Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kind of like Christmas Eve… #atozchallenge

A2Z-BADGE [2016]


Or maybe New Year’s Eve, I’m not sure. I know on Thursdays I usually do a Thursday Ten or a prompt from Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, but I don’t have the powers of concentration for that right now.

I’m looking forward to seeing the themes people have for the Challenge. A lot of folks announced theirs already, like I did, but of the 1700+ blogs that have signed up, only about 400 actually did an announcement. But that’s okay; it was optional, and I think there are more than a few of you who don’t actually have a theme. No matter. The idea is to have fun, to meet other bloggers, and to enjoy what they have to say.

You’ll start seeing my posts for the Challenge at 6 tomorrow morning Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4). See you then!

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dad, the Disciplinarian

Mary hasn’t talked about this week’s WFMW, so I guess it’s up to me.


We loved our Dad, mostly because he wasn’t the one that disciplined us. He wasn’t especially good at it.

Not that he didn’t try…

One time, we were acting up, and he lined the three of us up and started lecturing us. He was really getting into it when all of a sudden Jim stuck his hand up.


“Sir, may I go to the bathroom?”

Mom, who was watching all of this from the couch, started laughing. It kind of took the wind out of his sails.

Another time, we were being noisy and horsing around in the living room. Dad, who was alone with us because Mom had gone somewhere, came in wearing his angry face. “John, go sit in the desk chair,” he said, pointing. I sat down. “Jim, go sit in the easy chair.” Jim sat down. “And Kip, sit on the couch.” Kip sat down. “Now, I don’t want the three of you to move. Understand?”

“Yes, Dad.”

Having done his job, he left the room. After a couple of minutes, I turned to Jim. “Jim, let’s switch seats.” When we had done that, Jim and Kip switched seats. Then, Jim and I switched again, and so did Jim and Kip. Now I was on the couch, Jim was on the desk chair, and Kip was in the easy chair. We were ready to switch again but Jim saw Dad coming.

Dad came into the room. “You three better behave yourselves.”

“Yes, Dad.”

He left the room again. And we moved again. I was now in the easy chair, Kip was on the desk chair, and Jim was on the couch.

We were giggling, and Dad came back in the room. “What are you giggling about?”

“Nothing, Dad.”

This went on until Mom got home. I don’t think he ever caught on. Or, if he did, he didn’t let on.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

A Metaphysical #1LinerWeds

It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.
– Steven Wright

As with Yogi Berra, some of the things Steven Wright says make you think.


One-Liner Wednesday is sponsored by Linda Hill, who has all the rules and pingbacks from the participants at her website.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Two for Tuesday: Barclay James Harvest



Another example of a band I heard a lot about but never heard much of their music. Barclay James Harvest started in Oldham, England, in 1966, and until 1979 were John Lees (vocals, guitars), Les Holroyd (bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals), Mel Pritchard (drums, percussion), and Stuart “Woolly” Wolstenholme (vocals, Mellotron, keyboards, guitars). They sounded quite a bit like the Moody Blues, with their dreamy sound and heavy use of the Mellotron in their music.

This is “Mocking Bird,” from their 1971 album Once Again.

Here’s “Poor Man’s Moody Blues,” from 1977’s Gone To Earth. You’ll notice it sounds a lot like “Nights In White Satin.”

Wolstenholme left the group in 1979, and they continued for a while as a trio with guest musicians before splitting into two groups, John Lees’s Barclay James Harvest (starting in 1998) and Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd (starting in 2002). Wolstenholme joined the John Lees band from 1998 until taking his life in 2010; Pritchard was with the Holroyd band from 2002 until his death from a heart attack in 2004. The original band has a website, as do the Lees and Holroyd versions of the group.

Barclay James Harvest, your Two for Tuesday, March 29, 2016.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday’s Music Moves Me: Songs about me?

So, today’s 4M theme is “songs about you.” In response, here is a playlist of six songs that I feel paint an abstract picture of me. All I’m going to do is put this playlist here and let you play it and see what you come up with. I won’t even tell you what the songs are, or anything about the artists or any of my usual happy stuff. Just six songs.

I’d be interested to know what it makes you think of.

That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for March 28, 2016.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Stacy, and Naila Moon, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Do any of you use Bloglovin’? I’m going to see what it does. If it’s not worth it, I’ll find out soon enough…

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The letter X, let’s face it, is, pardon my French, an enormous pain in the ass. Very few words in English start with it, and when they do, it’s pronounced like Z, as in xanthan gum and xylophone. Why not just spell them zanthan gum and zylophone and be done with it? Speaking of xylophones…

To be fair, I think these are marimbas, and the one the guy plays in the middle is a vibraphone. Whatever. I love that video, especially the bass player.

Anyway, X is also the Roman numeral for ten, so here are ten more portmanteaux, or portmanteaus, if you prefer.

  1. mimsy (miserable + flimsy): The man who gave the name to portmanteau words was C. L. Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, in his book Through The Looking Glass. Humpty Dumpty is the one who introduces the concept to Alice from high atop his wall.
  2. CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation): Like FedEx, CONELRAD is a syllabic abbreviation, which are portmanteau words after a fashion. CONELRAD was a technique designed by the Office of Civil Defense back in the 1950’s to deal with the possibility of an attack by a hostile nation (at the time, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, now the Russian Federation and presumably no longer hostile). Theoretically, it prevented an enemy bomber from dropping an atomic bomb on a city by taking away a bomber’s ability to use radio and television signals to zero in on a city, much as we Americans did to Germany in World War II. Wikipedia (the blogger’s best friend) has a very good article on the subject.
  3. Cockapoo (cocker spaniel + poodle): Portmanteaux are used frequently to name cross-breeds of dogs, such as the cockapoo, the maltipoo (Maltese + poodle), and the like. While not recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club and other certification organizations, the cockapoo is a popular dog, small and long-lived.
  4. Kimye (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West): Supercouples are popular, wealthy, or powerful couples that get a lot of attention from the public, mostly because they get a lot of attention from the tabloid press. Portmanteaus of their names are common: Bennifer (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez), TomKat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), and Billary (Bill and Hillary Clinton) are examples. Occasionally, pairings of characters on television shows get the same treatment, such as Tiva (Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherley) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) from NCIS) and HarMac (Harmon Rabb (David James Elliott) and Sarah “Mac” McKenzie (Catherine Bell) from JAG).
  5. Sharknado (shark + tornado): This was a 2013 movie starring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. Here’s the premise: “When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.” I’ve never seen it (I think it aired on cable network Syfy in the US), but there was a lot of talk about it, most of it derisive…
  6. broccoflower (broccoli + cauliflower): What do you do with two cruciferous vegetables that kids won’t eat? Cross-breed them and make a third vegetable kids won’t eat, of course! (The difference between broccoli and boogers is that kids won’t eat broccoli…)
  7. surfactant (surface active agent): A word that I didn’t know was a portmanteau. If you read the content list of laundry detergent, most of them have (maybe it’s changed and this is no longer the case, I don’t know) one called “anionic surfactants.” They loosen the dirt and bring it to the surface, where agitation and other chemical compounds can remove it.
  8. Snowmageddon (snow + armageddon): Here’s one you’ve seen here. Snowmageddon generally refers to a major snowstorm that dumps lots of snow on an area and ties up traffic so badly that you’re better off staying in and waiting until the snow is removed, or, better, until it melts. That’s generally what we do here in Atlanta, which has everyone in stitches any time it happens, because a bad snowstorm in Atlanta typically leaves one to two inches. We’ve had far worse snow events here, though, believe me.
  9. simulcast (simultaneous broadcast): This is broadcasting an event over more than one medium simultaneously. In the 1970’s, before high-fidelity, stereo sound was possible via television, a local TV station broadcasting a concert would work with an FM radio station in the same market to broadcast the audio simultaneous with the video. The viewer could then watch the TV with the sound off and listen to the radio, and the picture (usually) matched with the sound. This could also refer to two radio stations airing the same programming, or someone publishing the same blog material on WordPress and Blogger…
  10. Texarkana (Texas + Arkansas + Louisiana): I talked back on March 25 about geographic names that are portmanteaus of the geographic areas that comprise them. Texarkana, Texas and Texarkana, Arkansas are twin cities that sit either side of the Texas-Arkansas border, and both are cities in an area called Arklatexoma, where Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (postal abbreviation LA), and Oklahoma come together. Another example of this are the Benelux countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

This was a little longer than most entries, but I wanted to show how portmanteaus are used all through the English language. There are portmanteaus in other languages as well. I’ve referred to this list on Wikipedia for most of the portmanteaus I’ve used here, and there are many other lists on the World Wide Web. They’re a lot of fun, and I hope you’ll take some time to look into them in more detail.

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The Easter Week That Was

This edition of The Week That Was is sponsored by Sunbeam Bread, Gene Autry’s brand!

I didn’t start seeing Sunbeam bread until I moved south. Huh…



Happy Easter, everyone! I hope that you have a good one, regardless of how you celebrate (or don’t).

On a personal note, thank you all for the birthday wishes this past Friday. It was another of those landmark birthdays, the ones that end with a zero. It was a good one, and the festivities have continued through the weekend and will probably last until next weekend.

I’ve been hard at work preparing my entries for the A to Z Challenge, which starts this Friday. Those of you who follow the blog noticed that I let one of my entries slip this past Friday, the one for the letter V, which should have been scheduled for April 26 but, in my haste to pack up to go home, I posted it immediately. I’m just happy I finished it first.

I’m glad everyone enjoyed my post from yesterday, which was in reply to the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “real.” We could sit and discuss reality versus imagination for hours on end. I included several examples of where what we perceive as reality might to other beings be imagination. That’s the fun of writing fiction; you get to explore things like that. I’ve gotten out of the fiction-writing business, perhaps more than I should have. Maybe I’ll get back to it one day.

Monday was the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal day, and I want to welcome all new followers to the blog. I’ve added your blogs to Feedly, my RSS reader of choice, and now you’ll never get rid of me HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Seriously, welcome, and no, I haven’t forgotten those of you who I met on earlier challenges. I’m currently following over 450 blogs on Feedly, including the blogs of anyone who’s commented here. I’m sure some of them are dormant or no longer exist, but I wouldn’t know where to begin to find the ones that are inactive. If anyone knows of anything, I’m all ears, kind of like H. Ross Perot or former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher Don Mossi.

Chicago won the latest Battle of the Bands, defeating The Spencer Davis Group by a small margin in Battle “I’m A Man.”

I introduced many of you to fingerstyle guitarist Jamie Dupuis on Monday’s Music Moves Me. He’s active on YouTube and Instagram; I’ll have to look to see if he has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Two for Tuesday featured Kraftwerk; I had only ever heard “Autobahn,” their hit from 1975, but Keith remembered them well and fondly. They were quite popular in Europe, where Debbie is from (she was happy to hear her original language again) and the UK, where Keith is from, but not here in the US. Go figure.

That’s all for this week. Remember, you have until April 4 to sign up for the A to Z Challenge, if you haven’t already done so, and it starts this Friday, April 1. See you soon!

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Does Reality Ever Get You Down? #socs

Does reality ever get you down?
Does someone singing ever make you frown?
Does someone talking to giant mice
Ever make you feel not nice?

No, I’m not turning into a poet. A friend of mine from high school came up with this years ago, and when I saw today’s prompt was “real,” it was the first thing I thought of. Actually, no, the first thing I thought of was real analysis, a math course I had to take that made absolutely no sense when I was taking it, but I took it because I wanted to get my degree in Math and that’s one of the classes you take. Real analysis is based on real numbers, which are basically not complex numbers, which are numbers of the form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i is the square root of -1. Everybody knows that, right?

Anyway, I got thinking about reality because I read Lori Carlson’s SoCS entry (which was excellent, and you should click on the link and go read it. Don’t worry, I’ll leave this window open for you) about not knowing what’s real and what’s imagined. Do you remember the last show of the series St. Elsewhere, which ran for six seasons back in the 1980’s? Where, at the end, we learn that the whole thing was the dream of an autistic kid looking at a snow globe? I wonder sometimes if that’s us, living in the imagination of some being somewhere. God, maybe, I’m not sure.

Did you ever see the alternate explanation for the TV show Friends, that said the whole thing happened in Phoebe’s head? That she was actually a homeless crack addict who would stare in the window of Central Perk and make up stories about Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, and Monica and insert herself into them? Sometimes I think I’m the guy on the outside looking in, like Phoebe, making up stories and inserting myself into them. What if we were all doing that? I know, some of us do just that, don’t we?

What if it was true, that the light we all see as we die is just the light we see when we’re being pushed out of our new mother’s womb? Maybe there’s something to reincarnation. Sometimes I hope so. Other times, not so much.

I would talk about my dreams to my mother sometimes, and she’d wave me off and tell me to “be realistic.” I think I assumed that “being realistic” meant living in her version of reality.

It’s a lot to think about, and it’s been keeping me awake at night sometimes. I look back at six decades of life (thank you all for the birthday wishes, by the way) and can actually see what went wrong and what I’d do if I had to do it all over again. Then I realize life isn’t like Back To The Future or Doctor Who, where you can just get into your TARDIS or put a flux capacitor onto your car and just end up in the past. It’s more like The Big Bang Theory episode when the guys bought the “time machine” prop from the 1960 movie of the same name starring Rod Taylor and Alan Young, who was playing Wilbur Post in Mr. Ed at the time.

So, yes, reality gets me down sometimes.

Hey, remember this?



I had a real lot of fun doing this. Linda Hill does Stream of Consciousness Saturday every weekend; she puts the prompt and rules on her blog and collects pingbacks from everyone who does it. Stop on by and say howdy!

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Friday, March 25, 2016

#atozchallenge: Virgilina, Virginia

Virgilina =
Virginia + North Carolina


The original uploader was Seth Ilys at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0,

One of the more common uses for portmanteaus is to name geographic locations. We’ve already seen Eurasia, the land mass that contains Europe and Asia. When Tanganyika and Zanzibar combined in 1964, they became the Republic of Tanzania. When the Czech Republic and Slovakia were forced together under the Nazis during World War II, the country was called Czechoslovakia, and it remained a single country under the Warsaw Pact, finally splitting back into the two countries in the 1990’s. Illiana, Illinois is a town on the border between Illinois and Indiana; likewise Michiana is an area comprised of counties from Michigan and Indiana. There’s a full list of border towns and areas in the United States here.

Anyway, the town of Virgilina, Virginia is a town of 159 people in Halifax County, Virginia that sits on the border between Virginia and North Carolina.

What portmanteau gographic names can you think of?


from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Five Songs With Seven In The Title

This post is scheduled for 7:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time, the time I officially start my seventh decade. I could have done birthday songs, sure, but liked this idea better.

  1. Seventh Son – Johnny Rivers: A song by the great blues songwriter Willie Dixon, given an upbeat performance by Johnny Rivers.
  2. Seven Come Eleven – Charlie Christian: Jazz guitarists owe Charlie a debt of thanks, because he was the player that first popularized the electric guitar as a jazz instrument. Charlie was an incredible talent who died way too young. Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton join him on this classic.
  3. Seven Steps To Heaven – Stan Getz: Stan was known for his work in the early days of bossa nova, but here he does some straight-ahead jazz with Kenny Barron (piano), Alex Blake (bass), and the lovely Terri Lynne Carrington (drums).
  4. 007 (Shanty Town) – Desmond Dekker: Desmond is best known for his 1968 Top 40 hit “The Israelites.” He’s in fine voice here.
  5. Seven Drunken Nights – The Dubliners: I know, it’s a little late for St. Patrick’s Day. You’ll usually hear this in Irish pubs after the crowd has had a few pints of Guinness. Usually, after the singer gets to the line “So, I called to me wife and I said to her,” everyone in the crowd will shout, “HEY, WIFE!” It’s missing here, so you can supply it.

And that’s The Friday Five for March 25, 1956.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wednesdays for My Wife: Easter Memories

This is another dual-purpose post. I didn’t figure out what to write about for WFMW until late yesterday, so I’m doing it today, which is also Writer’s Workshop day.


Today, Mary and Kat must be on the same wavelength, because Mary said, “Why don’t you write about Easter when you were growing up?” and one of Kat’s prompts for today was “March 20th is the first day of Spring! Let it inspire a blog post,” so I’m going to write about both. Well, Easter is a spring holiday, after all…


Mom loved Easter. Everyone called her Bunny, because she was born on Holy Saturday. (Saturday, which would have been her 84th birthday, is also Holy Saturday.) She didn’t even know her real name was Genevieve until one of the nuns at St. Ignatius curtly informed her that there was no St. Bunny of Paris, and she had better learn to spell it.

The fun of having a birthday between March 22 and April 25 is that, eventually, your birthday is during Holy Week. For example, I was born on Palm Sunday. Mary, like Mom, was born on Holy Saturday. My cousin Dan was born on Good Friday. (Happy birthday, Dan, by the way.) It’s a moveable feast, kind of like Paris.

Easter was a big holiday in my family, almost as big as Christmas. Even without the presents, it was a special day. It would start with getting all dressed up so we could go to church. This is a picture of us on Easter 1965, the year my mother decided to dress us in fedoras and trench coats, like miniature Frank Sinatras. It was April 18 in Chicago, which is why we’re all bundled up.

Left to right, Kip (6), Mom’s Aunt Cash, me (9), Fabulous Auntie Jill (my godmother), and Jim (7). Sorry the picture is blurry. To get all of us into it, Dad (who took this on Jill’s camera) stood halfway down the block. I cropped out most of the background.

After Dad died, we would celebrate Easter at Fabulous Auntie Jill’s and equally Fabulous Auntie Moe’s apartment with most of the rest of the family. When we moved to Northfield in my sophomore year of high school, we celebrated at home with what my brother called “The Usual Crowd”: Grandma Holton, her sister Florence, and Mom’s Aunt Cash. Tex, who married Mom after I graduated high school, called them “The Lavender Hill Mob,” after the 1951 movie starring Alec Guinness. Mom would also invite anyone else in the family who might otherwise spend the holiday alone. That was the way we were in my family: you don’t have anywhere to go? Come on over! There was always plenty of food, enough to feed the assembled crowd and send the Lavender Hill Mob home with enough leftovers for a couple of meals.

In our family, Easter meant ham, which is great when you have a crowd, not so much when it’s just two people. Mary and I decided to buy a Honey Baked Ham once, and we couldn’t finish it before it got stinky and we had to throw it out. We learned the truth of what Grandma Holton always said, “Eternity is two people and a ham.” Ham didn’t go bad when I was at home. It didn’t last that long.

It wouldn’t be Easter without candy. All os us had a sweet tooth. Mom loved jelly bird eggs, which were the same as jelly beans, but different. Of course, we’d get Easter baskets; even after we got older, we’d set them up for each other and hide them. You could always count on a hollow chocolate bunny, various marshmallow eggs, jelly bird eggs, and, of course, Marshmallow Peeps.

I talked about Peeps during last year’s A to Z Challenge (and I hope you’ve signed up for this year’s), and, since Mary loves the story, I’m going to repeat it here…

Picture this: the Holton boys are sitting in the living room on Easter morning. It’s maybe 9 AM. We’ve sought out and found our Easter baskets, and are going through the candy buried in the fake grass lining the bottom of them. One of my brothers (I can’t remember if it was Jim or Kip) found several Marshmallow Peeps in his basket, took a bite out of one, and decided he didn’t like them. “Toss it over here, then,” I said. So, he sent the Peep flying over to me, sitting on the couch. The throw went a little high, but I managed to catch the flying confection and, in the same motion, stuff it in my mouth.

By the time our mother got up that morning, I had eaten all of the Peeps in the house, all of which were tossed at me by my brothers, and didn’t feel sick.

We don’t get together for Easter that much anymore, but you can bet that the day wouldn’t be complete without one of them tossing a marshmallow Peep at me, and me catching it and stuffing it completely in my mouth in one motion.


Happy Easter, all! That’s Wednesdays for My Wife and Writer’s Workshop for March 24, 2016.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Are You Hungry? #1LinerWeds

The Braves are warming up for their final season at Turner Field by adding some new menu items. Even if the team doesn’t draw full houses, it’s sure to get full stomachs – try the “Burgerizza,” described as a grilled 20-ounce beef patty, covered with five slices of cheddar cheese, topped with crispy bacon, and served between two 8-inch pepperoni pizzas. It sells for $26.
Associated Press

Now, I think this is intended to be shared between several people, but… ya never know…


One-Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda Hill, who has all the rules and all the pingbacks at her blog.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing