Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sale Away on Gray Thursday

I'll be the first to admit, I love a great sale as much as the next person. Who doesn't love getting something they want, or need, at a lower price than what they'd normally pay?

Granted, stores are still making a profit, even at sale prices, but hey, *I'm* paying less than retail, so it's a good feeling knowing that.

No matter the type of store, or where it's located, all of them have sales on a regular basis, whether it's daily, weekly, or monthly; there's always someone offering something for less than retail price.

Then there are the special sales, in addition to the regular ones.  The special ones usually revolve around holidays, or special events.  President's Day, Memorial Day, the Super Bowl, etc.; all are cause for retailers to have blowout prices on items consumers are wanting, or needing.

One of the biggest special sale days is the Friday after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as "Black Friday".

Ah yes, "Black Friday", the day people are up before the sun, and out standing in endless lines for a chance at getting that great bargain.  When did all this craziness become the norm?

Actually, upon research, "Black Friday" was a term used in Philadelphia in the early sixties to describe the throngs of people out and about the day after Thanksgiving.  By 1975, the term had been adopted across the country, and adapted to describe shoppers.

For nearly three decades stores catered to shoppers on this infamous Friday, opening their stores as early as 6:00 am, allowing those early birds an opportunity at big savings.  Then after a few years, the times got earlier.  Some stores began opening at 5 am, in hopes of garnering more customers eager to start their holiday shopping.

The beginning of a new century though, brought a new tradition: stores not opening early on Friday morning, but instead, late on Thanksgiving evening.  At first stores, like Wal-Mart, and Best Buy, advertised they'd be opening at 10 pm Thanksgiving for "Black Friday" savings.

At the time, I didn't see a problem with this.  Yes, there were employees that probably weren't happy about having to work on a holiday, I understand that.  For the most part though, the "traditions" of Thanksgiving usually wrap up in the early evening.  Friends and family have spent time together, then gone their separate ways, so why not go stand in a line for a store to open at 10 pm, especially if there's something you want, at a great price?

More recently however, things have been getting out of hand.  No longer are shoppers getting in the "holiday spirit".  Instead, they're trying to one up other shoppers to get what they want.  Every year there are stories from across the nation of fights, shootings, stabbings, you name it, all because people just have to have something others want also.  This makes one wonder if it really is worth standing in line for any kind of a deal.  After all, is it really worth the possibility of getting hurt, or possibly even killed, just for a bargain?

One would also think that retailers would be concerned about these incidences, and want to curtail them if possible.  Yet, every year, the retailers seem to start their sales just that much earlier than the year before.  Anymore, it's really not a "Black Friday" sale, as much as it's become a "Gray Thursday" sale.

This year, there are stores that are actually opening early on Thanksgiving morning, then again Thanksgiving evening. Instead of opening at 5 am on Friday, some stores will be opening at 5pm Thursday evening, to get a jump on the holiday rush.

As I stated earlier, I understand that there are those who don't celebrate the holidays, so for them, it's nice to have stores open, especially if they're offering exceptional savings.  Really though, are retailers actually gaining that much more by opening so early?  If they're so concerned about sales, why don't they just stay open their normal hours, and still offer the great savings?

Several stores have bypassed the actual Black Friday sale completely, opting instead to offer sales for a week, or more, before Thanksgiving. I've heard commercials describing "Blue Friday", "White Wednesday", and other names, that are really just different ways to get around having a sale for only one day.

You've probably noticed that I'm not a big fan of all these crazy hours and days that are being set for after, (and nowadays before), Thanksgiving sales; it's true.  While the bargains may be good, the whole idea of Black Friday has become so diluted, and so competitive, for me at least, it just isn't fun anymore. What I like even less however are the policies some stores have adopted in conjunction with their Black Friday sales.

We've all seen signs at stores stating, "no loitering", "no parking", etc.; as an attempt to keep people from just hanging out at the store and not buying anything.  Yet, there are retailers, most notably Best Buy, who, despite not allowing this behavior normally, have no problem with letting people camp out in front of their stores, sometimes as early as before Halloween, just for their Black Friday sale.  Why?!

Not only does that seem very extreme, it questions whether these people actually have lives. One man in Florida, his wife, and a friend are currently camped out at a Best Buy, and have been for at least a couple weeks now.  They work, so they've been taking turns camping out at the Best Buy, so they can go to their jobs.

I think what bothers me the most about this however, is the double standard tone this sets.  Obviously if someone is just hanging around a store, or if someone is homeless, and tries to camp out even in the parking lot, they're told it's not allowed, and there's signs posted to prove it.  But someone does the same thing, because they want to spend money at the store, it's okay for them to camp out for days and days.  In other words, spend money, you can stay, don't, you can't be there.

Yes, as much as I like great sales and bargains, I have my limits. It seems weird to say that commercialism is getting even more commercialized, but it's true.  Black Friday is a great example of this.  What started as a one day event, has been blown into something that's dragged out for days on end, before and after Thanksgiving.  In some cases it seems Black Friday has become more of an anticipated "holiday" than Thanksgiving itself.

Just my opinion, but it would be nice to just get back to the basics of Black Friday.  It happens on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and only that day.  If retailers want to get crazy with their sales, why not open your doors from midnight that Friday, to 11:59 pm that same day?  And with today's technology, these same retailers can do the same thing on the internet, for those who can't, or don't want to actually go to a store.  Seems logical to me, shoppers still get great deals, and retailers are still making huge revenues.

Again, just my take on this subject.  I'll end this post with a wish for a Happy Thanksgiving to all; as well as safety for all those braving the "Gray Thursday", "Black Friday", mayhem that's sure to happen somewhere.

Friday, October 31, 2014

People Loving Prizefighters

While country has been a staple of the music industry for eons, the 90's saw the genre take a breath of fresh air with the emergence of Garth Brooks.

Brooks swept on to the scene with his raucously infectious brand of country that had listeners on their feet from the first note of each song.

For a decade, it seemed Brooks could do no wrong, (well, except for his venture into pop as "Chris Gaines"), releasing hit after hit; selling out shows everywhere, and smashing all sorts of records as he went.

Even many who previously had a dislike of country music liked what Garth Brooks was offering to listeners.

Then, in 2000, Brooks announced he was retiring; at least until his youngest daughter was 18. On a side note, it was also the year his 14 year marriage to his wife, Sandy, ended.

Though he'd retired, in 2005 Brooks released a new song, "Good Ride Cowboy".  He wrote the song in honor of one of his idols, bareback rider/singer Chris Ledoux, who had died that year.

A few years later, Garth came out of retirement again, to play a series of intimate, acoustic concerts in Las Vegas, and also released music, (old and new), exclusively through Wal-Mart stores. Regardless of the ventures during this time, Garth's fans proved they hadn't left the singer behind; they were there, waiting for anything new Brooks had to offer.  Even in "retirement", Brooks was still exceeding sales and concert attendance records everywhere.

Now, in 2014, Brooks has officially announced he's coming out of retirement.  He's released a list of tour dates, as well as a new single, "People Loving People".

During Brooks' retirement/divorce period, he got together with long time friend and fellow country singer, Trisha Yearwood.

The two had been friends for many years during their time in Nashville, but had never been an actual couple until after each had been previously married.  Yearwood's first marriage had been to Robert Reynolds, a member of the Mavericks.

During the 90's Yearwood racked up an impressive string of hits of her own, including, "Walk Away Joe", "XX's & OO's", and "She's in Love With the Boy", as well as other tunes.

By the time Trisha and Garth became a couple, Yearwood's musical career had slowed some, and the singer
began branching out in new directions.

She co-wrote a cookbook of down home recipes and had her her own cooking show on the Food Network, "Trisha's Southern Kitchen".

Like Garth, it seemed, Yearwood had "retired" her singing career for one sharing home cooked food with fans.

This year though, like Garth Brooks, Trisha has released new music to country radio.

Yearwood's latest offering, "Prizefighter", features Kelly Clarkson, and proves that, though Yearwood may not have been putting out new music, she hasn't lost any of the talent or energy she was known for with previous hits.

Though it's been quite awhile since either Garth or Trisha has had new music on the radio, it seems that each has hit the jackpot again with their new tunes. Now it's just a matter of who reaches the highest peak on the country radio charts.  Either way, listeners will definitely be the winners.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Country Legend Glen Campbell

Anyone who's listened to music, especially country music, has probably heard of Glen Campbell.  At the very least, they've heard a Glen Campbell song, whether by Glen himself, or a cover by another artist.  

This post is to shine some light on Campbell's career, as well as acknowledge artists who have done cover versions of Campbell's hits.

For myself, it's also a post honoring one of my mom's favorite singers of all-time.  A singer who, unfortunately, she has something in common with, Alzheimer's.

Rather than just run through Campbell's career achievements however, as stated earlier, I'm choosing to also highlight other artist's versions of Glen's hits, as well as more recent news about Campbell's life.

Before having hits as a solo artist, Glen Campbell had been a session musician, recording with some of the biggest names in music, including, Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan & Dean, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra.  Campbell was also a session musician on The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds", as well as doing a stint touring with the band, playing bass guitar and providing background harmonies.

As a solo artist, Campbell racked up several hits on the country charts, as well as crossover hits on pop radio.  Even those who don't know Campbell's classics like, "Gentle On My Mind", "Galveston", or "Wichita Lineman", usually have heard the iconic "Rhinestone Cowboy".

Personally, of all Campbell's hits, my favorite has always been one that wasn't as big as Glen's other songs, "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife".

 To this day, I don't know why I love this song so much; I was just a little girl when it was on the radio.  I just know that it's still one of my favorite Glen Campbell songs.

In addition to recording and touring extensively, Campbell also found time for acting, (playing opposite John Wayne in "True Grit"), and hosting his own TV show.  "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" aired from 1969 to 1972, featuring guest stars, music and skits.

While Campbell's career was going smoothly, his personal life began to unravel.  One of the most prominent displays of this was Campbell's tumultuous relationship with Tanya Tucker.

Eventually Campbell seemed to get things together, and while not having hits on the radio, still toured extensively over the years, sounding as great as he always had.

2011 brought news that Campbell was suffering from Alzheimer's, but would continue to tour as long as he was able.  And that's exactly what he's been doing until now.  Yes, there were good days and bad days; regardless though, Campbell pressed on giving his fans all he had.

Earlier this year however, Campbell was forced to quit touring; the disease that was robbing his memory was taking it's toll on the legendary singer.

Though he's stopped touring, Campbell has released one last recording, his farewell to fans, friends and family, with the song, "I'm Not Gonna Miss You".  It's a bittersweet tale of how the singer won't miss anyone, not because he doesn't care, but because he's not going to remember them.  The song is even more haunting in the fact that the singer never actually says he won't remember anyone; just how he won't miss them.

While I knew of Glen Campbell's battle with Alzheimer's, and that he'd recorded "I'm Not Gonna Miss You", what got me writing this post was The Band Perry.  Early one morning I was listening to 98.7 The Bull's overnight show, and heard Kimberly Perry's distinctive voice singing a very familiar song, "Gentle On My Mind".

It's the band's current single, and is featured in the movie, "Glen Campbell, I'll Be Me", which is the story of Campbell's life.  Though it's hard for anyone to do a remake of anything that was hugely popular; The Band Perry do an excellent job with "Gentle on My Mind".

The Band Perry's single also had me remembering when 90's country singer, Wade Hayes did a cover of "Wichita Lineman".

I've always felt that Hayes wasn't given his due on this song.  He did a great job of covering the tune, yet, it didn't do very well at radio.

While researching videos for this post, I ran across some information that was new to me.  It seems Collin Raye, another popular country artist from the 90's, has released an entire tribute CD in honor of Glen Campbell.  He's also released his first single from this CD, "Galveston".

It's sad to think that someone who's had such an illustrious career in music, like Glen Campbell, isn't going to be able to remember any of it.  He won't remember how much his songs have contributed to country music, and to the lives of his fans around the world.

For me I guess, it's also sad, because I have some understanding of what's happening to Glen.  Though my mom's Alzheimer's isn't as advanced as Campbell's, I can still identify with what the country music legend is going through, and it makes me sad; not just for him, but for what lies ahead for my mom as well.

So, while Glen Campbell may not remember what he's contributed to the world of music, it's nice to know that other artists who have followed in his footsteps do remember; and are helping to keep Campbell's legacy alive and in everyone's memory.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Paul Revere is (Dough) Nuts!

If you're from the Pacific Northwest and/or a fan of Paul Revere & the Raiders, by now you've heard that band leader, Paul Revere, passed away October 4, 2014.  Since then the internet has been abuzz with news, stories, memories and the like from the media and fans all over the world.

 One of the latest stories related to Revere's death is courtesy of Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon.  They announced that in honor of Paul they'd be making a special, limited time doughnut.

At the time of the original announcement, no definite decisions had been made as to what the doughnut would look like, what flavor, etc.

As of October 14, 2014 though, the shop revealed what they'd come up with in tribute to the leader of Paul Revere & the Raiders.

A tricorn hat shaped doughnut, (representing the hat Paul sported on stage for 50 years), frosted in chocolate, and covered in red, white and blue sprinkles.  If that weren't enough, the doughnut is filled with butter cream.

The doughnut will be available in all four Voodoo Doughnut locations, (three in Oregon, and one in Colorado), from October 15, 2014, to December 15, 2014.

In addition, a portion of each sale of a Paul Revere doughnut will be donated to the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

The donations will help the foundationIn raise funds to further music education.

If you live in the area, or plan on visiting between now and December 15th, be sure to make a stop by Voodoo Doughnut, and get yourself a Paul Revere doughnut.  Not only will you be paying your respects to a rock & roll icon, you'll be helping future rock & roll legends as well.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review--Jason Aldean--"Old Boots New Dirt"

For his sixth studio album, Jason Aldean claims he's branching out a bit from his previous releases.  "Burnin' It Down", the first single from "Old Boots New Dirt", does seem to be a somewhat different approach for Aldean, but not a real stretch.

"Bunin' It Down" is a cross between a ballad and somewhat uptempo tune, telling the story of the love and passion the singer has for his love interest.  Different for Aldean, yes, a bit.  A hit on radio, definitely.

The rest of "Old Boots New Dirt", is pretty much standard Aldean, delivered the same way Jason has always done with his style of vocals.  Yet, while Aldean's latest album may not be too different than his last five, it still seems fresh, rather than the same old thing rehashed the same way a hundred times.

One theme that seems consistent on "Old Boots New Dirt", is of love lost.  Listening to the lyrics of say, "Miss That Girl", or "Don't Change Gone", it makes one wonder if the songs were chosen due to the upheaval Aldean's personal life was going through at the time.  These two songs, and the title track all have the common thread of lamenting love lost; with each song different enough from the others to not become mundane.

A definite stand out on "Old Boots New Dirt" is the song, "If My Truck Could Talk".  The lyrics tell how the truck has been good to the singer, but it knows too much about what he's done.  If the truck could talk, he'd have to pull out all the wires, set it on fire, roll it down a hill, anything to shut it up. 

While, as stated previously, Aldean's latest contribution isn't that much of a departure from his previous releases, Jason still manages to keep things from getting stale.  With fifteen tracks, (eighteen on the Target Exclusive CD), most of which are good songs, "Old Boots New Dirt" is worth buying, or at least giving a listen to.

Friday, October 10, 2014


(My apologies for this posting today; I was editing things, and accidently reposted it.  This is actually from 2 or 3 years ago.)

Since this blog can be about anything, I feel it’s my duty to pass on the following health risk warning:

 I know what you’re thinking, “of course smoked salmon isn’t good for you; it’s really salty, etc.”  Agreed, however, that isn’t the warning I want to pass on here.

What I’m talking about is inhaling smoked salmon.  (On a side note, I wonder if this could be considered “second hand smoked”, since it was bought and not homemade.)

I’m sure everyone knows salmon, of any kind, should not be inhaled.  It’s meant to be eaten.  To be fair, I HAD been eating my smoked salmon; the last tiny bite flaked, (literally), on me and decided it wanted to be inhaled instead.

The risks of inhaling smoked salmon are great.  It can lead to choking; excessive coughing, (which in turn can lead to lack of sleep due to long-term coughing); watery eyes; headache, (from the choking and coughing); and tooth loss. Yes, tooth loss; yours, not the salmon’s…If your salmon still has teeth while you’re eating it, you have a whole other problem to deal with; such as overly fresh sushi!

Back to smoked salmon and tooth loss.  I’ll use myself as an example.

As stated earlier, the last bit of smoked salmon I was eating was accidently inhaled rather than eaten properly.  Immediately all of the symptoms I’ve mentioned kicked in.  My eyes watered and I was choking and coughing.  At one point I thought I had things under control, but I started choking again, only worse.  While this was going on, my mind was trying to figure out how such a small bit of salmon could make me choke and cough so much. 

When the choking finally subsided, I noticed that my mouth felt different for some reason.  A quick look in the mirror revealed why…Somewhere in the midst of choking on smoked salmon, one of my upper teeth decided to bail on me, leaving a nice, very noticeable gap when I open my mouth.  Not a good thing!  To make matters worse, since I can't find the missing tooth anywhere, I'm guessing I swallowed it.  YUCK!!!

In addition, the coughing wouldn’t stop.  Spent most of the rest of the night and today coughing, hard.  This has resulted in a massive headache.  BLEAH!!!

Enough complaining about myself though.  This blog is intended as a health risk warning.  Hopefully it’s done its job and you’re more aware of the dangers of smoked salmon and teeth now.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Remembering Paul Revere--The Last Madman of Rock & Roll

Much like the colonial Paul Revere spread the word about the British invasion, today the internet is spreading the word of the passing of another Paul Revere.  Paul Revere Dick, born in Nebraska, January 7, 1938, passed away October 4, 2014, at his home in Idaho.

For those not familiar with this Paul Revere, he was the founding member of the 60's band, Paul Revere & the Raiders.
 The band got it's start in the late 50's, early 60's in Idaho, and were then known as The Downbeats.  When Paul, and then lead singer, Mark Lindsay, moved to Portland, Oregon, the name was changed to Paul Revere & the Raiders. 

After moving to Portland, Paul met up with Roger Hart, a KISN radio DJ at the time, who became the band's manager.  Roger helped get the band exposure outside the region, eventually landing them as the house band on Dick Clark's "Where the Action Is", from 1965 to 1967.  The band was on TV five days a week, in their colonial garb, singing and being crazy. 

 I never had the chance to see Paul Revere & the Raiders when Mark was the lead singer.  My chance to see the band wasn't until 1978, when Louie Fontaine did lead vocals.  By then I'd been a major fan of the group for 10 years, having first seen them at 9 years old on "It's Happening", their afternoon show on ABC television.

Since then, I've seen the band many times, with different lead singers.  Michael Bradley, Carl Driggs, Darrin Medley, and current Raider, Darren Dowler, have all held the position of lead singer of the Raiders over the years.

While there have been many Raiders over the years, Paul Revere was always the guiding force behind the band.  Paul would lead the charge every show, bringing audiences a fast paced set of music and comedy.  No matter how many times one would see a Raider performance, it was still fresh, fun and highly entertaining; or as Paul himself described it, "organized chaos". 

Even well into his 70's Paul Revere still toured extensively with his band, playing casinos, fairs, festivals, cruises, and anywhere else they were invited to play, and Paul would rock just as hard as always, every time. 

At the beginning of 2014 though, Paul announced that he was going to take a break from the road, upon doctor's orders.  He revealed that he'd been told to take a breather much earlier, but had continued touring, despite the fact.  Revere had had a bout with cancer years before; though this time, no real explanation was given, other than he was having health issues.

At the time of the announcement, Revere assured fans, he was going to rest up, so he could get back to doing what he loved.  In the meantime, his current band of Raiders, Darren Dowler, Doug Heath, Ron Foos, Danny Krause and Tom Scheckel, would carry on, fulfilling the tour dates the band was already committed to.

Then came the news on October 4, 2014, Paul Revere had passed away.  "Uncle Paul", "The Last Madman of Rock & Roll",  had died at home in Idaho, having gone full circle from where his band started their musical journey.

Rock & Roll Heaven has just gained another legend and leader in Paul Revere.  I'm sure he's already up there, helping to organize fun music and chaos for the angels.

R.I.P. Paul, you will be missed.