Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

February 10, 2013

The GRAMMYS are Tonight

Filed under: Music,My Job — Janice @ 10:37 am

Tonight I will watch the Grammy awards. I will probably watch just a LITTLE behind real time so that when a boring act is performing I can zip through without having to endure it. What will be the boring acts? I don’t know yet, but I usually can do without the rap artists and since Frank Ocean is one of the hot new artists he probably will perform and I can probably do without him. Who would I like to see perform on the Grammys? I don’t even know who is supposed to be on it, but I think I would like to see Fun. perform since I find myself singing their song Some Nights in my head a lot, and the new one Carry On, too. And I always look forward to the In Memoriam tribute. This year’s should include Dick Clark and Davy Jones and many others that have completely slipped my mind. Last year Whitney Houston died on the eve of the Grammys and it completely changed their program for the night. They have been lucky this year and haven’t had to rework the whole program to pay tribute to a superstar.

My good friend Jenni is AT the Grammys tonight. I will be looking for her, too. She is a record promoter to radio and the album she promoted that was a Tribute to Guy Clark is up for a Grammy and deserves it. I will be watching to see if it wins. I don’t know if she gets to accept if it wins, but I will be very happy for her if it does. And for Guy and for all my friends that were on that album (Jack Ingram, for one). I wonder if they all get Grammy statuettes if they win?

I wrote a blog for our company blog about the country nominees for this year, if you would like to read it. I realized I might want to put it here before the Grammys so you could know I made these predictions before the Grammys and not after. We know how good my Super Bowl predictions were (well, maybe we don’t… they sucked… I predicted no winner correctly until the Super Bowl itself, when I didn’t really care at all). My music predictions may not be any better. We will see tonight. The link to the company blog is here, but I’ll put the whole text here in case the company links change. The link is visually pretty, I will say, and has videos of the some of the artists I picked. It is worth reading there if you have the time.

By the way, my company has recently become Mood Media and that has been big news this week, too.

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Around the halls of our Austin office, I am the “country music expert.”  I know I’m not the only one that likes country music, but I am the one that comes from a long line of country music lovers (Dad was partial to Western swing and grew up dancing to Hoyle Nix and his West Texas Cowboys while Pappa was a truck driver so you know he liked Dave Dudley’s Six Days on the Road). Plus, I have played a lot of Willie Nelson and George Strait on the radio in my disc jockey days.

So with those impeachable credentials, I thought I would handicap the upcoming Grammy awards country categories for you. The 55thAnnual Grammy Awards will be presented and televised on CBS February 10th.

Just a few years back, there were seven categories of awards for country. With the recent cuts the Grammys made, country only has four categories now:  Best Album, Best Song, Best Duo or Group Performance, and Best Solo Performance. No more instrumental category or male/female awards.

Before we dive in let me give myself an out, in case my predictions for the Grammys are as bad as my predictions were for the Superbowl (Go Cowboys!). The Grammys have traditionally not been a reflection of what is played on country radio or what is even classified as country in the record stores. In a world where some of us still categorize a whole bunch of songs as “disco” when that term isn’t even used, and what I label as “disco” would be filed under about a dozen different labels to a lover of the dance genre, country is not easy to label either. Since the Grammy Awards are nominated and voted on by people in the music industry that are very aware of music, but sometimes aren’t as aware of what is popular in the REAL world, fans of country music have gotten angry at some choices. In 1989, Lyle Lovett and k.d. lang were the male and female “Vocalists of the Year” in the country category. Both great vocalists with terrific followings and, arguably, their music is country, but since they had not had hits on country radio, country music fans were aghast. More recently, the Dixie Chicks continued to win country music Grammys after their fall from grace in country radio and their sound had taken a decidedly more pop turn. The Eagles, a rock band from the start, won a country Grammy in 2007. I’m  keeping that quirkiness of the Grammys in mind as I make my picks:

BEST COUNTRY SONG

Nominated:
“Blown Away” (Carrie Underwood sang it)
“Cost Of Livin’” (Ronnie Dunn sang it and wrote half of it)
“Even If It Breaks Your Heart” (the Eli Young Band sang it)
“So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore” (Alan Jackson sang it)
“Springsteen” (Eric Church sang it and wrote some of it)

Ronnie Dunn and Alan Jackson are well-known names and have had a long string of hits, but these two songs were stiffs. The other songs were all Top 10 hits. Carrie Underwood is well established in Nashville now. The Eli Young Band and Eric Church are still gaining their footing on the scene. Personally, I think “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” is the “best” song of the bunch, if I’m judging them on the basis of the writing, the meaning, and whether it is a country song. Since (I think) the Grammy judges don’t look at that, I say the Grammy goes to Springsteen by Eric Church. They’ve heard of Springsteen (the artist, not the song) and, therefore, it gets their vote.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Nominated:
Uncaged by the Zac Brown Band
Hunter Hayes by Hunter Hayes
Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran by Jamey Johnson
Four The Record by Miranda Lambert
The Time Jumpers by The Time Jumpers

My favorite, hands down, is The Time Jumpers. Full disclosure, I haven’t heard all of the others all of the way through. The Jamey Johnson album is very good and a great tribute to one of the great songwriters of country music (he wrote “I Fall to Pieces,” “He’s Got You” and “The Chair” among so many more). Sometimes those albums get the Grammy because of the subject matter. Not this year. This year the Zac Brown will get a well-deserved Grammy. They’ve only had one before (for their collaboration with Alan Jackson on “As She’s Walking Away”). They’ll get recognition this year to make up for lost time.

And I’ll throw this in here… Hunter Hayes is up for Best New Artist along with Fun., the Lumineers, Frank Ocean, and Alabama Shakes. He won’t win, but it is quite an honor for him to be in there. He does have quite a future. He became a YouTube sensation at four years old singing “Jambalaya.”

Now, at 21, he is touring with Carrie Underwood and really showing his talents. It is nice that the Grammys are noticing him.

BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

Nominated:
“Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by the Eli Young Band
“Pontoon” by Little Big Town
“Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars
“On The Outskirts Of Town” by The Time Jumpers
“I Just Come Here For The Music” by Don Williams Featuring Alison Krauss

Taylor Swift won two Grammys last year (and four the year before that) but I think she’ll go home empty handed this time. This song with the Civil Wars was in The Hunger Games, but didn’t get any attention beyond that. Don Williams came out of his retirement to tour and record an album and that should have been huge news, but since Nashville is fickle and likes the shiny new artists, he won’t win either.  The Time Jumpers (have I mentioned I love the Time Jumpers?) includes multi-Grammy-winning artist Vince Gill, but his shine has gotten tarnished over the years, too, and he will likely be ignored. Between the other 2? I’m going to say the Eli Young Band will take this one home. I hope they do. Full disclosure:  I’ve known these guys since they were barely out of the University of North Texas. They played a great Texas Music Series I hosted years ago and even then I didn’t think they had the right sound for the Texas music we were promoting. They had the big-time Nashville sound and they have developed it and improved and are really a great band onstage and in the studio. I’m pulling for them. And if you don’t know, it’s Mike Eli and James Young (there is no “Eli Young”) along with Jon Jones and Chris Thompson. Nice guys who have worked hard to get where they are today.

BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE

Nominated:
“Home” by Dierks Bentley
“Springsteen” by Eric Church
“Cost Of Livin”‘ by Ronnie Dunn
“Wanted” by Hunter Hayes
“Over” by Blake Shelton
“Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood

Six artists made it into this category. I wonder if they decided they needed to include ONE female artist and opened it up bigger to get Carrie Underwood included? It doesn’t matter; she won’t take it home this year. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that Blake Shelton gets the Grammy. He’s never won one before and since The Voice came along, he’s known to everyone that knows Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. That will go far and now he’ll have a Grammy to balance out the one his wife Miranda Lambert got 2 years ago.

I will be curious to see how many of these awards get prime time coverage on the Grammy television broadcast. Maybe I should predict that, too. I say they will show the Best Solo Performance award because they will want to show Blake Shelton on TV (unless they don’t want to promote a competing network?) and there is a chance they will show the Best Album. Who knows? But I will be watching and we can dish about it afterward.

– Submitted by Janice Williams, Music Design

January 29, 2013

Part I of my Super Saturday

Filed under: Cemeteries,Taphophilia,Travel — Janice @ 8:53 am

A few months ago an old friend sent a message saying that she knew I loved old cemeteries and she did, too. She suggested I come to San Antonio and tour a beautiful cemetery at a convent with her and maybe some others she knew about. I thought that was a great idea, but I am not much of a “doer.” But, though I am calendar-challenged, I put a recurring not on my Google calendar to keep reminding me about this offer because I wanted to take her up on it. When Mark gave me the dates of his trip to California I thought that that might be the perfect weekend to plan to go so San Antonio. It all worked out perfectly with Cathy, too, and she was free to show me around.

I had not seen Cathy in about 30 years. We were in college at the same time, but she was already a professional in Amarillo radio by the time I was just getting started so we weren’t close friends. We knew the same people and had lots in common and knew one another, but we didn’t keep in touch after college except that I would see her doing TV news and I assume she heard me on the radio. She moved away and I did, too. We did both end up in Austin at one time and we emailed back and forth and said we should get together, but that didn’t happen. One super nice thing about Facebook is that you can reconnect with people that maybe you didn’t know well and learn more about them. She saw my interest in cemeteries and here we are.

Her beautiful home was my first stop, but I haven’t “developed” the pictures of it yet (I like using archaic terms). It is a SWEET bungalow in a historic district in the western parts of HUGE San Antonio. I have never driven in San Antonio where I didn’t get lost or off on the wrong freeway. Yes, I did briefly on this trip, too, as I came home, but fortunately there was a second exit that did the same thing as the exit I missed.

Let’s jump right on to the cemetery. This is just Part 1 because I counted something like 29 cemeteries that we saw on Saturday. Hard to fathom that you can go to that many cemeteries in one day and in Part II I will explain how that it possible. But first we went to the University of the Incarnate Word.  It is a beautiful university with a long history. Cathy wanted to show me the chapel there, but it was locked. She says it is beautiful. Cathy is Catholic so she would have been able to stop me from doing something totally stupid in the cathedral, which I am likely to do. I told her how I am the ultimate cafeteria Catholic, as my friend Beth calls me, and my attendance on St. Blaise Day, which is coming up this weekend, by the way.

The University was founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, an order begun by a Bishop from France that came to Texas and saw the need just after the Civil War and brought 3 nuns over to begin a hospital in Galveston. They have done some amazing things.

Their cemetery was small, spare, and very peaceful. I posted a picture yesterday. Here are some more:

This is the entrance to the cemetery with roses and a guardian angel and a child. The nuns ran an orphanage that had a terrible fire in the 1910s. Cathy knew so many stories about the nuns, the convent, the orphanage, and all of San Antonio. She was a great tour guide.

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Like a military cemetery, the graves were (mostly) alike and lined up so neatly. On all of these older graves, there were death dates, but no birth dates. On flat gravestones that were newer (and I didn’t take pictures), they did have both birth and death.

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This is the grave of one of the first 3 nuns that came to start this order in Texas. I wonder how old she was when she came? Can you imagine the sacrifices she had already made in her life to become a nun and then to leave the relative modern life of France in the 1860s to come to war-torn Texas with only 2 other nuns to begin hospitals and schools? Amazing. You see she did die in France, so she did get to return at some point, but then her body was returned here.

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Looking toward the rear of the cemetery and a statue of the Jesus with the “flaming heart” that you see in Mexican culture so often. Another picture of that beautiful oak tree coming up. To the left of the tree is an altar.

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This is the altar up close. I really would not have noticed it and thought of it as an altar if Cathy hadn’t pointed that out to me. I have not been to Catholic cemeteries enough or haven’t been observant enough to realize that is what they are there for. She said the tradition of the altar at the cemetery had been going away, but is coming back again.

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And the final picture, this beautiful oak tree, which really was the most outstanding focal point of the cemetery. It was easy to imagine the founders of the cemetery choosing this spot because of the spreading arms of the oak, because I am sure they were not much smaller when the cemetery was begun over 100 years ago.  Imagine it without the fence, the parking lot, the cars, and envision this area away from the city center and a peaceful convent cloistered from the city and the world, as the nuns and a priest buried the first sister of their order.

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That was just stop ONE of our day and we hadn’t even had lunch yet. I could have been satisfied with just this one beautiful cemetery, but there was a lot more to come. And we’ll get to that eventually in Part II.

January 28, 2013

An Outstanding Day

Filed under: Cemeteries,Travel — Janice @ 9:12 am

I had a super Saturday. Lots of details to come. The day did involve some rolling under cemetery gates.  Here’s a glimpse of the first stop …

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January 23, 2013

My Procrastination Project

Filed under: Family,Genealogy,Writing — Janice @ 11:02 pm

I have been working on a project for too many years now and I’m sick of procrastinating. Maybe if I lay out some of it here it will get me going until I am done. I want to be done. It is a great story. A great project.

Almost THREE years ago … and it really does embarrass me that I’ve delayed on this thing this long … a man called me from the Abilene sheriff’s department. He wanted to know what information I had about an uncle that was sheriff of Taylor County. I was no help at all to him. Other than knowing that he WAS the sheriff at one time, I couldn’t even supply him with dates. But then he told me that he did have the “information about the gunfight in Kansas.” Well, I didn’t know anything about a gunfight in Kansas, so he sent me an article from the New York Times about my uncle killing a man in a gunfight in 1897 in Wichita, Kansas. Yes. It was in the New York Times. He also sent me two pictures of this uncle. Here’s the one that is hanging in the sheriff’s office in Taylor County to this day;

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Don’t get into a gunfight with this man. He’ll shoot you down.

Since I talked to that guy, I have dug out the story and believe me, the story has everything: it has trains, a wedding, arson, fleeing criminals, a CIRCUS, dying testimony, wrongful arrest, a lynch mob, and … GET THIS… a GHOST! All of that in one story. But I don’t want to tell a story with exaggeration (except maybe the ghost part). I want to tell the factual story and I keep digging deeper and deeper and deeper. Every time I start to write I think, but WHEN did that circus start? What were circuses like in 1897? What clothes did people wear? Where were the train stations? and on and on and on and on. I can’t stop researching.

This is one of the best stories I know in our family. Okay, maybe not THE best, but it is the most documented story I know about the family. I have not only found it in the New York Times, I have found it in the San Francisco newspaper and newspapers all across the country. The Fort Worth paper had huge articles about it. It really captured people’s attention because a Federal Marshall (my uncle – he wasn’t a sheriff at the time) killed a circus owner and that would be like someone killing the head of Google today . No something more shady than Google. But something that popular. The circus was THE entertainment of that period.

So anyway, that’s on my mind and I keep getting caught up in the internet instead of crafting the story and footnoting it. I even tried to go back to the old tricks of high school essays this week with a thesis statement. “This article will factually lay out the story of John Valentine Cunningham in a clear and understandable, yet interesting, story, with clear details and facts and sources.” Next step will be the outline.

Another interesting fact to leave you with about ol’ J.V. Cunningham before I go to bed and dream of circuses and ghosts and gunfights… He was 5 feet 4 inches tall. All that stuff about the long lanky Texas sheriffs is just in the movies. The REAL Texas sheriffs … at least this one … made you look up to them metaphorically.

January 12, 2013

My House

Filed under: Blast From The Past,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 1:33 am

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If I were to count up the nights that I spent in each of the houses I have lived in my life, the house I live in now would probably be on top. And that just boggles my mind. I mean, I’ve only lived here for almost 14 years and I feel like I’ve hardly gotten started. Now THIS house, the one in the picture, has been the one that has always had the record and always will have when I think about homes that made an impression on me. This was the house I grew up in.

The house was originally built in 1902 in Amarillo and was owned by the first postmaster of Amarillo. Someday I need to do some research about him. We (I say “we” as if I had anything to do with it)… Daddy and Mother bought it in 1964 when the part of town it was in was being cleared. They moved it to the country and sat it on a bare piece of plowed field. We (again with the we!) fixed it up and lived there until 1969 when we moved to Colorado. But we came back to it in 1971 and I lived there until I moved to the dorm at college in 1977. Dorm life didn’t suit me so I came home and lived at home through 1978 before moving in with a friend in town. So I guess my house here in Austin has already beaten out the Canyon house for length of time living there.

I took this picture in 1978 when I was in college and taking a photography course. I not only took it, I developed it.

I have lots of stories about this house. And I should tell stories about film and developing film since that is a lost art.

January 9, 2013

My First “Real” Job

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Food — Janice @ 12:55 am

I was reminded tonight of my first “real” job out in the world when I saw that the idea man of McDonald’s passed away Monday. Among other things, Fred L. Turner invented the Egg McMuffin and introduced breakfast to McDonalds. The obituary said that happened in 1975. In Canyon, Texas, I am quite certain it didn’t happen until the fall of 1976 when I was working there.

I don’t remember exactly when I started working for McDonald’s, but it was somewhere right at the beginning of my senior year of high school. I can be one of those “We got a Hershey bar for a nickel” kind of people because I remember some of the prices on our menu at the time. The soft drinks came in 3 sizes — all probably smaller than the smallest sizes today. Small was 25 cents, medium (which was PLENTY and was my usual choice of size) was 35 cents, and the large was 45 cents. Seriously, the large was probably 12 ounces and there may not be a small that small anymore. I think the only diet soft drink we offered was diet 7-Up (or maybe Sprite). I am not sure there WERE any diet drinks at this point in the world. I know for a fact that there was no Diet Coke (and how did we live without it??? haha – I’ve just about given it up completely now). We had Coke and Dr. Pepper and the diet 7-Up and maybe a root beer and an orange drink. And that’s it. And get this – When you ordered a drink, we actually got it for you. We got the cup, put the ice and the drink into it and put a lid on it, too.  I don’t think they do that anywhere anymore except in the drive-through.

Our little hamburgers (which should not even be called hamburgers and weren’t up to real hamburger standards then either) were 35 cents and a cheeseburger was 45 cents (I think). Big Macs may have been a whopping 75 cents at the time. We served quarter pounders, too, so they were somewhere in between. Small fries were 25 cents, I think, and large were 45.

Great prices, for sure, until I remember what I was making. Really I don’t remember what I was making, but something less than 2 dollars an hour, I think. I do remember when the town of Hereford was opening its first McDonald’s and we trained their employees. Their employees were making a nickel more than we were while they were training. Yep, I still am not happy about that!

Beyond the hamburgers, fries, and drinks, we had the fish filet (the memory of their taste is wonderful — the real deal never lives up to it anymore) and the apple and the cherry pie. There were shakes, too, strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. And I think that was it, pretty much. McDonald’s was built on the consistency of a limited menu and we certainly had a consistent limited menu. Then this guy, this Turner fellow, had to get all forward thinking and innovative.

We did start serving breakfast while I was there. I never worked a breakfast shift, so I didn’t have to deal with the eggs and pancakes and Egg McMuffins. I do remember it made it a bit nicer when you worked a day shift, though, because the store was already open and operating when you came to work. And it did make more jobs for more people there in our little town. Lots of the “older” workers (they were probably 19 or 20) took the morning shifts because they didn’t have to be at high school at 8:30.

I worked at McDonald’s for about 8 months at the most. I tried quitting after I’d worked there just a few weeks because they had me on the schedule every single night. I did not know an employee could ask for a change. The managers were very good managers and they didn’t want me to quit and were happy to adjust the schedule and let me work as many or as few shifts as I wanted to. They thought I wanted to work every night because I had put on the application that I was available every night. So they kept me on, but finally the fun and activities (oh and studying I guess maybe) forced me to quit in the spring.

Occasionally McDonald’s runs commercials about how many people started their working careers there. I am very glad I started working there and got a good experience and some good training in work ethic. I certainly made a lot of good friends with my co-workers and even some of my customers that are still friends today. I don’t eat at McDonald’s generally now, but I know they usually have the same high standards we had back then and are always good for a clean bathroom break when I’m traveling and a no-surprises burger. I can’t say they are fast like they were in my day, but I’ll blame that on the number of people in the world, not on McDonald’s.

Mackie and Janice work at McDonalds 1977

Miracle upon miracles, I was able to quickly find a photo I was looking for (without getting lost looking at a million others).

This was in the days before we had a camera with us every waking moment, so this is the one and only picture that exists of my sister, Mackie, and me in our McDonald’s uniforms. Yes, they were polyester and constructed in a way to make even the most attractive teenage girls look bulky and awkward.

January 6, 2013

Last Christmas

Filed under: At home,Family,Food,Normal Life — Janice @ 11:12 pm

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And I say “Last Christmas” because it was last Christmas and this will be my last post about Christmas.
It was a good one. A very good one. Here we are the weekend after Christmas standing in front of my sister’s tree on our whirlwind tour of Dallas. My mother spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with us for the very first time (without it being the bigger family all here) and we had a great time. A great turkey and dressing lunch (if I do say so myself as the head cook) and naps every day. We watched Smokey and the Bandit because Mark got it as a Christmas president from his boss and we discovered that, no, that movie hasn’t exactly held up well, but we enjoyed seeing young handsome Burt Reynolds and very cute, young, and adorable Sally Field. Their parts held up well on the celluloid.

And now Christmas is just a memory except that I still have a nicely lit tree in my living room. I’m reluctant to let it go! I like it! And I still need to do a put-off-every-year chore of discarding some of the Christmas stuff. We’ve accumulated a lot of Christmas ornamentation that has no sentimental value to us and we don’t have room to use it. We put out just about the right amount of decorations this year, so I want to do my best to box up the rest and take it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and let someone else enjoy it. I thought that would get done this weekend, but the weekend went oh so fast, as usual.

Bye bye Frosty

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 12:44 am

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It is almost time for us to say goodbye to Frosty the Drummer Boy Snowman for another year. This is a picture I snapped the first night I came home from work and discovered there were LIGHTS on my house for the first time in years and years.

Frosty showed up last year at our house. Two years ago I saw a Christmas card at work someone had received from someone in the music industry. On the front was a cartoon of a snowman made out of drums. It was rather cute and I told Mark about it, thinking we could draw our own cartoon and make it a Christmas card. But he had a bigger idea. He said, “I should gather up some old drums and make a snowman out of them.” I agreed that that was a fine idea and, as I do, I quickly forgot about it.

Then last year I came home and discovered this great piece of artwork not only created, but lit from the inside so it was a great decoration in the day and a spectacular decoration at night! If you can’t tell, he is made from three drums. He has arms that are made from drum brushes and he does have a little nose that sticks out from a drumstick. His eyes and facial features are made from the felt washers drummers use under their cymbals on the stands and his buttons are stickers that they put on drums to deaden the sound (I think that’s what they are for). And he has the obligatory scarf and cute little porkpie hat, too. He’s adorable.

What really makes it even more of a good story though…  Last year Mark took a terrific picture

BREAK – this will teach me to get off track. I thought I would go FIND that terrific picture. Surely it exists somewhere in my computer, not just on the prints I sent out with Christmas cards. That was probably an hour ago. I discovered a whole file of pictures that I didn’t know existed. Lots that are there are familiar, but lots aren’t. I either didn’t know I owned them or I hadn’t seen them in years! Lots are Mark’s pictures, too, and they are all together in no particular order and with no identifying file names. Odd.

Then Mark comes home from work and life interrupts for a while. So where was I?…

Okay, Mark took a great picture of the snowman last year and posted it on Facebook. Everyone thought it was adorable and it got shared a lot. Well, along comes THIS year and as soon as Thanksgiving passes, a DJ on Sirius radio who lives in Austin and is an acquaintance of mine posts this snowman on his Facebook and says Merry Christmas. I commented, “Hey, Dallas, did you  know that this is MY house and my snowman?” No, he had no idea. A few days later, a drummer friend of Mark’s and mine posts it on her page. Again, I ask if she knew that this was ours. No, she had no idea either.

Mark begins to get shares of the drummer snowman from drummers all over the place, passing it along. He sees that one time the picture had been shared 1200 times. He hears from someone that somebody in the band KISS has it as their profile picture. This is really what going viral means, I guess.

On Christmas Eve we had a knock at the door and a neighbor I hadn’t met before brought me a Christmas card that had been delivered to their house. She said she liked our snowman and would have to bring her husband to see it because he was a drummer. We start a nice conversation about drummers and the neighborhood and she mentions that a friend in Missouri and a friend in Arkansas had sent her a picture of a snowman “like this one.” I told her that it probably WAS this one. She was stunned. How could pictures she was getting from friends in other parts of the country actually be from a yard 3 doors down? I told her to look at it closely and see if my office window was behind the snowman in that picture. When she left she said she was coming right back with a camera to take picture to send to her friends in Missouri and Arkansas.

Never did find the picture in my files, but I did find it again where friends had shared it:

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Now he’ll live on a shelf in the garage for another 10 months or so. I like that he gave us a reason to decorate outside! Maybe a whole drummer family is on the way…

January 4, 2013

Musical Deaths in 2012

Filed under: Music,My Job,Radio stuff,Taphophilia — Janice @ 12:03 am

When I went through my diary for 2012 I made note of which celebrities made it into the diary. Sure, I made note of ALL of them in my Obit Club on Facebook and emailed about them with my friends. If I were still in radio I would have been spinning the songs from the people that were musical. But only a few were famous enough to be remembered ALL the way until I went to bed and thought about them that night. I  may have missed one, but the celebrities that were famous enough for my diary in 2012 were:  Whitney Houston, Davy Jones, Dick Clark, Kitty Wells, and Nora Ephron.  A disc jockey/TV personality, 3 musicians/singers, and a writer.

I saw a good video today from the New York Times that had the musical deaths of 2012 and short clips of their music. It’s here for you. Short commercial at the beginning. Etta James is the very first one. Mark worked with her a couple of times over the last few years. This week he was framing up some pictures he took of her and also a cool poster he took down from a telephone pole in Dallas from a concert. It looks like a poster from the 1950s, but it was a concert in the 1990s or so. When he worked with her at the Paramount Theater he had her autograph it for him. He is framing it up for display now. It’s a good one.

Mark’s been framing a lot of the pictures of artists he has worked with and had the opportunity to photograph. For Christmas he gave a photo of B.B. King to one nephew and a photo of Tony Bennett to the other. It’s nice to be able to tell them each good stories about how nice these legends are in person and what a joy it is to work with them, around them, for them. I suppose Mark has lots of pictures in his computer of artists that were jerks to him, but they never make it to print and certainly don’t get framed.

Post Script: When I think of musical deaths, I think of two more recent ones. I was in my current job as a contractor when Michael Jackson died. I was in a small office and my boss was working across the hall in her office. I had seen some new flashes about Michael Jackson being in the hospital, but certainly didn’t expect it to be The End. Suddenly, my boss shouts from her office, loud enough for us all, up and down the hall, to hear, “Holy Shit, Michael Jackson is dead.” There was still some speculation that it wasn’t true, but confirmation wasn’t long in coming on that one. The other memory was in the same job, but just this year when Whitney Houston died. She died on a weekend and I don’t remember how I heard, probably like everyone, from the computer (and my ever-ready Obit Club), and there were tributes on TV and news stories about her all weekend long. On Monday afternoon – afternoon—at work we were at our cubicles all working away (new building, new arrangement) and a co-worker that is still living in a technological void pipes up with “Whitney Houston is dead!” We all said, Yes, we knew. And added under our breath that we had the Internet, a TV, and friends.

January 2, 2013

Sick House

Filed under: At home — Janice @ 11:15 pm

First, after I wrote about reading yesterday, I had a comment about whether or not I would quit a book that is boring. Yes, yes, yes. That was a New Year’s Resolution sometime back about 15 to 20 years ago (I remember the bedroom I was reading in at the time). If I get to page 100 and am not enjoying the book and am not looking forward to reading it each time, then I put it away and go on to another one … well, unless someone has told me I MUST read it and give it time, etc. etc. That’s kind of how I felt about the first 2 Girl with the Hornet’s Nest (or whatever those Scandinavian books were called). They seemed awfully slow and had way too many characters for a lot of the book and then there was a turning point where it suddenly got good. But they were too gruesome for me and I never went on to the third one of the series.

But here we are January 2 and my household is in a typical place for this time of the year. We are sick. Mark has been suffering from cedar fever for weeks now and I’ve probably not been sympathetic enough. Of course, it is his own fault because he may complain, but he powers through and doesn’t take to the bed and take a sick day like any normal person would.

Now I’m suffering and I am feeling miserable. I think this hits at this time of year partly because of all of the going and activity of Christmas. Last weekend (was that just 5 days ago?) we were on the go and visiting lots of friends in Dallas. Too much going, too little sleep. And then right back to work on Monday. And all that travel and visiting was on the heels of a week of Christmas activity that was fun and relaxing, because we were home, but still there was cooking and excitement and fudge.

Mark had to stay at work late today because he had a migraine and had to wait until he could see again before he could drive home. So he’s “napping” if you can still call it a nap at 11 p.m. Since neither one of us has had dinner, I guess it is a nap.

Neither one of us, obviously, is a good nurse. We need someone to make us some soup and find the medications we need. One time we were watching the TV show on HBO called Big Love. It is about a Mormon man married to 3 wives. Every time we watched it the discussion would come up about whether we could EVER stand to have more wives (or husbands!) in a marriage than one. Of course, the answer (usually) was no. We were both sick one time and watching it (it was probably in January) and that night I said that I was thinking I might be all in favor of another wife if she could take care of us when we were sick.  Right now I’d settle for someone to microwave me a bowl of tomato soup.

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