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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sinatra at 100

Watching "Sinatra 100: The Grammy Concert." some of the performers seems to get the "simpler is more" concept, and bravo to them for letting those great melodies and lyrics speak. Like Harry Connick Jr. Duh, of course HE gets it! Seth McFarlane got the memo too, IMO!

Many of the country folks get it too. The Chairman said you need to know the music and then sing it. Easy for HIM to to say, right??! He kept it simple and let his voice communicate the music. And what great songs, composers, arrangers and musicians he had!

Some of the performers tonight on the other hand.....meh.....didn't quite get that simplicity memo. Trills are unnecessary, folks! 

And on a costume note: whoever designs Celine Dion's gowns should be shot at sunrise or (to be fair) they need to seriously override her really bad taste. "No Celine, decide. Sleeveless or long sleeved, honey. You can't have one on one arm and the other on the other arm unless it's Grecian style because well, it looks like s---t." And support, support, please support her bosom with something! Ideally, bosoms are supposed to be relatively together. In the middle....

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards Men?

Let me stir the pot here a bit because there's been a lot of chest-puffing and chest-banging lately especially by some noisy, mostly fundamental Christians who are using their religion as a political platform or to "rally" the people with a "we're better than them" rhetoric. I heard a terrifying political ad on TV exhorting people to vote for him because he was going to take care of the terrorists. He sounded a whole hell of a lot like....dare I say it, Hitler?

Careful with that one, folks, because it sure makes you sound a whole heck of a lot like....oh, wait for it....other extremist groups filled with hate and fear-mongering? Like, oh my...the KKK or....ISIS??
Yes, I wrote that. You read that right.

That crap sure isn't what I learned about Jesus in Sunday School.

Think about this one for a sec: Jesus was not about EX-clusion but IN-clusion.

At this time of year, when many celebrate the birth of the Christ child and/or the return of light or the festival of light (Hanukkah, Winter Solstice and Yule), shouldn't we should be thinking about light, caring, sharing, and peace on earth, good will toward men?

Shouldn't we, of whatever beliefs we have, be sending out prayers, thoughts, vibes, energies, beams of hope for peace, love and tolerance throughout the world? Instead of all that negative stuff? Just a thought....

Don't Make it About Religion, Please!

There was a posting from a friend of mine who understandably after today's tragic killings, that people need to fight for freedom and preserving the "Christian way of life." I replied ( because it got my knickers in a slight twist):

It's not even so much the Christian Way of Life, It's the "sensible, kind, joyous, have common sense, manners and decency, take care of your neighbor, pitch in and help, be responsible, shoulder your burdens, carry on, accept and give kids (especially) consequences" way of life. It's the way of life that when your neighbor's house burns down, you help. When a flood hits, you help. when a child, old person or animal is suffering you help.

One of the basic freedoms of this country is freedom to worship your Higher Power as you wish. (That includes mathematical principles, the nature of the universe or not believing in a Higher Power if you're an atheist). I'm not a Christian but I can respect the "do unto others etc." way of life. Please, my dear, don't make it about Christianity or the "Christian way of life." It really has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with humanity, and being humane, kind and responsible.

If anything the generation that came after the Baby Boomers doesn't get this, for the most part, and they should! Far too many of them are lazy, entitled spoiled brats. I'm talking 20 and 30 somethings. We Boomers raised them, so yes, our generation is partly to blame. I say this with all respect. My husband and stepson are non-active Marines and I believe they would agree with me.

We are all stuck on this Blue Planet together and we all need to get our collective heads out of our selfish, poor-me asses. I don't care if you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, pagan, Buddhist, Hindu or worship cats underneath an oak the old song goes, "come on people/ smile on your brother/ everybody get together/ try to love one another right now."

If you're going to be an selfish, stupid idiot and go around shooting people or blowing restaurants up or killing 100+ hostages, you're an asshole. I don't care what your faith is. There is no way that the Divine "told" you to do that. My dogs are better behaved than you are. My dogs are closer to the heart of God, Goddess, Buddah, Allah, "Hey You", the Universe (whatever) than you will ever be because they love unceasingly.

I"m hear to tell you; don't make it about religion. That what those f---kers from ISIS are saying, "It's all for Allah, their religion." It's not about religion. It's about humanity, being human, being humane. These killers (and please stop calling them "shooters"'s just too nice a word) don't care about common sense, humane thought, and looking out for the other guy. They are stupid sheep, and that's an insult to sheep.

We need to hold the families of those victims here in the States and in Paris close to our hearts. They are the ones who need the best of us, the most caring and loving parts of us, the part that has not forgotten our humanity. We are those families, we are Paris, we are Colorado, we are Oklahoma, we are the Twin Towers. I pray, in my way, to the Great Mother of us all to hold those victims and their families in Her Loving Arms. I pray, in my way, for people to get their heads out of their asses too.

Blessings to all of you at this time of year which is important for so many cultures and beliefs. Mine included!
Amen, Selah, So mote it be!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Day JFK Died

I was in 4th grade. Our principal, Mr. Will. came over the loudspeaker at Lincoln Elementary and said that President Kennedy had been shot. A girl in my class burst into tears; I think her name was Melodie. I remember it was a windy day and the bare branches were dancing outside the windows. That struck me as strange in our very quiet school room.  

We were sent home and for three days all that was on TV was the whole thing, including Oswald being shot. We wanted to be respectful because that's what we were taught but 3 days with a TV that only had 3 channels and crummy weather is boring for a kid. I do remember watching the parade and Black Jack the horse, with the boots turned backwards in the stirrups. That really sticks in my head even today. I thought that was classy.

It was my generation's Pearl Harbor.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Brian Setzer and the Cleveland Goose Egg

The Brian Setzer concert was AWESOME!  Now the Spousal Unit can check that off his bucket list!

(The audience gets a big, old goose egg!)

Brian is a fabulous guitar player, of course and he had a full-tilt, boogie-on big band and two girls singers who weren't sticks; they were lovely and curvaceous!  His slap bass player is a monster and so wonderful to watch!  We can't wait to go to another concert!  It was one of the best concerts either one of us has ever been to!  And my shoes inadvertently matched the band guys' jackets!  How fun and weird it that?

By the way, I feel another Voice In My Head coming along.  She will talk about good behavior at concerts, plays etc.

I was simply goob-smacked at the people we sat next to who first of all asked us to move 2 seats down so they could sit with their friends (I should have said no, quite frankly).  They, and most of the people around talked through the whole opening act which is rude and disrespectful. They didn't applaud him at all.  Hey, OK, his music was not necessarily MY cup of tea (too much distortion guitar) but he's got some talent for sure. That's a hard, hard job; to open for a headliner.  We both made a point to thank him and shake his hand during the intermission.  (He was out autographing his CD).  I almost apologized to him on behalf of my town of birth.

People started walking out before Brian's concert was even over?  Seriously, who DOES that?  Don't you want him to do a couple of encores???  On behalf of the fun-loving NE Ohioans still left, I apologize!

When did Cleveland audiences become so tepid and rude?  And what's with all the getting up during the concert and going back and forth bull shit?  Unless you've got something seriously wrong with you, like diarrhea, keep your ass in your damn seat.  For almost the first time in my life, I am embarrassed to say I was born in Cleveland.

I mean, seriously, that show was high energy, toe tapping, body rocking, head bopping, bundles of fun and great music. And most of the people around us were acting like it was chamber music in a church.

Maybe it's because it was at the Rocksino, which frankly is a pretty crappy venue!  The Spousal Unit and I were practically in each others' laps!

But we got to see Brian Setzer and he and his whole crew were amazing and fun!!  Totally worth putting up being surrounded by a bunch of stick-in-the-mud types!  He show was a wowzer plus!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Insulted But.....Consider The Source!

I think I've just been insulted.

How am I supposed to take, "Well, they know who you are at Western Reserve (sort of) but other than that, nobody knows who you are."

Seriously?  I talked to Al about it and he said, and rightly so, "Well, they didn't promote us properly.  It's not our job to promote THEIR BENEFIT!" (Thank you, Al.)  Which makes sense.  There are a lot of good people out there, performing, that nobody has heard of.  It's all in promotion; you promote the EVENT, not necessarily the PLAYERS in that event.  Now I know why Al wouldn't come with me when I had to go to that ridiculous meeting to sell and (more degrading) justify myself and the show.  He's smart.  I wish I could have dodged that bullet.

Lesson learned: it's not necessarily who you are but how you are promoted.  And that's not our job.  Our job is provide quality entertainment.  It's their benefit, not ours.

I should enter the diplomatic corps.  I put on my little, soothing Producer's Hat and said nice platitudes about the nice folks from the nice theater board.  (It's called "acting.") The Performer in me would have raised a riotous stink-shit, which I rarely do except over costumes; wigs to be specific.  The Director in me would have snapped back, "MY job is deliver a good show, YOUR job is promote that show.  So if you want the seats filled, that's on YOU!"

Is there anywhere on this flyer, other than one stinkin' sentence that talks about what a fun, quality event this will be?  No, it's too "busy." Telling people how to GET there.  Seriously?  Just give them the damn address, with a brief, "go behind the building" thing.  Seriously?  And thank you very much for NOT asking me if you could use my friend's photo and getting approval from Al, who is sensitive about how he looks in photos.  Understandable.

I feel lower than snake shit.  Suddenly, "less than."  Who are they to say they've never heard of me?  Maybe they haven't.  In the end, does it matter?  My sister is so funny; her comment was, "Well, I hope they lose money!  After all, it's their fault."

But, wait, something good happened in the middle of my self-pitying abyss....

I think I'll focus on THIS positive thing than the petty, provincial Minds of Others.  I shouldn't feel superior to the Small Minds that live in this community,  but, yes, I do, actually.

An Unexpected Gift In My Inbox

Just when I was feeling pretty low about my professional entertainment career, I get this comment from professional travel photographer, Jad Davenport, on this photo I call "Nevada Storm."

"Wow! Mia, this is a great picture. You have terrific color (I love those dark, gray-blue clouds), great light (dappled light over the hills), the composition is spot-on, and the storm gives us the moment. There's even a tiny hint of clear blue skies right on the horizon. Storms often give us the best images because they make a place people have photographed before look different. Love the drama. Nice work, Mia!"

I really needed this, what a gift!

I am eternally grateful to the weather and my friends Dale and Paula for taking me here.

. Not bad for a color-blind girl, eh?

A lovely gift from my Higher Power.....

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Rant: Violence in Paris, Kenya and Beirut

Uh, we's another Rant From Mia!
Is it just me or does anyone else think that the tragic, unfathomable events in Paris and Kenya (and Beirut) are not just horrific and tragic but also selfish and stupid? 
I think anyone who perpetrates these crimes is a selfish, idiotic, turd-wad of sub-humanity. Sheep are better behaved than you are and you're all a bunch of sheep listening to some yahoo who thinks they are just going to terrorize the world. 
Why? What's your reasoning? Oh, that's right. You just hate anybody who isn't you. Charming. Not. Stupid. Yes!
Nasty, bad, terrorist people of the world, get a grip! Put on your thinking caps for two minutes and actually THINK about what you are doing and the 

repercussions of your actions. Seriously how does this much hate and violence help you and your "cause?" Oh, you great, colossal stupids, you might feel better for a bit after you blow up a few restaurants, churches, synagogues and schools but in the end, what did it do for you? Your victims and their loved ones suffer terribly, not that you give a whit. 
Here's a little clue-by-four for you: those who might look like you or be from your country will now suffer from hate and prejudice just because they look like you or worship like your sorry carcasses. Nice going, Ace, you just screwed it up for your countrymen. Didn't think about that, did ya, Sparky?
You think you're all big and bad because you blew up a school in Kenya? You think you're some super prick because you killed a bunch of people in Paris and took hostages? You are NOT a real man. I know REAL men and you aren't even in the same universe. My dog is more of a real man then you will ever be. 
By the way, if these horrible people really want us all to go back to the Middle Ages and subjugate women because your boy parts think our girl parts are "less than," there are a whole bunch of women and the REAL men of this world who LOVE to re-educate your backwards buttocks! 
Oh, and your rants that the West is wicked? Hey, uh, guess what? You sure like that whole technology thing, don't you? I don't see you getting rid of your cell phones and CARS anytime soon. 
By the way....heads up. If I were you, I would not want to piss off the French. Unlike our government, theirs will not be kind or wishy-washy. 
"Vive Le France, amour et des prières" and "Upendo na sala," Kenya

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Professional Rant

Major Rant Warning: Do not read further if you don't feel like reading a rant.

I know my worth, finally after all those years of people putting me down, denigrating me, telling me I'm not as good as so-and-so, telling me I ain't got no talent, etc.etc. etc.

Do not try and cheat me on a gig. Do not try and cheat me on my photos.
Utah Cowboys © Mia Hess, Dogbuttz Photography

No, sir, I don't CARE if your church would "like" my cowboy picture; it's still XYZ price for an 11x14. I only give away my art to people I love and respect as gifts. I've won awards for my photos. I've also been paid for my graphic art and I'm not thrilled that someone decided to change it without asking me first and getting my permission and authorization. (I'll have to put that in the next contract...) I'm really incensed about that.

No, Mr. Band Leader, I've made XYZ on this type of gig, this SAME gig for the last 10-15 years. You do not get to pay me $15 less especially when I had to trudge through mud to get the site in a suit and pumps and your sound system is so old it doesn't take my mic cord. Funny, It did every other time!.

I've been singing professionally since 1981 and acting professionally since 1970. When I volunteer my time and talents; it's by MY choice, not yours.

Oh my, it sounds like I grew a pair big enough to bust out of my bra and I put on my big girl panties, doesn't it? Meeeee-yow!!

On a positive note, I found a smashing, long, red dress to wear for our show for only $30!! Who's all coming?

Monday, November 2, 2015

New Shoes!

The awesome shoes that my new son-in-law, Matt Boggs,  decorated for me!  I have had these high tops since 2000 (I bought them in Vegas) and while they are actually quite uncomfortable to wear, I have never, For some odd reason,  gotten rid of them.  Now I will wear them (occasionally, because they are, after all works of art) with great pride and joy!  Thank you Matt and Milicent B!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why Great Songs Last

"Words make you think thoughts.  Music makes you feel a feeling.  But a song makes you feel a thought."

Yip Harburg, lyricist of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Now you know why I love to sing standards.  Why they matter and why they've lasted for decades.  And why they will continue to last.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Superb Quote

“Honestly, is it just me or is the human race, armed with religion poisoned by prejudice and absolutely frantic with hatred and fear, galloping pell-mell back to the Dark Ages. Who on earth is hurt by a little girl going to school or a child being gay?”

Raymond Reddington (The Black List) 
Written by Daniel Cerone, aired 10.22.2015

What an awesome quote!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The 2016 Presidential Candidates

My view on the Presidential Candidates:
ANYTHING is more entertaining than the candidates.
Such as:
Watching grass grow, a golf match, a raindrop on the window, paint dry, washing my hair, getting chemo, playing Solitaire with a deck of cards, waiting in line anywhere (but especially the bank), taking a nap, flea combing the animals, being stuck anywhere with someone who b*tches non-stop, going to the dentist, reading any directions originally written in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, whatever...  Oh my, the list is endless!
And there's my political "rant" for the day. Let's talk about sex!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Ukulele and Transposing Songs (Starting Out)

"Always" from the Daily Uke Book
with my scribbbles

So here's the deal.  I have tons of music and now two ukulele books.  Plus there are some great uke sites out there with tons of songs.  I think doctoruke is the best.

Great!  Fabulous!  Love it!

Tons of music but damnit, very very few pieces out of this massive collection are in MY key for singing.

I don't mind learning to play stuff in a "Not my key" key but being a singer first and foremost, I don't want to focus on memorizing ukulele stuff that ain't in my key.  Why the hell would I do that?

Here's the weird part.  I was taught Reverence For Books.  I drew in my books as a child and yes, my parents let me.  Which was, in retrospect, very nice of them.

I order two ukulele books. At first I was thinking, "Ooooh, it's a book.  I better not write in the book.  That would be BAD!"  Then I thought about that and I said to myself, "It's a darn music book; it's not a first edition of anybody's! Go ahead, write in the damn book,  It's yours!"

So my uke teacher gave me an assignment:

Three songs transposed by sight (mostly) in a week!  I chose these three:

"It Had To Be You" (from F to C)
"You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" (from F to C, that one was pretty easy) and
"Always" (from F to C and F to Bb).

"All Of Me" was one step off from the Daily Ukulele book, but I can sing it in that key.

Of course, I had to look up weird chords on the internet like Ebmin6!

Oh, yeah, I just have that one tucked away in my Ukulele Chord Memory Bank.

Uh, that would be, "Hell, No."

Reverend Mother, I confess that on "Always" I had to use the old, paper musical slide rule for 2 chords.  I couldn't make the transposition by counting, by ear or in my head, especially from F to Bb.

Now the trick is to PLAY them --- especially the upbeat songs!  Sheesh!  Singing this stuff is easy, easy, EASY!  I still suck at strumming.  My uke teacher says I'm doing just fine.

Learning to play: hard.  Playing AND singing together is REALLY HARD!

Me, Al, Leo and Dale
(photo by Paula McKenzie)
How does my friend and mentor Dale​ do it?  I'm in awe of people like him!  He was the guest artist for our show on August 29th.  He did "Dream A little Dream Of Me" with us and "Dream." He just watched Leo's hands on the piano and played along. Seriously?  Who the hell can do that shit? It's amazing!  I could only aspire to being that quick and that good!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Our Show's Press Release

Our Press Release by Al Klesh

For Sentimental Reasons
A nostalgic journey down memory lane will grace the boards of Western Reserve Playhouse for a one night only musical benefit for the theater.

What:  Fourth Annual Western Reserve Playhouse Benefit
When:  Saturday August 29th at 8pm
Where:  Western Reserve Playhouse 3316 Everett Road Richfield, Ohio
Cost:  All tickets $20 which includes food, wine, fun and a 50/50 raffle
Tickets:  For reservations call 330-659-6444

For Sentimental Reasons is the creation of song stylist/actress Mia Hess.  Based upon her personal collection of over 1000 pieces of sheet music, she has put together an evening of musical selections that will share with the audience the glory, emotions, beauty and joy of the Great American Songbook.  Performing alongside Ms. Hess will be talented vocalist/actor Alan Klesh and equally talented musicians Leo Spishak and Martin Hess.  The evening also promises a surprise guest performer.  If you enjoyed last year's benefit My Mother's Eyes, you will surely enjoy For Sentimental Reasons.  If you missed it, come this year and be a part of a memorable evening of musical entertainment.

Tickets are available now by calling 330-659-6444

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Adam & Even: A Query

A friend of mine posted this query: If Adam and Eve were the first humans then study the painting here and come to your conclusion and tell me what ain't quite right here, I know but do you?. Every painting I'v'e ever seen of them is the same. I have always wondered about this but never expressed it until now. :-) And I had what can only be categorized as a Marty Hess​ moment: I see belly buttons and why do both of them have leaves on their nether regions??? Maybe the Creator had just made the platypus and thought, "Wow, what can I do next? Hmmm....let me see.....the great ape thing worked out pretty well but man, the hair thing..... Hmmmm.....humanoids....yes, that...." Then S/He had a Bob Ross moment and said "Happy little spot...rrrrright there!" Thus the belly button. Just sayin'

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Dentist Vs. The Lion

Now I might be stirring up a hornet's nest here but this recent crud with the dentist luring the lion and then not even killing it, but letting ti suffer for HOURS. OK, here goes....

I'm not against hunting, say deer, per se, but this was basically a canned hunt which I think is despicable.
I have friends who hunt and BELIEVE me they don't let that deer suffer at all. And they use and eat (or donate to food banks) every bit of the deer. Folks who live up north in Alaska take a moose and eat it all winter.

I get where hunting in Africa is very big business and actually contributes to the big parks' survival. Very controversial, yes, I know. Photo safaris don't bring in nearly the money that big game hunting does You can go on a good photo safari for about $3,000-5,000. Hunting is about $20,000 and up. .

And the white rhino??? This guy has killed a white rhino. That one really got me. Those suckers are so endangered. Why the hell are people killing endangered animals?

But come on....a basically friendly lion? That's canned hunting, period I think it should be kind of equal: hungry, mean lion versus dentist with a spear and a loincloth and nothing else. I get hunting to eat but I don't get trophy hunting.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I'm Honored

I'm not often at a loss for words.  But getting this in the mail today drove me to tears.  I am honored beyond comprehension.
An old friend rode 150 miles. in my name.  I can't believe it.
I will treasure that he thought of me.  To think I'd have to get damn cancer to have someone ride for me.
I'm a survivor.  Bet your ass I am. The last two bouts of Dragon's Blood took it out of me in the most embarrassing way, but having someone think of me makes all the shit worth it.  
Thank you, Reid, for thinking of me.

To My Friends, Dale & Paula

Dale & Paula in Florida, May 2015
May 14, 2015
Dear Dale and Paula,

What can I say? 

Well, being a Gemini, a lot. J

I absolutely LOVED being with you this past weekend.  What a pleasure and privilege!  You two are such special people.  I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me that we’ve reconnected.  A positive gift from the old HH legacy. You both are a gift to me and I’m grateful beyond words. 

Paula, I forgot what a cool lady you are!  You are funny, smart, beautiful and have such a radiance about you.  I just admire you so much.  Nothing gets past you; you don’t suffer fools.  You’re such a bright star.  Dale is lucky to have you as his partner and spousal unit.  I feel humbled to know you and wish to know  you better.  Distance ain’t got nothin’ to do with it, I feel.  I’m glad you got to yak with Marty a bit.  I figured you two might have a lot in common.  Like putting up with your Performing Spouses!  ;-)

Dale, there are so many things to say to you.  I’m not sure where to begin.  Truly.  I’m almost at a loss for words.  (Almost!) What I think I love about you is there are you are; so tremendously talented, such a showman, and yet there is humility and a lack of prickiness.  And you’d have every right, in a way, to be an arrogant prick.  You, more than any of us, after what happened to you, would have every right to be shattered, broken and nasty. You aren’t.  I admire your resilience and grace!  You have so much talent and experience!  I’m in awe of what you know and how you share and sell it.  For years, even before we reconnected, I would speak of you in the most glowing terms.  Honest and true!  No bullshit!

I remember when you came into the band.  I knew instinctively I stood in the shadow of a giant.  I was very intimidated by you, actually.  I still am in a way. I know there is a shy side to you; I picked that up right away. I figured if I hung with you a bit that some of the glorious glow might rub off on me.  My mom used to say, “Water seeks its own level.”  Your level is pretty damn high and it makes me a better performer and person, knowing you.  Knowing you both!  You have an uncanny ability to lift up other people to your level. (On a personal note, I’ve been told by a director that I have that too, but you REALLY have it, brother!)

I’m really glad we all dissed the dirt Saturday night.  I think we all needed to do that; it kind of healed some old wounds and it was stuff we can kind of laugh about, years on.  There is nothing like a good gossip session, I always say!  Marty said Ray was agog; he probably had no idea of the treatment we all received and of the personalities involved  I think, and this may be a bit “out there” but it was driven home to me that perhaps we are all a little more “elevated” people in that we can be nice people, fun people and not be jerks.   Looking back on it, it’s sad that HH and people like Wonnacott  and even Barbara couldn’t and can’t do that.  Massive insecurity, the more “elevated” part of me would say.  I think it’s a case of thinking there isn’t “enough” for everybody.  That someone has to be overshadowed in order for you to shine and vice versa.  You are proof positive that, just like the millions of stars in the heavens, there’s room for us all to glow.  We enhance each other,. Just as the night sparkles with  thousands of lights and becomes more beautiful in doing so.

I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years in music and theater and I truly think you are one of the funniest, kindest, most talented, most generous guys (or gals) I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with and get to know.  I’d walk through scorpion-infested muck to work with you again.  I know if I do you’ll lift me up and support and encourage me.  And make me laugh too! 

(By the way, thank you for being so caring about my lame attempts to learn to play the ukulele, you have NO idea what that means!  I’m not a “natural” at instruments and I doubt I’ll ever be as good as one-tenth of you but I can pluck away!)  

We’ve all been tempered by the negative fire that was the old HH days.  We’ve come out stronger.  You, in particular.  I admire your self-knowledge that said, “Yeah, I need to fix my old shit.”  A lot of people wallow in their crap.  You don’t. Because we’ve walked through the fire, we are (I’d like to think) bonded.  We are family.  As far as I’m concerned, we always will be. 

You both are my brother and sister.  You always will be in my heart.  You both are a blessing to me.

I love you two! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Music: Start 'Em Young

 I had my great nephews over today....I'm exhausted!  I showed my older great nephew (B) the rudiments of drumming (can you imagine THAT, LOL!) and he actually had a good sense of rhythm!  I also taught how to do the C chord (the easiest one on the uke) and I sang Frere Jacques along with him while he strummed, LOL!  I have an old candlestick phone with a rotary dial that works and those kids are simply fascinated by a rotary dial phone!!!  B was so interested that I could change the batteries and clean the terminals on my poor old Lighting McQueen plastic car; he watched in utter fascination as I made it "talk" again.  I am so NOT mechanical (and it's a big family joke) but I felt like Go-Go Gadget because I could figure out how to get the sucker talking again!  I felt like a genius!  LOL! Trying to think of things to do with a 5 year that don't involve planting him in front of a TV is very challenging!  He's not a coloring book type of boy! Phew, I'm exhausted!!!!  I need a nap!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Re-evaluating Training

Bath time today for my hairy beasts. They are blowing coat like it's their job!  I know everyone's dogs are!  It's a crazy year for shedding dogs.

I miss my two old cattledogs, Wingie and Jesse Ann. You could vacuum them.  Jesse would attach the vacuum and the lawn mower!

Now we have to work on "the vacuum is not evil." Elke is better at this than Artie...but she had been vacuumed when I had the other two older dogs. Artie doesn't want ANYTHING to do with the evil vacuum. So we're going to leave it in the den (dogs' room) and turn it on every day while Evil Vacuum dispenses treats. This is totally do-able but I admittedly should have started this whole grooming thing when Art was a wee lad!  Lazy owner.

I had a really good long talk with my Mastiff friend about training.  She's been working with dogs all her life (has Ch. CGC, Therapy, CDs on most of her dogs; all have Ch. and therapy certs.). She threw out the idea that when I was throwing treats when Artie was getting all honked off over Jimmy( the cat) being out there, that I was probably rewarding the behavior I didn't want.

This was a really good discussion and one I really think I needed to have. I've been pretty much surrounded by AP trainers and while THEY get the whole  "treat the dog when he's throwing himself at the door like a total asshole", I just don't get it. I couldn't wrap my head around it.  I have a lot of respect for Molly Mastiff; she really knows her stuff. She is a PR trainer but when she has to yell at her dogs or give a correction, she does it.

This is the way I learned years ago and I'm wondering how "wrong" it was. My dogs in the past were pretty well behaved, learned training quickly and were happy to work.

She suggested, and this is kind of old school, to give him a verbal negative (if he's not completely over the top) and the minute he turns to me, reward him. THIS make sense to me.  It's kind of what my old trainer, Pat Piazza, would have done.  The method of throwing treats while they were in high honk waiting for them to de-escalate, didn't make any sense to me at all.  I couldn't wrap my head around it.  She speculated that by working with Artie the "newer" way, it might have caused him to escalate when he got out and went after Jimmy.  

She also said, and I found this interesting, that since Elke starts it with a grumble which causes Artie to get all weird, that Elke decides to like Artie "take care of it."  She's NOT a leader-type dog.  Neither is he, I don't think.

We're also working on Mr. Artie NOT being focused on the French doors. and re-learning "go lay down." Kind of doing it the "old fashioned" way:" an "acckkkk" when you're being stupid, treats and praise when you do what I want. I am not always walking around with treat hanging out my bra, for God's sake. Praise works too WHEN they are calm.

And we're working on not charging the damn door. I'm tired of that too.
 I am tired of my dogs being arse-holes.  Time to grow up!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Awful Artie

I just had this horrible, awful thing happen.

When did my dear, sweet Artie Bloo turn into an utter arse-hole?  I've always been able to take this dog anywhere; dog parks, hikes, over-nights with other dogs.

I am beyond upset.  I'm still shaking.

I f----g hate squirrels, I f---g hate cats who think my backyard is their highway.  I don't think training can help this situation.

Damn-damn-damn that stupid den door for not closing.  (The dogs are in the den; that's their hang-out place.)

Artie marched through the kitchen and right into the basement to help himself to the damn cat food.  Jimmy the cat (we're babysitting him) came from the second floor down to the first out of curiosity.  He was just curious, "What going on?" I was calling Artie to come upstairs from the basement and they spotted each other.   Artie whipped around and went from him.  Jimmy is pretty fast but Artie was really going for him.  This was not playing or chasing; this was I'm going to kill you.  I managed to chase him downstairs to the basement as he was going after the cat.

I am ashamed to say it but I had to wack him with my leather folder (which for some odd reason I had in my hand) to get him off the cat.  It was f-----g awful

 The cat is OK, I checked him.  But if anything had happened to him, I would have been devastated.  I also probably would have put Artie down. I just can't have a cat killer.  It's unacceptable.  I have 2 old cats.

Luckily (Thank God) nobody or any animal was hurt, but I am just absolutely shattered. .I've been trying so hard with him and it all just blew up.   He's been kind of grumpy with other dogs lately.  That stupid year of cancer and recovery has really taken its toll.

It's kind of my fault for not working harder when he and Elke were younger to integrate them with the cats.  He's 4 now so I imagine this isn't fixable.

There aren't a lot of people I can tell this to.  My all-positive trainer friends would be livid if they knew I damned near wacked Artie into next year.

I just hope the cat isn't traumatized. In his new there are dogs.  I have these horrible visions of Jimmy being super afraid of dogs now and him coming back to us for fostering.

(Insert a big string of swear words here.)   I think I need a drink and a cigarette.  This is NOT a good day to quit.  I have to calm down. I have rehearsal tonight.

Debbie Downers

Did you ever meet someone and think, "Wow, what a fatalist and downer you are? Man, you are a REAL Debbie Downer" (Even a guy can be a Debbie Downer, by the way).

The "good" angel on my shoulder wondered, "What the heck happened to you to make you a cloudy person?"

The little "devil" on my other shoulder said, "Extricate yourself from that negativity! Who the hel needs that shit!"

Monday, July 6, 2015

Feline Sleep Aid

Nap attack with former foster Jimmy who is staying with us until Friday or Saturday.....

I feel another one coming on.....

Cats: the new/old sleep aid!

And when/where did I start looking so fkg old/fat/unattractive?  Man, does that suck.  I wish I could afford a face lift.  Self-doubt is really creeping in.  Of course, to be fair, it's a dreadful angle!  Jimmy looks good!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Artie Goes For A Walk In The Woods

Artie Bloo says: Our Uncle Terry took me and mom out for a car ride and a walk in The Ledges.

I got to eat French Fries!

Most of the time, I just dragged my leash.  There were two dogs and I got pretty excited and weird about that.  Mom left the fries in the car.  She should have brought them.

We had fun, even though I had to stick around while they took pictures.

Sometimes Mom leaned on my back so she could get down from steep places.  "Help, Mom," she'd say!

Uncle Terry was surprised that I stuck around so good.  Except for chasing that chipmunk.  But I came back when Mom called.

There was no swimming at this place.  Bummer!

Mom said I was a good boy!  But I REALLY need to get out more!! Thank you Uncle Terry for letting me go with you.

And I didn't puke in the car either!

Elke says: They left me at home.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Charleston Church Tragedy and Stupidity

Stupid is as stupid does.  Just sayin'

Here is a great article, hopefully you can see the Link: anti-intellectualis is killing america

The Dumbing Down of America has been happening for quite a while.  I will always maintain my opinion that Fundamentalism is a dangerous thing, especially when it affects politics and education.  "Keep 'em stupid," is becoming the norm.  Many aspects of Big Business and many politicians want people to be stupid, scared and reactionary.  We've certainly seen that in fundamental Muslim groups and we see it in America.  It's easier to control a herd of frightened, angry, lost people.

Charleston is just the latest example of fear and blind ignorance.  My heart bleeds for those people.

It's one of the reasons I might have a really hard time living in the South.  I'm too smart for most places.  I am well-educated.  I use Big Words.  I appreciate the arts and have respect for science as well as loving nature.

I believe that God's time is not necessarily human time.  How long could God's day be?  A nano-second or millennium.  Do you know?  No, you don't, now do you?

As for the Confederate flag flying over a state building, I have to ask why?  That is NOT the state flag or North Carolina or Georgia or any place else in the South.  The Civil War ended in 1865.  That is 150 YEARS ago!!  You don't see Germany flying the Swastika, now do you?   Their losses and bosses were much more horrific than the Civil War.  Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

I hate to say it because the North was the winning side but I will exclaim, "Get over it.  Move on with your lives!  Stop drinking the Kool-aid"

We are 50 UNITED states, and so far, succession hasn't happened.  Instead of moaning on about it and reliving a tragic part of American history, why not join  together in brotherhood, with loving kindness and tolerance? That might be a much better, healthier option. People of all colors, denominations, sexual preferences are still human beings.  We all bleed red.  We all want a safe home filled with love and joy.  We want food on our tables and a place to sleep.

If you are going to quote your Bible as a justification for violence, perhaps you need to take Jesus as your example. He suffered the little children to come to him.  (I'm not a Christian but I have read the Bible cover to cover many times.)  Are we not all children of the Universe?  Do we not all share this Blue Planet together?  Are we not made of the same things: blood, bone and sinew?  Are we all not children of the Divine?

I for one, am so damn tired of ignorance and fear.  Fear within, fear without.  I think taking the wise words of my friend's English mum, "You're dead if you worry, you're dead if you don't.  So why worry?"  to heart is not a bad thing at all.

Wouldn't all this energy be better spent learning things?  Things like science, art, what makes the flowers grow?  It seems we've lost curiosity.  It seems we accept being fed whatever crap Fox News (for example) and the hate/fear-mongers are dishing out. It's like Germany in pre-war times and if you don't know about that, well, damnit you should.

Since when did worshiping in your place of faith (whether it be church or synagogue, a temple or underneath God's sky) become a shooting ground?
Truly, "Verily I say unto you: Love thy neighbor as THYSELF.  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."  If you want to follow the Christ's teachings, that's a pretty fine place to start.  Your Christ would no more have taken a spear and gone into a Roman temple and killed everyone.

We have a limited time in our earthly bodies.  If you believe in Hell, Purgatory or Limbo, do you really want your soul to end up there?  Because being an ignoramus is sure as hell a great place to start.

Instead of expending your energies sowing hate, why don't you learn something new everyday?  A new word, a new song, a new way to build something?  Why not ask questions of people you don't know and find out about their humanity?
I am blessed to have many friends with many different belief systems: Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Pagan, Muslims and even those who don't necessarily believe in a a form of the Creator.  I don't get people that say science and faith are incompatible.  That's just well, ignorant.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Dream Come True

Dreams do come true! I have always been a huge fan of Dale McKenzie's. He such a talented guy and his wife Paula McKenzie is such a cool, darling lady. They came over to our house tonight for grub and an impromptu music session happened. (I think it was Dale getting his hands on Marty Hess' lovely guitar).
I'm a beginner uke player and I have always wanted to sing with just Dale and a guitar. I've known he's a really gifted musician and to have to opportunity to play and sing with him the few songs I (kind of) know on the uke was a terrifying joy. I was a wreck! Marty played the drums too!!
We sang "Misty" and played "Dream A Little Dream Of Me",(which will be in my show on August. 29th...shameless plug) "Moon River", "You Always Hurt The One You Love" and "I'll See You In My Dreams" together. What an honor! I can't begin to tell you how much this meant to me and how encouraging Dale was! What a great team the McKenzies' are!
Now I gotta get good!

My Dad, Steve Knerly (Father's Day 2015)

Thinking of you, Fa.  I miss you.

My father loved to get dressed up; he was always very proud to wear his medals!  He always yell at us to "Hurry up, I'm WAITING!  Why in the hell am I always waiting for you all to get ready!" and he'd disappear and we'd wait for him to make an entrance He smelled like Old Spice and then Christian Dior for men.  And wool.

He'd use big words and when you'd give him the "Huh?" look he'd make you look it up in the dictionary.  (Thus our predilection for using Big Words!  He pretended he didn't speak Hungarian (his childhood in the old West Side Hungarian neighborhood was crappy) but he would listen to the Hungarian Hour on the radio and spoke it fluently.  He started most sentences with "God Damnit," when he was on the phone and then later, as we got older, in person.

He would 'conduct' classical music while driving, which used to scare me to death.  I finally figured out he was driving with his knee.  He loved convertibles! He loved music and singing especially, "I'm Glad I'm Not Young any More" from GIGI.  He loved roller coasters.

I think he lived to yell at other lawyers and I don't know how many phones he destroyed banging the receiver instead of hanging up.

His way of "fixing" things was to wack it with a hammer.  (Thus the ceiling radiator crashing to the floor and breaking his leg).

He was charming as all get out. All eyes would gravitate to him when he entered a room.

He could be very difficult and challenging to live with: his standards were very high.  He wasn't afraid to wack you if you deserved it.  But he'd go to the mat for you, taking on anyone, including the Lakewood School Board and my materanl grandmother (I don't know which was worse).

He called me My Schloukie Kid (don't ask me why) and Miachka.  He and his needs came first (typical Aries) but I know he loved us fiercely.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rufus & Ellie: Two Crankies

The other morning, I woke up and Rufus and Ellie were laying at the end of our bed, spines touching.  I tried to get a picture of this but of course they moved.  (Naturally). When I told a friend about this, she asked, "How old is Rufus now?"

"Oh, lord," I said, "He's got to be at LEAST 10.  I think he's more like 12."  (Ellie is probably 9 or 10 herself).

"Well, they've established a relationship," my friend said.

"Yeah, it's a weird one.  Half the time, she lays, sprawled out in the sunny window and he's huddled on the stair below.  You can almost hear him thinking 'Gee, I'd like to sit in the sunny window too but she's taking up all the room.'"

My friend laughed and said, "Poor Rufus!  They remind of me two cranky folks in the senior home.  They might screw now and then and they'll eat dinner side by side but the rest of the time, they ignore each other!"

Yep, that's Rufus and Ellie all right!