Monday, August 31, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Ten years ago, I lived in the house on the hill in Illinois. I worked in a university library. I was married. I was taking two classes toward a master's degree in English. My adult children were my pride and joy, with equal measures of both. My mission was to rescue dogs.

If you could have seen my life, it looked as if it could be the perfect tableau in a snow globe.

Gradually, the snow globe started to shake. It shook harder. Then someone turned it upside down and shook it so hard that the scene inside didn't return to what it had been.

The house on the hill turned into a tiny house in Florida. I didn't have a job. I didn't have a husband. I didn't have the master's degree I wanted so badly. Thank God I still had children and dogs.

As difficult as that time was for me, ten years ago was much worse for the people who had to live with Hurricane Katrina, which formed over the Bahamas on August 23rd, 2005. On August 24th, it became Tropical Storm Katrina. The storm became a hurricane on August 25th.

Hurricane Katrina became a category five hurricane before weakening to category three on August 29th. I was at work in the library when reports about the severity of the storm reached us.

Wikipedia states: Katrina caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas, much of it due to the storm surge. The most significant number of deaths occurred in New OrleansLouisiana, which flooded as its levee system failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland. Eventually 80% of the city and large tracts of neighboring parishes became flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. However, the worst property damage occurred in coastal areas, such as Mississippi beachfront towns; over 90 percent of these were flooded. Boats and casino barges rammed buildings, pushing cars and houses inland; water reached 6–12 miles (10–19 km) from the beach.

The rest of the country watched helplessly as the people who couldn't escape the flood waters begged for help. Their snow globes weren't merely out of order. Everything inside was smashed. The glass on the globes was shattered, too.

Some areas never recovered from Hurricane Katrina, and I suspect they never will.

My blog has served its purpose as my therapy. My snow globe is not perfect, but I recovered. I won't end my blog, but expect changes in the future.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

For an analysis of the politicizing of Hurricane Katrina, consider reading

Friday, August 28, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, hosted by The Armchair Squid.

The idea is simple: On the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

My book for this month is Labor Day by Joyce Maynard. I had already seen the movie based on the book (click HERE to see my review) and wanted to read the book when Joyce generously offered an autographed copy of one of her books to anyone who donated $100 to fund the education of Rosa, a young woman in Guatemala who is learning to be a healthcare provider. 

It says

for Janie
with undying faith in the
power of love. And with

Then she signed her name and drew a little sketch of a woman.

In Labor Day we learn that Adele seldom leaves home because she's depressed. She lives alone with her young son Henry, whose father divorced Adele and married another woman. He also started a new family--a son and a daughter. Other than Henry, Adele was unable to have the children she wanted so badly.

The Thursday before Labor Day weekend, Adele and Henry make a rare trip to Pricemart to buy back-to-school clothes for Henry. They meet Frank, who is injured and needs a place to stay. 

Where do you want to go? I asked him.I was thinking, they weren't very considerate to their workers at this store, if when they got injured like this, they had to ask the customers to give them a hand.

Your house?

He said it like a question first, but then he had looked at me like he was a character in The Silver Surfer, with superpowers. He put a hand on my shoulder, tight.

Frankly, son, I need this to happen.

Frank spends Labor Day weekend with Adele and Henry and changes their lives. Frank indeed has superpowers. He teaches clumsy Henry how to play ball. How to bake a pie. 

How to have a man around the house who loves Adele.

How to betray. How to be forgiven.

I love Labor Day. Maynard's style and voice are outstanding. The book took me away into another world, and I didn't want that world to end, but it did . . . oi! 

When I reached the last line--You brought the baby, she says--I nearly turned into a melted puddle of pie crust and butter and tears and love.

Congratulations on writing such a beautiful book, Ms. Maynard.  Labor Day earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Love and Beauty and Gratitude. 

This book is available from Amazon at

To join The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, please click on The Armchair Squid.

 Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Willy Dunne Wooters thinks Joyce is cute.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

 How do we preserve the memory of Live Aid if we weren't fortunate enough to be at one of the venues?

We have the memories of the performers and the people who watched at home.

But is is true that . . .

  • Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo--the band that opened the show in London on July 13, 1985--were known as Dr. Rossi and Dr. Parfitt because of the large quantity of drugs they carried?
  • Bob Geldof's wife Paula Yates stopped at a gas station on the way to the concert to buy flowers for Princess Diana?
  • Bob Geldof had to hitchhike home after the show because no cabs were available?
  • David Crosby was out on bail because of drug and weapons possession charges?
  • No band was to have more than twenty minutes on stage, so when the red five-minute warning light flashed during The Who's performance, Pete Townshend smashed the light and the band played an extra five minutes?
  • Elton John's performance ran over so Wham! didn't get to play?
  • A number of performers refused to participate or did so under duress because they felt bullied by Bob Geldof?
I hope any bad feelings left over from the concerts to benefit the starving people of Ethiopia have dissipated over the years. But what about preserving the performances from this historic occasion?

Yes, I've watched the four DVDs of the show, but they don't include all the performances. Some bands aren't included because of music rights issues or because they were unhappy with their performances and wouldn't allow them to be shown again.

The only people who have the complete concerts are those with aging videocassettes they recorded at home on that day because Bob Geldof considered the show a one-time only event. He asked all the broadcasters to eraser their tapes.

ABC dutifully obeyed Geldof, but in 2004 when Geldof finally realized the concert should be released, he learned that the BBC and MTV disobeyed him. They had the parts of the concert they broadcast, although the BBC recordings are said to be superior.

In spite of backstage drama, I hope the major lesson of July 13th, 1985, is that people can come together to raise money for a cause. We've seen many such examples since then, such as The Concert for New York after 9/11.

I've watched quite a few memorable performances on the DVDs, but I must say that the best is that of Queen. Many think that Queen gave the all-time greatest live performance ever. I swear Freddie Mercury must have been jolted with power that he sent into the ether to electrify the crowd and even the viewers at home.

We still miss you, Freddie.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Prince Charles asks Bob Geldof, Where are we?
Princess Diana wonders how she married such a dolt.

The crowd in Philadelphia 

The crowd in London

David Bowie

Elton John

Madonna was described as an up and coming singer.

Sir Paul

Tina Turner and Mick Jagger
She was 33. He was 103.
Queen steals the show.

Call Bono!
Someone stole this girl's shirt.
He must pull her over the barrier and dance with her.
Save us all, Bono!
P.S. I'm sorry I confused some of you. I did not attend either concert. I watched part of the show on TV. My strongest memory is of Paul McCartney starting to sing Let It Be, but his microphone didn't work for the first two minutes of the song.

And no, Shady, I am not the topless girl!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

We've established that hair bands and baggy clothes were the name of the game at Live Aid on July 13th, 1985, when rock stars joined together to raise funds for the starving people of Ethiopia. Now let's look at some high points of the two-venue concert (the focus was on London and Philadelphia, but other countries held concerts, too) that drew more viewers than any other TV special.

The concert began in London's Wembley Stadium at noon BST, which was 7 a.m. at Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium. The BBC broadcast the show, as did MTV. However, ABC took over during the evening and wanted to reserve some of the biggest acts for those hours. Thus, some bands that played in London earlier in the day didn't play on television in the U.S. until much later.

After concert goers entered Wembley Stadium, Prince Charles and Princess Diana arrived. The Coldstream Guards played "The Royal Salute" and "God Save The Queen." It was early enough in the royal couple's marriage that Diana didn't have that I'm-going-to-cry-at- any-minute-face, and Charles didn't appear to have sucked on a lemon.

He doesn't look very happy, though, does he?
That's the face of a man who'd rather go to the opera,
or tell his mistress that he wants to be her tampon.
Ignore Charles, and enjoy some trivia instead:

  • Queen's sound engineer made some sneaky changes to the system so Queen's performance would be louder than others.
  • U2's Bono tried to signal to security that a girl was being crushed against the barriers during their performance. When the guards failed to understand her plight, Bono jumped down from the stage to pull the girl to safety. He then danced with her.
  • Seven hours into the show organizer Bob Geldof was disappointed in the amount of money raised. He interrupted an announcer giving addresses where donations could be sent in the future by yelling "Fuck the address, let's get the numbers!" Giving increased considerably.
  • Paul McCartney closed the show in London with "Let It Be" (although various artists gathered afterwards to sing "Do They Know It's Christmas?"--the single they had released earlier for charity), but his microphone failed. Audiences couldn't hear the first two minutes of the song.
  • The concert in JFK began at 8:51 a.m.
  • Phil Collins performed in London, then flew on the Concorde to the U.S. to perform again.
  • Both venues were dominated by white male performers. Michael Jackson allegedly tried to organize a boycott of the event because so few black performers were scheduled to appear. Stevie Wonder agreed to perform, changed his mind, and stated he would not be the token black.
  • Crosby, Stills, & Nash reunited for the concert. Ozzy Osbourne sang with Black Sabbath.
  • Teddy Pendergrass performed in public for the first time since he was paralyzed in a car accident during 1982.
  • Duran Duran played four songs and didn't perform together again until 2003. Simon Le Bon was so off key during "A View to Kill" that the press dubbed his performance "The Bum Note Heard Round the World."
  • A number of acts who agreed to appear dropped out because of disagreements with promoter Bill Graham.
  • Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood closed the show in the U.S., followed by "We Are the World."

Although no one would have accused Phil Collins of being in a hair band, he did have hair in 1985:

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, August 24, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

On July 13th, 1985, rock stars volunteered to perform in two venues with the concerts broadcast internationally: Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. I remember watching bits of the concert, especially during the evening, but because I missed many of the acts, I asked my friends at Netflix to send me the DVDs of the concert.

Other countries, such as Australia and Germany, also held concerts. The event drew one of the largest audiences ever. Wikipedia states: "An estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live broadcast."

Bob Geldof of Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox responded to a BBC report about people starving in Ethopia to create a fundraising single called "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Rock stars in the U.S. responded with their own charitable effort: "We Are the World."

Boy George of Culture Club came up with the idea to hold a concert. Geldof took up the cause and ran with it.

Live Aid raised about $284 million dollars.

As I enjoy the DVDs of the concert, I'm struck by two eighties fashion dos that are probably now don'ts:

1. Big Hair
Bob Geldof

Bono of U2

George Michael
See, it wasn't just a lot of hair.
It tended to be feathered.

2. Baggy clothes

Spandau Ballet qualified in the feathered hair
and baggy clothes categories.

Madonna seemed surprisingly relaxed.
I don't think she'd taken over the world yet.
It's a lot of responsibility.
And now let's look at my favorite baggy suit of the day. Kenny Loggins sang Footlose while wearing what appeared to be a gray and black print on white. It looks a lot like flannel jammies.

Do you have any special memories of Live Aid?

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Thank you for your kind wishes for a speedy recovery. As I battled a multitude of symptoms that if Googled no doubt would lead to death--ignorance is such bliss--Franklin, your comments, and Netflix streaming became my faithful companions.

I watched some movies, most of which seemed to belong on Lifetime, a channel I don't watch because it no longer provides me with a laugh. First time's funny; second time's silly; third time deserves a spanking. That darn Hilary how-has-she-won-two-Best-Actress-Academy-Awards Swank, and that is too her middle name! made me cry with the sappy 2014 flick

You're Not You earns the Janie Junebug Seal of Scrappy ALS Patient Who Chooses To Die After Inspiring Another Woman To Live Her Own Dreams And Having A Husband Who Is A Jerk.

Hilary inspired me to move on to documentaries. After I got started on dox about musicians, I couldn't seem to stop. Here are some favorites:

From 2013, The Punk Singer is about Kathleen Hanna, who left the punk music scene because of a misdiagnosed illness. Hanna was the lead singer of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and Julie Ruin. She is the co-founder of the "third wave" of feminism, commonly known as Riot Grrrrrl.

2012's Beware of Mr. Baker introduces us to a man most of us don't want to know--drummer Ginger Baker of Cream fame. Eric Clapton admits that he would break down in tears while Baker fought with bass player Jack Bruce. Ginger Baker might manage to head the list of self-destructive rock stars. Old Man Baker even uses his cane to hit filmmaker Jay Bulger. 

Also from 2012, we have Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey. If I were a Journey fan, no doubt I would adore this documentary about the band finding a new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, on YouTube. Although I've never cared for Journey, I enjoyed this rags to riches story because of Pineda's magnetism. The first two documentaries I discussed were much better, however. Sadly, Pineda's story could qualify him for Lifetime movie treatment. 

Happy Viewing!

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, August 14, 2015


Dear Hearts, I'm sorry for my absence. I'm so sick I haven't even had my nails done. Oh, the shame of unmanicured nails.

I've been awfully sick and still need recovery time. I won't participate in Battle of the Bands tomorrow. It's too much for me.

I miss you all and miss your blogs. Favorite Young Man bought groceries for me last night and had dinner with me. Franklin is on the floor in front of me. We stick together like gum under a desk.

Please sing us out, boys.

Just Love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, August 10, 2015


I sneak into your house when all is dark,
the children tired from playing at the park.
I arrive as the Biblical thief in the night.
Am I your savior? The term doesn't seem right.
I use my swiffer to clean up your dirt,
do the laundry, iron your shirt.
The baby starts to fuss. I rub his back.
You awake in the morning, snap our of bed, because sleep you did not lack.

Mrs. Roomba has a silencer, just like a gun.
She twirls through your house to make cleaning fun.
I wipe the shelves in the refrigerator. Before dawn I depart.
I want to leave you better than I found you. I hope I have a good heart.

P.S. Please remember that the "I" in a poem is not necessarily the poet.
I have yet to sneak into a house and clean it in the middle of the night.

Another postscript added after reading some comments: This poem is not one of my better efforts, but the idea popped into my head so it had to be written. I love the concept of helping people without them ever knowing I was there. So many people turn down offers of help. I used to turn down those offers. Then I broke my back in five places. Now I'm extremely grateful when someone provides assistance. 

The major theme of the poem is really kindness. I've said for many years that it doesn't cost us anything to be kind to people--to say hello, my! you look lovely today, offer to babysit, smile at someone with my lips together because I'm embarrassed by my bad teeth. A customer service representative for LifeShield helped me recently. He was so kind. I said, You're a gift from God. He said, You just made my day.

Words are power. 

Friday, August 7, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I'm not surprised that our winner in the Battle of the Bands for Killing Me Softly is Roberta Flack with twenty-two votes, including my own. It wasn't a shutout, though. The Fugees have seven votes.

I think I should have chosen someone else to battle the Fugees. Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly is the definitive version, although she didn't write it and wasn't the first to record it.

Charles Fox wrote the music. Norman Gimbel wrote the lyrics. Lori Lieberman collaborated with them and was the first to record the song.

All knowing Wikipedia states: "According to Lori Lieberman, the artist who performed the original recording in 1972, the song was born of a poem she wrote after experiencing a strong reaction to the song Empty Chairs, written, composed, and recorded by Don McLean. She then related this information to Gimbel, who took her feelings and put them into words. Then, Gimbel passed the words on to Fox, who set them to music." 

It's only fair that we give Lori Lieberman a listen:

Yeah. It would have been a tighter contest, I think, if it had been Lori Lieberman v. the Fugees. But who knows? A lot of people found the Fugees annoying.

Now, let's listen to Don McLean and the song that inspired Lieberman:

The tune and even the lyrics remind me of Vincent, a song I love. Is Don McLean one of those people who writes different versions of the same song over and over?

On what I hope you'll think is a sweeter note, please sing us out, Roberta Flack, with my favorite song among your many hits, another song you didn't write, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face:

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Once upon a time, a young secretary in Liverpool used her lunch break to hear a band play. It was love at first sight, as it was for so many girls. Soon The Beatles made it big, and the secretary worked for them. Her name was Freda Kelly, but to the four lads she was Good Ol' Freda (2013, PG, Available on DVD and Netflix Streaming).

After I watched Good Ol' Freda on Netflix Streaming, I discovered it on some lists of "Must Watch" documentaries. I agree with the folks who created the lists. Freda's story is thoroughly enjoyable, and she tells much of it herself, though she hasn't made a career out of being the Beatles' former secretary.

Freda tells great stories about her days answering fan mail and writing a monthly newsletter for Beatles' fan club members. Every time the boys had their hair cut, the barber carefully swept up the trimmings and gave them to Freda. When a fan sent a letter that said, Oh, may I please have a lock of George's hair?, Freda saw to it that it was George's hair mailed to the fan.

Freda struggled to get backstage at one concert and couldn't make her way to The Beatles' dressing room, so she hung out with The Moody Blues. When she finally got to The Beatles, John told her that if she preferred to hang out with the Moodies (John was moody himself), then she could consider herself fired. Fine, said Freda. She asked the other fellows if they wanted to fire her. Each said, No, no. Then I work for everyone except you, she told John. John immediately begged to re-hire her.

For someone who avoided the limelight so long and is described as shy, Freda was one tough bird. Anyone who dropped by her office for a cup of tea, including a lead singer from another band, ended up running an errand for Freda.

Asked if she dated any Beatles, she immediately says, No, and then changes her response to, I won't kiss and tell.

Freda Kelly could have made a fortune with The Beatles' memorabilia she had when the band split. Instead, other than a box of items in her attic, she gave everything to the fans--because it was for the fans all along.

Good Ol' Freda earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. I don't know if your kids will be interested in this documentary, but if they don't know who The Beatles are, then you'd better introduce them.

The man she calls Richie appears at the conclusion of the film. Do you know who Richie is?

Happy viewing!

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. You have until midnight EST today (Thursday, August 6th) to vote in my Battle of the Bands HERE. For Killing Me Softly, you can choose Roberta Flack or the Fugees. I'll announce the winner tomorrow. Be there, or be square.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I participate in a blog hop hosted by Michael D'Agostino of A Life Examined. Please visit Michael's blog to sign up for the hop, or blogfest, if you prefer that term.

Michael is so good at coming up with questions! This month he asks,“If your parent or child committed a major crime, would you turn them in?”

I've been thinking about my answer since Michael emailed the question to the participants on July 27th. Here it is about 9:45 p.m. EST, and I still don't feel certain of my answer. But if I don't write a post, then I can't go to the hop, and who doesn't want to go to the hop?

I've decided that this question can't have a general answer. I can only think about MY parents and children because I know--or knew--them so well. My parents passed away quite a few years ago. Favorite Young Man is 35, and Dr. The Hurricane just turned 29.

It's nearly impossible for me to imagine Mother or Daddy or my children committing a major crime. I have to answer with "No, I wouldn't turn them in." 

Here's the major reason: If any of these beloved people did something terrible, I would know that it wasn't intentional, or that they had a reason behind what they did. If it were my children, I would talk to them about their options, including the possibility of confessing and surrendering to the police, but I would not be able to turn them in. 

I include Willy Dunne Wooters in the group of people I could't turn in. He's too good, kind, and intelligent for me to make that decision for him. 

I used to know someone who was in prison for thirty years because he had been convicted of second degree murder. His sentence was actually sixty years. He got out after thirty for reasons I don't want to reveal.

He committed murder for a reason. That doesn't make it okay or legal. but he couldn't get the help he needed from the police. When I knew him, about a year after he got out of prison, he was a sweet, good humored, cuddly guy who always did his best to help me. He's gone now. My experience with him influences my answer.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug  

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for the August 1st, 2015, smack down of the Battle of the Bands. Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy provides us with this information about the bloghop:

The whole thing is really quite simple: You select two different versions of the same song (versions you feel might give each other some competition in the voting) and you post them on the 1st and the 15th of each month.

On the 7th and 21st of each month, you add your own personal vote to the mix, total up all the votes and announce the winner on your blog.

Beyond that, just try to have fun with it and let your readers/voters have fun with it.

I wonder if your voting on Killing Me Softly will be a case of choosing the version with which you grew up. 

For me, it was Roberta Flack, who sang her way to a number one hit in 1973. I heard at the time that the song was about Don McLean of American Pie fame, and no, I don't mean the movie. I also thought that Flack composed the song. 

I was wrong about that. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

"'Killing Me Softly with His Song' is a song composed by Charles Fox with lyrics by Norman Gimbel. The song was written in collaboration with Lori Lieberman, who recorded the song in late 1971."

The song is meant to convey the strong reaction Lieberman had when she heard McLean sing. I won't include Lieberman's version here because it might confuse the issue. Let's go straight to the beloved Roberta Flack, who first sang the song live in 1972 when she opened for Marvin Gaye at The Greek Theater.

Flack's version won the 1973 Grammy for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

Here's your first option, Roberta Flack:

The song has been covered many times, most successfully in 1996 by by the hip hop group the Fugees, with Lauryn Hill singing the lead. It went to number two in the U.S., and number one in the United Kingdom.

Killing Me Softly was the Fugees' biggest hit. It was on their album, The Score, which won the 1997 Grammy for Best Rap Album. Killing Me Softly won Best R&B performance by a duo or group.

Here's your second option, the Fugees, featuring Lauryn Hill:

Please vote for your preferred version of Killing Me Softly in your comment, and I'll be back on August seventh to tell you the winner. If you express an opinion, but you are not voting, then please say so.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug