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This week’s song is No More Drama by Mary J. Bilge. Not metal, certainly, but an emotion laden, passionate song and I dig passion. Thankfully my day-to-day life contains little drama. As I’ve gotten older I find I have less and less time for it and for those individuals who flock to it—moths to its alluring but exhausting flame. There is too much I wish to do and too many people I’d love to spend my spare time with, time that I find more and more precious as the years slide by.

Years sliding by… that’s an excellent start to a central theme to this week’s post. Midlife crisis. When I was younger the words seemed a bit of a joke. Such a cliché, laden with images of men and women’s thickening middles and thinning hair. The specter of eyes losing their sparkle, and clothing just a bit out of step with the current trends. It brings echoes of ridiculous red sports cars and paramours far too young to be on the arm of their aging suitor… this dynamic applies equally to men and women these days. See, ladies, we’re breaking that glass ceiling bit by bit, even the gross parts.

I’m an optimist so I’m convinced I’m just hitting my midpoint, perhaps not even there yet. *big cheesy grin* This means I’m due to live to ninety-four, but hey, let’s go big, centurion style. You’re all invited to my 100th birthday party. Regardless, if I haven’t past the midpoint then I can see it. What’s more, the people around me can see it, too. A whole generation of crazy kids who can’t shake the feeling that somehow time has almost caught them. Though not old, there is a shared sense that we won’t be young forever.

Most of us are still attractive, we can catch someone’s eye. We feel good. In large part, we are healthy. Yet, looming in the back of our minds is an ugly thought: for how much longer? These are the years when a person needs to seriously take stock of their life. Are we ready for retirement? Have we chosen our friends wisely? Our careers? Our spouses? If there’s a dream to be fulfilled then are we truly chasing it? Or has it slipped beyond our grasp?

At the end of the day these all blend into the one big quandary… If in fact our days are finite then how do we want to spend the time allotted to us?

That’s where the song comes into play. (See how I circled back?) One of the decisions that has the biggest impact on anyone’s potential for happiness is who to spend that time with. For many that decision involves a partner, a spouse. I am both lucky and unlucky in that regard. I married an adorable, loving, hard-working man whom I’m crazy about. When we’re together it’s good, very good. Problem is, he is that hard-working guy and he takes his role as provider very seriously. Translation? He travels… a lot. So, that’s rough. I’m white-knuckling it until I can go with him or his circumstances change (ie retirement).

But I know I picked a good guy.

I’m watching very dear friends wrestle with their home situations. Some have already made the leap, while for others it’s only a matter of time. You can hear it in their voices, grieving for the death of a marriage they don’t even realize they’re leaving yet. In almost every single instance, I’m convinced it’s the right choice for both partners. The drama, the continual bad news, the sadness that permeates these households is not good. Not for the spouses, not for the kids, not even for the pets. Marriage is work. It is commitment. It is compromise and sacrifice. But not this much sacrifice. Not this much ugliness. Not you and your spouse bringing out the very worst in one another.  The road from point A to point B is long and will suck, but I hope it leads to happier times. And there’s that word again. Time.

Time is short and precious. Our days are numbered whether we recognize the fact or not. Make them good days. No more drama, no more pain. Sing it, Mary.

So you’re having a mid-life crisis? Good for you! I hope you are finding a way to make your life worthwhile, a road to happiness for yourself and for those near and dear to you.

Lyrics to No More Drama by Mary J. Blige

So tired, tired of these drama
No more, no more
I wanna be free
I’m so tired, so tired
Broken heart again
Another lesson learn
Better know your friends
Or else you will get burn
Gotta count on me
Cause I can guarantee
That I’ll be fine
No more pain (no more pain)
No more pain (no more pain)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No one’s gonna make me hurt again
What a player fool
Go through ups and downs
Nowhere and all the time
You wouldn’t be around
Or maybe I like the stress
Cause I was young and restless
But there was long ago
I don’t wanna cry no more
No more pain (no more pain)
No more game (no more game messin with my mind)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No one’s gonna make me hurt again
No more tears (no more tears, I’m tired of cryin’ every night)
No more
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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

Let’s face it. The news has not been good. I wish to be clear on my politics:

  • The news makes me cry. Just about every day now it seems.
  • I support our brave police forces. They lay their lives on the line every day. I thank them and salute them.
  • I believe black lives matter- yes, they all matter, but if I’m a mother of a black child… I’m a little more nervous. And rightly so.
  • I want to be informed, but the information I glean hurts.

This past weekend my sweetie and I went to a wedding. It was the marriage of two people I’d never met. The groom works with my boy. I like the groom. I like the bride. It was a delightful gathering with fun people. We danced. I adore dancing.

Before we go any further… I have to say… these are LOVELY people. I mean really, lovely. And I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, Heather and Brent, for reminding me of what humanity’s greatest defense against hate, intolerance, and flat-out idiocy has always been…

LOVE. KINDNESS. COMPASSION.

Every day people living every day lives… opening a door, giving a hug, smiling while making eye-contact. We survive because of a shared warmth, a community, and desire to better ourselves.

Heather and Brent- As your song, your first dance played, I immediately teared up. I had not yet met you, but I felt a profound connection with you. And that’s our shared connection… that’s humanity. And that is why we’ll get better, we’ll do better. The news has been dark before but we have survived, even thrived. We will do so again… so long as we have someone to Lava

Go… Hug someone…I mean it! Go….listen and find someone to Lava.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh4dTLJ9q9o

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

2016 has already proven to be the year of the dead rock star. Especially if you happen to be a male, say 68-72. We’ve lost some greats: David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Dale Griffin, Paul Kantner, Natalie Cole, Maurice White, and, this one hits closest to home, Jimmy Bain, long time bassist to Rainbow and Ronnie James Dio. My blog threatens to become an obituary column, which I NOT want, yet how can we allow these greats to pass without a note?

Friday, as I eagerly looked forward a superb evening with my dear friend Michelle (aka “Mitch”) which entailed a dinner out and a concert, translation food, wine, and heavenly music, I heard yet another piece of terrible news. Keith Emerson died.

Three words, but unless you are a music fan, geek, aficionado such as myself, you can’t know the pathos laden in those sixteen letters. Keith Emerson is likely the greatest keyboard player of our time. No, he is, or was, that good. I remember seeing Yes (many times) with my amazing friend and college roommate, Jim. Rick Wakeman’s keyboard skills amazed me to such an extent that I said, “Surely, he has to be the best there is?” Jim turned to me and said, “No, because Keith Emerson exists.”

It was a couple of years until I got to see Emerson one summer night at Cal Expo in Sacramento, CA. At the time he played in Emerson, Lake and Palmer. However, my favorite lineup remains the Emerson, Lake and Powell- they rocked a bit harder. Substitute the perennial Carl Palmer  for the late, lamented Cozy Powell (awesome drummer!!!). Five minutes into the show, I remember turning to Jim and saying, “Because Keith Emerson exists.” Jim smiled. “Yep,” he said.

Sample Emerson on the piano here.

And that pretty much summed it up. Keith Emerson towered above the other rock keyboardists of the century. As good as they were, and some are VERY good, Alan Parsons, Jens Johansen,the above mentioned Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord, Rod Argent, Mark Kelly, and Tony Banks among others. If you were unfortunate enough to miss his time, Google it- you’ll see.

The song everyone knows even if they don’t realize it, Lucky Man.

To top sadness off with tragedy, Emerson shot himself. One bullet to the head. He was 71. I don’t know what demons he fought, the dragons he failed to slay. I only know that the world is bleaker for his passing. Music lights our lives, inspires us to seek the road ahead, and coaxes us to dream anew.

My personal favorite Emerson tune (originally Emerson, Lake & Powell)

So Mitch and I sat at dinner, with our very nice bottle of wine and toasted to the genius, the amazing proficiency, passion, and gift that Emerson brought to rock. There was mourning as well to be sure. But if you have to lose someone so great, an artist of such power then at least have the right way to honor him. For Michelle and I after we toasted the man we went to a concert. We saw Nightwish, a band from Finland whose keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen, comes from the neo-classical, power rock tradition that the great man so loved.  Hearing one Emerson’s heirs on stage? Well, it wasn’t the man himself but the passion lived on.

Keith&Moog-Frankfurter-Musikpreis-web

We listened to metal with a driving keyboard edge, metal that owed something to Keith Emerson’s genius and followed his tradition. Click here for a sample of Tuomas Holopainen’s solos.

Keith Emerson- R.I.P. Much love.

 

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

I owe my dear friend, Debbie Oakland, an apology. She asked, and I promised, for a Musical Monday derived or inspired in some way from this year’s Grammys. Debbie, I’m getting there, I swear. However, I had to go where the passion took me and I just had to use this song.

Like so many Americans, I am floored, shocked and profoundly disturbed by our current state of presidential politics. The idea that enough of the country can be so backwards, deluded, and hate-filled to support, even turn out in droves for a man like Donald Trump is beyond depressing. I didn’t think I still possessed this kind of naivete. Apparently, I would be wrong. Color me a heart-broken Pollyanna.

Let me get this straight, feel free to stop me at any time, Trump hates foreigners, but married two. Breast feeding women are disgusting but in Melania we’ll have a First Lady with her very own nudes. (We’ll pause while some of my readers run off to Google her.) Mind you, I don’t mind immigrant wives or nude pictures, but don’t tell me breast feeding is disgusting and then expect me not to do a double take at what you married. Also, don’t say you love women and then claim that one who asks you a difficult question must be on her period. Oh yes, and we aren’t allowed to use the bathroom. I can NOT wait to introduce him to Angela Merkel because that will be super fun. Not.

So, that’s half of humanity he hates. Who’s left? Mexicans are drug dealers and rapists. Oh, and Mexico, Trump says we need a wall and you need to pay for it. Come on? After all those years of trying to get the Berlin Wall down? Really? Muslims need to leave the country and so do “brown people.” Although, interestingly enough, perhaps not blacks. as Trump says, “The Blacks” love him. I guess he’s right. After all, Louis Farrakhan sure seems to be a fan. Of course, Trump can barely bring himself to disavow the KKK, so maybe not.

He has no plan- for anything. No strategy for health care, immigration reform, foreign policy, tax reform, the future of the Supreme Court, women’s issues, race relations, poverty, child hunger, and the list goes on. Without a thought in his bulbous orange head, he bumbles his way across America, spouting invective as he goes. Don’t even get me started on the last debate when he bragged about his genitalia. Again, I’m fine with all these body parts, but really, you’re gonna brag at a presidential debate? Can you imagine if a female candidate started bragging about the merits of her special places? (Yes, I am being facetious.) And did I fail to mention? He’s a bully.

And somehow in the midst of all this, his support continues, even grows. What have we as a nation become?

This. Is. Nuts.

This week’s song is The Mob Rules by Black Sabbath. The album featured: Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice, and Geezer Butler. This song was later performed by the same Sabbath line-up but renamed Heaven & Hell. The clip I am including here is from 2007, their Heaven & Hell days, prior to the untimely death of Ronnie James Dio. I cannot help but wonder what Dio, himself once a Democratic presidential candidate, would make of today’s antics. Click here to enjoy!

While the lyrics might initially appear as inciting as Trump himself, it is, in fact, a cautionary tale against the forces of chaos. I devoutly do not wish to live in a country where the mob rules. Come on, America, come to your collective senses. Pretty please.

Okay, vent over. I’m just going over here to bang my head against this wall. And not in a cool metal way.

“The Mob Rules”

Close the city and tell the people that something’s coming to call
Death and darkness are rushing forward to take a bite from the wall, oh

You’ve nothing to say
They’re breaking away
If you listen to fools…
The Mob Rules
The Mob Rules

Kill the spirit and you’ll be blinded, the end is always the same
Play with fire, you burn your fingers and lose your hold of the flame, oh

It’s over, it’s done
The end is begun
If you listen to fools…
The Mob Rules

You’ve nothing to say
Oh, They’re breaking away
If you listen to fools…

Break the circle and stop the movement, the wheel is thrown to the ground
Just remember it might start rolling and take you right back around

You’re all fools!
The Mob Rules!

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

This week’s blog, like last Monday’s, is something of a bonus. You get a two-fer. Meaning, this is an introduction to a stellar book and a fabulous song to act as its soundtrack. Win-win.

The book is The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller by M. Pepper Langlinais. M is a member of my critique group, The Beer & Bacon Babes, so I am very familiar with Peter and can truly attest to how special it is. It has that fabulous spy cloak and dagger thing working with a sensitive love story. Peter is a story of loss and betrayal, discovery and friendships- old and new. It defies guessing which makes it a super fun read. Here’s a bit more about it:

In 1960’s London, British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is next in line to run the Agency—until he falls in love with cab driver, Charles, and his life goes off the road. When Charles is accused of treason, Peter is guilty by association. Peter manages to extract them both, but the seeds of doubt have been planted, putting Peter’s mind and heart at war. Is ignorance truly bliss or merely deadly?

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Peter is available for download via: Amazon (US and UK), Kobe, Smashwords, Apple, and Nook. Click here to purchase.

M chose this week’s Musical Monday tune. It’s a lovely song titled After the Fall by the group October Project. They remind me a bit of the prog rock band, Marillion. You can enjoy the song by clicking here.

 

Lyrics to After the Fall

In a city of faces
That never look back
Where doors never open
And eyes never meet
Someone behind me was tracing my steps
As I ran
Through the fog down a cobblestone street

In a city of crossroads
That never lead home
Where secrets unravel
And fates intertwine
Someone was calling my name in the night
As I ran
From a voice that was echoing mine

The farther you run
The more you recall
The loss of your innocence
After the fall

The farther you run
The more you recall
After the fall

In a city of magic
That spins out of time
Where God has no image
And Man finds no grace
Something inside me was seeking itself
As I ran
From a shadow who’d stolen my face

The farther you run…

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This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog. To purchase Erika’s new release, The Dragon in The Garden visit her page at Tirgearr Publishing.

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