Old News 2015 In case you missed it...

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NEW JACK AND MISTY LOGO UPDATE! Thanks to Ann Collins for smoothing the edges! :) --Jack and Misty. (P.S.: Click on logo to see it at full size! -- Jerry.)

December 31st, 2015...
This might not be the smartest time to start a year, but... HAPPY DAMN NEW YEAR ANYWAY!!!! _____Jack & Misty.
P.S. from YFNW™: As of tomorrow, this page can be found with the other archived entries in the Old News section, and we'll start all over again with a clean slate (metaphorically speaking, that is. ;) ) So on behalf of all of us (All right, you caught me... both of us) here at the Best Nest in the West™ (that's my brother Lee and myself), for Jack and Misty, here's hoping 2016 brings you everything you wish for, and that it's a safe and peaceful New Year. 'Cos Lord knows, we sure could use it. :D Happy New Year, everybody! Jerry D. Withers, Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmeister™

At Christmas the past and the present come together. We're ready. :)

December 26th, 2015... Happy Day-After-Christmas, folks! (Or Boxing Day, to our British and Canadian friends). Hoping your holiday was a happy and safe one (whatever you celebrate it as), And while we still have one more week and one really big holiday to go before the year changes digits, here's some thoughts from our peerless leader, Jack...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
NOTHING IS OVER LIKE CHRISTMAS. Nothing is over like Christmas. Months of anticipation, and then it's gone. Try to hold on to it and it slides away like this morning's dream. People who tell us that it's a pagan holiday, just because it's near the winter solstice, may not realize what an intrusion that is upon our enjoyment. We can each bring our own thoughts to the season, and make it our personal non-pagan celebration. It's in the spirit of the beholder. It's hard to work up the spirit here in Florida, but we give it a shot every year. Misty decorates a tree, and puts Christmas stuff all over the place. We listen to Christmas music with the air conditioning on and with palm trees lurking in the yard. Television doesn't help, with reports of all night sales, talking heads urging us to be good consumers, stranded travelers sleeping in airports, and carolers singing "Happy Honda Days". I toss up futile prayers for snow here in the subtropics, but this is the time of year when we just get a cheap imitation of early autumn. A couple of trees around here get a touch of red, and I go look at them. I get sentimental about Christmas, probably because I had real Christmasy holidays years ago, with folks who are no longer with us, and my childish subconscious thinks it will happen again. I think next year I'll write a letter to Santa, and ask him for one more snowfall in Buffalo, where the night is silent, the homes are warm, and Christmas is strong in the air. Copyright © 2007, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
December 23rd, 2015... 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. © 2005 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
December 18th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
CHRISTMAS IS A TIME... Some years ago Misty and I took a holiday season job in a Miami department store in a poor neighborhood. She was the photographer who snapped and sold the pictures of the children on Santa's lap. I was Santa. The Santa suit and the whiskers were hot, but it was an unforgettable experience. Little poor kids would tell their dreams, dreams which I knew could not come true for them, at least this year. They had faith in Santa and even a "maybe" from me made their eyes sparkle, but somehow, I felt guilty. One little boy asked me "How come Santa Claus is white?". I told him I hoped he wouldn't hold that against me, and he assured me he wouldn't. There were always a few raggedy strays wandering around the toy department, giggling and touching all the magical things that would soon belong to someone else. Some of them laughed and pointed at me, but never came too close. Others showed off to their pals by climbing right up on my lap, like they weren't scared at all. One little girl, dressed in filthy rags, was too small to climb up on my knee, so I lifted her up. She weighed nothing. I wondered if she was old enough to talk, as she just smiled at me, wide-eyed. Obviously, she was alone and uncared for. I asked her where her mommy and daddy were and she said, "Drunk". Then she confessed her true love for me. I asked her what she really wanted most for Christmas, and she lisped, "New shoes". She wasn't wearing any this winter. "Merry Christmas! Ho -Ho -Ho", I choked, as she climbed down to be replaced by the next in line. When business tapered off a little later, I searched the whole store for the little girl, to buy her a pair of new shoes. I was too late. she had disappeared, and I never saw her again, except in my mind every Christmas. ***************************************************** Christmas is a time of sad happiness. Bar rooms are lined with the lonely, clinging to each other. Bartenders are parent Images. Displaced Yankees dream of gently falling snow, that never turns to slush; and wandering Romeos often return, temporarily, to the family fold. Telephone wires hum with long distance calls between people who care about each other in December, which is better than not caring at all. After shave lotion is unwrapped with oohs and ahs; toys are getting ready to be broken, and puppies inhabit stockings. Trees are always the "most beautiful ever", if you just turn the bare side to the wall, and eggs flow like nog. Roaring hearths and good fellowship are for the extremely fortunate, but some will settle for a bag of groceries. For certain people, this will be the first Christmas; for others, the last. "Merry Christmas" will be said in shacks, castles, prisons, airplanes, battlefronts, and churches. No matter what we say is wrong with it, Christmas is a time when many people are a little nicer... and that's something. Copyright © December 17, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
December 6th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
AS CHRISTMAS APPROACHES. Merry Christmas all you Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, rich, poor, and let's not leave out the fringe weirdos. Merry Christmas I say, to all humans, dogs, cats, and miscellaneous living items. Warning: I am armed and extremely jolly. Christmas has been my favorite holiday my whole life, and I want to share it with you. You don't have to buy me anything but it wouldn't hurt my feelings.. Join me in toasting old Saint Nicholas if he will fit in our toaster. (Haha. I do get jolly at Christmas.) Cry with me at the ending of "It's a Wonderful Life". Let's boo and hiss together at Old Mr. Potter. We'll get sentimental listening to the Christmas carols at Walmart. And let's all pray for snow even if we're in Florida. What time is Charlie Brown on? Enjoy new times with old friends. If we don't have any friends, let's make some. Find somebody who looks down in the dumps, give them a big smile, and toss them a "Merry Christmas". If they just look at you funny and walk away, so what? There are other people waiting to be annoyed with our Christmas glee. Think about your home town and try to recall the good times. I think about Buffalo this time of year because that's where I got all my Christmas spirit to begin with... shopping downtown, and trimming the scotch pine with people we loved more than we knew at the time. I laugh and cry a lot as Christmas approaches. I even cry at commercials. I laugh easily at funny remarks, especially mine. It's embarrassing but I don't care. Ten minutes after a joke has slipped into the past, I think about it and start laughing again. Everybody tries not to notice, but the more I try to stifle it, the more I laugh, and tears come out of my eyes. Christmas makes me weak. So, whatever your religion or non-religion is, Merry Dang Christmas! You don't have to go to church if you don't want to. I probably won't, but I might watch Midnight Mass on television, and I'm not even Catholic. It's all part of the pageantry that is my holiday, and I plan to eat too much, mellow out, and enjoy the feeling. I'm working on my new song, "Pat, The Christmas Rat". The other reindeer won't let him play any reindeer games. He can only play rat games, and yet, he's full of Christmas cheer. One Christmas Eve Pat slinks down a chimney with his bag of presents, and is beaten to death by a couple of toddlers. It's a sad story, but there's probably a moral in there somewhere. Call me on your holiday and I'll join you, but listen... What I'm saying to you right now is this: "Merry Christmas to all good people." Copyright © December 4, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
November 24th, 2015... Hi, gang, YFNW™ Jerry here. Just wanted to wish you all a Happy... (yells) No, no, no, the Christmas music comes NEXT MONTH! (exasperatedly) Good help is so hard to shanghai... where was I?... Oh yeah... Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. And speaking of someone whose thoughts are always in season... whether in or out of... here's Jack!

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
RANDOM SEASONAL THOUGHTS. We’ve been on a lot of TV shows with Ralph Emery and his guests... Music Hall America, That Good Old Nashville Music, Pop Goes the Country, etc.. Once Ralph whispered to me before the show: “Jack, don'’t say anything to embarrass me." He opened the interview with “Well, Jack and Misty, what have you been doing?" I said “We’ve been living in a cardboard box in Central Park.” He said “I think I'’ll talk to Misty." I don'’t know what comes over me sometimes. 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. THANKSGIVING... In England they celebrate that the Pilgrims left. Many years ago when we were playing a lounge in Kentucky Misty and I saw a restaurant sign that said. "FRIED CHICKEN". We went in, sat at the counter and a man who looked like Colonel Sanders served us. This was before anybody had ever heard of KFC. After we ate he asked us if we liked it. We said we did. He said, "Good. I'm thinking of franchising it." I'm getting rid of my new walk-in tub. People keep dropping in because they don't need an appointment. Misty is craving beets. She eats them right out of the can. It's weird! She's even laughing about it. We hope she's not pregnant. I've got to go to the store today and get Misty a gallon of eggnog ice cream and a case of beets. It's been a weird week. ONE WINTER DAY... I thought I saw robin, but it was just a sparrow with a chapped chest. A young guy and I waited at the door. He said, "Age before beauty." I went through and said, "Pearls before swine." Neither of us was trained in music. Misty plays by ear and I learned music theory and arranging from books. Misty has perfect pitch and an amazing memory for music. We both started out playing standards, light jazz, and whatever paid the bills. Misty was filling out some forms at a doctor's office today. She said, "What do I put here?" I said "Nothing", so she wrote "Nothing". We hope the baby doesn't swallow another bullet. Those Kevlar diapers are expensive! Still working on my new song... "Cranky. I'm Cranky for feeling so lonely..." BIG PARTY AT THE SEA PALMS. The Sea Palms at Saint Simon’s Island was one of the weirdest gigs of our career, so far. St. Simon’s sits in the blue Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Brunswick Georgia. Nobody knew who owned the place, and so the rumor got 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.” The rumor went wild and we had a great time. One regular customer was an elderly lady who was very quiet and appeared to be lonely. In the last picture I have in my memory, she was out on the full dance floor with a drink in her hand, dancing with the bartender. A MOUNTAIN MORNING... After a day when everything went wrong, we checked into a mountaintop lodge 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 wall-sized picture window. The forest was covered with two feet of new snow, without a sign of life, except for some rabbit tracks. A real-life Christmas card. It was June in California. Prozac killed my blues career. We were playing in a restaurant on Big Sandy Lake, in Minnesota. It was almost Thanksgiving and the lady who, with her husband, owned the place said, "I have to go pick up thirty turkeys." I said, "I didn't know you drove a school bus." Sometimes I'm such a smartass. Laughing stock: Cows that giggle. My selective memory is getting too damn selective. I could hide my own Easter eggs. I have a fear of people with phobias. She: "Bewitch me, darling. Bewitch me." He: "I'll be witch you in a minute. I'm busy." Old song... I'll Never Be Free. I'll Always Be Reasonable. I like cowboy hats, but when I sit down and lean back the hat tips up in front. Copyright © November 24, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
November 17th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
THE LAST CHANCE. When the bad guy sneaked open our front door to get at Misty, we were living in Homestead, Florida. I was playing piano at the Last Chance Bar on US 1 in Florida City, the last saloon on the United States mainland, before you head down into the Florida Keys. Next stop: Key Largo. Misty had picked up a gig at the Redland Tavern, a couple of towns up. I had canvassed every bar up and down the highway, and the Last Chance had an old upright piano, so I bought a beer and sat down and started playing. I got the job. Misty and I rented a small house with a screened in front porch. From the street, you could look in the windows, through the living room, and into the kitchen. I'm telling you this for a reason. It was our night off, and very dark outside. We were both in the kitchen. Misty was by the stove and sink, and was visible from the street. I was sitting at the table, to the right of the kitchen door, and could not be seen. We heard the porch screen door creaking slowly open. We looked at each other, and I raised a hand signaling her to stay where she was. I sneaked silently through the living room in a half crouch, to the inside front door. I heard the screen door moving a little And jumped onto the porch, slamming the screen door on the guy’s arm He was outside and his arm was inside, I held it hard, bracing the door with my foot. I yelled "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?" He said, "Food". We both knew that the food was Misty. Right then she came to the living room and said this: "You hold him and I'll go get the 45!". I said, "Go! I'm gonna blow his head off!" We didn't have a gun, but he didn't know that. He took off like a shot, leaving his sleeve in the door. Misty's a creative thinker. We had taken on more than we thought, renting the house. We'd forgotten about the utility bills, deposits, etc., and we were worried. The bartender at the Last Chance, who was also an NCO at the Air Force base in Homestead, said he was exhausted and needed a night off. I told him I'd take his place on a Sunday night, my night off. He said, "Can you tend bar?" I said, "Sure. No problem." Well, the electric bill was overdue. I learned to tend bar on the job the next Sunday. A man came in who looked even more depressed than I did. I got talking to him, and he told me that everything he touched turned to money. I thought: "Gee. How sad." He was wealthy, but had family problems that were getting to him. I took a shot. I said, "You should be in my place. My wife and I are about to get our power shut off, and then evicted." He said that he could give me the money, but it wouldn't make us happy, because "Money never does." I said, "Don't toy with me. We're desperate!" He wrote me out a check for $120, which is equal to about $800 now. The check was on a Key West bank, so we worried for several more days, but it cleared. I never told the regular bartender about the huge tip. Why make a grown man cry? I never saw the rich guy again, but I heard that he owned a major string of truck stops. If I ever do see him again I'll tell him this: "The money really did make us happy! At least for a little while." I've never seen a problem that money made worse. Copyright © 2005, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
November 11th, 2015... Lest we forget...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
For Veterans' Day... WORLD WAR TWO IN LIVING COLOR. I subscribe to a couple of history groups and I’ve seen some comments by younger people about World War Two. They go along this line: “People back then were suckers to let the government get away with rationing things.” “I would have been in a protest line.” ”Drafting people into the armed services... How awful!” They are appalled to hear that you couldn't get butter, or rubber tires, or nylon hosiery, etc., and that the buses had plywood stand/sit seats to carry more workers to defense plants. At first I thought they were idiots, and I’m still not sure, but I've come to accept this: People who weren't actually there during WW2 have no real 3-D concept of the time. I was just a kid, but I can tell you that you wouldn't have been in a protest line. They didn't have protest lines. WW 2 was not a police action or a "preemptive" strike as you've seen in your lifetime. It was a giant classic war between good and evil... like a video game, but with real torture and death. Maniacs were committing genocide and trying to take over the world. Our country and way of life were in real danger. It wasn't a matter for political discussion. The wartime mindset didn't allow for gray areas. You were a patriot or a traitor because your neighbors' kids were being slaughtered defending freedom. You could see the stars hanging in the windows of the families who had lost a son or daughter. Sometimes more than one star. I can understand how all this could sound corny to those who have never experienced anything remotely like it. It's like trying to describe your hair color to a blind man. He can learn the words, but he can't get the picture. People WANTED to do what they could for the war effort. they sacrificed because it was right, and they wanted the damn thing to be over. This kind of mass effort and spirit of unity is what has left a country where we can join protest lines, ride buses with cushioned seats and buy all the butter and gasoline we can afford. I've been against virtually every war since, so I'm not a hawk. Just telling it like it was. Copyright © November 8, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
October 28th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
ENOUGH ABOUT ME. Misty Morgan, my wife and partner, has a photographic memory for music. I call it a "phonographic" memory. She can play any piece she hears once, even if it's just background Muzak in a store, but she does not read music. She has never sung a single note off key. Her first underage jobs were with pickup combos around Tonawanda, New York. They played standards, dance music, and a little country. As a piano single, she played and sang mostly standards, Broadway, and popular songs. When I met her she was playing with a country band at The Corral Barbecue in West Hollywood, Florida, under the name "Mary Male". One night, when we had only been together a short time, we went to a club to hear an all female jazz quintet. Somebody asked her to sit in on piano, and she accepted. I was embarrassed. I said, "Honey, you don't play jazz." She just said, "I can do it." As she went on-stage, I went to the rest room. I didn't want to see it. Then I heard this great jazz piano, a mix of Oscar Petersen, Erroll Garner, and Ramsey Lewis. I went out and looked and it was Misty. She brought down the house. I said, "Where the hell did you learn that?" She just calmly said, "I told you I could do it" She can play all kinds of music, and she never plays anything the same twice. She is the first female entertainer I know of to play six stacked keyboards onstage. Sometimes the strings, guitars, fiddles, and many sounds on our records are really Misty and her magic keyboards. She can blend them with Buddy Spicher, Johnny Gimbel, Vassar Clements, and other musicians, so that you can't tell. unless you were there. Her ear for sound is a valuable tool I use when mixing sessions. I can write the songs, and we work out the arrangements together, but she has the final word on the mixdowns. When I write a new song I sing it to her first. She never says it's bad. If she says, "That's really nice" I know it isn't. I have go back and work on the song until she gives the right reaction. It's sort of an excitement in her eyes... sometimes even tears. She's always right. My final editor. Everybody remarks about her unusual harmony when we sing duets. I have no idea what she's doing and I don't want to know. It just works. On top of all this, she is the perfect straight man to my funny stuff. She folds her arms and gives me a look that says this: "Whenever you're through, dummy. We're trying to do a serious show here." The audiences love her, and so do I. Copyright © October 27, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
October 15th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
THE MUSICIAN'S LIFE. I started playing saloon piano when I was about sixteen... the only boogie piano guy in the area. The room would get rockin' and I might play one song for a half hour non-stop. I got a lot of attention, especially from the girls. I like attention. Isn't that why we go into the music business? It can't be the financial security. ON THE ROAD... It was getting dark and the exit sign said Casper, Wyoming. The Holiday Inn was full, so we started cruising around town looking for someplace to stay. I went into one motel and heard cowboys yipping and yelling in the lounge. The clerk said, "I can rent you a room, but you wouldn't want to bring your wife in here. It's rough on Saturday nights" We finally found a place and then drove back to the Holiday Inn for dinner, and had Cherries Jubilee for dessert. My grandfather was an engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad. My grandmother was a telephone operator. They met over the telephone, which indirectly resulted in my being here. TWO HIGH SPOTS IN MY MUSIC LIFE... 1. Roger Miller visiting our recording session. I walked over to say I was a fan of his, and he offered his hand and said, "Hi, I'm a fan of yours." 2. I was talking to some songwriters on 16th Avenue, South, and Harlan Howard said to me, "You're my favorite songwriter." I bring these up every chance I get. THE MUSIC CAREER... There are factors at work we can't control. Besides change, there are chaos and luck, all wild cards. If you are really good at what you do, work hard, and are lucky, you've got a chance. A chance has always been enough to keep me going. A ticket in the race. The Leesburg riots have been cancelled due to a lack of interest. Misty is proud of her spaghetti sauce and I like it a lot. I brought home a jar of Paul Newman's sauce a couple of weeks ago, but she hasn't served it. I think she's jealous of Paul Newman. I feel like I'm cheating on her... with Paul Newman. Groucho Marx sent me an autographed picture, saying "Keep trying, Jack". I was a big fan of his, and had sent him a humorous little book I'd written. Groucho was wheelchair bound and I was Alabammy bound. I know that's cruel but Groucho would have liked it. Orlando is building a $155 million soccer stadium in an area where many children are going hungry. Misty just came from Publix. She told me a guy said this to her: "I saw you over there giving the bananas a dirty look.' She said, "They started it." Jack Blanchard Copyright © October 13, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
September 3rd, 2015... Well, here 'tis, the first week of September already. Time for the way-too-early Christmas merchandising to begin, so now's as good a time as any to start picketing your local department stores and tell them to knock it the heck off already!!! That's all I've got in the wisdom department for today. You want more? Go to Jack. And here he is now...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
HOME SPUN WISDOM. We don't watch the CMA Awards anymore. It's all twirl and no Merle. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Usually that person is crazy. I live in an area that used to have a lot of bands, piano bars, and other live entertainment. Now about ninety percent of the places are automated with canned music, karaoke, or TV. The singers, waitresses, bartenders, and club owners are still there. Still happy. Can you find who is left out of this picture? Misty makes all the small decisions, like buying a house or car, and I handle the big problems like world hunger, the ecology, and the possibility of life on Mars. Jokes you can't use anymore... Let's go into the darkroom and see what develops. I was playing at a piano bar in Hollywood. On a break, a woman at a table alone, called me over. She motioned to me to lean down so she could whisper something to me. She said softly "You think you're so hot playing up there being the center of attention. Well, I think your music stinks and I don't like your hair." I jumped back and shouted "FIFTY DOLLARS?" Then SHE was the center of attention. I'm gonna have to read my email more carefully. I just donated $20 to Save The Rich. You can not sneeze with your eyes open. Nature's way of keeping our eyeballs from flying out. We don't usually discuss politics with strangers, even when offered candy. BUFFALO FACTORIES... I had a perfect record: I never worked anyplace I could go back to. I don't think the charity of the rich can be depended upon. This from MAYF NUTTER: "I had to clear out my closet so my mother-in-law would have a place to hang upside-down and sleep." I want to get so rich I can live in the world's most expensive trailer, dine on roast mink with gold sauce, donate my organs to the Republican party, and hire an illegal immigrant to write my songs. All of us piano players have been replaced by canned music now, and although I know that change is inevitable, I still complain. The new air conditioner is working fine. Before we got it Misty put a big floor fan in the kitchen doorway to blow some cool air back to me in the studio, to prevent me from going naked in front of the dog. Young people are wearing their pants around their knees, saluting the flag with one finger, and having more sex than we did. Soon they will run the world unless we are allowed to hunt them. To those who have never paid much attention to country music, all country singers sound alike. To some of them we all sound like Willie Nelson. There are people who are good arguers, and they jump at every opportunity to show off the facts, figures, and "history" they have either gained second-hand or made up. Money does not disappear. It just changes hands, and maybe leaves the country altogether. Music killed my uncle. He was trying to play "Flight of the Bumblebee" on a tuba, and blew his liver out the horn. I got this from a friend in Buffalo last Winter: "It's bitter cold with strong winds and blowing snow. Nothing to do. My wife has just been staring through the window all day. If it gets any worse I'll have to let her in." A lot of jazz musicians are key snobs, and like to play in difficult keys to show off, especially guitarists who only have to move up or down a fret to drive the piano guy crazy. Musicians that can play three chords don't like those who can play four chords. Chord Envy. In ancient Rome they said this about the new year: "I can't believe it's 4 BC already! In four years it will be Nothing! I can't believe how fast the years are subtracting!" When the DEEP TURTLE crawls over sneezy garden walls, And the stars begin to snicker in the sky, A bar mitzvah in memory, cucumberectomy, Breathing chow mein with a sigh ah-ee ah-ee, whoa yeah. My self-help books: "Learn Magic: Pull a Flaming Rabbit Out of Your Pants" "Neuter Your Pet with Common Kitchen Utensils." "Appear Taller by Clenching Your Foot Muscles." "Teaching a Ferret to Whistle." "Drive Without Your Glasses." This is either an old map or we're in Carthage. Copyright © September 3, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
August 22nd, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
MY DAD'S GAS STATION. One of my father’s deals involved him owning a gas station. It had the largest underground capacity for gasoline in New York State, and a direct pipeline to the gas station from a private railroad siding. My dad had a strange variety of business ventures financed by investors' money. They all had important sounding names. One of them was The Monarch Mortgage Corporation. His headquarters for this and several other of his company names was a one-desk office upstairs over The Bidwell Grill, his hangout in our home town of Buffalo. Through this company he somehow acquired a mortgage on the huge Diamond T Truck Company factory. The big gas station and its adjacent parking lot were part of the settlement deal. I was just a kid when my dad owned that station at Elmwood and Hertel, but I remember that his attendants dressed like motorcycle cops... boots, britches, and all. One young employee was cleaning the grease pit with gasoline and a squeegee, against policy. He struck a light bulb with the squeegee and blew the roof off the garage section. My father ran into the flaming pit and saved him, but the young fellow, Nicky, was severely burned, and never looked the same again. There were twin brothers working there, Joe and Matty Kapsiak. Joe was the personality kid of the two, and Matty was quiet and serious. Joe was killed in combat. After that it seemed strange every time I looked at Matty. After many warnings, my father fired one worker for being drunk on the job, The guy had mob connections and thugs started coming to our house threatening us if he wasn't rehired. My dad went downtown and had it out with the head Mafioso. The drunk didn't get his job back. He always had motorcycles and things for sale on the corner. One of the things was a Link Trainer... an airplane without wings held up by big horseshoe-shaped steel beams. The controls worked just like a real plane, and you could turn it, flip it over, or just about anything you could do with a real plane, except fly. Of course it was for training pilots, and I was just a kid, staring at it. My dad felt sorry for me, and tried to teach me to drive in the parking lot, even though my feet didn't reach the clutch pedal, much less the brake. Copyright © August 21, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
August 15th, 2015... Hey, gang. YFNW™ Jerry again. You know, someobody once said, If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all. And now that I've told you what I think of the occupants of the Republican presidential clown car, here's Jack...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
GETTING PAID IN THE MUSIC RACKET. Musicians often have a hard time getting paid, especially when they're on the road. If you get a 50% deposit with the contract, you at least have half of your pay, if the check doesn't bounce. If you don't get the other half before the first show, you have a better chance playing the state lottery. If you give them the music before they give you the money, they are prone to get buyers remorse, and decide the cash means more to them than your friendship. Some money guys have a way of disappearing into thin air, when you go looking for them. I've even checked the toilet tank. Others just get the bouncers to throw you out. I prefer getting stiffed by the disappearing kind. One dumpy nightclub called The Comic Book in Jacksonville Beach staged a phony robbery to get out of paying us. They ran around in a false panic, like a chicken with its hat off. (Thanks to Misty for that line.) They showed us the empty safe with the door wide open, and promised to meet us the next afternoon with the money. We waited, we called, and waited some more. We went home wanting to stomp a bunny. The next time we saw these scumbags they walked into an Orlando club where we were playing, sat in the back row, and laughed about not paying us. I couldn't kill them. Too many witnesses. Up in the Midwest corn country, we were booked into a small county fair. There were no dressing rooms on the fairgrounds, and they had a room across the street for us to change, in a small Mom and Pop Motel. They said we should relax and when the fiddle contest was over, they'd send somebody to get us. They came for us twenty minutes later than the contracted starting time. When we arrived, they said the fiddle contest ran overtime, and seeing that we were not there exactly at the assigned 7PM, they felt they were entitled to a discount. They suggested 50%. Our rough looking band closed in on them, and we proposed that we get 100% and they get to keep their teeth. There were many times we didn't get paid, but I like to talk about the times we did. It was at the huge Citrus Bowl in Orlando. On the show with is were Jerry Reed, B. J. Thomas, The Flying Wallendas (a famous high wire act), and T. G. Sheppard. Behind us on stage was a 35 foot high wall of speakers, and the sound was operated from a tower built for the occasion in the center of the football field. The lighting and stage crew were first class. They had spared no expense. We went on right after the Wallendas, and before Jerry Reed and his band. During Jerry's show I made a bee line for the office, and got our money. I had checked out its location beforehand. A few minutes later T. G. Sheppard came up to us, and asked us if we knew where the guy with the money was. We didn't. He had that lost look. I know it because I've worn it a lot. There are musicians, roadies, and traveling expenses that must be paid. A number of years later a young man came up to us, and told us that his father had put on that Citrus Bowl show, and that we were the only act that got paid. He sort of apologized for his dad, who apparently had a habit of going underground with the payroll. He said he didn't know where the old man was. He hadn't heard from him in years. We had gotten lucky that day, but there are many dozens of times we got the silly end of the stick. Some time I'll tell you about them. Copyright © August 14, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
MUSIC HUMOR. Prozac killed my blues career. Misty and I are going to break into show biz any day now, as soon as old singers become the "in thing". I always wanted to be a starlet. If they make a movie of our life it better be a talkie! We once did a show in an old theater left over from the vaudeville days. I think it had rats. Misty said they were down-on-their-luck show rats. I used to be a great whistler, and whistled in some of our records. I can't do it anymore. But I can still grip a perch with my feet! WHY I GOT INTO SHOW BUSINESS... It's the kind of public humiliation I've always wanted. A sign: "FOR YOUR SAFETY... PLEASE DON'T FEED THE BAND." It's a clue that your career is not going well when you worry on days that your stalker doesn't call. Old people look younger to me than they used to. I do a lot of record promotion. I even call DJ's and threaten their families, but it doesn't seem to help. On a slow night in a night club, we say: "I don't know why business is so slow. We've got a full page ad in Watchtower." Announcement from the stage: "Do any of you sing, dance, or play the spoons? We'd like to round up all the talent here tonight and ask them to leave." We've had well over a million views on Youtube. Amazing, the money we don't get! In 1970 we did a lot of flying to do TV appearances. Once, our plane was actually struck by lightning as we approached Chicago. It dropped 1,000 feet straight down and then it caught. I asked Misty, ""Did we land, or were we shot down? We're organizing a Nashville event for people who like to rub shoulders with the stars. There will be no entertainment and no talking. Just rubbing shoulders. "I went down for some food stamps, The lady there was bossy. But when she heard I was a star, She asked me for a glossy." "A fan letter came in the mail last month. Wrinkled and crinkled and spotted; Written in crayon on a brown paper bag, But it made me feel good when I got it." Thanks for the the positive responses to my humor. I'm touched. I always have been. Copyright © August 13, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
July 25th, 2015... Hi, folks. YFNW™ Jerry, here. I don't know how the weather is where you are, but it's gonna get ridiculously hot up here at the Best Nest in the West for the next week at least. (We're talkin' triple digits, folks!) I'm going to try and stay cool as much as possible. I recommend you do likewise. And speaking of heat and other topics (you guessed it...), here's Jack! (Pass me a cold lemonade, someone...)

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
LIFE IN PARADISE. I know this is Heaven because every day here in Leesburg is Sunday. It's 96 here today. The heat index is 100. When I was a kid we didn't have heat indexes and that made it cooler. It's pretty damn hot when you pray for a thunderstorm. The rain cools it off and the lightning keeps you amazingly alert. All the TV shows in Central Florida tonight are preempted by storm reports. I don't understand why the safety of others is more important than my entertainment. The area where we live is completely surrounded by six lakes. It's sort of like an island with five ways on and off. I think the lakes cool off some of the storms before they get here. That's a good thing. On my walk this evening I heard somebody shout "Help!". It came from the house on the corner. I knocked on the door and they told me it was just the dog barking. I said, "You should teach that dog a different word." REMEMBERING... Remember when men wore maroon pants with white belts and shoes? Cool! I was talking with Grandpa Jones about a mutual friend... a country music star. Grandpa was worried that our friend was taking a lot of drugs. I said, "He takes drugs?" Grandpa said, "Why, he'd take a overcoat button!" Misty and I and a drummer once played on a three hour cruise. We spent the whole evening chasing the drums and piano around the dance floor. For years I drove our 47 foot rig all over the US mainland with a paper cup of Coors Light on the dashboard and a supply of diet pills to break off pieces to maintain a nice balance. That was the healthiest period of my life. I was in great shape. Now I take no pills, two beers is my limit, and I'm dragging around. It doesn't seem fair. We were having dinner with Major Schwab at the Shaw AFB Officers' Club. The waiter poured a tiny bit of wine in Misty's glass for her to okay it. She had such a disappointed expression! Misty looked up at him and said, "Is that it?" At a concert at Walt Disney World, the stagehands lowered the stage at the BEGINNING of our closing number! We watched the audience disappear. We must have looked like "Kilroy was here". Stagehands don't always watch the show. Syd Nathan, founder of King Records, said this to me in the 1960's: "There are lots of people to pick your friends from, so why not pick friends who can make me money?" When Misty was six years old she sang "Cabin in the Sky" on a radio talent program. That's a tough song to sing even for an adult. The winner was a kid that tap danced. On the RADIO! The announcer, Colin Male, later became her brother-in-law, and he was the announcer on The Andy Griffith Show. FUN AT HOME... Misty says, "You're growing old with grace. And Grace is getting sick of it. I just asked her what we're having for dinner. She said, "Eggs Quarantine." I said, "Why do you love to yell at the newscasters?" She said, "Can you read fingers?" I said, "Do you ever have deja vu?" Misty said, "Didn't you just ask me that a minute ago?" AND IN CLOSING... The elections are still about a year and a half away and the maroons are already posting their cheap shots. I'll be under the sink if you need me. Copyright © July 25, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
We just lost our great friend LOU CASELLA, president of Wayside Records when we had Tennessee Birdwalk. We loved ya, Lou. We still do. -- Jack & Misty

June 5th, 2015... Hi, gang. Your accident-prone webmeister here, typing this with two lightly bruised knees and a sprained ankle. (Yeah, yeah, I know... "Why don't you use your fingers, you idjit?" [Ya know, I hadn't thought of that!] Anyway, here's Jack...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
STARDAY RECORDS BACK IN THE DAY. When I first got to Nashville as a producer Starday Records was the main country label, and their recording studio was on Dickerson Road. I had worked in studios in Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, and Miami, but this was a whole new experience. Some of the Starday artists were Red Sovine, Johnny Bond, Willie Nelson, George Jones, The Willis Brothers, Minnie Pearl, Dottie West, Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, and Roger Miller. I wrote and produced for several artists there in the 1960's and early 1970's. Our old friend Tommy Hill was the house producer, and the studio musicians were Pete Drake: steel, Jerry Shook: lead guitar, Jerry Smith: piano, Willie Ackerman: drums, and Junior Huskey on acoustic bass. Tommy Hill played rhythm guitar, and the backup singers were The Hardin Trio, with Ray King added to sing bass. Buddy Spicher may have sometimes played fiddle. and the engineer may have been Scotty Moore. It's been so long that I hope my memory is accurate. In those days an artist or producer could do a session at the Dickerson Road studio for $600 to $900.. This would cover the studio, the musicians and singers, the engineer, and the studio time. I had never seen musicians using The Nashville Number System It was fast and accurate, and left space for improvisation. Writing charts (sheet music) was my usual job, but not here. We first played them a home made demo, they made some symbols on yellow paper, and started playing. It was better than anything I would have written. My artists released singles and album material on Starday, Starday-King, Gusto, and King labels, all part of the Starday group. A few of the sessions Misty and I produced at Criteria Studios in Miami were also leased to Starday and King. In the 1970's, the Gusto label was doing re-recordings of hit records. They featured the original artist, but not the original backup. Misty and I were asked in to redo Tennessee Birdwalk and Humphrey the Camel. The backup music was prerecorded by their staff people, and we sang over it, like karaoke. I said to Tommy, "The key sounds a bit higher than our original." He said, "A lot of older stars do these, and we raise the pitch to make them sound as young as they did back then." We thought we sounded sort of chipmunky. These cuts were billed as "Original Hits by Original Artists", but they weren't very close to the original hit sounds. Anyway, they will live forever at Walmart on labels like K-Tel. I'll always be grateful to Tommy Hill, Pete Drake, and Starday for my early training in country music... and to Junior Huskey for his friendship and moral support. Copyright © June 4, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
May 22nd, 2015... Hey there folks! YFNW™ Jerry here in The Best Nest in the West™, where it's currently 82 degrees on its way to 84. The sun is shining, the heat's stifling, the wasps are planning to attack my window... all in all, another gorgeous summer day... what's that, you say? Summer isn't 'til NEXT month??? If this is any indication of what Summer's going to be like... I hate it already. Ah well, at least we still have Jack and Misty to get us through. And speaking of Jack (how's THAT for a segue, hmmm?)... here he is now...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
LIFE IS STRANGE. Misty and I once bought a raggedy old limousine for $90. We needed transportation and would rather look eccentric than poor. To add to the effect, we colored it powder blue with house paint and a brush. At a gas station two tough guys said they knew the car and we owed big money there. We'd never been there before in our life! I floored it and sped away at four miles an hour. We drove from Orlando to Panama City for a booking in a club. The owner said, "This is the first I've heard that a band was coming in. I hope you're Disco. That's all we want." We had a feeling the gig was not going to go well. A Wendy's cashier demanded that I show ID to prove that I was NOT eligible for the senior discount. A former associate of ours once kept our new Corvette locked in his garage in New Mexico, and wouldn't let us have it. We called a friend in Massachusetts and he flew out there, broke into the garage, and stole it back for us. We have always gotten by with help from our friends. Sammy Becker wasn't really a bad boy, but he was always in hot water. He often stole stuff and brought it to school for show-and-tell. One day he brought a case of white powder in small corked bottles. If you spit into a bottle, replaced the cork, and shook it up, the cork would pop and shoot about fifty feet. It was a laxative. Apparently a strong one. A good show should end with the last word or note from the featured act. No emcee or canned chase music. The silence lets the audience think about what they've just experienced. It's dramatically effective. An old show biz saying: "The last guy onstage... it's his show." What the emcee said before an act he doesn't like: "And now I'd like to prevent..." What the emcee said after an act he doesn't like: "Let's give him a big hand... right across the mouth." Words like "Mississippi" and "assessments" use up so many esses that I don't have enough left for other words. I was told that by drinking lots and lots of water it would cure my asthma. Of course I wouldn't be allowed in the pool. The Entertainer's Epitaph... "A little song, a little dance, A little seltzer down the pants." OLD GAG... The interviewer said, "Surely you jest." I said, "I'm serious, and don't call me Shirley!" Bigfoot was making a phone call. Two hunters spotted him. One said, "Oh, my God! It's Bigfoot!" The other said, "Oh, my God! It's a pay phone!" I used to play water polo but my horse drowned. The little calf said, "Oh goody! We're having grass!" I said, "What's that Latin dance where they clap their hands?" Misty said, "The Spanish Fly." She just said, "I've got two frogs in the kitchen." I said, "That sounds like an Ames Brothers song." I said, "What are we having for supper?" She said, "A pile of debris." When I met Misty Morgan she was Maryanne Donahue, but everybody just called her Mary. I'm sure she was the first "Misty" on earth, and now there are millions of them, and they don't have any idea who was the first. Some days I have no idea what I'm doing. Those are often the days I write my best stuff. Copyright © May 22, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
Well, that's it on this end of the keyboard. Just want to add
and remind you all (as if it needs saying) it's also Memorial Day weekend. Which is NOT about mattress and new car sales. Just sayin'. Take care, keep swattin' them bugs, and I'll see you next week. Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmaster™, Jerry.
May 19th, 2015... This coming Saturday is Misty's birthday. It should be a national holiday. -- Jack.
May 7th, 2015... For Mothers Day...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
THE TEAR. There's something about a photograph. Many people believe that having your picture taken steals some of your soul. I look at pictures of friends and relatives who have died, and I can see that soul, especially in the eyes, the expression, and even the body english. I have a picture of my mother taken at a holiday gathering during her later years. She was smiling, and seemed to be in the Christmas spirit. I've looked at that picture many times, but a few weeks ago, I enlarged it, and thought I saw something. I hit the 200% button, made it really big, and zoomed in on her face. The smile was still there, but in her eye I saw something unexpected: A tear. I sat back in shock and took a deep breath. What could she have been thinking? Was it a tear of joy or sadness? Did she know that it may be one of her last family moments? I asked her that question aloud, but the photograph didn't answer. I'm sure we were all enjoying the moment together, but at the same time, taking it for granted. You always think there will be many more. Now I realize my mother was not taking that moment for granted. I keep going back to look at the photo, even though it's burned into my mind, and my heart. When I discovered the tear behind her smile, I had tears to match hers. We spoke to each other beyond the limits of time and space. There is soul in a photograph. Copyright © 2005, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
And before we forget... Celebrity birthdays for May 8th, 2015 By The Associated Press... May 8: Comedian Don Rickles is 89. Singer Toni Tennille is 75. Country singer Jack Blanchard is 73. Singer Gary Glitter is 71. Actor Mark Blankfield ("Robin Hood: Men in Tights," ''The Incredible Shrinking Woman") is 67. Drummer Chris Frantz of Talking Heads and of Tom Tom Club is 64. Singer Philip Bailey (solo and with Earth, Wind and Fire) is 64. Country musician Billy Burnette is 62. Drummer Alex Van Halen of Van Halen is 62. Actor David Keith is 61. Actress Melissa Gilbert is 51. Drummer Dave Rowntree of Blur is 51. Drummer Del Gray of Little Texas is 47. Singer Darren Hayes (Savage Garden) is 43. Singer Enrique Iglesias is 40. Singer/musician Joe Bonamassa is 38. Actor Matt Davis ("The Vampire Diaries") is 37. Actress Julia Whelan ("Once and Again") is 31. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK!!! :D (And many more.)
May 6th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
A LETTER FROM WILL CAMPBELL. "Hey, Jack. "Actually, I didn't really want to go to Korea because I'm not as brave and manly as I look. But duty called, and I gladly went after my government threatened to jail me If I didn't. My motto was...'Join the army, meet interesting people, and kill them.' "There were three of us who went Into the army at the same time: me and the two MP's who were dragging me! I was so excited. "One of the first things I did in Korea was go for my physical checkup. They wanted to find out If I was healthy enough to get shot and killed. "My days in Korea were all about the same...Shoot somebody you didn't know... and they would shoot you In return, and say things like 'Go Home Yankee.' I would usually respond with 'Oh, Yeah...Make Me.' This would really make them mad. "The commanding officer told me that I was being returned to the states because none of the men liked my guitar playing or singing. "When I finally got home from Korea, I was totally ignored and dehumanized, and made to feel unnecessary, which I thoroughly enjoyed. WILL." AND NOTES FROM ME... Hurricane Season is starting. The only safe place is an interior room. In a mobile home that would be the refrigerator. I took a walk and was the only one on the street. If the neighbors see me out they'll think we're getting six more weeks of Winter. The Leesburg riot has been cancelled due to a lack of interest. I must be in Heaven. Every day here is Sunday. Copyright © May 5, 2015 by Will Campbell and Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission.
April 21st, 2015... Hey again, folks. YFNW™ Jerry here, and have you ever felt like you were cooped up? Well, obviously, that's not the point of Jack's new entry, but... aw heck, read it for yourselves. Here's our fearless leader...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
THE CHICKEN COOP. Here is the way I remember this adventure. We didn't think they had rednecks in New Jersey. We were wrong. We had just finished a concert at the classy Garden State Art Center, and were looking on the map for our next booking... a place called The Chicken Coop, in Vineland, New Jersey. We pulled into the gravel parking lot and up to a wooden barn-like building. The lot was almost full of trucks. The crowd was there... waiting for us. We went in and I heard somebody say, "Get a load of this bunch" about us. We had longish hair and this was 1970. The stage had a chicken wire screen so the patrons could not throw anything solid at us. I sneaked a glance at the crowd and told our guitar player, Wayne Bridge, to get out his steel instead of the lead guitar. People were all either scowling, laughing, or sneering at us, or so it seemed in my imagination. We got plugged in and opened with a fast country shuffle beat. The folks were surprised but sort of quiet. We didn't know what to expect. At the end, the applause was deafening! One gigantic man in bib overalls yelled "SOOEY" so loudly that I thought the P.A system had shut off. Nothing hit the screen in front of us. This bunch was great! We shook a lot of hands and they bought up our albums. The club owner couldn't have been nicer. He gave us a couple of cases of beer for the road as a going away present. We were hoping to go back some time, but we never got up that way again. They learned that you can't tell a book by its cover, and we learned the same about them. Copyright © April 21, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
April 16th, 2015...
Hey, folks. YFNW™ Jerry here. Sorry about the delay, but the internet decided to play hooky for a couple of days. It's back now, and so's Jack. So here he is...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
CHEERING YOU UP AGAIN. When Tom T. Hall called and asked me to write the liner notes for his new album, I said "What do you want me to write?" He said "Just write the way you do." I asked "Have you read my stuff?" He said "Yep. Loretta Lynn lent me a book of yours on a plane." Roger Miller had a bunch of country stars in his suite drinking until about 6 AM. Roger opened the drapes and sunlight poured in from the East like a nuclear blast. He said, "God’s coming, and he’s got his brights on." Roy said, "Do you want something to eat?" Trigger said, "No thanks. I'm stuffed." I used to be a great whistler, and whistled in some of our records. I can't do it anymore. But I can stillI grip a perch with my feet! If they make a movie of our life it better be a talkie! IN THE NEWS... The Israelis are developing an airport security device that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your person. I asked the guy behind the counter if he had wild cherry cough drops. He said yes. I said "Are they really wild?" He said "We can hardly keep them in the box." In today's headlines: "A man bit a snake... twice!" He said he just doesn't like snakes. The authorities took him to jail and rushed the snake to a hospital, where it received numerous stitches on the bites. The snake had no comment, but had an expression that said "What the HELL?!" In my grandmother's last days I sat by her hospital bed. We talked and joked a little. She always had a sense of humor. She said she wasn't afraid to die, but she just didn't want to. Like a young idiot I asked "Why?" She smiled and said this: "I'm afraid I might miss something." We met two young British songwriters on the street in Nashville. The song they pitched us was "Let's Go Out and Kill Something". Two words helped to make us famous... or infamous... "Chirp chirp". Misty's running the vacuum cleaner around my desk. Why am I afraid of it? I'm gaining weight. I'm going to have to do a sit-up. Misty just came from Publix. She told me a guy said this to her: "I saw you over there giving the bananas a dirty look." The Sound of Music came on and Misty was singing along in a high soprano range. When the song ended she said: "OH, CRAP! MY SOUP! IT'S ALL OVER THE STOVE!" I had a chance to go straight, but I went into music instead. Copyright © April 15, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
April 13th, 2015...
A 1970 fair poster. (Not to be confused with a fair 1970 poster. Or a four-poster, for that matter...)

March 19th, 2015... Paul Harvey used to say, "Techologically, we're shooting ourselves in the foot." After reading this, I think you'll agree. Here's the latest from Jack...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
THE DIGITAL AGE. People don't talk face-to-face so much anymore. They send simplistic text messages. They exchange emails, a medium so cold that it needs little cartoon faces to express emotion. We stare into various electronic screens… television, computer, smart phone, I-Pad, and whatever else is new. We sit motionless and watch the motions on the screens… actors, athletes, game show contestants, reality show competitors, and computer animated figures that battle intergalactic foes, steal cars, kill cops, and generally duke it out. When our guys win a TV sports event, we take it as our personal victory, as if we did something special, when all we did was watch. They live. We watch. More than 20 minutes of every television hour are commercial, injecting fake needs, desires, and disease symptoms directly into our brains. Ask your doctor. The TV's even talk to us in stores and malls. You can't turn them off or tune them out. Big Brother. Traveling between our home screens and the store screens, we stick digital things into our ears to talk to people without actually having to be with them personally, or we carry around 5,000 of our favorite songs to ward off real life. Who has 5,000 favorite songs? Or even 500? Do these new music lovers know that an mp3 made at the standard bitrate of 128 is much lower in sound quality than a CD, lower in quality than a good vinyl record, and way lower than analog studio wide tape? Digital music is all numbers. Think of the numbers as a flight of stairs, with a ball of music bouncing down in small hops. Analog music is more like a ramp, with the music ball rolling smoothly down. Listening to a piece on digital and then on analog, is like looking out a window, and then taking the screen off. Major labels don't mail as much hard product to radio stations as they used to. It's cheaper and faster to put MP3's up on the internet, and have the radio people download them. We do that ourselves. With the public being hooked on plugging stuff into their heads, you'd think that music sales would skyrocket, but just the opposite is happening. CD sales are way down, and nobody's making much on digital downloads, except the makers of personal music players. Once a fan downloads a song he can share it around the world for free. The record companies keep selling $.99 digital single downloads, hurting their own CD album sales. They're afraid to be left behind in case it ever starts to pay off. It's about keeping up with the trends. The music is secondary. Copyright © March 19, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
March 14th, 2015... Sine, cosine, cosine, sine; 3.14159. Yaaaaaaaaaaaay, MATH!!! Hoping you all had a happy "Pi" day today. :) And now, here's Jack!

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
THE BULLY. When I was in third grade there was a tough kid named Red Webster who was in the fourth grade and loved to bully the younger kids, especially me. He had bright red hair, his pie face was covered with red freckles, and he had a tough Irish look, at least to us smaller kids. This went on for several years, until I was in the seventh or eighth grade. There was a huge empty field of grass and high weeds near our house where we played baseball in the Spring and Summer and football in the Fall. One spring day the guys were gathering for the first game of the season, and Red Webster showed up yelling provocative insults at me. It was a mistake. I was big and strong by then. When I was up at bat he yelled from right field, "Hey, glasses, try and hit one this far. Haha." I turned my batting stance more to the right and hit the ball way over his head and beyond. By the time he found it in the weeds I had a home run. Then I stomped out there and beat the crap out of him. After that he wanted to be my side-kick, so we were friends for about a year, but occasionally I picked on him just for old times' sake. I saw him about ten years later, and felt nothing... no friendship, no hard feelings. He was just a jerk who started as a bully, and worked his way up to nothing. Red sneaked around with my at-the-time girlfriend. I didn't much care. They deserved each other. I would kinda like to see him again just to slap the old bastard around one more time. Copyright © March 14, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
March 2nd, 2014... Our complex, brilliant, and generally great friend Jerry Pippin died today. Such a loss to thousands or millions of us who were lucky enough to know him, even from a distance!. Who says internet friends aren't real friends? RIP Jerry Pippin. We miss you already. Jack & Misty.
February 28th, 2015... Well, here it is, a 6th of the year almost over with, another week till Daylight Savings Time, another day till the new single... change is in the air. (I knew I smelled something funny...) The fancy word for it is, Transitions. (And no, we're not talking about my new glasses!) But we are talking about change. And by a strange coincidence, it's also the name of Jack's newest essay. Which follows almost immediately. Here's Jack...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
TRANSITIONS. It's a cool gray rainy day here, 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 28, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author. As always.
February 27th, 2015...
This picture looks like it came with a ransom note. Key West, Florida. About 1973. (with Emilio Duke Yannacone)

February 19th, 2015...
THE CHARCOAL HUT, KEY WEST, FLORIDA... where we all used to go for charcoal broiled foot long chili dogs after the gig. A lifetime ago. (Click the image to see the bigger picture!)

February 14th, 2015...
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody.

February 12th, 2015... What? Presidents Day again this week? Which presidents? It used to be George Washington's Birthday, and then some clown changed it. (My grandmother called it "George Birthington's Washday".) I guess we'll have to buy more mattresses. -- Jack.
February 10th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
VALENTINE'S DAY, FEBRUARY 14TH, 1991. That was the day of the strong arm robbery. We were playing in Jacksonville Florida, and Misty wanted to go and buy a red blouse for Valentine's Day. She was already wearing a very nice red blouse, but I kept my mouth shut. We drove to a Pic 'n' Save store on Dunn Avenue. I dropped her off near the door and drove to the nearest parking slot. It had just gotten dark. As I was locking the car door I heard a woman scream. I had never heard Misty scream, but the sound came from where she ought to be... by the door. I started toward the building and saw a big guy running from the door area, from right to left across the front of the building, and carrying a woman's purse. He was going about 35 mph when he saw me running directly at him. He shouted: "NOOOOOOO!" We crashed head on and I knocked him across a bunch of shopping carts. I spun around, flew a few feet, and landed on the point of my index finger, like an acrobat. The finger bent into an "L", and I did a neat landing on my face. People in the parking lot closed in, held the guy down and called the police, while I looked for my glasses and bled from a variety of places. He had been running toward the high chain link fence where he was to throw the purse to his brother, who was waiting on the other side. The brother disappeared. The cops told us that if he hadn't taken at least $400 they couldn't send him away, wink, wink. Funny, that's the exact amount we reported. Meanwhile, Misty, who was also hurt from being knocked to the ground by a blow to the ear, was helping me into the store to get assistance. Something had gone wrong with my leg and I couldn't walk. The pharmacist said he couldn't help because it would be admitting liability. I'm leaning on Misty with broken glasses, an injured leg, a bent finger, and bleeding like a lawn sprinkler. I reached across the counter, grabbed the pencil out of his pocket, pushed him aside, took some tape from a shelf, and made a rough splint for my finger. The next day we went to a walk-in medical clinic where the doctor put a splint on my finger backwards, Later I turned it around. I was on crutches for a couple of months and the crook went to jail. We sued the store and came out of it with a nice used car. Since then I don't forget Valentines Day like I used to. Copyright © February 10, 2014 by Jack Blanchard, All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
Robin Right & Misty Morgan two months ago, January, 2015. Taken at our house in Florida.

February 8th, 2015...
THE ULTIMATE IN LINE DANCING. Misty and I were on that set when we did the show with Jackie Gleason. It looks a lot less real when seen up close.

February 4th, 2015... Well, one month down, eleven more to go for this year. Hi folks. YFNW™ Jerry here, and if, like myself, you're more than mildly put off by the increasing encroachment of LCD-itis* (*- Lowest Common Denominator", of course) in all forms of entertainment, then pay attention, because Our Fearless Leader has some thoughts about that... and a lot more besides. But then, doesn't he always? :) Take it away, Chairman Jack!...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
COWBOYS, WHISKEY, AND COUNTRY MUSIC. Early on, the musicians liked our music, but some others doubted our "countryness" because we were different. Thanks to groundbreakers like Roger Miller, country got more variety. Now it's back to "cowboys, whiskey, and country music". We don't fit the cookie cutter, even in indie music. We won't be making our music dumber. We once played a show with Jerry Reed, B.J. Thomas, and other stars at The Citrus Bowl football stadium. Misty and I were the only ones that got paid because we cornered the money man. After the show T.G.Sheppard asked us where the money person was. We felt bad because we had a suspicion, and T.G. is a nice guy. A man in Tampa once booked us for a show. We were the stars, and the only act on the show. He rented a huge football stadium for the event, and did no advertising. About twenty people came. I think they were his family. He blamed us, and refused to pay us. And yet we stay in the music business. It's a form of insanity. In the years we booked through The Buddy Lee Agency we never got stiffed for our money. The contracts called for 50% to be returned with the signed contract, and the rest to be paid in cash before we go on stage. Good business. "How many people can you draw?" That's what the show bookers ask. I've seen major acts play to a dead house because the buyers didn't advertise properly. I've also seen lesser known artists pack venues because of good promotion by the buyers. Elvis would bomb if nobody knew he was there. Misty and I are going to break into show biz any day now. As soon as old singers become the "in thing". I always wanted to be a starlet. Sometimes I think there are less than 20 radio stations that even know we're still putting out records. Sorry for all the negative comments about the music business. There is also a down side. Maybe we should have opened a carpet remnants store. We either love it or we're hooked on it. WHY I GOT INTO SHOW BUSINESS... It's the kind of public humiliation I've always wanted. I plan to visit visit Australia when they find a nicer name for "penal colony". Copyright © February 4, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
January 30th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
TRUE STORIES AND A FEW LIES. When I got that colonoscopy in October they found my car keys, a pair of dice, and a harmonica. The music business was tough in the old days too. Most of the unsigned artists and writers that walked Music Row never got a chance. I think we had an advantage because I was an independent producer of other artists for 4 or 5 years before Misty and I recorded together. I knew some people. In the 60's we put a lot of stuff on our own little label, Zodiac, and shopped the them around to radio stations and labels. In 1967, a country DJ named Hoss Moss heard our "Bethlehem Steel" recording, played it, and called Wayside Records, a label with national distribution. They signed us for the four songs from our first Nashville indie session, and that led to an album. Wayside made a deal for distribution and that's how we wound up on Mercury Records. We played a lot of Cavalcade of Stars country shows, and were often asked to be the closing act, because we did some other stuff the audience liked. At The Garden State Art Center there were ten big names on the show. Every act went overtime and they made us cut our show to 10 minutes. That's what the union demanded. We were mad and so was the audience. I'd do it all again. We did a show at Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Our hosts were Harden & Weaver, top DC radio personalities. Their English comic counterparts, The Two Ronnies, were there too. Also on the show was The US Navy Band! Misty and I had a lot of fun that day, even if we were outnumbered. Starday Records was once a giant in country music, with a roster of superstars. I was producing at Starday Studios in the 1960s, when Willie Nelson was a writer there, and not getting enough respect from the owner. I wrote and produced for several Starday Records artists. Also some for Pete Drake's Stop Records. Misty Morgan recorded a song on Starday under the name Maryanne Mail. It was called "The Lonely Sentry" and was on the Starday LP "Country Music Goes to War". The war at the time was Viet Nam. Bill Littleton has died. He was a fellow writer, and I admired his takes on music and life. We were sort of pen pals, exchanging points of view, which included the occasional argument. As is true with all of my late cohorts, I miss knowing that he's there. We were having dinner with Major Schwab at the Shaw AFB Officers' Club. The waiter poured a tiny bit of wine in Misty's glass for her to okay it. She had such a disappointed expression! Misty looked up at him and said, "Is that it?" I just learned how many people uploaded our songs to YouTube. Along with the songs we uploaded, we've had well over a million views. Amazing, the money we don't get! Misty says Social Security is "Go away money." It's "Here's some money. Now go away." A LOVE SONG... "Fly Me to Your Room.." A TROUBLED MARRIAGE SONG.. "You light up my wife". A LOVE SONG FOR WHEN YOU DON'T REALLY CARE ALL THAT MUCH... "I get empathetic over you." VINTAGE CARS... My '47 Packard was the first car to have power operated seats. Great car. Our '64 Plymouth Valiant was the first car to have an alternater. It was still a piece of crap. A SIDE EFFECT... Misty said, "All those inhalers are making you depressed." I said, "I get depressed when I can't breathe." If I've ever accidentally written anything to offend radical Muslims, I was only kidding. Haha. I'm heading for the roundhouse. They can't corner me there. Copyright © January 30, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
January 21st, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
STUFF I WROTE IN AN OLD BOOK. Yesterday Misty was sorting through things and found our old appointment book dated 1982. In the back of it I had scribbled down a lot of little "life tips" that I'd learned over the years. Misty and I think they helped us, so I pass a few on to you. Be careful of other people's pride, even when they are acting stupid. Give them a graceful way out. Let them save face. They could turn out to be friends if you get past the first collision. ON STAGE: Never audition for an audience.Don't put yourself on trial. Be in gentle control. Confidence without arrogance. Hold some of yourself back. Let your talent come as a surprise. Be unpredictable. Cue the audience as to what they like. Laugh tracks do this on TV. Bring them into the process. Tell them the story behind the song or something about your life. Speak more slowly that you may be used to. Avoid precise speech. Maybe slur a little. Appear relaxed. Don't come off as hip or intellectual. Don't be slick. Don't be a threat. Be likable, pleasant, earthy. Be loose. Look like you belong wherever you are. Good posture and walk. Natural gestures. Develop style... the recognition factor. Desperation shows. Inflate the audience. Make them feel good about themselves. No inside jokes or private laughs with the band. Do it all over the microphone. Don't leave them out. LIFE IN GENERAL: Don't let the competition see you as a rival. Learn from the past but don't feel guilty about it. Think about your goals. Picture them. In a negotiation, the first one to mention money loses. Experiments have proven that children learn better and faster surrounded by mirrors and pictures of themselves. Many entertainers and musicians practice in front of a mirror. Sometimes it helps to pose your material as socially relevant. Everybody who ever does anything makes mistakes. Stupidity is no reason not to be a success. Everybody has it. Naturally, we couldn't think of all these things at any one time, but we drilled them into our brains until it became automatic. There are more suggestions in the old book, but I'll save them for later. Copyright © January 21, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
January 15th, 2015...

52,000 intelligent, good-looking readers.
ON TV WITH JACKIE GLEASON. I'm never tense during a live stage show. I'm always a wreck on TV shows. What makes the difference is this: Control. At a stage performance we can instruct the sound guys, get the equipment set up just right, and have the lighting the way we want it. And, most importantly, it's our show. We can read the audience and set the pace accordingly. We're in control. On a TV show, we have to stand on a tape mark that somebody else put there, and usually I can't hear myself sing because the monitors are set for the normal human voice. I don't own a normal human voice. For one thing, I sing lead in the bass range, which most TV engineers don't understand. It's somebody else's show. Some directors like you to play to the cameras, and some don't. They never tell you which. In a show we did with Ralph Emery on TNN, I was standing on my mark, singing by the seat of my pants because I couldn't hear myself. When a camera red light would go on, I'd play to that one, and the director would immediately switch to another camera. I played eye tag with the cameras through most of the song, and never won a round. Misty is calm on TV. Her voice can cut through a brass band. She doesn't care about the sound monitors, because she can just sing louder. I have often wanted to hide behind her. She doesn't concern herself with finding her tape mark on the floor, but usually gets to it okay. I'm like Sherlock Holmes looking for a clue. To me, the worst was a show we did with Jackie Gleason, Mike Douglas, and Frank Fontaine, live from the Miami Beach Auditorium. We had to show up for rehearsal at about noon. We had special orchestra charts written for the occasion, and we'd never heard them before. While we were rehearsing, Jackie Gleason and Mike Douglas were sitting in the fifth row, watching us. My tension started to build. Then there was a four or five hour wait until the show started. Plenty of time to relax, right? Wrong! Plenty of time to get my panic into high gear! We were backstage talking to Gleason when he was introduced with a fanfare. He stood behind the curtain for a hundred count while the applause gained momentum, then he walked briskly onstage. He didn't want to step on his applause, and he didn't want it to die down. His perfect timing told him the exact second to make his appearance. I was impressed. Jackie Gleason wasn't anything like Ralph Kramden. He was intelligent and dignified, wearing a dark blue suit with a flower in the lapel. When Misty and I were introduced, we walked briskly out from behind the curtain, and she walked right past our mark to a wrong one about eight feet farther front. My panic gong rang. She didn't even notice. The directors and camera crew had to move fast to find her. I had no choice but follow her to my doom. I looked like cross-eyed rabbit caught in the headlights. When I go into a real panic my voice goes up into Dolly Parton's range. I have never sung worse, or looked stupider. Misty and the orchestra sounded great. The directors and camera crew looked at us with venom, but I was the only one who noticed. Misty still thinks the show went nicely, so I'm alone in my embarrassment. After we did our fiasco, Jackie and Mike led the applause, and we sat down to talk. This part was where I hope I redeemed myself by debating spiritualism with Jackie Gleason for twelve minutes. I let him win. We have a videotape of it somewhere around here, but I've just never felt up to looking for it. I hate watching myself on TV. I'd rather eat bugs than go through it again. Copyright January 14, 2015 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
January 1st, 2015... HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!!! From everybody here at The Best Nest In The West™ (that would be my brother Lee and myself!). Not to mention, of course, our peerless sources of inspiration and music, Jack and Misty! :) Best wishes for 2015, Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmeister (YFNW)™, Jerry. P.S.: As is the custom around here, all the news, columns, etc. from last year can now be found in the 2014 Old News page, which can be found here!
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