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October 6th, 2019...

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HOW I INVENTED THE CHEESEBURGER. In the late 1950s, before I met Misty, I was part of a teenage Pop vocal quartet called The Dawn Breakers. We were on Coral Records, a subsidiary of Decca. Our biggest record was a song I wrote titled: "Boy with the Bebop Glasses". The B-side was "The Things I Love". As a result of the airplay, an agent in Buffalo named Harry Ricci booked us on a Canadian tour, up around the Northern Ontario mining country. I remember two of the towns were Sudbury and Timmons. They were the biggest places. It's probably completely modern now, but at that time it looked more like the nineteenth century. It was an adventure. Every town had a theater, and that's where we put on our show. One was a long-closed movie house, and for some reason the stage was unusable. We had to do our show from the orchestra pit. At rehearsal the first day I plugged in my guitar and amp and got semi-electrocuted. The orchestra pit was the lowest point in the building and all the dampness gathered in that part of the cement floor. Plugging in my guitar was like using a toaster in the bathtub. Somebody brought a cardboard box for me to stand on to break the ground. It worked, and we went ahead with the rehearsal. After the first song the theater manager walked up to me and said, "Sounds great, Jack", and put his hand on my arm, and we both got zapped. We were a wholesome quartet, appealing to teens. but for some reason the agent booked a stripper to open for us. She went as far as topless and was all set for more when a lot of cops stormed the stage, wrapped her in a blanket and got her off stage. We didn't see her after that, much to our disappointment. At another theater, for the price of admission you got our show and a Jerry Lewis movie. There were no dressing rooms, so they hung a light bulb behind the movie screen and we changed there. We could see the movie in reverse on the back of the screen. We heard the crowd laugh at Jerry Lewis, but whenever the screen dimmed down the laughter took on a different tone. With the light bulb shining on us, they could see us right through the screen running around in our underwear. After the first matinee we went out to get something to eat at a little diner around the corner. I'd been on a cheeseburger kick for several months and that's all I wanted. The waitress said, "I don't think we have that". I asked if they had hamburgers. She nodded, and I said, "Just melt some cheese on top of it." She looked nervous and said she'd have to go ask the owner. She came back and said, "He's afraid you won't like it." I said, "I'll love it! Please! Just give it a try." And I did love it, even though it was served on toast. The owner, an elderly Chinese man, came out from the kitchen to ask me if it was okay. I told him it was the best I ever had. After the evening show we headed for the same diner. As we approached it we saw a large sign in the window. The sign said this: "CHEESEBURGERS". Copyright © October 6, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

October 1st, 2019...

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THE AKRON MICE. Before we ever had any Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan recordings, we were working hotels and lounges over the eastern states, booked by the ABC agency. The four week gig at Nick Yanko’s Greek restaurant in Akron was one of the worst. Nick loved the belly dancer, but treated our trio with no respect at all. He didn’t like us or our music because we were different… too original. At first we tried to please, but after a while we didn’t care, and stopped taking crap from Yanko and his headwaiter. It was a rough month. On the winter day we arrived in Akron, as always, we looked for a place to live. We finally rented a flat in an old two story house. Not a nice place. To get it we had lie to the landlady, saying that we would be there for a long time. When you’re in deep trouble there is no friend like a good lie. Our dog Brubeck was with us on the road. He was a sweetheart, and we trusted him alone while we were at work. Brubeck is one of the main animals in this story. Back at the club, the belly dancer would dance over to my drums, and play the bongos with her chest. Misty hated it, and got into a row with the owner, who told her she was just a peon and the dancer was the star. We had driven hundreds of miles to get there and couldn’t quit because we had very little money and a guitar player to pay. The next job in Albany, New York, was four weeks away. We just sucked it up and played our sets. The one friend we made in Akron on that trip was a tall dignified man who could have played a movie senator. He thought our music was great, and showed us all around town. He was a bookie. To add to the fun, I had to have two molars extracted by a dentist played by Boris Karloff. It turned into a nightmare he called “dry sockets”, and I overdosed on pain medication. Misty had to walk me around in the snow for hours that night to keep me from passing out, and maybe dying. When things are really bad, a little light entertainment can mean a lot. The house had registers in the floors for the furnace to send up warmth, and one night we noticed Brubeck staring intently down into a register, like the RCA dog looking into the Victrola horn. On closer inspection we heard little peeping sounds from down in the pipe system. Mice. The next day, Misty opened a kitchen drawer of pots and pans we didn’t use, and saw two little rear ends scurrying to hide… a skinny one and a fat one. The fat one was running behind, slipping around, not used to the exercise. We decided that we liked them. After all, we didn’t have a lot of friends in Akron. Misty started putting out a little dish of ice cream for them at night. It was always gone in the morning. A dog and some mice can get you through a bad time. Copyright © September 30, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

September 26th, 2019... Sorry this is three days late. Health issues. Anyway, better late than never... Here's Jack...

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ONE FINE WEEK IN ATLANTA. Misty and I often did shows with Jerry Reed, Roy Clark, Grandpa Jones, and Archie Campbell. One of those shows was a week long booking at Atlanta's Chastain Park Amphitheater, an outdoor venue. It was Boots Randolph's show, and he treated the artists, musicians, and staff as honored guests, with long tables of food and drink backstage, and the party feeling that carried over to the audiences. Before the first show, Roy stepped out of his bus carrying a glass of unknown iced beverage. Misty said "How're ya doin', Roy?" Roy smiled and said "Gettin' well, honey." The drinks never caused any real problems, although a couple of times the emcee tried to take acts off stage before they were done. They were innocent mistakes, and kinda funny. We were all friends. Like most amphitheaters, it was bowl shaped, and the bands were pretty much protected from the weather, but the act out at the front of the stage could get a little wet if it rained. This can be a thrill if you are hooked up to electrical equipment. We had just finished our show and were walking off, when Archie Campbell was heading out to do his act. I said "It's pretty windy out there, Arch." Archie ran his hand suavely over his hair and said this: "I don't have to worry. I bought the casual style." He was always funny... on or off stage. The crowds were huge and Saturday night was our closing show. We all met back at the hotel where Boots and his manager X. Cosse had us staying. They had the hotel dining room set up like a king's banquet... tons of food and anything you want to drink. It was a party for everybody in the show, including roadies and friends of friends. For the first hour everybody was there having a good time, except Jerry Reed, who was conspicuous in his absence. He bounced into the room at about 11:30, said quick hellos to the gang, grabbed a take out box, went through the food table like a lawnmower, and was gone with the wind and his doggy box of food. Jerry was on Fast Forward, and his whole appearance lasted about seven minutes. Misty went into his bus and got his autograph when we worked together at the Citrus Bowl. We loved Jerry Reed, and he was also my favorite guitar player. Then, later in the party, there was some excitement going on at the ballroom door when some medics rushed in with a stretcher. We wondered what was up. Roy Clark grinned, raised his glass, and said goodbye to everybody. Then he made himself comfortable on the stretcher, and was carried out to the ambulance and rushed to the airport. He was late and had a plane to catch. I've tried to report the week's events exactly as they happened, down to the finest detail, but remember, I may have had a beer myself. The music business used to be more fun than it is now, and we miss all our old friends a lot, but we're so lucky to have been part of that wonderful era. Copyright © September 23, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved, Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

September 15, 2019...

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WAITING FOR AUTUMN. We're approaching the Autumnal Equinox so it must be Fall somewhere, just not yet here in Florida. I still celebrate my favorite season. Autumn is my favorite time of year, a season of moods. The first chill after summer has worn out its welcome, that’s when I feel the holidays coming on. Not that we do any big celebrating these days, but it’s the remembering of celebrations past, and those who were with us during good times. The empty places at our table. I write more songs during the remnants of the year, when emotions are nearer to the surface, the past is just over our shoulder, and old voices whisper in our ear. One winter, when it was minus 35 degrees and windy in Minnesota, Misty and I stayed in a cement floor cabin on a lake shore. I heard what sounded like whale sounds. It was the frozen lake groaning as it expanded. We had recently gone through such bad times that we were thankful to be there with friends at Christmas. We didn't mind the cold. We have had a life, so far, full of ultra-highs and ultra-lows... from homelessness on the street to the whirlwind of big time show business. Now It's quiet. And we have enough money to last us the rest of our life, unless we buy something. Home is wherever Misty is. Copyright © September 15, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

September 8, 2019...

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AMERICA, SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001. (Written on that day.) We're all zombies here today. We somehow find our way to the grocery store or post office like sleepwalkers. We stare blankly at the television in disbelief. People leaping from firey windows over a hundred floors up. A couple jumping hand in hand to their death. We've been getting messages of sympathy from friends around the world. Thank you. We're glad you're there, and we're glad you care. This is obviously a dark time for the American people. Our thoughts are with the victims and the people who love them. The airports are all closed. Folks who ordinarily rant and rave if their flight is delayed, seem to be taking it without protest, quietly seeking another way to get home. Too quietly. Like zombies. We worry about friends up north. We'll try to call tomorrow. Today is not a good time to overload the phone lines. In some different way, all of us are victims. At our house things are not normal. We are in a state of confusion, disbelief, sadness, and anger. Maybe we're in shock. I try to make my wife smile with the occasional light remark, but her regular smile is not working today. All our projects, so important yesterday, seem trivial. They're on the back burner for now. It's inspiring to see how people in New York and Washington risked their own lives to help each other. I'm proud of Americans tonight, and it's been a while since I've felt that way. Firefighters, police, and emergency workers are heroes. We saw Republicans and Democrats singing a spontaneous God Bless America...together. Touching. I hope they remember the feeling. It's the way it should be. Misty said she saw the young workers bagging groceries at the supermarket almost in tears. We, even as Democrats, are discussing hopefully that President George W. Bush might have the potential to be a Harry Truman. Right now we need somebody to "give 'em hell". This is not a day for political differences. We hope he kicks terrorist butts. The maniacs that committed these atrocities represent to me what evil is. I'm glad I'm not president. I'd probably bomb all the suspects and ask questions later. I know that's wrong, but we're mad as hell over here. At least I am. We've seen the pictures on TV all day, over and over, but the reality is still hard to grasp. We'll watch them over and over again... even after the television is turned off. Our country is strong. Our people are tough. I almost forgot that. We'll get through this, and even be stronger. In time things will be more like normal, but never quite the same. I never thought of myself as a super patriot, but tomorrow I think I'll go out and buy a flag. Copyright © 2011, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

August 26th, 2019... BULLETIN!!!
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NORM. When strangers enter our lives we always try to be nice, even when they are rude to us. We know they could either turn out to be our best friends, or have a dark side that could show itself later. We're two of the friendliest entertainers in the business, but, as in the Kenny Rogers song, You have to know when to fold 'em. Once a man named Norm came into our nightclub and overheard a conversation in which we said we were planning to have a large speaker cabinet built. He had the erect posture, jutting chin, and clipped speech of a military man, but he wasn't. We already had a carpenter in mind, but this man introduced himself, and insisted that he be allowed to build it for A week later Norm wheeled the cabinet into the club, presented it to us, and showed us his bloody hands, to illustrate how hard he had worked. He had bled for us. We thanked him, offered to pay, and expressed our sympathy for his injuries. He began coming to the club every night, and if we didn't neglect all our other customers, and spend our time only with him, he sulked and soon became angry and belligerent. He began getting drunk and butting into conversations we were having with other friends and fans. He would even threaten them, and tell them to stay away from us.... that we were his brother and sister. In his mind he was our bodyguard. We tried to reason with him, and he would apologize and promise to lighten up. We finally had to bar him from the club, which caused a big unpleasant scene. Then he began driving past our house at all hours. We had friends on the police force, and with their urging he eventually went away. I think he probably latched on to somebody else. Here's why: He needed more than most people can give. He often talked about his father, who was a high ranking military officer, and who considered Norm a disappointment for not enlisting. In his father's eyes, he couldn't do anything right. The lack parental of approval haunted him. This type of episode with strangers has happened to us more than once, and to most other people who lead public lives, but we still give new relationships every chance to work out well. When they end badly, the person usually becomes depressed, and then angry. You have to be careful, but you can't lock up your life. There are too many good friends out there,waiting to be met. Copyright © August 26, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

August 19th, 2019...

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FUN ON THE ROAD. We've been stuck in a lot of dumps, but we don't want to talk about those today. Over morning coffee (noon), I asked Misty this: "All in all, what do you think were the best places we've stayed or played, like apartments, houses, motels, gigs, and so on?" She said "That's easy" and named three. 1. The Sea Palms at Saint Simon's Island provided the best accommodations, and one of the weirdest jobs of our career, so far. St. Simon's sits in the blue Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brunswick Georgia. The booking came with a luxury apartment overlooking a small river. Tropical flowers, trees and shrubs were trimmed neatly, and the riverside grass was like a putting green. Misty liked to sit in the grass and watch the ducks. One particular duck liked to sit with her. It moseyed up to her one afternoon, quacked a few pleasantries, sat by her, tucked in its feet, puffed up a little, and remained there as long as Misty would stay. The job was for just us as a duet, but we had all our keyboards and sounded like a big band. Nobody knew who owned the place, and a rumor started that Misty and I did. The lounge manager asked me if it was true, and I said "Shhh. I can't talk about it." Within an hour everybody thought we were the secret owners, and we became royal hosts of a month-long party. Everybody had fun and we got paid for it. 2. Another place that is on the top of our list was Key Colony Beach. The place was called a "boatel", like a motel for boats, and was situated in the between Key Largo and Marathon, Florida. The apartments were built on pilings, like a long pier. Ours was the last apartment, way out in the ocean. Porpoises played outside our big windows, and when the tourist fishing boats would come in at sunset, hoards of seagulls and pelicans would gather noisily, for the leftover fish that was tossed overboard. The Steinway grand piano in the dining room was still upside down, the way Hurricane Donna had left it. When a bunch of guys turned it right side up for Misty, it played beautifully. In the restaurant/lounge we had our five piece band. At the entrance there was a huge decorative champagne glass that bubbled as long as it was plugged in. Nobody in our band drank, so when customers would buy us cocktails we'd dump them in the fake champagne glass. We thought it continually brought in new bubbly water, but it didn't. Soon there were swirling orange peels, olives, and other garbage, and the imitation champagne was taking on a peculiar color. When we realized our mistake we tried to look innocent. The owner was a nice guy and never brought it up. Our drummer made friends with the chef, and smuggled out a couple of live lobsters to take to his apartment. They were tied up and handcuffed, or whatever they do to lobsters, so, in a hurry, Roy stashed them on the bumper of his car, which was parked in a dark place. They either escaped or were stolen, and Roy cursed the lousy crooks who would stoop so low as to steal his stolen lobsters. 3. One foggy summer night we got lost and checked into a lodge on top of the mountain at Lake Arrowhead. We got up the next morning, pulled the cord on the drapes that covered a whole wall, and they opened onto a huge picture window. Outside, the mountain forest was covered in two feet of new snow, without a sign of life, except for some rabbit tracks by our window. The most beautiful real-life Christmas card we've ever seen... in California... in June. I may have told you all this before, but we wanted to hear it again. Copyright © August 19, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

August 12th, 2019...

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SEASONS. Autumn is my favorite time of year... a season of moods. The first chill after summer has worn out its welcome... That's when I start to feel the holidays coming on. Not that we do any big celebrating these days... but it's the remembering of celebrations past, and those who were with us during good times. The empty places at our table. I write more songs during the remnants of the year... when emotions are nearer to the surface, the past is just over our shoulder, and old voices whisper in our ear. ONE WINTER, when it was minus 35 degrees and windy in Minnesota, Misty and I stayed in a cement floor cabin on a lake shore. I heard what sounded like whale sounds. It was the frozen lake groaning as it expanded. We had recently had such bad times that we were thankful to be there with friends close by at Christmas. We didn't mind the cold. When we played Walt Disney World Roy Clark and Hank Williams, Jr. were at the ends of the park, and we were at the center stage. We were assigned a guide for the day. He looked 12 years old. Misty thought he was a boy and called him honey and sweetie, and he liked it. Turns out he was a Disney Vice President. He must have started out as a duck and worked his way up. After a week's shows at Atlanta's Chastain Park Amphitheater, Boots Randolph threw a party for the artists. Later in the party, there was some excitement going on at the ballroom door when medics rushed in with a stretcher. Roy Clark grinned, raised his glass, and said goodbye to everybody. Then he made himself comfortable on the stretcher, and was carried out to the ambulance. He was late and had a plane to catch. CHRISTMAS ENOUGH. 'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the park, One trailer was leaky and covered with tarp. On the wall were two cards where you taped them up. By the light of a candle I poured us a cup. Our tree on the table was scrawny and thin... A foot and three quarters of plastic and tin. The carolers sang on our clock radio, It's the thought, after all, that counts, as you know. The snow on the window, the smell of the pine, Were sprayed from a can, but we didn't mind. No money, no shopping, no last minute rush. Christmas with love is Christmas Enough. Copyright © August 12, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

August 6th, 2019...

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ME AND ROGER MILLER. When I was trying to figure how this voice of mine, and the way I write songs would fit into the music business, Roger Miller was a great help to me. His voice and style of writing were in the same category as mine:.. No category. My first few country songs had a strong Miller influence. Most people didn't hear it, but I did. I was and am a Roger Miller fan. I don't know why, but "Engine #9" is my favorite. It doesn't have the depth of "Husbands and Wives", but it is a minimalist gem. Simple is good. Every word, every phrase in his songs adds something to the whole. No fill ins. That's what I've always tried for in my work. Any word that doesn't add something, erase it. I learned a lot from him. Misty and I were doing a session at Columbia Studio B. Roger's session in studio A was already going on. We took a few minutes and watched through the window in the door. I remember hearing him say over the microphone, "Let's go, folks. We're losin' light". Right in the middle of our session Roger walked in, carrying a brief case, and stood by the door, listening. I stopped everything and told Misty I had to go meet Roger Miller and tell him what a fan I was. Just as I approached him with my hand out, he said, "Hi, Jack. I'm a fan of yours." One of the best moments of my life. The last time I saw him was at a party he hosted at the King of the Road Motel. He wove through the crowd to greet us, and we got talking. He must have heard one of our interviews, because he asked me what I meant when I said that he was responsible for me getting into country music. Here's where I did a stupid human trick. I will never know why, but I said this: "I was just trying to get your attention." He looked at me funny and drifted off into the crowd. I could have told him all that I've told you here, but I didn't. And now I never can. Copyright © August 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

July 29th, 2019...

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HOMELESS IN MIAMI. (Part Two.) (Recap.) We parked in front of the Intercity Finance office and went in. The woman behind the counter took our car payment money and gave us a receipt. Just as we were about to leave she asked: "Why do you have the car packed with clothing and bags?" I was still young and honest, so I said, "It was a choice between our rent and the car payment. We decided to pay you". She asked us to please wait for a moment, and went into the back somewhere. She came back and said their legal department ruled that without an address, we couldn't keep the car. We told her we had just given her all our money, but she wouldn't return it. This was the help she gave us: She would allow us to keep our things locked in the car, at her office, until Monday, when they would reopen. If we had an address by then we could have the car. We were broke, homeless, and with no transportation, facing the long weekend ahead. We didn't know which way to turn as we went out into the late afternoon heat. For some reason we hitchhiked to Hollywood. Maybe because we had worked around there, and might run into somebody we knew. The sun went down fast, the way it does in south Florida, and we got hungry. I knew the family that owned Jimmy's Italian Restaurant. The son was sort of a friend of mine. He gave us dinner and we promised to pay later. Midnight came and went and we were still walking. No luck anywhere. We were sitting on a bench in the big circle in the center of town. Directly in front of us was the old Hollywood Hotel, a castle left over from the Al Capone days. I remembered that I'd met somebody who told me he was the night clerk there. We went in and I asked the guy if he had a place we could sleep for free. He said "Well it's now 3 AM, the day clerk doesn't come on till seven, so I can let you sleep in a room for four hours." We took the deal. Somehow we got through it, but things didn't get much better for a long time. We didn't know that we would eventually have hit records. Part Two. After being homeless on the street for several days, broke and without a car, we got the car back from the finance company. It died and we left it on a street and told the finance people where it was. My mother didn't have money but she drove us around to find a place to live and gave us a few dollars to get a room by the week in the worst dump ever, on a slum street. An old dark green window shade, a single bare light bulb hanging on a wire. Shared bathroom down a creepy hallway. No food allowed in the room. When we were out looking for gigs they locked us out of the room with our stuff in it. We got a junk car from some crooks with no money down, and on and on. It took a couple of more years to get a normal old car and an efficiency apartment in a motel. Eventually we fought our way out of the poverty, and bought a new three bedroom home on a VA loan. Naturally we lost the home after about a year, but things were looking up. We went to Key West, got signed to a four song recording contract. and our career started. (Note: This will probably be the first chapter in our book.} Copyright © July 29, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

July 23rd, 2019... From the webmeister, Pt. 2: Apologies again for the lateness of this column; we got a new internet provider around here. So, better late than never and all that... here's Jack:

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HOW BIG BUSINESS CAN CHANGE YOUR TOWN. Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Crawlovia, a little village called Hotduk was awakened by a dog's bark echoing in the moonlit silence. One hundred and thirty-seven sleepy eyes popped open, and just as quickly the villagers returned to slumber. They had nothing to fear. There was no crime in Hotduk, and neither fierce animals nor politicians in all of Crawlovia. They lived in complete beauty and peace, and it was driving them nuts. In a bungalow at the edge of the forest a flickering candle cast the silhouette of a young boy upon the window shade. "Quiet, Snarfy!" whispered Bratwurst to his dog. "You'll wake everybody up!" He hurriedly laced up his brownies, buttoned up his pinky, put on his warmest greeny, and tiptoed off into the woods to gather moonbeans. Snarfy tiptoed along behind. They had only picked half a snerdful of moonbeans when they came to a clearing, and there in the moonlight stood a forty-foot tall, thirty ton item, which smiled and said: "Hi, there! I'm a Fuzzy!" The Fuzzy spat his esses like Daffy Duck. Snarfy and Bratwurst clung to each other in fear and stared at the Fuzzy, who was now doing a ballet dance. The ground began to tremble, shaking the snogs and frickets right out of the trees. "Stop!??? cried the boy. "You'll start an earthquake!" The Fuzzy sat down and began to cry. "You thilly little thavage!" he thobbed with a thpray. "No wonder I've lost my appetite! Why, I haven't eaten a bite in centuries because of rude people like you. I have feelings too, ya know". The boy ran back and awoke the villagers with his strange news. They all went out to the woods to have a look, some of them still in their snorkies. Months passed. The Hotduk Chamber of Commerce soon turned The Dancing Fuzzy into a tourist attraction. People came from all over Crawlovia to witness the spectacle. The more people that came, the harder the Fuzzy danced, until he was at it 24 hours a day. The Fuzzy asked no salary. He just loved the applause and admiration. "Let the big dummy dance his fool head off", the townspeople chuckled. "We're getting rich! That's all that counts!" Then, one Sunday, at 12:03 P.M., the earth stopped shaking, and the Fuzzy sat down, huffing and puffing. "Whew! Hoo-boy", he gasped! "Wowee!" Then he said this to the crowd: "Hey! I think I've got my appetite back!" And he ate the village. Copyright © July 22, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

July 16th, 2019... From the webmeister: Apologies for the lateness of the column, but the internet was out yesterday and most of today. But it's back up now, so here we go...

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THE TOUR FROM HELL. It was winter. The left front corner of our new motorhome was torn off in Nebraska, our transmission died on a lonesome Midwest road, we were stranded for a terrible week in Joplin, Missouri, and we wound up in New Orleans with the flu. That???s just the short version! We had driven from Nashville to a small farm town in northern Nebraska, to do a free show for some fair bookers, at the insistence of our agent. The little convention was being held in a tavern. There was a brand new, bright red piece of farm machinery parked in the snow packed street. We parked in front of it to unload our equipment through the alley. When we came back out, the left front corner of our motorhome was gone, and so was the red combine. The tracks it left in the snow went right where the front of our rig had been torn off. The sheriff said he couldn't find it. I pointed out that the thing was candy apple red, two and a half stories high, and probably went from zero to 10 mph in a half-hour! He just shrugged. With the help of a lot of duct tape, we made it to Omaha where a right rear tire blew. The AAA guy came out, overfilled the wrong tire, ignored the flat one, and left before we noticed it. When we neared Joplin our transmission started acting funny. We saw a Dodge agency and pulled in for repairs. They charged us a healthy dealership price, and we were on our way to New Orleans, where we had an actual paying show to do. We got a hundred miles out of town, pulled off at the exit and onto the next road, when our transmission went into eternal neutral. I tried to hitch a ride to the gas station about three miles back, but nobody would stop. I did the only thing I could: I limped badly, and got a sympathy ride. The Dodge agency sent a tow truck a hundred miles to get us. On second look at our tranny, they said it had to be rebuilt, and it would take some time. It took a whole week. They allowed us to live in it in their car lot when they weren't working on it, which was most of the time. Word got around, and people began knocking on our door at all hours for autographs. This was not lost on the car dealer. He got the local radio station to do a daily remote broadcast from his showroom. We showed up, hoping for a break on the price. Yeah, right. Since we were stuck there and were going to miss our paying gig, we got together with the station deejays, and promoted a show in the high school auditorium. We were pushing heavy sound equipment up the hill to the school in a freezing forty-mile gale, when the station owner showed up from out of town. He said he didn't like his employees helping a bunch of hillbillies move equipment. Misty's Irish side said a bad word to him, and he forbade the deejays to help us in any way, or to ever play our records again. Somehow we got the stuff back in the trailer. We had no roadies on this unexpected tour. We got to New Orleans three days late, and with the flu. After a week of coughing and fever we headed home to Florida. We traded that motor home for a new one, and a few months later we drove it to Nashville for a convention. We saw our old one parked there and stopped to talk to the new owner. He was mad at us. He said we traded in a motor home with a bad transmission and it went out on him the first week. He said we should have fixed it. All it was was the hose from the cooler to the transmission. Just a hose! All together now. Everybody give us a big "AW". or a "Poor baby". Copyright © June 15, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

July 8th, 2019...

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RANDOM THOUGHTS. Misty and I were walking down a street near Music Row. Rush hour traffic was heavy. A big black Cadillac came to an abrupt stop, and the line of cars squealed to a stop behind it. It was our buddy Archie Campbell giving us his big smile. He'd stopped to say "Hi". His smile could brighten your whole day. A song is life distilled, and then whittled down until it's small enough to get in your ear. Thinking about the good old days when the dollar was worth 29 cents. I wrote Tennessee Birdwalk in about 20 minutes. We recorded it in Nashville at 12:51 AM on a Saturday morning (Friday night). The musicians were tired. It was their last session of a long week. At ten to one, they started packing up their instruments. Misty said: "Hey! Hold on! We have another song to do!" They grumbled at first, but then began to like it. It was recorded in one take, with no overdubs. Three minutes to run through it, and three minutes to record it. Total: 6 minutes. WOW! Nothing hurts like your tongue when you accidentally staple it to the wall! Misty said, "Leave the door open. The flies haven't been out all day." WARNING: DO NOT take these pills: If you are allergic to squirrels, Formica, or dental floss, you may become comatose. COMMON SIDE-EFFECTS: conniption fits, walking funny, frequent urination and lisping, cradle cap, vampire breath, and speaking like Porky Pig. GOING HOME is a theme that runs through a lot of our songs, probably because Misty and I both left our home town, Buffalo, as teens and went out on our own. We didn't know each other in Buffalo, and didn't meet until we were playing lounge piano about a block from each other in Hollywood, Florida. Thanks for the the positive responses to my humor. I'm touched. I always have been. Today the planes are like Greyhound buses with wings. Passengers are stacked on each other's laps, and beaten and abused by the sadistic airline staff. Free range chickens wander the aisles, and babies are provided to throw up on you. At the airports they search elderly ladies and boy scouts, while the terrorists waltz through laughing and waving their bombs. In the year 4 BC, they said, "I can't believe how the years are subtracting!" I've been sleeping in a Lazy-Boy chair in the dark. I hope I don't scare an innocent burglar to death. North Korea may be using the sea to hide their submarines! Misty said, "You're growing old with grace, and Grace is getting sick of it." I'm going to fold my tent and silently steal away. But first I have to steal a tent. I'm heading for the roundhouse. They can't corner me there. Copyright © July 8, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

July 1st, 2019...

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A DIFFERENT KIND OF BLUES. In the 1970's, when we released this song on a major label, I called DJ's to see how it was going. All the responses were positive except one. Naturally that's the one I remember. The program director of a big Atlanta station said that the song depressed him. We had a pretty good relationship, so I explained it to him like this: Some of our greatest songs are sad, for instance Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", and every blues lyric ever written. They let people know they aren't alone in their troubles. It works the other way too. If we're doing okay now, we can appreciate what we have by looking back at the hard times. This song is about a couple who had hoped for more from the future. They are in a deep rut and don't know how to get out of it. It's nobody's fault. This is a common life situation. I see it in faces every day. I know the look because I've worn it. This song says: "Don't let this happen to you!" and, "Break out before it's too late because there IS more to life!" This was the scene I remembered as I wrote it: The seedy outskirts of a cold industrial city... The part of town with drive-in theaters closed for the winter, junk yards, chain link fences, brown slush, and black factory soot that gets in your eyes and skin. The guy with the wet boots is a younger me. The woman in the story is not Misty, but just my idea of how a woman might feel under these circumstances. The romance that once brought this couple together has been scarred and eroded by bad times, drudgery, worry, boredom, and mostly disappointment. Neither of them is angry. It's a different kind of blues. I've written a second song about this same couple, where they finally make the break. It's called: "Second Tuesday in December", and is the only time I've ever written a sequel to a song. THE SONG. His story: "Sky full of factory smokestacks, Hot cinders paint the snow black, Turn up my collar to the cold. My old boots are wet and dirty. Missed my bus at seven thirty. Ah, There Must Be More to Life than Growing Old." Her story: "Each day seems like the last one, Each year, just like the past one, As if they stamped them from a mold. Somehow it seems to be The only change is you and me There Must Be More to Life than Growing Old." Both: "There Must Be More to Life than Growing Old. What happened to the dreams we used to hold? We never asked for cities paved with gold There Must Be More to Life than Growing Old." Listen to it here: Copyright © July 1, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. "There Must Be More To Life Than Growing Old" lyrics by Jack Blanchard. Copyright © Jack Blanchard Songs (BMI). All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

June 24th, 2019...

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MOON SONGS. A friend asked me why there are so many "Moon" songs. I tried to respond intelligently, which isn't easy for me. Here are a few moon thoughts... The moon has been a thing of mystery, romance, and squirreliness for so many centuries, that a couple of astronauts fooling around up there can't change that. It's in our genetic memories, and it's a little spooky when Bela, our neighbor's bat, flies in front of it. They have moons at night, just when we need the light. Coincidence? I think not. "Moon" rhymes with: June, goon, spoon, maroon, prune, saloon, balloon, croon, spittoon, buffoon, baboon, pantaloon, Loony-Toon, macaroon, raccoon, harpoon, and Daniel Boone. Songwriters need the moon. How would "Nothing Over Miami" sound? Some people see a man in it. I think it's Franklin Roosevelt. My uncle told me that it was a hole in the sky. He would admit that the Earth is round, but maintained that it's hollow, and we're on the inside. With early teaching like that, how did you expect me to turn out? He would eat only white food... like sugar, flour, rice, and so on. He said it's whiteness was an obvious sign of purity. He was a food racist. You think these are uncle jokes, don't you? Unfortunately, they're true. Even though my intellect tells me that the moon is just a hunk of white stuff that might fall on me, I will continue to throw it into songs. Copyright © June 24, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

June 15th, 2019...

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PICTURE AT A RAILROAD STATION. (For My Dad on Fathers Day.) The cavernous old railroad station was dimly lit, or seems that way in my memory. My parents, my sisters, and I headed toward the big doors that led to the platform where the trains chugged and waited. It was the end of an era. One of us wasn't coming back... ever. We had never been your average family. My mother had been an artist and a model. My father was a flamboyant jack-of-all-trades: A stock broker at times, head of an oil company, owner of a gambling ship that never sailed, a mortgage broker, an aviator, and author of a course on aeronautics. He was a party thrower and the life of every one, and made every holiday a festival. He was rich one year and broke the next. As a young man he was a boxer and a daredevil. During World War Two he was drafted to be General Manager of the Bell Aircraft plant, at the same time there were rumors of his involvement with the black market. I came home from school one afternoon and couldn't get the front door open. It was stuck against silver fox furs. The whole house was knee deep in them. I don't know where he got them, but I wasn't too surprised. We all knew him and were ready for anything. There was a distinguished couple in the living room, browsing through the pelts, a New York State Supreme Court justice and his wife. He was brilliant in an off-beat way, and an adventure as a father. Then he got sick. His disease had symptoms similar to Alzheimer's, and the smart, witty man of the world became like a child. He couldn't work. He tried. My mother submitted a resume for him, and got him a job on his track record as a mechanical engineer. She dressed him in a suit and tie and took him to the job. He called a few hours later to be picked up. He had ordered his crew to put way too much pressure on a ship's drive shaft they were working on, and blew it through the factory roof. The family was broke and had to split up. My father was to live with his sister in Ohio, "just until things get better". The rest of us were to sell all the furniture and belongings, and move in with my mother's parents in Florida. Certain memories stick in my mind like clear snapshots and never go away. One of those is the night at the railroad station when we kissed my father goodbye, and lied to each other that it was just temporary. I remember pushing through giant swinging doors that led to the train platform. The steam from the idling engine puffed out across my knees. The ceiling was dark and high with sooty light bulbs in it. And that's all I remember! The rest is gone. I do recall seeing him one more time several years later. I was hitchhiking from Florida or somewhere and I stopped in Miamisburg to see how he was. He opened the door, and after a minute he recognized me. I didn't think he would. He grabbed me in his strong arms and hugged tight. One moment in time again... like a photo... and everything after is blank. I don't have any memory of hearing of his death or a funeral. I have a thing about funerals: People tell me I was there, but I have no memories of them. All in all, he was the tailor made father for me. We had so many good times, it's funny that this railroad station picture surfaces so often. After he died, I kept seeing men who looked like him for several years. A car would be ahead of me in traffic and I'd see the back of the driver's head. It was him! I'd hurry to catch up and it was just a stranger. Or was it, I wondered? Maybe it was my dad for the minute before I caught up. Copyright © June 15, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

June 10th, 2019... To paraphrase the great Gary Owens, "It's Memory Time now, and we hope you've enjoyed reading it half as much as we've enjoyed bringing it to you." That said, here's Jack...

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EYESIGHT TO THE BLIND. (Written in 2006.) If you've always had perfect vision, you may not understand some of this. My parents were told that I was nearsighted and bought me my first pair of glasses when I was about six. Maybe younger... I'm not sure. The opticians said that new prescriptions were needed every six months, which was a way to sell more glasses. So, twice a year, stronger glasses were put on me. The walls looked curved, the universe was distorted, and my eyesight weakened with each new pair. They usually made me dizzy and nauseated, and I now realize they were too strong. I did well as an athlete in school sports, even though I had to wear a heavy metal and foam shield that was hard to keep in place. They didn't seem to have the light plastic ones then. It was like peering out a prison window. Nobody mentioned contact lenses. They were made of wood in those days. In high school I couldn't always read what was written on the board, but I didn't want to admit it, so I dazzled them with my personality. Hey...maybe that's when I became an entertainer! Later, when I went into show business, I wore cool prescription shades, contact lenses, or granny glasses. They became part of my image. I never really liked them, but without them I was legally blind. To me, looking through glasses was like being inside, looking at the world through a window. Not really being out in it. Sometimes I'd go outside and take the glasses off, and even though things were a just a blur, it felt more real with the breeze on my eyes and no barrier between me and my surroundings. I faked my way through school, struggled through football, baseball, and even a season of pro hockey. I performed on stages for thousands of people, with those eye crutches, and after all that... suddenly I can see perfectly! It's like a miracle! My doctor performed two brief surgeries in the past month, and I now have 20-20 Ben Franklins. I can see like a mink! I've been walking around the neighborhood looking at the highest leaves on trees, the textures of flowers and grass, and especially the colors, which are a lot brighter than I thought. I took a good look at Misty and she's still beautiful. Today I drove the car for the first time in about a month, and I didn't hit as many people as I used to. It may be a screwed-up world, but I'm glad to be in it. Copyright © Jack Blanchard, 2006. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

June 6th, 2019...

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A little late this week due to email problems. We're happy to be back with you. :) A LITTLE MIRACLE IN ASHFORD, ALABAMA. When you're hitch-hiking cross country you usually wind up taking circuitous routes, getting stranded in places you never knew existed, and meeting people who are surprised that you exist. We were once detained as suspected chain gang escapees, which is where this story will eventually arrive. You may be trying to go north, but find yourself heading east or west, and happy to get a ride, to get off the side of a long and often creepy road. When hitching you see the roads differently. You notice the gum wrappers, cracks, puddles, weeds and insects on the shoulders. You get to know them well, sometimes being there for many hours. A bend in the highway that cars disappear around in seconds, is a mystery to you. Maybe there's a town up there, or an old gas station where you might get water, or a lucky ride, or more endless miles of nothing, Hitch-hiking to a place a thousand miles from where you start can easily cover almost double the AAA route, moving laterally as often as forward. And you can plan on a number of extra days in the burning sun or cold rain. This isn't all bad. Looking back on it It's an adventure. At the time it seemed like punishment. Bob Egan and I were trying to get back to Buffalo from Florida, and got dropped off at nightfall in a tiny southern town by a bakery truck driver going in for the night. The two-lane county road traffic amounted to a vehicle an hour, it was dark and getting chilly, we hadn't eaten, and were practically broke. We were in Ashford, Alabama, at the intersection of US84 (now called Old US 84), and the road going northward was the narrow County Road 55. There was a streetlight on the corner, so we stood under it, trying to look wholesome and non-threatening. Kids from the town came around to watch us stand there. We were the biggest thing going on in town. They were just a few feet from us, but we couldn't understand a single word they said. We were from another planet. After an hour or maybe three, a dump truck rumbled toward us from the wrong direction. Shovels were hanging on its sides and clanging. It stopped and large elderly man in a plaid shirt got out. He was the sheriff or maybe the constable. The big man was friendly, but said he had to take us in because we fitted the description of two chain gang escapees... two young Yankee fellas, one dark-haired and one blond. We tried to tell him how innocent and nice we were, but the report said that they were smooth talkers, and not to believe anything they said. We climbed up into the truck cab and he drove us about two blocks to the police station, where we sat and were given coffee and a sandwich, while the sheriff made some phone calls. The police station was on Main, which in my memory was an unpaved dirt street. After a while he said "We don't have a regular jail here, but we've got a place for you to stay until court in the morning." Then he drove us to a big wooden house of indeterminate color, and introduced us to a matronly lady... the proprietor of this rooming house. She was as friendly as he was, but we were surely headed for life on the chain gang, and that took a little edge off the fun. We did get some needed sleep and some breakfast in the morning. The rugged old cop picked us up and said we had been cleared of all suspicions. He drove us to the county line. Like an idiot I said "Good luck catching those guys." He waved out the truck window and headed back to town. It only took a few decades for me to figure out what really happened. He knew we would be stuck all night on that corner. He could see that we were tired and probably hungry, and he made the phone call to the boarding house lady to put us up for the night. There were no escaped convicts. Just two young strangers who needed some help. I have a warm spot in my heart for Ashford, Alabama, and those good people. Copyright © June 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

May 21st, 2019...

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A PLACE IN MY MIND. I didn't grow up around Country music, but I chose it as a career because I like it, because it fits my voice and writing style, and because I’m too nervous to steal. I grew up in a city and was exposed to very little Country music. When I first heard Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, and Lefty Frizzell, I was fascinated. Maybe you were brought up on Country music, but to me it was a whole new thing! The imagery in the lyrics attracted me because I’d never been to those places. Distant places hold a magic. Our family took Sunday drives through the countryside. We loved it, and I even envied the folks who lived there, even though I knew it wasn’t for me. I can only take so much peace and quiet. But I do have a country home. It’s in my songs. A PLACE IN MY MIND. Home – a place in my mind with summertime snow… Home – a place in my mind where wintertime flowers grow… I can go home in the springtime and see the leaves turn gold, Or just drop in and say hello to my folks, In a place where they’ll never grow old Home – a feeling of love that the family gives… Home – a place in my mind where Grandpa and Grandma still live… Dad’s gonna shake my hand, I’ll get a kiss from Mom, I know. Home – a place in my mind where I sometimes go. Home – a place in my mind where dandelions blow… Home – a tree I can climb and look at the world below… I can sit out on the front porch in that squeaky swing, Or just drop in to my yesterday house, Where little sisters often sing. Home – a place in my mind with a kitchen that’s warm… Home – by the fireside glow, I’m lookin’ out at the storm… And when this lonesome traveler’s feeling kinda low, Home – is a place in my mind where I sometimes go. Copyright © May 20, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Lyrics by Jack Blanchard, Copyright © Jack Blanchard Songs (BMI). All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

May 13th, 2019...

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THE OPTIMIST. Denver Omlit was an optimist through and through. He and his neighbor Ed were admiring Ed's new Corvette convertible. "I knew you could do it", said Denver, "because you set your goal, pictured it, believed it, and went after it." Ed said, "I won it in a lottery." Not to be dismissed so easily, Denver said, "You believed in your heart that you had the winning ticket." Ed was a pessimist. He said, "With all the crime in this city, I'm scared something will happen to it. I never owned anything this expensive before." "Think only positive thoughts", Denver said, "and nothing bad can happen to your car. Ed said, "You think you can do anything if you believe it?" Omlit said, "You're reality is a product of your thoughts." Ed was thinking a violent thought about Denver right then. "OK. Let's see you fly", said Ed. "I don't want to fly", said Denver. "But you could, if you set your mind to it, right?" "Yes, definitely. You are what you think", said Denver. "Then prove it, bigmouth!” said Ed. The optimist wasn't around for several days, and then he was seen on the roof of their seventeen story building, carrying out several large items toward the 47th Street side. The items were: two light-weight balsa surfboards, a large cardboard carton, and a garbage bag with something lumpy in it. He took a can of quick drying spray glue from the bag, and sprayed both sides of the boards. Then he dipped the boards into the box one-by-one, and brought them out covered with feathers. He leaned the boards on the foot high wall at the roof's edge, and while they dried he got some other equipment from the box... a football helmet, goggles, and two rolls of industrial duct tape. He put on the helmet and goggles first, because according to his plan it would be difficult later. A crowd was gathering down on the street. He turned back toward the roof entrance door and clapped his hands twice. Three musicians came out, carrying a bass drum, an accordion, and a police whistle. They gave a raggedy fanfare as a young lady in a bathing suit twirled out, did a circus curtsy like a magician's assistant, and began duct taping the feathery wings to Denver's arms. The bass drum beat slowly to raise the suspense. From the garbage bag, the assistant retrieved a bullhorn, and held it to Denver Omlit's mouth as he spoke to the crowd below. "If a bird can do it with a brain the size of a pea, I can do it with my wonderful walnut of a brain. I believe with all my heart that I can fly.” He spread his wings with a flourish and stepped off the roof. As he fell straight down he pep-talked himself. "I can do it! I can soar like a mink!" He looked down and saw the flagpole on the 14th floor. It was coming at him right between the legs. He hit it like a wishbone and the flag staff broke off and started falling with him. "Embrace the pain", he shouted! "The pain is our friend!" At the tenth floor his pants caught on a window air conditioner, ripped off, and flew away. "Ah, that breeze feels good", he yelled! The flagpole and the air conditioner had slowed his descent slightly, and he imagined he had planned it that way. At the fifth floor, the optimist said "So far, so good." The updraft was gathering under his football helmet, causing a slight parachute effect. He hit a small window awning on the third floor, and then the big awning at the street entrance to the building. It became a trampoline that bounced him toward the street, where Ed's Corvette convertible was parked... with the top up. The convertible top crushed nicely, affording Denver a comfortable landing in the red leather upholstery. The above account is reported here as it was presented at Ed's trial for attacking the optimist. When Denver testified from his wheelchair that he was thankful because he would soon walk better than ever, Ed had to be restrained. Copyright © May 13, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

May 6th, 2019...

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THE LAST DAY. Simon Lescart woke up on his last day, plugged in the coffee maker, and sat down at the computer to check his email. There was the usual spam and forwarded jokes, which he deleted without reading. The sixth message subject line read "Final Notice", and the sender was an acronym, "T.P.T.B." He started to dump it as spam, but for some reason he clicked it open. The message was this: "NOTICE OF EXPIRATION. "Dear Mr. Lescart, "This is an automatic reminder that your life expires at midnight tonight. Please do not try to reply to this email. Have a nice day. Very truly yours, The Powers That Be." Simon tried to reply anyway, but his email bounced back from the "unknown recipient". He knew it must be a stupid joke, but he couldn't stop thinking about it as he fought the city traffic on his way to work. What if this really was his last day? He'd often heard the old saying, "You should live every day as if it were your last." What should a person do on his last day, anyway? Get drunk? Smell some flowers? Confess his sins? What? He didn't have much of a family to visit, just a brother up in Akron and an ex-wife in Atlanta. They hadn't spoken in years. He couldn't think of any old sins offhand. Maybe he should commit some? He knew that the weird email was a fraud, but he decided not to go to work today, just in case. He pulled off at an exit and got back on the expressway, going the other way, toward the ocean. This is nuts, he thought. He couldn't think of anything really important to do, befitting a persons last day on the planet, so he just sat on the beach for most of the day and drank a few beers. He felt a little nervous, like a high school truant, but he also felt something else he couldn't define. Was it freedom? He had some guilt too, for wasting the day looking at the ocean. Someone sat down beside him. The man was obviously homeless, in his ragged black suit and dirty torn sneakers. The man said, "Are you okay, friend? You look kinda lost." Simon said, "That's an odd word... 'Friend'. Now that you mention it, I guess I don't have any of those. Just a bunch of acquaintances." "Maybe you never really tried", said the man. "I've been pretty busy", said Simon. "You must have accomplished great things, being so busy", the man said. "No great things. Just keeping even. Paying the bills", said Simon. "Do you think you have any great things in you", asked the man? Simon said, "Maybe. I've been doing a lot of thinking. If I had the time I'd do things differently." That's when the chest pain struck and the world faded to black. He heard voices. "What Happened?" "Get back!" He was being carried. Then a blinding light above. People working over him. "We're losing him! CLEAR!" Then a huge shock and the world was gone again. The smiling nurse said, "Welcome back. You've had quite a day." "What time is it", he asked? "Almost midnight", she said. "I have to call my brother", he insisted. "We'll contact him for you. You can talk to him in a few days." "I wish I HAD a few days", he said! A cell phone rang. "That sounds like mine", he said. "Where is it?" "It's beside your bed, but you need to rest." He reached for it, but she stopped him. "I'll answer it for you", she said. "Lie back down!" She said, "It's just a text message." "What does it say?", he groaned. The letters on the cell phone screen said this: "EXTENSION GRANTED." Jack Blanchard Copyright © 2009, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

April 29th, 2019...

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THIS IS TOM T. HALL. "This is Tom T. Hall", he said. I think I'd have recognized the voice on the phone even if he hadn't said his name. I almost hadn't answered because I couldn't find the phone. I don't keep my music room too neat. Once we returned from a tour and found the cops at our house. They said our front door was open and my studio had been ransacked. I told them: "No. That's just the way it usually is". Tom T. and I had talked a few times at parties, etc., around Nashville. We had the same manager, Bob Neal, and the same label, Mercury, but we didn't exactly "hang out". In Nashville we were all too busy to really get to know each other well. I was surprised by the call. He said he'd been reading a book of mine on a plane. I asked where he'd gotten it. It wasn't exactly a best seller. He told me somebody on the plane gave it to him. He thought it was Loretta Lynn. The point of the call was this: He wanted me to write the liner notes for his upcoming album. I said, "What do you want me to write?" He said, "Just write that kind of stuff that you write. That's what I want on there". The album was "We All Got Together And..." (Mercury SR61362.) I'd never heard the songs, and had no idea what the theme was. The most popular song from the LP was "Me and Jesus", I learned that later. I worried about it for about ten minutes, And then wrote this: "WARNING: DO NOT hold this album under the hot water faucet, as the people living inside the record might pop out into living 3-D, right there in your kitchen... or even worse, your bathroom. The crowd might be hard to explain to the landlord. "This same warning applies to any Tom T. Hall record because of his secret recipe for canning REAL people like you and me and Luther Short into plastic discs, without losing the original flavor. "The characters in his songs act completely on their own, sticking up their noses at Mr. Hall. They couldn't care less if he is stuck without a romantic ending, or an earthshaking moral. They've got their own troubles, and they work them out in their own way. Thanks to the miracles of science, we can eavesdrop in living stereo. "Heroes and beautiful people are the usual favorites of storytellers, but Tom T. finds poetry in us ordinary hairy-legged mortals, with our petty selfishness, hypocrisy, and intolerance... our weaknesses, and our occasional goodness. "So, step inside. You're likely to run into yourself somewhere in this record. "And, oh yeah, like I said at the beginning, Keep this record dry, and out of the reach of children. And please keep Tom T. Hall's picture off the floor if you have pets. "Jack Blanchard" Copyright © April 29, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

April 22nd, 2019... We don't like to brag around here (unless, of course, it's absolutely necessary...) but... let the bragging commence!
And now, it's time for this week's Adventure!

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ADVENTURE. Miami. Early 1960s. Misty and I were struggling, mostly broke, and even homeless on the street for a few days. In the mid-1960s we had a trio on the road playing small clubs all over the East and Midwest. Our old car and homemade trailer kept breaking down and taking all the money. Misty was "Mary" then. Then we got lucky and landed a steady job at a Miami supper club, where we met Richard Nixon and other famous people. Things were getting better. We started singing duets, Mary Blanchard became Misty Morgan, and we got a one month booking at a lounge in Key West. Two guys came in and signed us to a four song contract. and we went to Nashville to record. There were no hits, but our song "Bethlehem Steel" made the Billboard Chart, and Wayside Records signed us. In December, 1969, Misty and I were entertaining crowds at Orlando's Everglades lounge and commuting to Nashville to record. We had had another Billboard charted single, "Big Black Bird". We had a steady job, a nice home, and bought a new Corvette. After struggling for years on the road playing low-pay gigs. the stress was off and we were reasonably happy without any big hits. Our song "Big Black Bird" had gotten a Pop Pick in Billboard, along with Aretha Franklin and others the same week, although we considered it Country. Wayside Records got excited and negotiated with Mercury Records for distribution. Mercury was ready to go with the record, but the master sent to them by Wayside was faulty. They had to call Wayside and wait for another master. Radio stations were ready to play it but had no copies, and the record died. But now we were on Mercury, a major label. In early March, 1970, the phone rang. It was Little Richie Johnson at Wayside. He said, "You better get packed. We're selling 50,000 a day!" A month later, on April 4th, "Tennessee Bird Walk" hit Number One, and our life changed completely. A week later on April 11th, it was Number One again, and we were doing a show with Jerry Lee Lewis and Waylon Jennings at a performing arts center. Waylon joked, "You're killing my record. Please get off Number One." That was the wildest year ever. We were doing major network TV shows, state fairs and festivals, recording "Humphrey the Camel", "You've Got Your Troubles, I've Got MIne", and others, and dealing with big time agents and managers. We were disoriented, facing new problems, and on the road all the time. We were often exhausted, and didn't know where we were. The money went through our hands to agents, managers, musicians, roadies, travel expenses, and wardrobe for TV and live shows. Our happiest times were in the studios, recording with great musicians. It was a wonderful year, an exciting year, and a grueling year. Then a bunch of IRS guys showed up at our house. The hard times and the good times made it an adventure. Copyright © April 22, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

Hey there, folks, your perennially too tired webmeister here. (Who knew retirement would be so exhausting?) So much to catch up on, musically and otherwise; and I'll get caught up by tonight, promise. But in the meantime, Jack has a thing or two to say about the weather. Here he is...

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HURRICANES. It's mid-April, and we're already thinking about storms with names. Here's my account of a hurricane we enjoyed a couple of years ago. * * * We're busy packing for hurricane Irma. We're throwing each other into plastic bags. If we pack all our irreplaceables Misty will have to leave me behind. The stations were out of gas, Publix was out of water, but they had Peanut Butter Cups so I had 4 to cheer me up. We're going to a local motel Sunday. If the storm comes sooner we can't get there. All hotel rooms are booked solid. We're going to be sitting in the hotel lobby from midnight Saturday till 3PM Sunday. I hope they don't mind our drinking beer, smoking cigars, and having sex. Late night watching the Ch. 2 weather guy, I said, "I think he's growing a mustache". Misty said, "It's the shadow of his nose." I said, "That's an old song." When we were checking into the motel, people were sitting around the dining area eating breakfast. They were the exact same people from the hurricane last year, sitting in the same seats... like some kind of weird painting. There may have been dogs playing poker. I was carrying loads of stuff in the rain. A guy said, "You're all wet." I said, "I must have sneezed while peeing." My hands are so swollen I can't get my ring off. I'll have to use the can opener. We heard there was a missing cat in the hotel. Later, at the height of the storm, Misty said, "I just saw something fly by the window!" I said, "Was it a cat?" We were so tired from all the preparations and loading & unloading that we slept through the actual hurricane. One more hurricane and they're gonna hear from me! Copyright © April 15, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

And now, some stuff I missed... from April 8th:

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THE KIDNEY STONE CAPER. We were standing in line for the CMA Awards Show in about 1973 or '74, and talking to friends waiting with us. Faron Young was right in front of us, and he gave Misty a big kiss and hug. I didn't get one. He had recently been in a car crash, and I asked him how he was doing. He said that he'd split his tongue. I said, "Can you do any birdcalls?" We all laughed. That's what we all do when we're not winning that year. We stand in line and make each other laugh. George Morgan was just behind us and we got talking to him. Somehow my kidney stone problem was brought up. I had been to a doctor because of an abdominal pain, and he told me what it was, and that I would have a lot of them. I never did...just that one, but it was a lot of fun. George told me not to have surgery... just to buy a case of beer and drink one after the other. It made a weird kind of sense because beer is a diuretic and a sedative. I should have gone home and followed his instructions. "Home" was our motorhome, parked in The Music City Campground, in LaVergne, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. After the awards we went home to bed and forgot to buy the beer. I woke up in agony around 2 AM. If you're a guy who's never had the thrill of a kidney stone, it's a lot like giving birth to a porcupine. I asked Misty to kill me or get me to a hospital. She chose the latter, and took off for the Murfreesboro Hospital at about 60 miles an hour, with cans and dishes flying out of the cupboards, and the TV antenna still up. I was moaning on the floor in a fetal position, hoping to be struck by lightning. We got to the Murfreesboro city limits when we realized something... We had no idea where the hospital was. Just then a cop pulled us over. He said, "Follow me", and shot away like a bullet. Misty tried to keep up, but we lost him. Somehow, we eventually found the hospital and the nurses put me on a cot in the emergency room, and went to the Bahamas. A month passed. Well, maybe an hour, and no doctor came to see me. I would have welcomed Kavorkian. Misty stormed down the hall, saw a guy with a stethoscope around his neck, and asked him if there was a doctor employed there. He was miffed that she didn't recognize him as a doctor, with his new stethoscope and all. He said, "I'm not going to give drugs to every hippie off the street." They weren't used to my haircut in those days. She assaulted him verbally for a few minutes, and then dragged him out to look at our motorhome, which had our names and "Columbia/Epic Records" written on it. He made a couple of phone calls and verified our identity, and suddenly became a bowing headwaiter. He quickly gave me a shot and some pain pills, and put me up for the rest of the night in the children's section. I woke up at 7 AM to a room with Donald Duck wallpaper, and cartoons blaring on the TV. It wasn't the kids running the television, but another full-grown idiot in the next bed. I got up, walked out to the parking lot in my gown, and woke Misty up to go find my clothes. She'd had a bit of wine after the ordeal and neither of us felt great. We left the Murfreesboro Hospital in our dust, and vowed to never pay them. The pain pills ran out the next evening, and we got the case of beer George Morgan had prescribed. I took it like a good boy. I'd finished twelve or so bottles, and was still feeling some pain, but I didn't much care. I went into the bathroom, and in the silence Misty heard "PING!" And she heard me say "AHA!" She said "Let the man who is without sin pass the first stone." Copyright © April 8, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

And from April 1st... TIME SQUARE. The sound of the city rush hour wakes him up early. He's been sleeping under the newspapers and cardboard, dreaming that he's still a boy at his grandmother's house... that he still has someone who gives a damn. That he's still somebody! Dreams and reality have become blurred lately. He drinks coffee from a Styrofoam cup and watches the people going to work, and then again in the afternoon he watches them from a bench as they crowd the bus stop, studying the signs on the buses, waiting for the one that will take them home. He never sees a bus that will take him home. The sun goes down and the city changes character as the temperature drops. The well-dressed business folks are replaced by dangerous people. Desperation makes you dangerous. He's gotten some wine somewhere and is wandering the downtown night alone. He checks pay phone slots for change and finds a quarter in one. Thinking about the dreams of family he's been having, and being about half stoned, he drops in the quarter and dials Grant 1623, the phone number that was his grandmother's, a lifetime ago, when he was a child. Somehow the wires and circuits of time get crossed, and from across the void his grandmother answers the phone. She says, "Hurry home, dear. Supper's on the table. I hope you're wearing your sweater... You'll catch your death of cold". These are the first words he's heard in an eternity that sound like somebody cares about him. That he really exists at all. * * * The policeman speaks into his radio, "We got a homeless here. No hurry. I think it's too late for this one". But the policeman is wrong. The boy is already home. Copyright © April 1, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
March 25th, 2019...

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EXCITEMENT AT OUR HOUSE TODAY. Misty shouted, "Jack, come here right now and listen to this!" It was the sound of water rushing against the back of her bathroom wall. We thought the hot water heater had burst, so I ran out to the shed. Nothing. Silence. Nick, our neighbor came over and thought it was a burst water pipe behind a wall with no access, meaning the wall would have to be torn out. I said, "I'll have to get a plumber", and Misty started filling water jugs. Then I went out and shut the water off. The wall still kept roaring! That can't be! I started moving things out of the bathroom closet to see if there was a trapdoor or something. The roaring water STOPPED! It was Misty's electric toothbrush spinning against the hollow board wall! We all swear it sounded like water shooting out of a broken pipe. After a moment of silent relief we all broke out laughing. * * * A BUG ROMANCE. It's Spring and we have wasps here. Some are bigger than I am. Wasps like nooks and crannies. They prefer nooks, but will settle for a cranny. I came outside and was going to get into the car and noticed two wasps, a large one and another more petite. The large one, the boy, was looking for nooks on the car door, trying the cracks around the edges, and the space at the bottom of the window glass. He only wanted the very best nook we had to offer. I took a stick and started blocking him at every turn. This didn't make him happy. It made him more determined. Meanwhile, the girl wasp was hovering patiently a few inches away, while he was checking in. He ran and dodged like a quarterback making an end run. Then he flew about a yard away to get some air, and to tell his sweetheart not to worry. I quickly got into the car and slammed the door. Ha! I forgot where I was planning to go. I slid over, got out the other side, and escaped into the house. The next day I came out and found them inside the car, and still on their honeymoon. I opened the door wide and waved them out like a hotel door man. They gave me a dirty look and flew out, still hand in hand. * * * FROM MARCH 20th, 2014... Today we woke up to the sound of our new next-door neighbor, Nick, cleaning our roof, a good three hour job. What nice people! Then our friends Bill & Suzie came over and hung up the vertical blinds on our double glass door and window. While they were here a family of friends from our old neighborhood dropped in. They have moved to this same town. Old home week. Misty and Suzie went and got some Bo Jangles' Chicken dinners. We couldn't ask for a better day, or better friends. Copyright © March 25, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

March 22nd, 2019... Well, THIS was faster!!
Our song "Old Song" is Number One on the SoundClick Country Chart today. Listen to it here: And congratulations to Jack and Michael! Well done!!
March 19th, 2019... Well, THAT was fast!

March 18th, 2019...

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A SONG FROM LIFE. My sister was in a nursing home some time ago. Her memory seemed selective, and conversations were somewhat confused. Misty and I went to visit one afternoon and she wasn't in her room. We found her with a group of patients. and we watched from outside the door. Someone, probably a nurse, was playing old time songs, and the patients were smiling and singing along. My sister was singing with enthusiasm, not missing a word. The first time we'd seen her happy in too long. More recently, I was thinking about that day, and thought this should be a song, so I wrote and rewrote the words. I thought of my friend, Michael Warner, a musician who lives in Australia. We've written a few funny songs together, and I emailed him the words. He wrote the music, sang it on a demo, and emailed it to me within three days. Misty loves it and that's good enough for me. I did a mastering mix and today we're sharing it with friends. * * * "OLD SONGS". Mrs. Miller is singing the old songs With the nurses at afternoon games. She remembers the words to the old songs, But forgotten her family's names. The past is just over her shoulder And the music can turn back the years. Old times flicker by the corner of her eye When the old songs ring in her ears. So, bring up the band and give them a hand. While we can, let's all sing along And maybe we'll find lost love in the memories That live in the heart of old songs. So, bring .. back.. the songs from the radio. Leaving the cold of this old room behind. The music we know will show us the way to go, Take us to places that wait in our mind. So, bring up the band and give them a hand. While we can, let's all sing along And maybe we'll find lost love in the memories That live in the heart of Old Songs. * * * Listen to the demo here: Jack Blanchard. Words: Jack Blanchard, Music: Michael Warner. Jack Blanchard Songs (BMI). Copyright © March 18, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

March 11th, 2019...

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MORE TRUE STORIES AND A COUPLE OF LIES. Politicians are my heroes. They are honest, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent servants of the public. They manage to get by on the same old enormous salaries until they croak. I love Republicans and Democrats equally. They ought to have two co-presidents, one from each major party. Twice as much brain power! I try to divide up my day in such a way as to be conservative on the odd hours and liberal during the even ones. I would vote twice if I could. They deserve our encouragement. They are always welcome at our home if they can find out where it is. * * * I did hard labor for minimum wage at the Dunlop tire factory. They had these giant molds that formed huge tractor tires. The molds had to be cleaned. Pieces of rubber and dirt that got in them would make the tires come out funny. The molds looked like the world's biggest waffle irons. My job was this: I'd put on a big protective mask and gloves, grab a thick hose with a ten pound nozzle, climb a ladder, bend over, lean into the mold, and start sand blasting. It was LOUD! At this point somebody would usually poke me on the butt. I'd jump, bang my head, turn off the pressure hose, back down the ladder, take off the mask, and look around. Nobody was ever there. I saw little smiles on some of the faces at break time. * * * Once I was so desperate to rid myself of writer's block that I went to a hypnotist. Just as he went into his hypnosis act somebody started a motorcycle right outside his window. I couldn't hear anything he said. The hypnotist pretended he didn't hear it, and kept on going so he could charge me full price. * * * After the week's shows in Atlanta, Boots Randolph threw a party for the artists. Later in the party some medics rushed in with a stretcher. Roy Clark grinned, raised his glass and said goodby to everybody. He got on the stretcher and was rushed to the airport in an ambulance. He had a plane to catch. * * * A lady pointed at my leather vest and said, "You know a cow was murdered for that jacket?" I said, "I didn't know there were any witnesses. Now I'll have to kill you." * * * A Wendy's cashier demanded that I show ID to prove that I was NOT eligible for the senior discount. Copyright © March 11, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

March 5th, 2019...

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HOT LONG FOOT DOGS. Almost every morning when we wake up, I say something like this to Misty: Do you come here often?" Today she said... "Not if I don't have to." She had some Strauss waltzes playing on a CD. I didn't comment. After about ten minutes of Strauss' three-quarter time, she got up and changed the CD, saying... "I want some music where I don't have to count!" Anyway... A lot of people make me laugh: Stephen Wright, Bob Newhart, Mark Twain, Homer Simpson...The list is endless. But the one who makes me laugh most often lives right here. At first I thought it was a tendency toward spoonerisms, years ago, when Misty read a roadside sign to me as : "Hot long foot dogs", and "Look at the Clydes up in the skow!" (Clouds up in the sky.) After a while I began to notice the little smile she had when saying one of these things. She knows she's funny, but she doesn't care if people think she's mixed up. Mixed up like a fox! Over the years I wrote most of them down for posterity on the inside covers of legal pads. I now have hundreds of these which I plan to go through someday, to put her sayings into a book. In the meantime, here are a few I can remember: "He's watching me like I'm a hawk." "Bleeding like a stuffed pig". "Life is a three-way street." "Let the guy without sin pass the first stone." I said "Who's that singing?" She said "The Elderly Brothers." She once said to me: "You could charm the women right out of the trees." "Running around like a chicken with its hat off." The first half of our drive from Tennessee was dreamlike, through spring mountains, rivers, and friendly country towns. The road south from the Florida border was comparatively dull. We passed an "IHOP" sign on the highway, and Misty sang a little song: "I Hop Alone. Because, to tell you the truth, I'm a rabbit. I don't mind. It's a habit. I Hop Alone." Sometimes she gets deep. Copyright © March 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

February 26th, 2019... Okay, here's the scoop. Vulchur digital magazine recently conducted an interview with Jack, and it's due to be published shortly. We'll have a link for it as soon as it's ready, folks. In the meantime, Jack has some words of wisdom for those of you out there who want to be songwriters. Tell 'em, sir...

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WRITING SERIOUS SONGS. I can't tell a songwriter how to write, but I can describe some of my methods that others may find helpful. On a serious lyric I try to avoid cleverness. First I stare out the window a while and mentally put myself in a place and situation, and see where it goes from there. In my case, most of them are places and situations I've been in. I set the scene with a few details I call "furniture", to get the feel of it, then the story develops from that. I have some examples. "Dandelions that grow along the highway, Silver gray they blow away like foam. Trucks roll by and make the blackbirds fly away. Seems like there ain't no goin' home." I was broke and hitchhiking in the rain outside Phenix City, Alabama. I had a hangover, a new sore tattoo, and no home to go to. Until then I'd thought I was the happy wanderer. I was hitching vaguely northward because I had remnants of a family somewhere up there. "Spent what I had left in Phenix City. Nothin' in my pocket but my comb. The way I look this morning ain't so pretty. It seems like there ain't no goin' home. Oh, it seems like there ain't no goin' home." I had walked away from a couple of relationships, thinking there would always be another waiting in the wings. I found you can't depend on that. These were not perfect relationships, but on this journey I could have used a partner. "Over on the hill I see a farmer, Workin' in his field behind a mule. There'll be smoke from the chimney of his cabin, In the evening when the air is turning cool; And a woman cookin' supper in the kitchen. That's not for me, you see my freedom's all I own. Here and there I get my share of lovin', But it seems like there ain't no goin' home. Yeah, it seems like there ain't no goin' home." After a lot of rides to nowhere that left me stranded in desolate places, I wound up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with the flu. It was cold and all I had for warmth was a fold up plastic raincoat. The town was having a centennial, and a bunch of good-natured men, including a sheriff, wanted to arrest me for not having a beard, as I was sitting shaking in the Greyhound station. I had somehow come up with bus fare to Buffalo, where relatives agreed to take me in, but the bus driver didn't want to let me on the bus because of my shaking, and the awful way I looked, and the wrinkled plastic I was clutching around myself. But it must have turned out all right because I'm still here, and I got a song out of it. You can listen to the song here: Copyright © February 26, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

February 25th, 2019... Just an advance notice... Our peerless leader (aka: Jack) has recently been talking to a Vulchur. (Yes, that's spelled correctly.) More to come tomorrow!
February 11th, 2019...

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THE COMEDIAN. I sang with The Dawn Breakers quartet in a show club called The Elmwood Casino in Windsor, Ontario, across from Detroit. The emcee was a very funny comedian named Frankie Rapp. I once saw him in a Jerry Lewis movie. There was also a classy female singer named Gloria Brooks. She was Frankie’s ex-wife.and she told me she didn’t like old comedians. She’d been married to two of them. After comedians make us laugh we expect them to be jolly in real life. They can be quite different . Lou Costello got 60% and Bud Abbott got 40% of their income. When asked if he thought he needed Abbott, Costello said, “I could have him painted on the curtain.” Misty and I have known hilarious comics who were depressives offstage.. We got involved with one who was evil. I was producing a Starday Records artist named Rusty Diamond, who had a knack for getting rich women as backers. Rusty wanted to put together a Vegas type stage show. I knew he wasn’t ready for that, so I suggested we hire a comedy coach I'd heard of. His name was Danny Rogers. Rusty’s backer was paying for the coaching sessions, and the rent on a rehearsal hall. Danny could be funny, lovable, humble, devious, and cruel. He could be different people at different moments. He did so many characters I didn’t know which was the real him. I think he was the mean one. He’d been fired from Milton Berle’s Vegas show for being too funny. He told me “Berle was right. It was his show.” The potential comedy group consisted of Misty and me, Paul McLaughlin our sax player, and Rusty was to be the star. Rogers began calling Paul “the hick” and riding him mercilessly. I was the designated straight man, Misty was “the chick”. It never became clear what Rusty was supposed to do. It did become clear that Rusty was not going to be the star. Danny was getting paid to train him, but Rusty was on his way out. It was morphing into The Danny Rogers Group. Rogers was a terrific comedian and I was to be his Dean Martin. He didn’t even want Paul in the act. That’s why he made his life miserable, but we made sure that Paul stayed. To be fair, Danny did teach us a lot about stagecraft and comedy. He taught us some great routines, but he yelled at us all the time, which took the fun out of it. Rusty’s backers pulled the plug and he left the group, Paul “the hick” was miserable, and Misty and I were imagining fun ways to kill Danny Rogers. Misty bought an expensive new dress and Danny commanded her to “Never wear that again!” Then he booked our act into a famous showplace in the Caribbean. We all knew at that moment that we were not going to be on any island with Danny Rogers. We were actually afraid to tell him. He had become the cruel warden. But we did tell him, and he wasn’t at all happy. First he became the poor soul who’s been hurt, to make us feel guilty. He was good! Finally he got mad, did a troll dance, and left. (Maybe I made up the troll dance.) Ten years later, after we’d had several hit records, I was calling old names in our address book for some reason, and got Danny Rogers on the phone, I asked if he remembered us, and he said this: “Yeah. Too bad you never made it. I'm in the diamond business now.” With all our modern technology \we still can't strangle jerks over the phone. Copyright © February 11, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

February 5th, 2019... Well. Through fatigue and snow (NOW?!?), YFNW™ is finally catching up on things around here. Here's Jack...

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TRANSITIONS. (Written February 28th, 2015.) It's a cool gray rainy day here in Hickory Hollow, a transitional day, with the remnants of Winter and early signs of Spring. Standing under the edge of our carport I can see almost a mile of tan fields and lines of trees, until the landscape gets lost in the mist. The trees and Spanish moss are moving with the breeze, as are the flags on our street. These are mostly World War Two people and that kind of patriotism doesn't go away, even though the nation has changed over their lifetime. I didn't like Florida for a long time after I landed here. The palms annoyed me. They were foreign and reminded me that I wasn't home; that this was all temporary and I didn't belong here. I could go to almost anywhere up north and not feel like an outsider, but Florida felt unreal... like a movie. As I stood just out of the rain today and took in the palms, the giant oaks in rainy-day colors, and the Spanish Moss like graceful fringe on a gown, it occurred to me that I like it. When did that happen? I still love Buffalo with it's four seasons and the energy in the air, but it's mostly the Buffalo in my memory. The last time we visited there, I enjoyed it, but I had a sense of being outside looking in. The world has changed so much that maybe we all feel a little like strangers at times, but this subtropical place has sneaked up on me and it's started to look right. Maybe I'm home... or as close as I'll ever get. Copyright © February 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

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THE DISNEY WORLD GROUNDBREAKING. I just found an old newspaper article I wrote back when I was a cub reporter. It's about The Walt Disney World groundbreaking, The truth can be funny. * * * It was a Rolaids morning. At 8:37 AM I remembered why I stopped getting up early, when stomachs growl, and the breath of man strikes fear into the hearts of moose. The Parkwood Plaza Cinema was packed with press people, snapping pictures and interviewing the crap out of each other. At the Disney Groundbreaking Press Conference I thought there would be mice and ducks, but not an animal spoke, and not a magic wand waved. The affair proceeded with the hilarity of a colonoscopy in the rain. One by one, executives confessed to excitement, undetectable to the human eye. The audience reacted with a burst of apathy. There were speeches about hydro-pneumatic modular electromagnetic prefabrication, followed, two or three days later, by a spirited race to the rest rooms. I think Scrooge McDuck is running the company. We stood in awe of cardboard models hovered over by cardboard dignitaries, while cameramen kneeled and stretched in their native dance. News people rattled off reporter lingo into phones, scooping each other. I was amazed to see many of them typing. I do all my writing with a brown crayon. Buses carried us to a two-hour presentation of mud, where holes were being dug on Disney swampland. Balloons represented future hotels which were the project's main theme. Then back to the buses for another ride. I awoke with a start when the bus door opened, thinking we had reached Cincinnati, only to find us at a Ramada Inn. I checked my watch. It had rusted to a stop. A nice lunch of Chicken Formica awaited us poolside. There was no shade, so we ate, glowered, and watched each other burn, to the music of a sweating Latin band. I was in such pitiful shape that when I got home my dog tried to bite me. The family asked me how it went. "Disney magic was all around", I said. "The entire day was one of beauty and song." Copyright © January 28, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 21st, 2018...

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GHOST TOWN. Somehow we had missed the turnoff to the southern Ohio town. We went back to where the highway ought to be and found a narrow old road, with grass growing up through the cracks in the pavement. Could this be the main road to town that I remembered from my childhood? The sign said it was. The small city, after slumbering quietly for generations, had become a boomtown with the coming of a large chemical company. For a while the population grew with the influx of labor. The little corner taverns where old cronies had once exchanged worldly wisdom became juke joints as the town opened up. Housing became scarce, money became plentiful, and the townsfolk began a new habit... locking their doors. The picturesque, American town of stories was the only memory I had to go by. I was surprised at the desolate weeded over road that had once been a main artery. We turned off the superhighway and followed the rustic lane toward the town, trying to spot familiar landmarks. There were new shabby buildings, some vacant and boarded up. There were new gas stations, looking aged and toothless with their pumps gone. I thought I recognized an old building... a certain curve in the road... but the clutter made it impossible to get my bearings. Drifting into town, I was relieved to see the railroad station and its surrounding park untouched by time. I had often told Misty about the good times at Aunt Bess' house, where I had spent a lot of my childhood. Now I was about to show her the actual place where it all happened, but at first I couldn't find it. It used to be right there on the corner of Fourth and Maple. Now there was just a rundown Frankenstein house hiding in the weeds. We parked while I stared at it for a long time. I had somehow forgotten... They're all gone. The whole smiling, partying family had died off one by one since I'd been gone. I knew it, I'm sure, but I’d blocked it out. The small grocery store across the street had a new name but looked the same. I went in and asked, but they didn't remember who had lived in that corner house. They didn't recognize my desperately mentioned names, and they were busy. Asking around we learned that the chemical plant had laid off thousands of workers, and the government had built a superhighway that bypassed the town, so it went quietly back to sleep, somewhat the worse for wear. We searched the town all day, and it was sunset before we found anyone we knew. They were all together, as always. The squeak of the rusty wrought iron gate pierced the evening stillness, as we entered the old cemetery, and began brushing away weeds and dust, to peer at names on tombstones... names that clicked on familiar faces in my mind. We drove out of town and didn't talk for a while. Nobody said goodbye. If this was a ghost town these new people didn't know it. We were the ghosts. Copyright © January 21, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 16th, 2019... In the immortal words of Johnny Cash, come along and ride this train...

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RAILROAD DAYS... A long time ago we were on our way to do a national television show from the PBS main studio in Pittsburgh, and then to a Nashville recording session. Tennessee Birdwalk had become a surprise hit. Sometimes life can be good. The porter showed us to our compartment and stowed our luggage. Orlando was sliding away past our windows, so we settled down, propped our feet on our suitcases, and waited for snow. An official voice over the PA system: "You're invited to the dining car for the hospitality hour", Free coffee and orange juice". Misty said, "Let's live a little", and we staggered forward with the sway of the train. Passing through the club car, the train rounded a curve, and Misty sat on an elderly man's lap. His wife said, "Well, I never" and glared out the window at nothing. She failed to see the humor in it. The best part of the dining car is watching the scenery fly by in sunset colors. Telephone poles tick away the time, and up ahead the train whistle adds to the adventure. At every road and city street, cars are lined up waiting for us to pass by. Make way for the train, the biggest thing that moves on land! We stayed awake most of that night wiping our breath steam from the train window, and watching the sparkling towns and moonlit woodlands fall away behind us. Washington DC was having a brisk morning as we left our luxury train and boarded a coach bound for Pittsburgh, which wove slowly through the gray land Appalachia. There were untidy traces of leftover winter, dingy crusts of snow and slush. Smoky air had left its film on town and country alike, dulling the colors. Trees, houses, factories, cars, dogs, cats, grass, and people all blend to a drab tannish gray. Men in work clothes stand in the cold rain waiting for the train to take them home after another hard day. A pregnant woman struggles to get a baby carriage over the curbside slush pile without dropping her bag of groceries. Clothes are functional. No time for style. A gang of workmen lined up in the aisle waiting to get off, whisper and snicker at our haircut and clothes. We must seem outlandish to them. Misty and I smile at each other, taking no offense. The train stops and they file off, lunch boxes under their arms, heads bowed against the gray rain, each seeking out the dreary street that leads home. The train was owned by The Baltimore and Ohio/Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and the train staff was proud of it: R.G. Whitling, Conductor; L. Boone, Flagman, and E.A. Popp, Baggageman. Their hospitality brought color back to this leg of the journey. Nature soon followed suit, producing a beautiful rocky river that wandered for miles through scenic hill country. Journeys can remain after destinations fade from memory. Copyright © January 15th, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 8th, 2019...

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SOME MUSIC MEMORIES. We were doing a Southern tour with Leroy van Dyke, and at one place they didn't have enough electricity to run to the flatbed for our show. Leroy offered to let us plug in to his bus generator. It worked fine. People share on the road. Merle Haggard used our PA system when his wasn't working. Walt Disney World put on a Country Cavalcade. The three acts were in three sections of the park and we alternated show times, so the crowd would move from one stage to the next to see all the shows. Roy Clark was at the front by the castle. Hank Williams, Jr. was at the opposite end of the Park, and Misty and I and our band set up in the center near the big merry-go-round. Our section was called Vanity Fair. It was a great day to be in show business. We got some celebrities in our club in Orlando. Roni Stoneman would come in and play her banjo with us. One night she finished an amazing solo and the audience stood and cheered. She said, "I bet you thought I was just a pretty face." Fabian was in the audience a lot, always with a good looking date. He didn't sing, but we'd sit and talk with him. The first time Ferlin Husky came in he sat at a corner table to the right of our stage. We loved Ferlin. He was such a classy guy. When we introduced him to the crowd he stood up and almost knocked himself out on a TV platform over his head. We felt bad about it. In the 1970s we did "The Three Couples Tour": with Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and Misty Morgan and me. Good times. Copyright © January 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

December 31st, 2018/January 1st, 2019...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

BEING ALIVE. For some people the world changes so slowly they hardly notice it. Things happen on a small familiar set, like a stage play. For others of us, our horizons have grown so far apart it's hard to get our bearings. If I ever do get back to my old neighborhood I'm sure I'll run into a guy I used to know for whom nothing much has changed. Reality is fluid. The scenery of life changes constantly. There is only one thing we can depend on, and that's the thing we fear most: Change. Relationships change, that's for sure. If we're lucky they change into something better... different, but better. Misty is my full time family. After all these years we still have lots to talk about, and we make each other laugh.. Our occasional arguments last only minutes. We were in a bad hurricane in Miami in the 60's The metal posts holding our carport were banging up and down in the 135 mph wind. A guy on the radio yelled "Holy crap! The back door just blew off!" I said, "Isn't he supposed to cheer US up?" I was sitting by the window listening to the sound of emptiness. This is not like listening to no sound at all, because the sound of emptiness contains all the things you hoped would be in it, and all the sounds that once were. ROGER MILLER. Roger Miller walked in on our session at Columbia. I stopped everything and went to meet him. I put my hand out and was going to say "I'm a fan of yours." Before I could, he said "I'm a fan of yours." A high spot of my life. My grammar school was pretty strict, but they gave us education on par with today's colleges. In seventh and eighth grades all us boys had to wear ties. The result was grotesque but funny. The most popular style was this: A blue flannel checkered lumberjack shirt and a bright red rayon clip-on tie with a picture of Popeye on it. Make the days a little longer. I don't know where the time has flown. Lord, I'm having such a good time, I don't want to go home. Copyright © December 31, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

And now... a holiday greeting from our sponsor:
It's that time of year again, folks. A lot has happened in the last 12 months, like it seems to do every darn year, and in the spirit of old adages like "a new broom never boils" and "a watched pot sweeps clean" (or some such stuff... forgive me, I'm old...) it's time to put this past year's news page out to pasture. But don't worry if you missed anything -- it hasn't gone far. You can now find every little bit of it HERE! (And shortly on the Old News page, as usual.) So on behalf of myself, Lee, and Jack and Misty, let me wish you all a safe, sane and happy 2019! Happy New Year, everybody! Jerry D. Withers, Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmeister™
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