one album (Thrakattak) that’s been known to get on my nerves just a bit.
But that’s just one album out of ssssoooooooooo mmmmaaaannnnyyyy. And they’ve only been around since 1969. Yes, they were among the trailblazers of progressive rock, and they’re still kicking around on occasion.
Don’t get me started on how many different formations of King Crimson there’ve been through all the years. Giving you the band’s colorful history here would necessitate many parts spread over a number of days. That’s why I’ve provided a Wiki bio in a link already.
I can tell you that founder/guitarist Robert Fripp is one of those musicians you almost have to consider a genius. He’s the one who’s decided what direction the band’s gone through in all of its different “flavors,” and there has been quite a variety of “flavors.”
Once I was introduced to them myself, I decided to try each and every flavor through the years. I’ve enjoyed them all.
Here come some more of those fun experiences when I wake up in the middle of the night, start thinking about things that just won’t get out of my head and the more I think about them it just gets worse, so I get up at an ungodly hour and start writing to try and clear out my brain just a touch.
And thank goodness for Mitt Romney coming along and giving me a bit of material to write about! With everything running through my noggin — the things that go along with joblessness and dwindling resources and thinking about the future — at least the Republicans’ clown prince of a presidential candidate can give me a bit of a laugh by showing his true colors.
Mitt does know how to break the tension by just being himself, I must say.
As I went cruising through the web, looking for a topic that won’t depress me or my readers too much (the sad state of affairs in Syria, with even dozens of children being slaughtered) or that won’t make me or my readers lose the appetite for breakfast (a naked man in Miami being shot to death by police because he wouldn’t stop eating the face of another naked man), I kept coming across the topic of Mitt.
Why not? After all, it is an election year. And Mitt does know how to provide some wonderful material.
First, there was a brilliant op-ed piece in The Washington Post by columnist Eugene Robinson that brought out some much-needed truth in the debate over whether Mitt’s experience in leading Bain Capital should be part of our national presidential debate, and the truth that it wasn’t Barack Obama who threw that piece of political meat out there to chew on to begin with …
Cruise a little more, and another part of Mitt’s true character comes shining through: Mitt doesn’t believe in all that “birther” crap that’s been floating out there about President Obama since the 2008 campaign with Hillary Clinton’s Democratic campaign getting that ball rolling. However, when it comes to Donald Trump’s birther beliefs, well … the truth is that when it comes to a (at least allegedly) powerful figure like Donald Trump, he also doesn’t believe in the old saying that “If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”
In other words, if someone like Donald Trump can help push Mitt to that 50.1% number that would guarantee him a presidential victory, he’d sell his soul to the highest bidder … like Donald Trump.
Maybe it’s the way “The Donald” says “You’re fired!” that Mitt feels so comfy-cozy with. After all, I’m sure Mitt’s said that a few times in his career himself, so there’s a common bond there.
Finally, in the quest for finding the truth and hopefully having it set us free, there was something that I found in the wee hours of the morning today in a couple of different places that shines a pretty bright light on a rather stale bit of conservative propaganda.
I could get into some Dixie Dregs right about now for a jazz-fusion “fix.”
Last week, I took a deeper look at Mahavishnu Orchestra. It’s not a tremendous stretch to say that The Dixie Dregs were an American version of John McLaughlin’s flamin’-hot band, only with the Dregs they funked and rocked it up a bit more, “Southern style.”
Like Mahavishnu Orchestra, there were a few different lineups through the years, but at its absolute peak — like Mahavishnu — there was a guitar player who could burn up the fretboard and compose music with a unique flair in Steve Morse, complimented note for note on the violin by Allen Sloan. They had a powerhouse drummer in Rod Morgenstein. Bassist Andy West packed quite a punch. On keys, T Lavitz rounded out the very valid MO comparisons.
They played straight fusion, they played rock, they played country, they played classical. These guys could play whatever they put their minds to.
Oh, and taking the Mahavishnu Orchestra comparison to an even higher level, as the Dregs were starting to wind things down in later years, original MO violinist Jerry Goodman joined up with, yessirree, The Dixie Dregs.
So, how much of an American am I? Or am I un-American?
The young Army private shown in the photograph to the right is my Dad, John Miller, pictured from when he was serving in World War II. He helped clean up the mess at Pearl Harbor, among other things in that war to end all wars. Yes, he earned his way up to the rank of Sergeant by the time his Army days were over and he went home.
This black-and-white photograph of Dad was scanned, captioned, placed neatly into a glass-enclosed triangular case … along with the folded American flag that covered his casket on the day he was buried in central Idaho in October of 1960 after he was killed in a mining accident in Wyoming. The flag was given to my mother, pregnant with me at the time, and she kept it tucked away until it was given to me last year as a precious gift for my 50th birthday.
Dad was born in Blackie, Kentucky. He and his older sister Alta didn’t really know their parents either, they both died from illness when their two children were very young. He enlisted in the Army at a young age, and hunting in the woods of the Bluegrass State and Tennessee made him a good shot. When he got out, he worked in the mines, moved West to Oregon and drove big trucks in the mountains, went over to the mountains of central Idaho and went back to the mines, met Mom and started a family.
He was a good guy, always looked for any needs that anyone had where he could pitch in and help out. I know these things because the people who knew him — relatives and friends — told me about him.
Dad was a gentle soul. He wasn’t big in stature, but his heart was large. He did love to have fun, in his own ways. He’d kid around like there was no tomorrow, but not in a mean-spirited way. When he was pushed to his limits, he’d fight back. And he could fight back.
I have no idea what his political beliefs were, and I don’t rightfully care one way or another what if any direction he leaned politically. All I know is that if he saw a need that someone had in their lives, he’d help them out the best way that he knew how. He didn’t think just about himself.
Oh, I’m sure he’d be all for people standing on their own two feet and giving life everything they had. He believed in hard work, an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s effort. He and Mom bought a small sign early in their marriage with one “long word” that was carved out in wood. The “word” on the sign said “KWITCHERBELYAKIN.” Say it fast and you’ll know the message behind it.
At the same time, if he saw someone going through a hard time and struggling to pull themselves up, he’d pitch in and help them out. If it wasn’t through physical effort, it was through financial assistance.
Mom was the same way. They made a good pair. For the record, Mom has long seemed to have leaned conservative. But the funny thing is, I know for a fact that she can’t stand conservative blowhards like Glenn Beck, and I’m sure she’d have a pretty tough time putting up with the likes of Rush Limbaugh as well if she ever had to listen to him.
I sometimes wonder what Dad would think if he could see the way we are in this country today. He might have looked at our polarized ways and shook his head, wondering what the hell he and his fellow soldiers fought for in WWII. I’m pretty sure it would sadden and anger him.
I do know one thing that would have ticked him off, brought out the fightin’ side of him. That would be seeing anyone looking at what his son had written as a free American — the right that he and so many others like him fought and died for through so many wars — and suggesting that his son had been disrespecting the memory of America’s soldiers by daring to stand up to claims that he knew were ill-informed at best, dishonest and manipulative at worst.
If it hasn’t been in the words of this blog, it’s been through things that I’ve said in the past through the black ink and off-white paper of newsprint.
Anyone is free to disagree with anything I might say. That’s the American way. I won’t shut anyone up, even when they disagree with me. If I started counting the number of times anyone’s claimed that I have tried to stop their right to speak up freely and had a dollar for every time it happened, well …
My only request is that people come armed with facts and truth and data to back up their claims. Don’t come armed just with speculation and hearsay and rumors and talking points and, dare I say it, feelings that are the result of some twisted bit of propaganda. If you want to debate me, that’s fine. That is, after all, the American way. But you’d better come prepared.
Propaganda isn’t “the American way,” whether it’s on the liberal or conservative side. Propaganda wears an evil face. Propaganda and its results are the kinds of thing we’ve fought against in wars, not the kinds of things men and women have died fighting to preserve in America.
We’re still free to say what we want in this nation. There’d just better be some semblance of truth to back up your words. And we as citizens owe it to those who’ve fought for that freedom to take on the responsibility of educating ourselves as to what the truth and the facts are if we truly want to call ourselves “patriots” these days.
And, yet, it wasn’t that long ago that I received a comment from someone here in these very web pages who questioned my loyalty to this country because I dared to post one more thing about one of the biggest propaganda machines we see in this nation today, basically saying that I was un-American.
I won’t play that same childish game myself that so many talking heads love to play while they wave the American flag over their heads so high, at least figuratively. I can wave that flag myself.
I can and do also get soldiers serving overseas right now applauding what I have to say, in their own way.
That, after all, is what those soldiers represent, among so many other things in this nation. It’s the freedom that I have to say that anyone claiming that I’m un-American is wrong, and that I don’t have the right to silence anyone for giving their own views. I respect that.
I also have the right to say that America has some serious problems facing it. We have essentially become a Third World nation. If anyone sat though any of the videos that I posted in Part 3 of this series, they’d see that for themselves.
People today live in fear that a revolution is about to take place in this country, when the more apparent truth is that it seems a revolution has already taken place. Our middle class — the backbone of this nation, which provides so much of this nation’s buying power — is dying. The middle class is being strangled to death. If we look at all the numbers that are out there in terms of the direction we are heading, from middle class to the ranks of the improverished, it screams out to us.
The numbers are in the videos that I posted in Part 3 here. Try and argue against those. Try and argue against the real life stories that are in them. That’s real life. It’s happening today, right in front of our eyes, if they are open.
That’s not what my father fought for. That’s not what millions of men and women have been wounded or killed for throughout this country’s history.
That is, unless those lives have all been wasted after all these years.
The song “Taps” will be played today in thousands of towns across America. We have to believe that the song for America for us all to rally around will be one of strength, a commitment to work together to solve our problems.
We can only hope … and pray … on this Memorial Day that better times are ahead.