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The Jaded Eye
By Gerry Ayers
Name that Tune

At one time on television, there was a game show called "Name That Tune." It revolved around music. Ultimately, contestants, with clues and tunes played, had to (you guessed it), name that tune. At a certain point, two players would face off, and try to name a song with the least amount of chords (hints) played.

Some were quite good, as they could name the tune with only one or two actual notes being played!

Being a "good" listener requires you to also name that tune, and I'm not just referring to music. For after residing on this planet for decades you start to realize there are many "fork tongues." You must decipher the steak from the sizzle. Or should I say baloney – looks tasty, smells tasty, but full of fat, sodium and not much substance.

How many times, when a conversation begins, can you see (hear) where it's actually going before it really ends? Or, better yet, can you NAME THAT TUNE in only a few notes (words)? A few of my favorites.

Example number one.

Friend:  "Wow, have you seen the price of gasoline or groceries the past few weeks? Just insane."

Me: "Sure. Always up, rarely do they ever go down."

Friend: "Things are really tight and I just had the septic system replaced, the car's brakes were shot, and my kid needed new baseball equipment. Oh, and......"

Me: "Stop! I can name this tune in five notes!"

Answer – Can I borrow some money?

Example number two.

Me: "Did you and your spouse take that long awaited vacation you talked about?"

Them: "I wish. Things aren't the same anymore."

Me: "What's up?"

Them: "You know, growing apart. Sparks aren't there anymore."

Me: "Did you try to work things out?"

Them: "We tried counseling and it's going nowhere. Plus, keeping in touch with that old flame via facebook, those odd hour phone calls, those hidden texts and e – mails aren't helping the situation. Should have seen it coming."

Me: "Wait! I can name this tune in three notes!

Answer – You're splitting up!

Example number three.

Them: "What are you going to order?"

Me: "Soup and salad. And an ice water with a lemon wedge."

Them: "You need to live a little. I'm having the shrimp cocktail, a steak medium rare, baked potato, a lager to wash it all down, and to top it all off – chocolate cheesecake for dessert!"

Me: "How was your workout at the gym today?"

Them: "Didn't go. Wasn't feeling it. Haven't gone in a few weeks."

Me: "Hold the phones! I can name this tune in eight notes!

Answer – The diet is over and gym membership done.

Example number four.

Me: "The shingles need to be redone, concrete at the foundation is cracking, and the gutter spouts need to be replaced. Can you give me a reasonable quote to have the work done?"

Contractor: "Will do my best, but since we last spoke things have changed. My costs have gone up, and their costs have gone up."

Me: "What should we do first? What can be held off longer than anything else?"

Contractor: "Stop the presses! I can name your tune in four notes!

Answer – You can't afford it!

Example number five.

Politician: "And if you vote for me, I'll put more people to work, lower your taxes, and make sure your neighborhood is safer."

Me: "What about two cars in every garage, and a chicken in every pot?"

Politician: "Yea, sure, that too."

Me: "What's your stance on national health care? On the defense budget? On same sex marriage? On the minimum wage?"

Politician: (Silence, puzzled look on their face).

Me: "Stop! I can name this tune in only three, count them, three notes!

Answer – You’re whistling Dixie!

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Just for the Fun of It
Lately, We’ve Been
In A Musical Mood
By Al Belardo

Aaahh... Yes, lately we around here seem to have been in a "musical mood". And the fact that "Calendar Spring" is upon us – well, that just adds melody to our madness.

So, with that "overture", Ole’ Al presents some random thoughts juxtaposing a selection of music with a "life situation". Here goes...

As noted, ‘tis time for "the first day of Spring". Perhaps the day that is noted on our calendar we should have playing in the background... what else?! Of course, "The Rite of Spring" by Stravinsky. Actually, that piece is somewhat somber for something as glorious as the start of the lovely season. So, how about something like: "Singin’ In The Rain"? Need Ole’ Al explain again? You know... April showers, etc. (Sigh)

Now then, to be "topical"... ‘Tis the deadline time for taxes to be paid. Could we rig our envelope (in which is our payment) to play, when opened, that terrific song from "Fiddler on the Roof"? You know: "If I Were A Rich Man".

Okay, there can be "argument" for this one. The boss arrives at work and – yes! There shall be playing "The Triumphal March" from Aida! Wow! What an entrance that would make!

And all of us "underlings" would have a chance to be part of this! You know what Ole’ Al is talking about if you have ever seen the snippet on YouTube showing this "event" in the opera as performed at The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Egads! There were as many people on stage as there were in the orchestra seating!! But, ah yes, such a grand performance for a grand piece of music!

Turning from the grandeur of the opera, let us think about our visit(s) to a doctor. Now, now, this is not meant to be ulterior comment, just for fun: When you are escorted and "placed" in the exam room... there should be the strains "The Minute Waltz". Frederic (no k) Chopin whipped out this waltz for piano back in 18hundred something. One of the stories that Ole’ Al loves is that Chopin was inspired to do by seeing a dog chasing its tail. True or not, Ole’ Al doesn’t care ‘cause it makes for a good tale!

Oops! Can’t forget that Easter is the holy day/holiday of the month. Naturally, as parents are assembling the "usual assortment" of offspring in their "usual states of almost preparation".

Perhaps Mom would be able to relax by belting forth a rendition of "Get Me to the Church on Time"! Okay, okay – the song from the musical, "My Fair Lady", refers to an about-to-be wedding. So what? If the tune fits, hum it... or whatever.

After Easter church service, ‘twould be "nice" to go out to eat, right? The music Ole’ Al has selected for this adventure is "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy". Yes! Per l’amor del cielo! There IS music so titled. Goes back a few years to the days of a group named "Ohio Express". Anybody remember the group? Young, longish hair... lookin’ at the old pictures, Ole’ Al is reminded again of The Beatles.

Okay, what with spring practically here, ‘tis time to think summer and perhaps taking a trip. What would be some "good" background music? Of course! "Route 66"! Oh, yes, the theme song of that terrific TV series... wherein the two young men who were the "leads" traveled here and there and found adventure. Ironically, none of the segments of that show were done on or along the "real" Route 66. But that’s the world of entertainment, right on?

"Route 66", the song, was written by Robert W. "Bobby" Troup Jr. who was born in Harrisburg in 1918. He career included song writing and acting. For a time he portrayed Dr. Joe Early on the TV show, "Emergency!" Anybody remember that? He died in 1999. By the way, there are area residents named Troup; Ole’ Al doesn’t know if there is a relationship.

Oh! Almost failed to take note that, after a miserable and almost never-ending winter, temperatures here in the Valley started to rise. Remember the day when the temp was 61 degrees? Humpf! The bank sign should have been rigged to play – wait for it – yes, "We’re Having a Heat Wave"! By the way, that song was one of the hits in the show, "There’s No Business Like Show Business".

Time to tune out, so to speak. But not before we mention a good song to be played on elevators. Of course, it’s "We’re Going Up", a Tim MacMorris creation. Ole’ Al had thought that perhaps the theme song from "The Poseidon Adventure" would have worked. But after more thought, Ole’ Al decided that would have been a real downer.

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The Bookworm Sez
By Terri Schlichenmeyer

"Historical Heartthrobs" by Kelly Murphy with Hallie Fryd
c.2013, Zest Books
$17.99 / $22.99 Canada
223 pages

He loves me. She loves me not.

You might think it’s a children’s pastime but when you’re shaky on love, that old pick-the-petals-off-the-flower game sure makes you feel better. If you get uneven petals and a "loves me," you at least have hope.

Would it help to know that you’re not alone, that romance has been iffy practically since the beginning of time? Find out how by reading "Historical Heartthrobs" by Kelly Murphy with Hallie Fryd.

If you’re like a lot of people sitting in school these days, you’re wishing that history class was over. But history is not at all boring when you remember that historical figures were people who did stupid things, made dumb decisions, and fell in love just like you.

Take, for instance, Cleopatra.

Cleo was a hottie, that’s for sure. Her beauty is legendary, as is her love life – but you might not know the half of it. In order to maintain power, she first married her younger brother, then she married her older brother. She never let that ruin her fun, though: Cleo was famous for her sizzling romance with Julius Caesar and her love affair with Mark Antony, both powerful men in their own rights.

Those pictures of Benjamin Franklin in your wallet don’t make him seem like a sex symbol, but Ben was something in his day. Some say he was a womanizer and "flirtatious." It’s known for sure that, at age 17, he proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read, who spurned him and married another. A few years later, she returned to Ben and they raised his illegitimate son, William, together.

Pablo Picasso had "two wives, three baby mamas… and countless lovers." Wild Bill Hickok was married but might’ve been more-than-friends with Calamity Jane. Mata Hari had an affair with her college headmaster. John Wilkes Booth was "rumored" to have been secretly engaged to the daughter of a U.S. Senator and T.E. Lawrence may have had a secret marriage. Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown was wedded to the same man for over fifty years. Benazir Bhutto’s marriage was an arranged one. The romance between Czar Nicholas and his wife began when they were children.

And Nikola Tesla was celibate.

Who says history has to be boring? Not authors Kelly Murphy or Hallie Fryd!

Did you know that Bugsy Siegel’s sister-in-law was a for-hire killer? Or that Amelia Earhart had a rather progressive (for her time) marriage? Who knew that Josephine Baker was also a cosmetics mogul? You will, once you’ve got this book in your hands and are devouring each of fifty brief chapters.

I was pleased to see that some of the people in here are little known, as are the surprises and the OMG scandals. What’s nice, too, is that it’s all told in a way that’s easy-to-read and very, very interesting for readers ages 15 and up – or for grown-ups who want something lite and fun. If that’s you and you want to find the real story inside history, then "Historical Heartthrobs" is a book you’ll love.

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Music Reaches New Heights with Higher Ground
Higher Ground Elevates Local Music

By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz

When it comes to music the local band, Higher Ground, elevates songs and sounds to a new level and a higher note.

Since August of last year, this groove-infused band of regional music makers have brought old school style rock and a lot of roll into the present day with their own spin and groove.

"Although we have only been together about six months so far, we sound like a band that has been together for many years," said Keith Schreppel. "Our sound showcases each band member’s strong points. We have a great group of musicians that work well and sound right. Each member’s part in the band compliments the other members.

Higher Ground has a style that goes back to music that had a strong beat, cool lyrics and a sound that relies on talent instead of computers to sound good.   

Those members of Higher Ground are James Hotchkiss on lead guitar, Mark Hampton providing lead vocals, Paula Moore on drums, Michael Irvine on rhythmic guitar and back up vocals and Keith Schreppel on bass…the instrument and not the fish  

Since each band member has a different background and style of performing, those traits are woven into every gig and song they perform around the Susquehanna Valley and new venues out of the area they are lining up.

"There are a lot of great places we perform at around Williamsport and we have a strong following of fans, now we are trying to venture into new places to perform." Schreppel said.

Recently Schreppel and a State College resident were talking about music when the question arose on where individuals can find excellent, live music. The Happy Valley resident said there are not many places in Happy Valley since the venues around there are always booked with DJs or extremely loud rock bands that customize their play list to music geared to the college.

To enjoy excellent, many folks from State College either to Harrisburg or good old Billtown, which shows the quality of music and musicians we have right in our back yard crowd.

"When we play, we don’t you a play list. We want each of are shows to und amazing and to sound different and not the same order of songs at each show," said Schreppel.

"If you want to hear some great music, hear a few stories and a few jokes, you have to come out and see us."

For more information on Higher Ground, visit them on Facebook. To book the band, contact them at (570)279-4094.

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Well it Was –Just my Imagination
By Mike Murphy

"Why don’t you kids go outside and play?" "What do you mean? What do you want us to do?" reply the children. "Can’t we just stay inside and watch TV?" I guarantee this conversation is said in numerous households every day in this country. These days kids don’t "create fun" anymore. The TV, the Internet and video games have robbed them of the ability to be creative.

When I was a kid, mom didn’t have to tell us to go outside to play, if it was a nice day, I was out at about 8:30 a.m. and stayed out until dark! If it was summer, all the better, you could be out until 9Pm easily! My friends and I played, kickball, whiffle ball, football, tag, hide and seek, cowboys and Indians (you hide if you’re an Indian, you chase if you’re a cowboy), shoot each other with squirt guns, build "roads" and play with Tonka trucks and matchbox cars, build ramps and pretend we were "Evil Kneival" on our bikes (remember him?) We found wood and built tree houses (against our parents’ wishes) in the yard.

My friends and I even got refrigerator boxes, which we dragged from GE and built forts out of those. In the winter, it was snowball battles (epic ones) all day long, in the summer we played flashlight tag, until mom yelled out the window "GET IN THE HOUSE!" I remember sucking down my dinner as quickly as humanly possible, (my required family time) to get back outside again. We flew kites, we climbed trees, and we collected rocks and jumped in piles of leaves.

My one buddy was very creative; he used to make homemade movies. He had an old 8mm camera, and would come up with a brief outline of a plot and then all of his buddies would "act" and come up with stuff to complete the idea. We were still doing this when we were 16 and 17. He created a movie about aliens, did a spoof on the Twilight Zone, and did "remakes" of Psycho and Saturday Night Fever.

It was great times. Now my friend is 48 years old and his kids are creating movies. As far as I am concerned he has taught them well!

When we could NOT go outside, we were drawing pictures, playing board games, singing to records and pretending we were rock stars, building with Legos and Lincoln logs, or messing with an erector set.

My friends and I were allowed about 2 hours of TV a day, and often we didn’t even take advantage of it! I did like the Monkees, the Three Stooges, Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley; I took the time for those.

When I was bored, there was scouting. There were about 100 merit badges for me to be working on. I did woodcrafts, leather carving, art, bird watching, painting, physical fitness, and reading about citizenship, first aid, and emergency preparedness. I got to watch a movie when I had $5.00 to go out to a movie.

Why do I bring all this history up?

Today kids will play video games, or be on the Internet all day. They don’t desire to go outside. The gadgets today stunt ones creativity and growth. It’s like technological smoking! Kids also are not interacting with each other. They may be in the same room, but they are not communicating and growing. Kids can live right next to each other and text each other, rather than go over to each other’s houses to hang out! The Internet is a great source of information, but it also is a vast wasteland of nonsensical and harmful stuff for children if not monitored properly.

I spoke with a gentleman in my church that told me 2 days a week in his house are no TV or Internet days. They do family events, they go roller-skating, or bowling, read, do crafts. I think this is an outstanding idea. His kids are happy and well adjusted, and they are not so wrapped up in "being entertained" all the time.

Without creativity, where are our future writers, actors, and playwrights? Let’s encourage our kids to use the muscles in their brains and bodies. Get out of the virtual world and create and socialize in the real world. It’s healthy and its fun – kids look at my list of what my friends and I did. Try it Out!

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