Two For Tuesday: Julie London (Encore Performance)

I did a series on women singers (informally called “Chanteuses”) in late 2016, including one of my favorites, Julie London, who was both a wonderful singer and a very beautiful woman.

I think most of us know Julie London as Dixie McCall, RN on the TV show Emergency! in the Seventies. The show was produced by her first husband, Jack Webb, and also starred her second husband, musician Bobby Troup, as Dr. Joe Early. She started her entertainment career as an actress, acting in 45 movies and TV shows, including 1956’s The Lady Can’t Help It with Jayne Mansfield and Tom Ewell (she appears to a drunk Tom Ewell early in the movie).

Today, though, I want to feature Julie London the jazz singer. She recorded 29 studio albums over a recording career that spanned from 1955 to 1969. Her first single, “Cry Me A River,” accompanied by Barney Kessel on guitar and Ray Brown on bass, was her most successful, reaching #9 on the Hot 100. That was the most chart success she had (her last single, “Like To Get To Know You,” reached #15 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1969), but her albums were reasonably successful, as much for their erotic (for the Fifties) album jackets as for her singing.

“Perfidia,” from Latin In A Satin Mood (1963)

“Black Coffee,” from Around Midnight (1960)

She retired from both acting and singing at 52, when Emergency! was cancelled. She suffered a stroke in 1995 and died in 2000, the year after Troup died, on what would have been his 82nd birthday.

Julie London, your Two For Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

I Read More Than I Think I Do

Sometimes, particularly at the end of the year, I worry that I don’t read enough. Mary reads all the time, and sometimes I think it’s more like she inhales the books (or, in this case, the ebooks). I, on the other hand, am a great one for starting an e-book, putting it down for a period of time (measured in weeks or months, and maybe even years), picking it up again, reading some more, etc. until I get through it. If you were to ask me how many books I read during the year, I’d probably tell you four or five. And you would recoil in horror: “My God, you’re a writer and you only read five books this year?”

I was embarrassed about this until I got my statistics from Pocket for the year ending in ten days. Pocket is a service that allows me to put articles, web pages, and blog posts aside to be read later. I use it primarily to hold onto your blog posts, along with any links I might find, when I’m working on my Kindle or my phone, because occasionally those devices can’t open them, or the whole article doesn’t come through on Feedly, or I haven’t the time to read it then (like it’s the middle of the night and I just happen to grab my phone). Likewise, when I happen across an article on Wikipedia (which by now everyone knows is the blogger’s best friend) or a news item, I can save it for later, and I’ve discovered I can save Instagram pictures and YouTube and Dailymotion videos there as well.

Anyway, back to my yearly statistics. Turns out I’m in their top 1% of all users.

Source: Pocket

So, I’ve read the equivalent of 45 books this year on Pocket. Add that to the four or five (it’s actually more than that) actual books I’ve read, and that’s about a book a week. Maybe not reading at Mary’s level, but at the same time it isn’t as though I’m not reading. I think I’m becoming a better blogger, since the majority of those words were from your blog posts.

So, thank you for writing that I’ve really enjoyed and learned something from.

Pocket added social media functionality to their service this past year, where you can see what your friends recommend and where you can recommend things to your friends. I don’t use that part of it, mostly because I’m hesitant to give Pocket access to lists of my Facebook and Twitter friends, and I’m not sure I’d use it much anyway. If any of you are Pocket users and you’re using those features, how do you like them?

And, if you’re not a Pocket user, why not give it a try? I think you’d find it helpful and convenient to use. It’s a free service (although I’m a premium user, at least for this year, at $30). (They aren’t paying me to say that, in case you’re wondering.)

Index Of All My 2016 #AtoZChallenge Posts

Because I have so many A to Z Challenge posts for this year, I decided to build an index page for both themes. Yes, it’s in reverse order, but it should give you a place to start.



#atozchallenge 2016 Reflections

This was the year I thought I had it all together. All my posts for the Challenge were written and lined up in the queue to be released at 6 AM Eastern Time each morning, and I figured great, the A to Z Challenge will take care of itself, I’ll be able to visit the blogs of other people and be a good co-host and leave all kinds of comments and maybe even keep up with the regular features on the blog.

Well, I guess things wouldn’t work out that way. See, April 1 was a Friday, and I have a regular feature called the Friday Five. And, like a fool, I decided that my post for that day would be “five songs that start with the letter A.” And, naturally, people visiting the blog after noon on Friday, when the F5 post was posted, assumed that my theme for April would be music. I do a lot of music here, so it was a reasonable assumption.

I could have done one of two things: I could either comment back to everyone that the song post was just a regular Friday Five, or I could go with the flow and have two themes, one being the portmanteaus and the other being music. I went with the latter option and did two themes. This cut the amount of time to do all that other stuff considerably, and I didn’t get to visit as many new blogs as I wanted. In fact, I didn’t get a chance to visit all the people I normally visit anyway, many of whom (and the number was close to a hundred) were also doing the Challenge, probably because I made such a big deal about it. Of those, I commented on a few each day, and Tweeted out a number of the others to at least give them some well-deserved attention.

My plan for the rest of the year is to go through the list of participants from this year at a more leisurely pace and try to get to as many of you as I possibly can. This was a practice that the A to Z team used to call “The A To Z Challenge Road Trip,” although I don’t know that any of the other co-hosts are going to do it this year. Which is fine. I’ll be on the road, so to speak, and if any of you others are going to do the same, let me know, and maybe we can meet at Denny’s for a Grand Slam Breakfast or something. Or maybe the IHOP for a Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity….


I want to give a special thanks to the members of Holton’s Heroes, my “minions” as it were, who assisted me in keeping my portions of the list as clean as possible:

At the risk of sounding not politically correct, thank you, ladies. It was an honor and a privilege to work with you and I hope we can do it again next year.

I was truly impressed by the talent of the people who participated in this year’s Challenge. Whether you were writing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, posting songs or photos, or whatever you were doing, y’all did an excellent job, and it was a pleasure to visit your blogs and see what you had. I look forward to visiting all of you eventually.

Thanks to all who visited and left a comment or a “like.” I fell way behind in replying to comments, but I will reply.

Thanks especially to Arlee Bird, who came up with this cool idea many years ago. This is the Challenge that got me into blogging. Thanks to all my fellow co-hosts: Alex (the Listmeister), Heather, Pam, AJ, Jeremy (who did all the graphics and set up the shop where you can buy all kinds of neato A to Z Challenge merchandise), Stephen, Lauren, Csenge, Joy and Damyanti.

How many of you have your theme for next year? I know I do…

Z is for… #atozchallenge


Zeibekiko: “To Zeibekiko Tis Evodokias,” with Manolis Karandinis playing the bouzouki and some unidentified dancer putting on the show. That’s not paper on the floor, it’s pieces of broken plates. Back when I did the letter G I mentioned that zeibekiko was a free-form dance done by men, although there were a number of videos I found that were saying that women (and quite attractive women at that) were doing it. Turns out, they’re doing the feminine version of the dance, the tsifteteli, which is more like a belly dance. Maybe the ladies in the videos were doing the zeibekiko after all. Whatever…

Zither: Anton Karas playing the theme from “The Third Man.” Along with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, the music is a star of the movie.

Zydeco: Wikipedia tells me that zydeco music is a combination of blues, rhythm & blues, and music indigenous to the Louisina Creoles. I had to look it up, because I didn’t know the formal definition of it. I did know it by the sound, and that’s what’s important. Chief instruments in zydeco are the accordion (button or piano) and the rub-board, a wearable washboard you play with two old-fashioned bottle openers. Don’t know what this song is, but watch this couple cut a rug…

Zappa: As in Frank Zappa, the late musician and philosopher, who once said that most people wouldn’t know good music if it bit them in the ass. Read kind of a sad story today that the family is feuding over the estate now that Frank’s wife Gail has died, preventing son Dweezil from calling his current tour “Zappa Plays Zappa.” All I can figure is, if Frank knew they were fighting over the estate, he wouldn’t have left one. “Peaches en Regalia,” from Frank’s 1969 Hot Rats album, has become something of a jazz standard in the forty-plus years since it was released.

ZZ Top: This Houston-based power trio has been around since 1969, fer cryin’ out loud. Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums, ironically the only member who doesn’t have a beard) do some of the best straight-ahead blues-rock at high volume I’ve heard. This is a live version of “La Grange,” their first hit and the first song by them I heard many years ago.

A2Z-BADGE [2016]

And that, my friends, caps off the A to Z Challenge for both my themes (portmanteaus finished six hours ago) for 2016. Thanks to all of you who visited me for the first time during the Challenge, those who subscribed to the blog, and those who left comments. Thanks also to my minions and to the other co-hosts of the A to Z Challenge for making this a fun time for all, myself included. It’s now 1:30 Eastern Daylight Time where I am, leaving me a good day and a half to answer your comments and reciprocate your visits before I have to put on my writin’ hat again.

Keep an eye on this space May 9 for the announcement about the A to Z Reflections posts, where you get to tell the world how wonderful the A to Z Challenge is and to tell us what we’ve screwed up we can do to make the 2017 A to Z Challenge better and more enjoyable. There’ll also be a questionnaire with more questions than the SAT where you can provide us with feedback on what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what changes you’d make to the Challenge for next year.

That’s all from me. Straight ahead!