R.I.P. Buster Cat

Last night we lost our buddy Skitz. He was brutally attacked and killed by a stray dog.

Skittlez as son-the-younger® named him came to us about 14 years ago when he was found 0221151122.jpgas son-the-younger® was leaving work one night. Someone had left a box of very young kittens outside of his work. The kittens were all taken home by other workers, we were lucky enough to get Skitz.

For the first three years living with us, Skitz was an inside cat. Then one day he had to do the cat thing. He just had to know what was on the other side of that door. He remained an outside cat for 10 years or so. And then about a year ago he decided he wanted to sleep in a nice comfortable bed again, and he became an inside/outside cat. He would go in and out damn near every time the door was opened. A lot like a kid, going in and out, in and out, knocking anyone and anything out of his way.

During his outside phase, he would hang out with us when we would be grilling, or just on the back porch. He was always a very social cat. He loved to sit beside you or just lay around where you could scratch his ears.

As sad as I am at his passing, the thing that bothers me the most is the way he went. To be attacked and killed is not something I wish on any living creature. I can only hope that the care that we gave him in his last moments help take away the fear he must have had.

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I will miss my buster cat greatly. He won’t be there when I’m running my smoker. But I know one day I’ll see that same sparkle in the eye of another cat. The little sly look that says “Give me treats, dude!”

 

Peace,
B

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Genealogy Still Sucks, Just Not Quite As Bad

So just over a month ago, I posted that “Genealogy Sucks“.  Well, it still does but quite as bad. I mentioned that I have not been able to find any DNA matches on my Campbell side (the only line I’m actively researching right now).

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Since then I have finally found a match.  Despite the fact that Ancestry doesn’t list us as a match, another site that only does DNA, GedMatch does.  We are only matched on one small segment. I’m not yet entirely sure what that means, other than we are at best distant cousins, but it’s a match!  I still have much to learn about DNA testing.

With the help of this family, I was able to correct an error on my great-great-grandfather, and add his parents to my tree. But here’s the rub. Way back in 2011 I found what I thought was my great-great-grandfather, but things just didn’t come together. I had issues with some of the data I was finding, so I always listed this connection as tentative.

Now that I have the correct information, and a generation farther back the same family as I had in 2011 keeps showing up in all my research. If, and it’s still a BIG if, this line holds true, then the gentleman I had as my great-great-grandfather will turn out to be my great-great-grandfather’s uncle!  Now I see why my data didn’t mesh. I was off by a whole generation.

I still haven’t found my immigrant ancestor. I’m still “stuck” in Pennsylvania, but at least it’s now the 1700’s and not the 1800’s.

If I can connect the dots and link great-great-great-grandfather, James R. Campbell, Sr. to the line I’ve been following for all these years, I will at least have that elusive immigrant ancestor. He will be from Ireland (maybe North Ireland depends on which brother I can link to), and not Scotland. But that’s okay. The years I have for this line, roughly 1740 – 1750, coincide with the second Jacobite uprising in Scotland. Many families left Scotland for Ireland and other places to avoid the turmoil.  The Jacobite uprising of 1745 (Wiki page here), was when good ol’ Bonnie Prince Charlie made his failed attempt to overthrow the British crown and return Scotland to its own sovereign nation.  Of course, it ended with the disastrous, for the Scots, Battle of Culloden.  Rumor has it that the Bonnie Prince used a secret drink recipe as barter for a safe haven while on the Isle of Skye. We know that drink today as Drambuie.

After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart fled to the isle of Skye. There, he was given sanctuary by Captain John MacKinnon of Clan MacKinnon. According to family legend, after staying with the captain, the prince rewarded him with this prized drink recipe. This version of events is disputed by historians who believe it to be a story concocted to boost sales of the drink.

I’m very interested in finding out if any my Campbell line (and Campbell is the second largest clan in Scotland so it will take some time to find out exactly which family) was involved in the Battle of Culloden, and if so which side.

I have accounts on most of the genealogy sites available, both free and paid. I also have my DNA spread all over the web.  Let me know what sites and tools you use for genealogy. I’d love to see if we can match up somewhere in the not so distant past!

Peace,
B

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They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today, 9 October, would have been John Lennon‘s 78th birthday. Sadly, along with my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, he is no longer with us.

But let’s talk of music, and not sad things.  I have been trying to decide which is my favorite Lennon song. He’s written some of the best music of my generation. From All You Need Is Love, Cry Baby Cry, Dear Prudence to Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey and of course, the iconic Imagine.  And those are just a few. Here’s the Wiki page for a list of Beatles songs, and solo songs.

I’m stuck between two songs for my “favorite” Lennon tune. It’s almost impossible to pick just one song out of all of his stuff. The first track I’ve selected is Rain. This song was before it’s time. Although it uses the “standard” I – IV- V chord structure (in this case G – C – D), it has unusual features such as backwards vocal tracks.  From the Wiki article;

Rain has a simple musical structure. Set in the key of G major (the final mix pitches it about a quarter of a semitone below this, while the backing track was taped in G sharp), it begins with what Alan W. Pollack calls, “a ra-ta-tat half-measure’s fanfare of solo snare drums”, followed by a guitar intro of the first chord. The verses are nine measures long, and the song is in 4/4 time. Each verse is based on the G, C, and D chords (I, IV, and V). The refrain contains only I and IV chords, and is twelve measures long (the repetition of a six-measure pattern). The first two measures are the G chord. The third and fourth measures are the C chord. The third measure has the C chord in the so-called 6/4 (second) inversion. The fifth and sixth measures return to the G chord. Pollack says the refrain seems slower than the verse, though it is at the same tempo, an illusion achieved by “the change of beat for the first four measures from its erstwhile bounce to something more plodding and regular”. After four verses and two refrains, a short solo for guitar and drums is played, with complete silence for one beat. Following this, the music returns accompanied by what Pollack terms “historically significant” reverse lyrics. Musicologist Walter Everett cites this closing section as an example of how the Beatles pioneered the “fade-out–fade-in coda”, a device used again by them on Strawberry Fields Forever and Helter Skelter, and by Led Zeppelin on Thank You.

Allan Kozinn describes McCartney’s bass as “an ingenious counterpoint that takes him all over the fretboard … while Lennon and McCartney harmonize in fourths on a melody with a slightly Middle Eastern tinge, McCartney first points up the song’s droning character by hammering on a high G (approached with a quick slide from the F natural just below it), playing it steadily on the beat for twenty successive beats.”

Ringo Starr called it his best drumming ever recorded.

The other track and I would probably place it above Rain in my list is Hey Bulldog. This is from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. It was cut from the USA release of the movie to shorten the time but was added back in for the 1999 re-release. When granddaughter-the-elder was an infant I would sing Yellow Submarine to her when she was fussy. Both granddaughters still love the song.

The biggest appeal for this song is that I can play the riff (along with the riff from Day Tripper). I know that’s not a good reason to call this a favorite, but it works for me. You can always make your own list!

So here on John’s birthday, I implore everyone to follow his advice, and “Give Peace A Chance”.

Have a different favorite of John’s? Tell me in a comment!

Peace,
B

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Tech Time

For those that have a Windows 10 PC, this is for you. If you’re using a MAC, or better yet a Linux box, I suggest you go listen to some tunes. (I recommend SiriusXM, but pick any streaming service), and if you’re still on Windows 7 uh… (Windows 8/8.1 users are in their own hell, we’ll leave them be).

Well never mind.  I was prepared to go on and on about not installing the latest (but not greatest) Windows 10 update. This would be the October update, otherwise known as build 1809 or Redstone 5. As a tech person, I installed it since I need to know exactly what happens.

I didn’t have the worst of the problems that I’ve ready about. I didn’t lose any files, although my Google Backup and Sync couldn’t find my “Downloads” folder to sync. The folder was still right there where it was supposed to be, but the update had changed the value that the OS (Windows 10 in this case) uses to identify the folder.

The only other problem I had been that all streaming audio quit working. I tried SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube, with Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer 11. I could see the sound levels in the mixer, but no sound could be heard. I did find some updated drivers that fixed the issue temporarily, but on a reboot, the sound was gone again. Needless to say, I rolled back to build 1803.

Now this morning while I sit at my keyboard putting electrons to virtual paper, one of my go-to sources for all things tech, Ask Woody, posts that Micro$oft has pulled the 1809 update!  This is unprecedented. To quote the article (here’s the link to the original post);

We have paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) for all users as we investigate isolated reports of users missing some files after updating.

If you have checked for updates and believe you have an issue, please contact us directly at +1-800-MICROSOFT or find a local number in your area https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4051701/global-customer-service-phone-numbers.

If you have access to a different PC, please contact us at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/contactus/(link will vary according to country of origin).

If you have manually downloaded the Windows 10 October 2018 Update installation media, please don’t install it and wait until new media is available.

We will provide an update when we resume rolling out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update to customers.

As I have said for a very long time, Micro$oft considers all of us as unpaid beta testers, and Windows is the most prevalent computer virus ever!

Here’s a fitting video for the 1809 update.

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 5 October

This song has been going around and around for the better part of a month. I almost posted it before, but let it sit instead.  In the time that it’s been on hold, I found out some more cool things about the song.

First, it was written by Shel Silverstein, he of The Giving Tree, Where The Sidewalk Ends and so many other cartoons, books, albums, you name it.

It’s based on a true story. From the article on Songfacts;

In the song, Sylvia’s mother is Mrs. Avery, and while that wasn’t her real last name, the rest of the story – exaggerated a bit – was true. Silversteen told Rolling Stone in 1972: “I just changed the last name, not to protect the innocent, but because it didn’t fit. It happened about eight years ago and was pretty much the way it was in the song. I called Sylvia and her mother said, ‘She can’t talk to you.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ Her mother said she was packing and she was leaving to get married, which was a big surprise to me. The guy was in Mexico and he was a bullfighter and a painter. At the time I thought that was like being a combination brain surgeon and encyclopedia salesman. Her mother finally let me talk to her, but her last words were, ‘Shel, don’t spoil it.’ For about ten seconds I had this ego charge, as if I could have spoiled it. I couldn’t have spoiled it with a sledge hammer.”

It’s interesting to know that it was based on a true story because I always thought it could happen to me!

Dr. Hook is one of my favorite musicians. His style (and by that I mean the Medicine Show since there is no real Dr. Hook) has always intrigued me. And of course, the crazy hit (also penned by Shel Silverstein) The Cover Of  ‘Rolling Stone is absolutely hysterical! And it did land them on the cover.  Although only in caricature.

But back to our song, Silvia’s Mother.  I found two very humorous articles about the song. The first is from UnNews.

4 October 2008

Sylvia’s mother, Mrs. Avery, who famously prevented her daughter from continuing her relationship with eyepatch-wearing boyfriend Dr Hook, admitted yesterday to lying during the famous telephoneconversation.

For the first time in over 35 years, she came clean about the call that ended forever hopes of a reunion between Hook and Sylvia.

Yes, Sylvia’s mother lied. What a surprise.

The second is from Ultimate Classic Rock.  The article linked is an excerpt from Dear Mr. Pop Star, by English father-and-son team Derek and Dave Philpott.  This is a collection of Monty Python-like letters to artists and witty responses from a large number of targets. The book follows the project’s online success over the past 10 years.  It’s a “letter” written to Dr. Hook advising him what he should have done during the infamous phone call. The reply is written by Dr. Hook frontman Dennis Locorriere.  It’s quite entertaining. (Hint: Click the link above to read it…).

So that’s all I have for this entry.  Please enjoy the video, I have a feeling some folks may have never heard this track before.

Oh yeah, please leave your comments here if you can. Thanks!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 27 September

Neil wrote this song about the caretaker that “came with” a ranch he bought in 1970. He tells the whole story on the video below. As he’s quoted in wiki page about the song;

About that time when I wrote (“Heart of Gold“), and I was touring, I had also—just, you know, being a rich hippie for the first time—I had purchased a ranch, and I still live there today. And there was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avila and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there’s this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, “Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?” And I said, “Well, just lucky, Louis, just real lucky.” And he said, “Well, that’s the darnedest thing I ever heard.” And I wrote this song for him.

I’ve always enjoyed Neil’s work. Some time ago I read where (but don’t remember exactly where) he was voted as one of the top 10 guitarists. I wouldn’t go quite that far. He is very skilled in his playing, but not top 10, at least not in my opinion. You can make up your own mind about that. And we won’t get into his singing other to ask “Who told him he could sing”?

Mr. Young was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1982) and twice to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. First in 1995 for his solo work and again in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield.

This song speaks to me in the way it tells the title character that even younger folks have a lot of the same wants and needs. Some things just don’t change over time.

What do you think of this song or Neil Young? Leave a comment!

Peace,
B

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A Little Of This, A Little Of That

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Well, I’ve had these blog posts sitting here not being posted for quite some time now. All of these have been assigned to “I’ll finish this later”, or “Nobody wants to read about that”, or my fav, “Do I really want to post that?” categories.

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An Anniversary (Of Sorts)

Today is the 30th anniversary of my vasectomy! I realize you don’t really care. But it’s important to Wifey® and me.  The funny part was later.

We were stationed at Ft. Greely, Alaska.  Four days after my getting fixed was son-the-elder’s birthday. Needless to say, we had a party. And as with most kids birthday parties, the adults consumed massive quantities of alcohol. The big toy that year was laser tag. I don’t remember how many we purchased, but we had several pistols, rifles, vests, and helmets. Many hours and batteries were spent running around in the playground and parking lot shooting at each other. Naturally, I was extremely sore for several days after. The beer kept me from hurting that day but did nothing after that.

Pro tip: Don’t go running around right after having your nuts cut!

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Still Not The Song I Want To Hear

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The posts I’m referring to are here and here. After dinner Sunday the family was sitting at our little bar in the kitchen (where we usually eat dinner) and within 10 minutes or so I had to change the station at least 5 times. Nothing but Skynyrd, Zepplin, Springsteen, U2, etc. Even son-the-elder noticed and said I was having a bad night.

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Genealogy Still Sucks

If you missed the original post go here.  Since everything I find on my Campbell side either has too many questions to lay claim to or goes back to King Arthur, I have decided to work on some other lines for now. Besides, I can’t get anyone to answer any requests on Ancestry.

I’m just happy that I haven’t found a “tree” that links back to Adam & Eve! Although I have to think that the Campbell’s would have sprung from Adam & Lillith, Eve was too prissy.

I have many DNA links on my paternal grandmother’s side, and my mother’s side (both her mother and father’s sides). I’m also going to start on Wifey’s® tree even though she has cousins with a lot of the family already there. But I have doubts about a lot of the historical family members.

For reference follow this link for my Campbell tree and this one for Wifey’s tree.

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It’s Almost That Time Of Year!

Samhain is right around the corner! Even though we don’t participate much in Halloween (unless we have the girls), I still enjoy this time of year.  The Celt in me loves the traditions and once this day passes the next holiday is my absolute favorite of all holidays, Thanksgiving.

We have always enjoyed carving Jack O’Lanterns. But since this year Halloween falls on a Wednesday I think we’ll cut it back this year.

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To Gym Or Not To Gym

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BEARS

Yeah… This post didn’t get very far…

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Mental Health Day (Or Lack Thereof)

I’ve mentioned before that I am bipolar type II. I don’t post about it much because I really can’t. When those days hit the last thing I want to do is talk. Not that talking about it doesn’t help, it does. But, I am not one to talk about what’s going on in my messed up head. And to spit it out only relieves the pain for a very short time.  And the roller coaster emotions that this causes is even worse than just dealing with it in my own way.

Then this meme came across my Facebook the other day and I think it may have some merit.

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I can understand this. The universe has a finite amount of energy (E=mc^2 tells us this). And since we are all made of stardust (and to stardust, we’ll return) we are all connected. Maybe days when you are sad and can’t place a reason why the universe is signaling that someone needs mourning. I’m down with that.

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So those are all the leftovers that have been ignored. And to continue the Still Not The Song I Want To Hear post, this morning on the way to work, it was either Starship, Aerosmith, or Rocket Man, easily Elton’s worse song. And while putting this post together, Michael Martin Murphy’s Wildfire just came on. There is nothing that will make me change the station faster than that “song”. Has to be the absolute worst thing ever written.

But fear not dear reader (both of you), the music world is still kicking! Saturday night driving home from dinner with granddaughter-the-younger I had the Beatles channel blaring in the truck. Both of my girls love the Beatles. As this song came on, and I was singing it to her, she was laughing the entire time. When we made it home we watched Beatles videos on YouTube. It was wonderful.

Hey, you there! Leave a comment why don’t ya!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 20 September

Sorry, I haven’t been keeping up with this series as of late, but I’ve been up to my you-know-what with my genealogy.

This song runs through my head on a regular basis. I’ve always enjoyed Bruce Hornsby’s music, either solo or playing on other folks records. And this one fits right in line with my social justice thoughts. “Did you really think about it when you made the rules?” Such a great lyric.  Especially when paired with the command “But don’t you believe them!” at the end of the song.

Then this morning I get up and see this tweet on my timeline;

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And that doesn’t just fit in with this song I don’t know what does. This administration doesn’t give a rats ass about folks on the fringe of society. If you’re not a rich white republican male, you do not matter. This country is in a sad state right now. That’s all I’ll say about this, I will get off my soapbox now.

So here’s The Way It Is. I hope you enjoy it. (And yes, I realize this may be a repeat, but this song means a lot to me. Plus I should probably start a spreadsheet or something of the songs I’ve already posted.)

Peace,
B

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Scotland Or Bust!!

Ah, Scotland! The land of bagpipes, majestic highlands, Nessie, wonderful single malt scotches (the nectar of the Gods), and haggis.  Well, the jury is still out on haggis. I will give it a taste while we’re there, but I’m not really expecting much.

Wifey® and I have booked an 8 day, 7 night bus tour for May 2019. This has been a long drawn out process fraught with perils. We started looking at a Scotland trip several years ago but just could not get the time and funds to match. Seems when we had the money saved up, something came up (like the clutch in my truck blowing up), or when we had time off from work we didn’t have the money.

So fast forward to July of this year. Wifey’s® father had passed away and she and her brothers and finally closed on selling his house. And that would be a whole ‘nother post. What a fiasco that was! We had been vacillating between buying an RV and finally making a trip to Scotland since both of our families are of Scots descent. After several visits to various RV places in and around our home, we were just about set on the RV.  When one Friday evening it all changed. We really didn’t want to spend all the money Wifey® received from her share of the house “all in one place”. So that made the decision much easier.

I immediately contacted the agency we’ve been talking to over that last couple of years to get updated tour dates and prices. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we decided on which tour we wanted.

The agency we were using is Exploring Vacations, based out of Ireland. They have a New Jersey phone number, but I think it routes back to Ireland as everyone we’ve ever talked to has a most beautiful accent.

On July 31st we made our deposit. It’s really happening! This began the process of getting everything together. We had to renew our passports (a surprisingly easy process), start buying all the “little things”, like a power converter, RFID blocking passport wallets, pillows and eye masks for the overnight flight. OH! Wait! We need airline tickets too. That means days and days of watching Priceline, Kayak, Booking, Orbitz etc…

Then on August 28th, we made the decision to pay off the tour completely.  That proved to be a very wise move. Because on September 14th, I received this email;

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Suddenly, we were not sure our trip would happen. Needless to say, my heart just about jumped out of my chest. That RV was looking better and better. I told Wifey® to call the credit card company we used to see if there was anything we needed to do so we wouldn’t lose all of what we paid.  But when she looked at the website for the card, she saw that we didn’t pay Exploring Vacations, we paid directly to the actual tour company, CIE Tours International! A glimmer of hope appeared. And sure enough, when I open the PAID IN FULL invoice, it’s from CIE Tours! CIE is also based out of Ireland, and also has a New Jersey phone number. You know I’m calling as quick as my shaking hands can dial.

While I’m waiting for someone to answer I tweet this;

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A lovely sounding lass “Alli” is the representative I get to talk to (with an amazing accent too!).  I explain the situation to Alli, but she doesn’t know about Exploring Vacations going out of business. Heart rate is starting to go up again. She sends me to a supervisor, Ernesto. Ernesto is either in New Jersey or is from there, he has an entirely different accent than Alli. But right now I really don’t care where I’m calling as long as someone can tell me what’s going on.

Turns out Ernesto is on the ball. He can find our tour and yes, we are PAID IN FULL! Ernesto takes care of the transfers to and from the airport and hotels since that was one step we didn’t get to finish (at no cost!). The only issue he sees it that our tour is reserved under the Exploring Vacations name and not ours. He says that is a minor issue as the receipt has our names.

One thing that amazes me about this entire deal is that Exploring Vacations has been in contact throughout. As much heartburn and stress this situation has caused us, the fact that they emailed me to tell me what’s going on and have answered every email I have sent with questions says that this was a solid company. It also says a lot about corporate America. If this had been an American company we would only find out that they went bankrupt when a letter showed up, or we tried to call and found the phone disconnected.

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The email that allowed me to sleep again

We still have lots of stuff to procure for this trip. We need real raincoats (or should I say a “mac”?), more clothes, luggage, and exchange currency.  But we have time.  I’ll post more about the trip as things get settled. The itinerary is not finalized yet but should be by the end of the month.

Tell me your travel horror stories!!

Peace,
B

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P.S. Samhain is getting close!!

What’s Stuck In My Head – 11 September

Have a weird one running through my head this morning. Jesus Christ Superstar! Now I’ve posted about this before here.  I guess the reason this song is screaming at me is that the Live In Concert show has won several Emmys and the three lead performers are also nominated.

Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and John Legend (who plays the title character), along will all the other executive producers won the Outstanding Variety Special (Live), Emmy.  This makes all three of those gentlemen “EGOT”.  That means they have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony! Now that’s entertainment.

John is also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie, for his portrayal of Jesus Christ, Brandon Victor Dixon is nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie for his Judas, and the nominee for Outstanding Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie is Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene. You see all the nominations and awards for this amazing show here.

I have two questions about the awards. First, why use the term “Outstanding”? I never see any nominations much less any awards for “Mediocre” or “So – So” performances. (“And the award for the Meh Lead Actor goes to…”) Isn’t the “Outstanding” implied?  Second, why is “Jesus” listed as the lead actor? The story is told from Judas’ view, and Judas has a bigger stage part than “Jesus”. But I didn’t write the script, so I’ll leave it alone. I enjoy the music and the entire performance (except the movie – that sucked).

So here’s Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas;

Did you see this show or any performance of Jesus Christ Superstar? Give me your thoughts!

Peace,
B

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P.S. It’s Patriot Day – Never Forget.

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