Monday, August 30, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn...

Rest in peace, Dad.  I'll miss you.

xo, Joan

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I've mentioned in previous posts that I'm an enormous fan of the big band era, and the music of the 40's.  Give me Bing, Frank, and Rosemary on my car radio and I'm good for HOURS!

My XM radio's 40's station is where I recently discovered, and fell in love with, the voice of  Margaret Whiting. The recordings of her performing Moonlight in Vermont, A Tree in the Meadow, and my personal favorite, You Do, are so clear and pretty, they've actually reduced me to tears.

So I went on YouTube today to try and find one of those recordings to share with you, and was disappointed when I found none.  I instead came upon THIS lovely piece, The Lies of Handsome Men, and I knew immediately it's what I wanted to post today.

Like Rosemary Clooney, Margaret performed well into her later years, when her voice was much older and harsher.  This is a recording from those "twilight years," so you won't get to hear the clear, sweet tones of her earlier days.  But I think it's lovely, in it's own way.  And the slide show is just, well, DELICIOUS!  Swoon with me for a minute, won't you?.......

Friday, August 6, 2010


My sister, Jen, and I had a heated debate recently.  It was the day after basketball star, Lebron James, Ohio native and player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, broke the collective hearts of an entire city when he announced he would be "taking his talents to South Beach," and leaving to play for the Miami Heat.  The televisions stations in Cleveland spent the next several hours mourning their exiting hero's decision, interviewing fans that quickly progressed from being heartbroken to really, really angry.

Despite growing up under the same roof as our father, the athlete, coach, basketball referee and ultimate Cleveland sports fan, Jen never shared the same sports enthusiasm as the rest of us.  I don't believe she ever really "got" the whole thing.  She declared that day that the worship this country bestows on it's spoiled, overpaid athletes is despicable, and we should all be ashamed for wasting our time pining over their childish antics.

Truth be told, I was never a fan of Mr. James.  He definitely, in my opinion, fits the description of the overpaid, spoiled athlete with multiple character flaws.  He was born and raised in nearby Akron, Ohio, and played for the Cavaliers for seven seasons, never achieving a championship, often because he appeared to simply quit when they reached the playoffs.  He showed up at Jacobs Field wearing a Yankees cap while attending an Cleveland Indians playoff game.  In Cleveland.  The Indians were playing the Yankees.  At a Cleveland Browns home game, he playfully tossed the ball on the sidelines with the quarterback.  Of Dallas.  The team the Browns were about to play.  Classy stuff.

When you view childish, disrespectful antics like this, you can certainly understand Jen's point. Yet I strongly disagreed with my dear sister about my city's devotion to it's teams and players therein.  Go to and click on the "Community"  tab to see all the ways the Browns organization is involved in the city and it's surrounding suburbs.  The players and coaches have built playgrounds, read to children in the Cuyahoga County Library, fed the homeless in soup kitchens, and built homes for Habitat for Humanity.  They sponsor youth football camps and provide "Family Day" at training camp.  I know all other NFL teams have done the same.

Then there are some true classy players.  Talk to Josh Cribbs, Browns star kick-off returner and graduate of nearby Kent State University.  Ask him how much he loves the city of Cleveland and it's people, but make sure you've alloted plenty of time for his response (Josh tends to gush!).

There's former quarterback and hometown hero Bernie Kosar, who nearly brought the Browns to the Superbowl back in the 80's.  He's on the Browns staff now, and commentates the preseason games for the local TV station.  There's not enough space on this blog to list all the charities Bernie has founded to aid the people and children of the city he loves.  No spoiled brats here.

But there was something else I wish I had mentioned to Jen when we were debating that morning.  Ironically, we were doing so in the nursing home room where my father lay, sleeping peacefully in his bed in the corner. I wish I had pointed to my weak, slumbering father and told Jen the story about a preseason game that Dad and I attended several years back.  My first husband had just left me a few months earlier, and I was in the process of putting my life back together, one piece at a time.  Dad was never a great consoler, but I was back home for a few days, so he suggested we head downtown and try to scalp a couple of tickets to watch Bernie and the Browns take on Kansas City.

Dad was a FIERCE negotiator, and after talking some poor sap down to a few bucks per ticket, we took our seats in the old stadium and prepared for some Browns football.  Because Dad both played and coached football, he is extremely knowledgeable about the game, often telling which plays would be called before they were even set to snap the ball.  We watched Kosar (Dad was a big fan), and he made predictions about the upcoming season, how he thought our struggling team would do.  It was a great night.  All my worries about my marriage, my financial situation, and my future faded away as I sat there sipping a Pepsi with Dad, watching our beloved team and dreaming about the season ahead.

The Browns won that game.  And the next morning, a rerun of the game was shown on the local television station.  Dad and I took a seat on the couch and watched it together AGAIN, saying things like, "Oh, here comes that play where he faked right, then hit the receiver in the end zone!"  We cheered just as loud the second time through.

Yes, we probably place far too much emphasis on sports in this country. And the people of Cleveland should probably get over the despicable shunning of their once glorious "King James."  But for THIS Cleveland fan, rooting for my team and admiring it's players goes far, far deeper than buying a jersey that supports a millionaire's salary.  These players and this team represent my city, and the people who live there.  People who get together and cheer for them, year after heartbreaking year, simply because they're "our team."

And most importantly, they have provided the only thing over which my Dad and I have deeply, sincerely bonded.  And THAT, my dear sports fans, is priceless.  Or as Dad would say, "not too shabby."

Thanks for Reading!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oh, Barry!

Those of you who've been with me for a while may remember my shameful admission several posts ago.  That's when I revealed my tremendous love for Barry Manilow back when I was in high school.  I know, I know!

In my defense, I don't think it was any "Tiger Beat Puppy Love" kind of thing. It's that his sappy, unrequited love songs were just prime stuff for a young girl pining over her first loves.  I mean, if you were sixteen back in the late seventies and your boyfriend just broke up with you, TELL me you wouldn't have listened to "Looks Like We Made It" ninety-seven times in a row!  I DARE you!!

Seriously, though, although I rarely listen to Barry's songs today, I have to admit the man is a tremendously talented musician.  He also has a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor that makes me giggle.  We all need not take ourselves too seriously!!

So, in a bit of a nostalgic mood, I've chosen this clip of one of my favorite Manilow tunes, "Somewhere Down the Road." Although I wish he were playing the piano himself, I love how the orchestra sits behind him, silent, while the only accompaniment is heard from offstage.  I also love the fact that his voice is a bit hoarse, not sure why.

This song came out shortly before I graduated.  That was the time that my husband, Alan, and I, high school sweethearts, had decided to go our separate ways.  Those of you who are familiar with our story know that we reunited and married some ten years later.  I think that's why I have a particular fondness for this song, and the line, "We had the right love at the wrong time..."

It's not a really long clip.  C'mon, take a look back with me.  I won't tell...