30 April 2010

5 On Friday - Mark Knopfler

Trav at Trav's Thoughts has a Five on Friday meme on his blog where you pick five songs to share with your friends. You can choose a theme or just pick random songs. Create a playlist at Playlist.com or use any type of media.

This week I'm featuring Mark Knopfler.  He is not only a great guitarist who can play any genre from the rock of Dire Straits to the country duets with Emmy Lou Harris, but a great songwriter of sensitive and interesting lyrics.  Here is just a small sample.

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29 April 2010

Sometimes Something Wonderful

All Bloggers tend to be people who are comfortable wandering around the internet looking for stuff and nonsense.  They blog; they are on Facebook; they have an acount on You Tube; and they TWEET.  One of the nice things about Twitter is that the famous mix with the hoi paloi that they may or may not follow. Have I lost you yet with the follow or not follow?  Well today, David Tennant let the twitterers know that Grat Performances has posted Hamlet on line.

Now David Tennant is best known in the US for several seasons  as the tenth Doctor Who, and I will admit to being an addict to Doctor Who though the Eleventh seems to be turning out well.  Today on Twitter he showed his chops as an ACTOR and why he was so good as Doctor Who with a little number for the Royal Shakespear Company as the title character in HAMLET on PBS Great Performances shown on Wednesday and now on line for several years at:  http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/hamlet/watch-the-film/980/

You will now be able to bring your children to see Shakespeare as Shakespear was meant to be done even in a modern setting with  17th century language.  If  you want to see some of the more sensational scenes go here http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/04/28/david-tennant-patrick-stewart-hamlet/

Either way or either link ... The slings and arrows await not to mention sleep perchance to dream or shuffliling off the mortal coil ....Go get greatness.

26 April 2010

The Queen's Meme #35 - The Gratitude Meme

The Queen's Meme.   Sometimes silly.  Sometimes serious.  Always fun!  Step out of the box.  Be creative.  Use your imagination.  No one's answers are quite like yours!

Sometimes life hands you pomegranates. You get wiser. Sometimes life hands you that icky lemonade. You get stickier. Sometimes life hands you a boatload of people who either enhance your journey in lovely ways or rock the boat off course just for the hell of it. You get an oar and row in your own direction. It happens to all of us. Either way, there's gratitude to be found if you're willing to look. Sometimes the conflicts are indeed blessings in disguise - you just don't know it yet. Sometimes the storm IS the thing you will one day bless while you wait for calmer seas.

Maybe not today, but someday.
So find some patience and hang on.
We all have something to be grateful for one way or another.
I found a few things this week. I hope you did too.


It's interesting that yesterday's "Take This Tune" was about what you ask for versus what you get. 

1. What are you most grateful for when you first wake up in the morning? - Waking Up

2. What are you most grateful for when you go to bed at night? - Having A Bed

3. Who is the person who has had the most influence on your life? - A wonderful man who taught me that I didn't need to be useful to be loved.

4. Is there someone you'd like to thank for something special they did for you but haven't yet? Take the time to do it in this meme. - Christopher for not only hearing but listening to what you hear.

5. Who was your favorite or least favorite teacher? - Miss Neff is the answer for both.  She was a terror who taught typing and shorthand who actually made sure all her students left her class able to support themselves even if all their other dreams never came true.

If you could talk to them now, what would you say? - You said we would thank you some day.  You were right.

6. Do you say grace at mealtime? - No - It's more or less an ongoing conversation except for Thanksgiving when we do the family cheer: "Yeah God!"

7. Name one thing you take for granted everyday.- Wherever it came from my wacko sense of humor.  It has gotten me through unbelievable difficulties.

8. Have you ever looked back at your life and realized that something you thought was a bad thing was actually a blessing in disguise? - Throwing my then useless wedding ring out the window while driving past an empty field.  Everything good started right then and there.

9. What are the top five things you are most grateful for in your life? - Christopher, Lanisa, Theresa, Brandy, and David

Whistle Down The Wind

This week's Take This Tune's selection is "Whistle Down The Wind" from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name.  The meaning of the title is to whistle for something desired that you probably won't get or you will get it, and it will be in the form of "be careful what you ask for".  The term is probably from nautical whistling for a wind when a ship is becalmed and getting too much of a good thing, as in this quote from "Rokeby" by Sir Walter Scott:  “How whistle rash bids tempests roar!”

It immediately made me think of two things:  First, the times in life when I have done what I call "screaming at the universe".  You are hanging on to the end of your rope and the fingers are getting weak.  I'm not quite sure what happens next except that up until now, something has always happened, probably because I haven't overused the technique.  Whether it is unexpected money, help at the instant needed, or just added strength to get through a very bad something.  The other thought was a Garth Brooks song.  Sometimes what we want isn't what is in our best interests.  If you are really, really lucky, those requests fall on very deaf ears.

24 April 2010

Rampant Scotland

Scotty of Rampant Scotland has provided this short vacation on Scotland's lochs Lomand, Katrine, and Long. I've sailed on Loch Long and it is beautiful.

23 April 2010

5 On Friday - Spring Edition

Travis has created this wonderful meme for the music loves amongst us.  Check out the rules and all the participants at Trav's Thoughts and join in on the fun.

Spring can be hopeful or melancholy.   Here are five mentions of April or Spring that reflects that sad/sweet feel of this time of the year.

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21 April 2010

Happy Birthday Your Majesty

It is the 84th birthday for Queen Elizabeth II .  Below is a replay of an old column and then below that is info on the celebration for the Queen's salute.
In a time of bad getting worse news, it is sometimes helpful to remember that earth shaking matters that seem horribly wrong at the time actually do work out for the best.

When Edward, then Prince of Wales, first met American divorcee Wallis Simpson, she did not make much of an impression on him. But over the next few years he fell deeply in love with her, ultimately giving up the throne to marry her on November 11, 1936.

His brother Bertie, known as the spare to the heir (Crowned as King George VI) became the unexpected king without any real training for the job. By all testimony with the assistance of his wife, Elizabeth, he picked up the burden he never expected to carry, probably destroying his health in the process and led his country through the horrors of the blitz and the aftermath of WW II while his brother went his own selfish, well heeled, playboy way.

The King and Queen were still young enough to have another child, possibly male, but they didn't, so the weight of being a future monarch fell on the young shoulders of a little girl nicknamed Lilibet. It was a different age and she knew she had only one course in life: To do her duty. Her sister Margaret could be a lovely, bright light of a socialite who aged into a charming if totally useless adult, but Elizabeth had to continue.

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Princess Anne

She could very well have had failings as a mother though her children seem to like her whatever their upbringing may have done to their ability to form lasting, healthy attachments. She has probably had to sacrifice her own will and pleasure for the sake of her duty simply because it was her job. For more than 50 years Elizabeth has continued. Whatever sorrows or personal tragedies have fallen to her, they rarely made it into public unlike the scandals of her rather rambunctious brood. Lacking in real ruling power, she has remained the source of history, as well as advisor to heads of government and politicians who sometimes forget the long view.

If she laughs and smiles now, it is the joy of a full life, lived well by someone who simply did what was right for her time, her family and her nation. For an accident resulting from a selfish action, that's not bad.

20 April 2010


Below is a lovely poem often attributed to Mother Teresa who posted it on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta.  It was actually written by Dr. Kent M. Keith, a well known writer and speaker on the subject of dealing with the modern world.   He is also the author of The Universal Moral Code.  We may not always be able to live up to the ideals, but a little reminder now and then couldn't hurt.

Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

18 April 2010

My Little Town

Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963 (Americans and the California Dream)

This week's Take This Tune is all about hometowns. I was born in Paradise.  If you click on the picture above, it will take you to the "Golden Dreams" book in the Kevin Starr series about California from its earliest Spanish years to the disaster level problems facing it now.  Golden Dreams, An Age of Abundance covers the years 1950 - 1963 which for me would be second grade to the the birth of my first child.  In my lifetime Los Angeles has gone from 1.5 million people to 3.7 million people.
Even worse the state has gone from 12 million to 38 million.  Since I can't turn back time, I can at least show you pictures of what "My Little Town" looked like when I was little.

The downtown Hillstreet Theater.  Inside it was one of the great movie palaces despite its rather utilitarian outside.  You had to drive quite a distance on city streets to get downtown until the late .50s  because the Pasadena and Harbor Freeways didn't open until  1940 and 1948 and there was still farmland between the outer and inner suburbs.  If you would like to recreate one of those drives, you can courtesy of Curating The City link for Wilshire Boulevard.

This is the May Company store (Now a museum).  Another reason to drive downtown to see the Christmas decorations in motion in the windows ... a small taste of New York in the California backwater when "The City" meant San Francisco and LA was still where the movie stars and other uncouth yokels lived.

Olivera Street - Part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Olivera Street was originally known as Wine Street.  It may be a tourist trap but if you have never been to LA, it is a must see part of both the city's history and the amazing culture.

In July 1934 a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles. They displayed their produce on the tailgates of their vehicles.  In 1947 I read a sign for the first time by saying "This table is reserved".  Precocious little 3 year old brat.  The Farmers Market is a magic place.  If someone says, "Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax" - Go.  They are probably a native inviting you for an adventure to one of the must-see tourist attractions in Southern California.

You knew I had to give you a beach.  It was a one mile bike ride from my house (several houses actually because I moved all over the beach cities of Redondo, Manhattan, Hermosa and Santa Monica) ... can you say every weekend unless I was at Disneyland?  Speaking of which ...

Technically not part of LA since it is in Anaheim in Orange County, but it was built by a movie man so Angelenos consider it theirs.  The first day was a madhouse as the crowds overwhelmed the lines.  I got there the first month when I was 11 and they still had "E Ticket Rides".  The favorite period was as a young teen when you could pick up Navy and Army boys at Merry Go Round rock on Tom Sawyer Island and my famous date with a tree ... talk about a more innocent age.

16 April 2010

5 On Friday - Hank Did It His Way

Our Friend Travis at Trav's Thoughts has created this delightful musical meme for us to produce five songs each week for your listening pleasure.  Stop in to his site for the instructions.

It's about 50 years too late, but the Pulitzer folks finally got around to granting the honor to Hank Williams, Sr.  with a Special Citation for his Lifetime Achievement.  The player below could have 5 times 5 songs for this Friday, but these will get you started.

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To give you an idea of how important Hank's contribution to Country Music and eventually all American music, you only have to list some of the songs and singers that mention him or his music in their songs:

Songs About Hank Not Sung By Guys Named Hank

1. “If Ole Hank Could Only See Us Now” – Waylon Jennings

2. “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” – Kris Kristofferson

3. “Thank You Miss Audrey” – The Geezinslaws

4. “Rollin’ and Ramblin’ (Death of Hank Williams)” – Emmylou Harris

5. “Long White Cadillac” – Dwight Yoakam

6. “Hank Williams Wouldn’t Make It Now In Nashville Tennessee” – Eleven Hundred Springs

7. “Hank Williams Said It Best” – Guy Clark

8. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” – Waylon Jennings

9. “Hank’s Cadillac” – Ashley Monroe

10. “The Ride” – David Allan Coe

11. “Just Like Hank” – Walt Wilkins & The Mystiqueros

12. “Tramp On Your Street” – George Jones

13. “Midnight In Montgomery” – Alan Jackson

So I'll close out with Alan Jackson's tribute to a great musician.

14 April 2010

Welcome To Spring

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales has always been one of my favorite pieces of literature both in the original Middle English and modern translations.  The language can be intimidating to students who have to slog a bit to understand the jokes, puns, ribald tales, and heartfelt depiction of human beings in all their flaws.  Here is a teacher showing how to make learning fun enough that studying seems like it might be a good idea.

The Prologue Rap by Dr. Enelow

The Prologue

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

Modern English

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage

13 April 2010

The Queen's Meme #33 - The Spring Fling

Her majesty Queen Mimi of Bloggingham is feeling frisky.  Check out The Queen's Meme and join in this week's frolic.

Spring has flung and fling has sprung. It is time to put your imaginary hat on and step outside the box into the world of fantasy. Spring! Love! Lust! Pheremones! Broken hearts! Dares! Parties! Beaches! Trips! The world of flinging! Ahh....the romance. Ahhh...the migraines.

Webster's defines a spring fling as: a short period of unrestrained pursuit of one's wishes or desires.

The Spring Fling Meme
(The Lovers Dance)

1. Tell us about the your latest spring fling. - Retired from Flinging

2. What made your fling so special? OR what made it so bad? - It can make you do truly dumb things like marry your Ex husband again. 

3. Have you ever been flung on vacation?  Most of my flinging was during Summer Vacation

4. All current serious relationships aside, what would be your fantasy spring fling? - I've always wanted to be swept away to dinner on someone's private jet. 

5. How long did your spring fling last? (either the one in your head or the one in your bed) - The one in my head is immortal

6. Is there a blogger you'd like to fling for spring? -  Retired

7. What is the worst thing that could happen during a spring fling? - May becomes Mayhem

8. What constitutues a proper spring fling? ie: Kinds of activities? How will time be spent? - There is probably some disarray of clothing involved.

What should spring flingers do? What should they NOT do? - Take It Seriously works for both questions.

9. If your fling lasts through summer is it still a spring fling? - If it lasts until Summer things other than the weather have heated up.

10. How do you get out of a spring fling relationship? - Rain On It's Parade

For All Those Still Flinging - The Lusty Month of May

11 April 2010

Because Another Wept

This week's Take This Tune is John Prine's "Sam Stone", a graphic song about a veteran who comes home from Viet Nam with PTSD and drug addicted.  The toll both physical and mental that war takes on the men and women sent to fight is horrendous.  You would think the reasons to fight would be good ones.  Unfortunately, this often is more political than patriotic.

Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in 5396 American deaths in nine years.  So far 30,490 U.S. service members have been wounded due to combat actions in Iraq and 2,309 in Afghanistan (32,799 total).  The signature wounds of this war are amputations and brain injury due to IEDs.  No one questions the heroism of these men and women.  They are doing their duty where their country sends them.  At some point we have to ask, when do we stop sending them?  There will be thousands of men and women receiving medical care for their injuries for decades, and there will be a lot more Sam Stones for whom the battle never ends.

None of the numbers above indicates the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan citizens who have lost their lives or been wounded by the conflict in their nation.  Seeing a child such as the one above always reminds me of W. H. Auden's "Shield of Achilles" and it's closing lines about the shield created by the armorer to the gods for Thetis to give to her son Achilles in the Trojan War.

A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.

The thin-lipped armorer,
Hephaestus, hobbled away,
Thetis of the shining breasts
Cried out in dismay
At what the god had wrought
To please her son, the strong
Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles
Who would not live long.

09 April 2010

5 On Friday - Bonnie Raitt

Our friend Travis of Trav's Thoughts has created 5 On Friday as a way for participants to share their favorite or most meaningful music. Stop by his site for instructions and join in on the fun.

This week it is all Bonnie Raitt. This beautiful, generous woman writes songs that will make you laugh or tear your heart out. Then she gets up on a stage and plays with some of the best bluesmen in the business today. Her life story hasn't been an easy road, but she is still standing and the power is now in her music. Enjoy.

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06 April 2010

The Queen's Meme #32 - The Peep Peep Meme

Welcome to the Queen's Tuesday Meme #32 courtesy of Queen Mimi of Bloggingham.  Stop by and visit her for instructions and to sign in .... Avoid the dungeon at all costs.  It is NOT a happy place.

Sometimes silly.  Sometimes serious.  Always fun.
Step out of the box.  Be  creative.  Use your imagination.
No one's answers are quite like you


Easter has come and gone. But I'll bet you have stories to tell! We present: The Peep Peep Meme. I feel a sugar rush coming on....

1. What does Easter mean to you (if that is not too personal)? -  Actually other than the music associated with it nothing.  Despite not being a truly practicing anything, I love the traditions of Passover

2. When did you last go on an Easter egg hunt? Did you find anything? - When the children were small.  I hid them - they found them.

3. Your favorite celebrity is dressed up in a bunny outfit and about to jump out of a cake. Who is it? -  Wow now he really will need that shower!!  Can a bunny have an Australian accent?  Look back a couple of blog posts for the who. 

4. What is the most unusual thing you've ever done with Easter eggs? - Made little people using pipe stem cleaners to decorate a cake.

5. What's your favorite color of peeps? - Aren't they all pretty much barf pastel? 

6. Do you believe in the Easter Bunny?  Is his name Harvey and is he carrying a fifth of Scotch.

7. Imagine: You are invited to the White House for the annual Easter egg hunt. What surprise should President Obama put in each egg for the kids? -  The sign below They will need this when listening to politicians.

8. What's your favorite kind of candy to eat at Easter? - See's Walnut Fudge Egg though now Hershey Bliss White Chocolate is running a close second.  Those things are lethal.

9. Have you ever dyed eggs for Easter? - Yes and hard boiled eggs with dye soaked whites are blech

10. You have just found a genuine Faberge egg (like the one pictured here) worth millions of dollars. Would you keep it or sell it for cash at auction? What would you do with the money?

I'm keeping it.  The instant I saw it I remembered how much I wanted even a copy of one.  The kids can sell it after I'm gone.  It will be worth more then anyway.

11. Do you have an Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it?  Show us a picture of your hat.  Not now, but I did have a favorite hat many years ago that looked something like this but with a large beige rose.  Great hat.

12. Please share any special Easter memories or traditions you have with us  - Sorry too much moving around.  I'm pretty devoid of traditions except that bit of trivia that I always think of at Christmas when Handel's Messiah is performed,  the Hallelujah Chorus is actually about the resurrection.  The first performance of the Messiah occurred, not during Advent or Christmas, but in Easter tide. Handel's masterpiece was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742, 19 days after Easter.

05 April 2010

Thus Sprach Everybody

On April 6, 1968, Stanley’s Kubrick’s science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey made its debut in movie theaters.  I can still remember the lines that ran for block around the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.  Try to imagine sitting in a darkened theater more than 40 years ago and seeing this opening clip with the chords of Thus Sprach Zarathustra hitting your ears.

Stanley Kubrick's Master work had arrived. In a movie of over three hours in length there is only about 40 minutes of dialogue. Almost the whole of the meaning of the movie is carried on intense visual images and included work by both Richard and Johann Strauss. In 1964 Kubrick had met with Arthur C. Clarke. Over the next year, Clarke and Kubrick worked to adapt Clarke's short story “The Sentinel” into a movie screenplay. Clarke also worked as a general scientific adviser on the film.

Kubrick anchored his movie in Clarke's scientific expertise. Today much of what was imaginative at the time now looks very dated, but the story is just as powerful with its hopeful view of the evolution of man as he moves out into space. Those who saw 2001 then hoped we would be farther along the road to space exploration (not to mention world peace) by now.

Still the visual effects, the orchestral scores, and sound effects hold up as a sterling example of how a great film maker can convey huge ideas with only images. The terror you feel from HAL and the tension between human beings and their machines. HAL may now have become something of a caricature, but then he was the warning of what can go wrong when mankind forgets its relationship to nature.

2001 A Space Odyssey has influenced many directors since its premier and is now considered on of the great films of the 20th Century. At the 41st annual Academy Awards in April 1969 Kubrick was nominated in the Best Director category; he lost to Sir Carol Reed for Oliver! Of four nominations, 2001 won one Oscar, for Best Visual Effects.

So turn out the lights, drift back 40 years and watch HAL die.

04 April 2010

Take This Tune - What Shower Scene?

This week's Take This Tune is about obsessive fans and the objects of their adoration courtesy of "He Rode All The Way to Texas" and "Superstar". As everyone well knows, it is no secret that I am fond of Hugh Jackman (Sheesh folks I may have crossed the line to "senior", but I still have a pulse). What I can say is that I never confuse reel and real. Should I ever bump  into the gentleman, it would be a handshake and "It's a pleasure to meet you" and I wouldn't ask for an autograph because Californians of my era DON'T DO THAT for the simple reason that performance time and private time are two different spheres and "private time" is never to be violated.

Most fans who enjoy an artist rate somewhere along an acceptable range from "I like him/her" to "I see everything ever made or written and lust for more". Then there are those who tip over the edge into some world of obsessive fantasy. The ones who stalk, follow from city to city, turn up in private homes, or actually threaten or injure a star and their family. You have to wonder what is missing from their life that an imaginary relationship has become so desirable or how papparazzi coverage can prod the mentally ill into real and dangerous action.

Hugh Jackman made a movie called Australia.  That movie contained a shower scene for which the majority of women and a certain percentage of men are very, very grateful.  How popular is this particular scene?  Add all of the multiple You Tube postings and it has had several hundred thousand viewings.  Google it and you get over one million references for the shower alone on blog and news sites.  That doesn't include all the possible permutations of searches and uploads that you didn't think of while searching or the almost four million references on his name alone.

Now one fan took that scene, slowed it down, put it in closeup,  highlighted stills, put it on continuous loop and then used the music of Air and the song "Sexy Boy" for the audio.   Frankly she did a better job than the actual editor of the movie which, while a lot of fun as whip lash and bodice rippers go, suffered from scads of technical problems, history mistakes and continuity errors.  Enough to make you wonder why the script supervisor and match move / CGI staff weren't fired on day two of the shoot.  The movie is saved by a fun if derivative story line and great  acting by the whole cast rising above the problems.   Maybe Baz Luhrman should have hired the You Tube lady. 

Fortunately, nothing about this gift given to anyone who likes a beautiful wet male body hints of the dangerous, so sit back and enjoy while remembering that the real man was creating an iconic character, is married, actually seems to love his wife, and truly enjoys his children.  Now back to a good fantasy.

02 April 2010

Movie Magic - 5 On Friday

This great new meme was invented by Travis of Trav's Thoughts. It gives you a chance to pick a theme or just favorite songs and then design a juke box around it to share with others. Check his site for instructions and join in the fun.

Linda over at "Are We There Yet" has introduced me to some wonderful new creators of motion picture scores such as Danny Elfman which made me think of the many movie themes that have become hit songs.

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The juke box couldn't capture the intensity of the remarkable scene from Picnic when Kim Novak crossed the dance floor to the arms of William Holden and the old song Moonglow gave way to the Picnic Theme. Enjoy.

Now enjoy the old pros Chet Atkins and Les Paul remembering both pieces, chatting about keys and finally putting it all together in a fusion of two perfect guitars: Moonglow/Theme From Picnic