Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ten Best Books I Read In 2013

2013 has not been a year of massive reading. It has been a year of massive studying, working, as well as some writing which includes the short story of mine that got submitted into the Garden State Speculative Writers anthology, The Speculations of New Jersey. I did, however, catch up on a modest amount of reading, which includes enough to pick out ten of my favorites. While a few of these books would have not made it onto a top ten list in years past, they have made it onto the list this year and even with a 7/10 rating, they were exciting reads in some way, shape, or form.

I have mentioned that 2013 has been a year of analyzing smaller texts, which is why I will be coming up with overall lists of the greatest short stories and poems I have read as some of my first posts during the new year, which will include some massive fiction writing on my behalf, which may mean a decrease in the amount of posts I submit to my blog. I will, however, do my very best to submit to my blog as often as possible. There are plenty of ideas that are flowing through my mind that I just feel like getting out there.

With further due, here are the ten best books I read and finished during 2013...

#10- Inferno by Dan Brown- I felt this was a 7/10 novel when I first completed it and still believe that Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code were the best two novels in Brown's Robert Langdon series. While Inferno struggled with capturing the essence of Dante's masterpiece about an eventful trip through Hell, Inferno is able to quench the eerie idea of how the world is becoming overpopulated and how Zobrist, who is deemed the key antagonist, releases a virus that will wipe out a major part of the population in order to solve the issue of the overpopulation that the world is facing. This kept my attention as the novel progressed and left me wondering about the situation Langdon was facing, the impact on his partner in Sienna Brooks, as well as the other important core of characters.

#9- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux- This was one of the more vague novels I read toward the beginning of the year. It did, however, provide an image as to what the novel had to offer and what the Lon Chaney film and Broadway play would have to offer as it developed from such a simple idea. This simple idea has to do with the ousting of an individual, because he was deemed as being scary, but more importantly because he did not attract those who judged him. While this novel is often categorized as a work of horror, it can also be deemed a work that carries a message.

#8- Sunshine by Nikki Rae- I thoroughly enjoy reading local authors. Nikki Rae is what is described as an "indie author" by both definitions. The first being an author from a smaller publisher who is just getting started and has to rely heavily on their own means to promote themselves. The second being the fact that they're self-published. Of course, the first and second go together quite well, but the ability to do such a thing along with the right amount of time and blessings hold major success. Nikki Rae will surely find major success. Sunshine has to do about a girl named Sophie Jean who has a sensitivity to the sun and how she meets a vampire in the form of a teenage boy named Myles, who becomes a special figure in her life as time progresses. Sophie and Myles establish themselves to the point that they stray from the everyday new adult series' that include Twilight, for this is the kind of series that could seriously be trapped in the frey that comes with such an idea. Nikki Rae will be an author to look out for in the years to come.

#7- The Last Days of the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport- Rappaport engaged in something so spectacular that it provided us with a different lens as to how we view history. She provided us, the reader, with an account of a totalitarian figure in such a poignant light that we start to question whether or not Nicholas II and his family deserved to die. The position of Tsar became overwhelming unpopular starting in the nineteenth century and by the twentieth century, groups were forming to overthrow the Tsar in favor of a government that provides equality to all. In 1917, the Tsar was finally dethroned and the Bolsheviks (which became the Communists) would take control until eventually, Joseph Stalin would lead this party as a Tsar-like leader. The primary concentration of this book are, as stated, the last DAYS in which the Romanovs (Nicholas II, Alexandra, his four daughters, and his son Alexey) are living in exile in Ekaterinburg as they await their death. Perhaps if it weren't for the rise of Joseph Stalin, we would view the Romanovs differently, but Rappaport writes about the Romanov family as if they are an important family instead of one that held so much totalitarian power that brought out frustration among their country.

#6- How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster- Being an English major, possessing the ability to know as much as you possibly can about grasping the material is always a plus. The different ideas that Foster puts into our heads is absolutely incredible. For instance, he mentions the meaning of each season (spring is birth, summer is livelihood, fall is aging, and winter is death) and how it is used in literature, while popping up of the water is a sign of rebirth or baptism if it means not drowning in that water. Foster uses plenty of examples (especially from Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison) in order to provide us with the ideas he is trying to convey and humor in order to keep the book fun and intriguing instead of wish that we changed our majors (you can stop waving your arms, Math, I am not coming to you!). Then he provides us with an opportunity to take what he taught us and put it to use as we critically approach Katherine Mansfield's "The Garden Party," which begins to make far more sense after implementing the different tips Foster provides.

#5- Destined to Witness by Hans J. Massaquoi- Any work having to do with Nazi Germany and those who struggled during that era (primarily the Jews and any one who was non-Aryan) comes off as fascinating if written well. I held Maus by Art Spiegelman to a high standard and put it as #4 on my "Top 10 Books I Read In 2012" post. I also read The Book Thief and found it to at least be decent. This book takes on a different angle, that of the black man instead of the Jew. Massaquoi was born to a mother who was white and German and a father who was black and African. His father left him and his mother when Massaquoi was young and shook Massaquoi's life. How he explains school brings a feeling of what it's like to be bullied, regardless as to whether or not someone has been bullied. He also discusses the difficulty of joining the military, reuniting with his father who turned out being more arrogant than he thought, his relationships, and the list keeps going on. Massaquoi's life was incredibly intriguing, leading up to when he finally took the opportunity to come to America. Reading and learning about people who came from struggles to obtain success is always fascinating. On many occasions, black people are the subject of such stories and in that case, the story of Massaquoi stands among the incredible.

#4- Touching the Dead by Carlotta Holton- Carlotta Holton is one of the most interesting and overlooked authors that horror fiction has to offer. Holton is known best for writing about the historical and the superstitious, which can be seen in her collection of short stories, Touching the Dead. This collection tends to concentrate on the superstitious, but there are historical elements in the form of how these superstitions came to be. She writes about the irony of a superstition involving a figure that's meant to bring rain with him in order to quench the thirst of the town citizens, she writes about a witch that lives on for centuries as she spreads misfortune. The other stories include a granddaughter using a superstitious stare against her creepy grandfather, how the dying of Easter eggs symbolizes plenty of good fortunes, and as the title states, how "Touching the Dead" is a good omen for staying alive and healthy. Holton does a good job bringing in excitement to the area of superstition and this should definitely not be missed!

#3- The Stranger by Albert Camus- Many of people see The Stranger as that novel they had to read when they were in high school. I see it for more than that. I see it as a novel that was explored at an angle that is rarely ever explored in the world of literature. Most novels either take place in the central character's head or surrounding the character to the point we know exactly what's going on with them at all times. We have absolutely no idea what's floating through Meursault's head. In that case, the title rightfully projects that we're meant to see him as "a stranger." When his mother dies, Meursault just sits there. We just see someone emotionless as they attend the funeral, even if those around him are more emotional (such as an old friend of his mother's). In the turning point, he seems incredibly emotionless to the point that this is how he is judged. The individuals in the story, as well as the reader, have no idea what's going on in Meursault's head and that's exactly what makes this work much more fascinating. This is gold for the reader that wants to dissect a story in every which way they possibly can and is one that can be subject to rereads at any point in time.

#2- The Giver by Lois Lowry- I took a Young Adult Literature class during the fall and I must say that while I read most of the material (including my #3 selection from last year, The Hunger Games), I had never read The Giver and I'm incredibly glad that I finally had the opportunity to do so. I found the content to be so raw to the point that with the decisions we are making, we are seeing a future in which we have sameness to the point that the government has to make people happy to the point that true positive feelings become obsolete. In this instance, Jonas enters his twelfth year and is assigned a role (which every individual is) to meet with "The Giver," who provides him with memories that he will eventually be assigned to possess. This novel explores topics such as totalitarianism, socialism, the impossibility of utopias, "release," climate control, and so much more. I highly urge everyone to read this novel, especially if it wasn't part of the middle or high school reading that came with the class load. Then I highly urge people to do something in order to preserve the natural happiness and the positive things that this world has to offer instead of making such an effort to force government control to the point of suffocation.

#1- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll- These two masterpieces go hand in hand with one another, so it's appropriate that I put them together. The story, but especially the characters and concept make up the magic that is Wonderland. As most of us know through the many adaptations of this story, most notably the 1951 Disney film and the more recent 2010 film starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Alice goes through a rabbit hole and into Wonderland while coming across several interesting sights. In the sequel, she revisits Wonderland from a completely different angle. In her first visit, she comes across a constantly vanishing Cheshire Cat, has a tea party with the Mad Hatter, plays croquet with the Queen of Hearts, meets an eternally depressed Mocking Turtle, and takes part in a court case. In her second visit, she meets Tweedledee and Tweedledum, learns about "un-birthdays" from Humpty Dumpty, and comes across a sleeping king. What's even more fascinating is that these stories provide a sense of the nonsense. While Alice's several encounters provide little logic, how is logic exactly defined? Wonderland may be a dream world, but perhaps life is just a dream. Lewis Carroll does an excellent job capturing the thought process of society as a whole and Carroll was a strange individual in real life as well. If there are any works that require second reads, this is definitely one of them and is definitely near the top.

Here is my Top 10 Books that I read this year. Of course, not all of them were released this year, but that's the way I operate this post and will continue to operate it. One thing I do want to change is the amount that I read. I read plenty of books during the last two years and didn't find as strong an opportunity to do the same for this. Put that on my list of New Years Resolutions for 2014, which I usually do away with due to the fact I'm not fond of holding myself to specific tasks. As for this year, I urge you to pick up these titles, especially those toward the top of the list. I will also warn it that if for some reason the amount of titles I read sees a decrease that's even more drastic, it's probably because I'm rereading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to establish myself as a genius in that particular text. Fortunately, I will probably read some work I have not read before (though I do plan on revisiting Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury).

I want to wish everybody a Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year and I hope to fill this blog with plenty of exciting posts as 2014 rolls around. Up and coming will include lists of my favorite short stories and poems and this will all lead up to the 250th post, which will include a Q&A and giveaway. Happy 2014, everyone!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

This is the post I wrote for Loaded Shelves that appeared on their blog last week. I wanted to release it on their blog first in order to provide them with some exposure and allow my fans to not only read my review on their blog, but also read their reviews and explore their knowledge for the written text. Hope you enjoy this review for such an intriguing novel!

For the last few months, I have been interacting with Caragh and Brianna from Loaded Shelves and endorsed them as being a blog that all readers from different walks of life can enjoy. I am incredibly honored to be able to contribute book reviews to their blog, for reading is one thing I thoroughly enjoy to do. I am Josh Caporale and I created my blog, Caponomics, back in March 2011. Caponomics began as a column in my high school newsletter. After graduation, I briefly had a column with the same name before I took my high school newsletter editor's advice and created a blog. I am a growing blog that has 19 followers, over 200 posts, and over 22,000 page views, holding high hope that at some point in time, I can surpass these numbers. The topics I cover on my blog include politics, music, film, television, sports, food, nostalgia, and most importantly... books and literature. While there isn't a direct concentration, my absolute passion lies in writing and reading and I hope that some day, I become a successful writer who writes in the realm of horror, sci-fi, speculative, or just situation fiction ("what if").

I have given you enough about my story and should move forward with a story far more excellent of my own: or should I call it a warning? In the American curriculum, Lois Lowry's The Giver is seen as a staple in some way, shape, or form. Since I went to private school, I did not have the opportunity to read it. Thankfully, when I took a Young Adult Literature class this semester, this was one of the books we read and it just so happened my group and I presented this book to the class. When I say that The Giver is a warning, I mean we are taking visible steps toward a world that is very much similar to this novel. The fact that somebody is possessing a power like "The Giver" would probably come in the form of technology, such as a ring that plays a role equivalent to a computer flash drive, but the nature of possessing memory will become nearly obsolete, something we have seen multiple times in literature.

The Giver follows a boy named Jonas who will be entering his twelfth year. During this point in time, individuals are assigned a role in society. Yes, this is a society that provides just about no freedom to its citizens. Citizens are assigned a role, their spouses are chosen from them based off of their personality and common interests like they're on, they request children that they receive if they successfully survive their first year, and they are required to share their dreams with one another. There are been plenty of arguments in futuristic societies in which children will not be naturally born, but instead in test tubes or in laboratories. This seems to be that kind of society, for the only individuals that can be seen naked are babies (before their first year) and older people living in the "House of Old." Jonas lives with his father, who is a nurturer that cares for babies, his mother, who worked for the Department of Justice, his sister, Lily, who is years younger, and Gabriel, who is a baby that Jonas' dad is raising until he turns one and is either adopted by a family or released if he does not meet their standards.

Jonas is the last one called during the ceremony, for he is selected to be the next Receiver. This individual eventually becomes the subject that holds the memories of society from generations ago. This requires meetings with "The Giver," who is an older looking man that possesses the memory from generations ago in which he passes onto Jonas by rubbing his back. Of course, this is a relatively strange method that will catch some attention, but the intent is to use this in order to deliver memories. Through these meetings, Jonas learns about a society of snow and sunshine, relief and pain, as well as the memory of color. Unfortunately, this society has converted to that of "sameness" (ohhhhhh boy, does that look familiar???), in which the weather is always the same year round, people don't end up in situations in which they hurt (and if they are, they just take a pill), and this society did away with color, because they wanted everyone to look as identical as possible so no one would complain. Jonas learns the secrets behind what really happens during release and why the last person who took on the role of Receiver surrendered the position and demanded a release. This all leads to a climatic result that turns into something that's incredibly open-ended. At the same time, these connections are tied in some way in the three sequels: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

The Giver is downright brilliant! It delivers a powerful message about how a futuristic utopia is relatively impossible, even if the world around us supports such a notion. At the same time, we are taking steps further toward living in such a society. The Giver has elements of *SKIP THIS SEGMENT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO CONSUME A SPOILER* human euthanasia *YOU MAY CONTINUE* Totalitarianism, climate change (solved with climate control), and rebellion against such a controlling society, something we see through plenty of leaders throughout history. The purpose of a work is that it delivers a message, often originating as a thought in someone's head, that will keep the reader thinking long after the last words have been read. That is where The Giver succeeds best and it's rightfully taught in schools, even when schools have made an effort to engage in the inappropriate practice of censoring it. The Giver should be seen as a warning to anyone that believes in the government tending to their everyday needs, for that will be a case in which freedom will become obsolete and to see freedom become obsolete is the biggest sin that society has to offer.

Verdict: 10/10

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Merry Christmas Post: Seven Updates

I want to start by wishing everybody a very Merry Christmas. If you are not one to celebrate Christmas, I send my holiday wishes to whichever holiday you celebrate and hope you have a joyful one indeed. Through this post, I would like to share with you some important updates relating to myself and anything having to do with this blog that will be occurring within the upcoming days, weeks, and perhaps we can keep going about with months as well. Throughout the winter break, lasting now until mid-January, I hope to accomplish plenty of tasks from reading to writing to a literary web show. This should really bring festivity to the end of this year and the beginning of next, so I shall begin!

1. Literary Gladiators

This is the name of my newest project I plan to dig deeper into in the beginning of January. Literary Gladiators is my literary web show in which my fellow English majors and I will be discussing different texts in literature, whether they're novels, short stories, and poems, we plan to dissect the meaning of each of these works while treating them as they're meant to be treated on the surface. For now, I will share just the first names of the people participating. Those who will regularly appear with me on the program include my good friend Charles, whom I participated in four classes with and he's just a riot! He likes drums, cookies, and Noo Noos, but also gives witty analogies concerning the pieces. Jim, another regular, is just witty! He's a genius in his own right and holds back no punches as he speaks. In many ways, he's the x-rated Nipsey Russell with his dirty limericks. We also plan on having rotating guests ranging from Gerilyn, who is just so cheerful but intelligent, Nicole, who is the feisty Rottweiler of the crew possessing plenty of literary knowledge and will be a joy to debate, while Brianna holds a high range of intelligence, especially in the realm of American Literature. Finally, Christine Connery from Talk Nerdy to Me will be one of the more frequent rotating guests. She is a huge driving force on the filming end and she'll be a driving force when we film the first ten episodes. Her, Jim, Charlie, and I already worked on the pilot, which allowed us to test the concept of how the show will be run. Choosing a host will be TBD, but we are down to two. Filming dates will be decided on who can attend which day. If the first ten episodes and pilot come off as a hit, we will plan on filming more during the summer.

2. Speculations of New Jersey

I mentioned that I was working on a short story to submit to the Garden State Speculative Writers anthology during the summer. I learned that my short story, "Pity Teeth," has been accepted and I was ecstatic when I heard the news. The anthology is slated for a 2014 release, but I have absolutely no idea when it comes to further details. What I do know is that contributors will have the opportunity to get their hands on a few copies before the release to the general public. Most of the submissions are from fellow colleagues of mine, but this is the same association that came out with Dark Territories back in 2008, which included a piece by F. Paul Wilson (of the Repairman Jack series). As I mentioned before, "Pity Teeth" has to do with a trip to the dentist gone wrong. The rest you will have to read in order to find out what happens. The one thing this has done is provide me with a drive to push forward with regard to writing, something I will mention much deeper in the fourth update.

3. What I'm Reading

I'm an English major, so we have plenty of required reading for classes. When you take four English classes, which I will not do again due to the free elective requirements that cannot be English classes, you're not left with a lot of time to read for pleasure. Now that it's winter break, I will have enough time to read for pleasure or at least a decent amount of time to do so. The book I have on the top of my stack is Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry, which I hope to complete during the winter break. I began reading it earlier in the year, but I wanted the concentration to give it the proper attention it deserved. With the massive load of everything going on, that time couldn't be found. Now I'm back to it and hope to complete it. I'm also preparing for Literary Gladiators, which will require some reading from James Joyce's Dubliners, as "Araby" will be one of the stories we discuss. I also need to reacquaint myself to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Stranger by Albert Camus, and the list keeps going on. I shouldn't have any issue with The Stranger, for I dug deeply into the text on the first roundabout. Aside from Ghost Road Blues, I have my eye on Dark Territories and Watchmen.

4. What I'm Writing

My acceptance into Speculations of New Jersey provided me with a drive to keep writing and finding open markets that are suited for writers like myself to submit to. I was actually contemplating taking a more literary turn with stories about individuals that battle from some psychological obstacle. After the acceptance, I felt that I could trek into just about anything I held an interest in writing. I see myself taking on genres that are often touched upon in The Twilight Zone: horror, science fiction, supernatural, psychological, situational, or more broadly: speculative! I will be spending much of my winter break writing some new short stories while editing some of my others. If all goes well, I also want to work on some novel writing, which includes the one I began in 2011. It will need some polishing, but that's almost always a standard when it comes to putting together the best possible piece. At the same time, I will be updating my blog as often as possible with some new material. Speaking of which, these next three will touch up on what's to come.

5. Working With Loaded Shelves

I find it such an excellent thrill to be engaging in a partnership with Loaded Shelves, as Caragh and Brianna are a delight to blog with. The best thing about these two is that they read just about anything you put in front of them, bringing me a bit of optimism about how the world needs more Henry Bemis'. Last week, my book review for The Giver was released on their blog and I will re-release it here on Caponomics later this week. In addition, I plan to write and submit a review of Sunshine by Nikki Rae, which has been the most recent book I completed for pleasure. I hope to submit some more reviews and book related posts to their blog in the future.

6. Top Books of 2013 PLUS Short Stories and Poems

While these are going to be three separate posts, I plan on making this happen. I didn't have the opportunity to read as much as I wish I had been able to, but I read a satisfactory amount to the point in which the ten books on the list are able to stand their own. If more books were in the mix, some of them would have not made it, though (some are 7/10's). In addition, I plan on working on a list of my favorite short stories and poems, which will not occur as often as the annual top books of the year. I will need to decide as to whether or not I will rank them or simply list them. I'm leaning toward just listing them, but this will come down to a matter of waiting and seeing. Either way, this should definitely be a delight!

7. The 250th Post: Q&A and Giveaway

We are reaching the 250th post, which will occur fourteen posts from now. Hopefully this landmark is reached in January or February, perhaps before the three-year anniversary on March 9th. For the 250th post, I plan on having a Q&A that will lead to a giveaway. Here's the plan: submit up to three questions in the comment box ranging from anything that has to do with areas of interest, previous posts, or anything you'd like answered on this blog. For every question (up to three) you submit, I will enter your name in a raffle and the person who wins will have the opportunity to win any book that has been mentioned in one of my lists for ten best books of the year. I have lists for 2011, 2012, and will have one for 2013 that will be written before the new year. They can easily be found in one of the columns to the right if you explore each of the years. I'll answer each question and announce the winner in the 250th post, which I plan to write some time during the first quarter of the upcoming year.

Guess this is the way to end 2013, in such a positive fashion filled with plenty of eventful things that are up and coming. Writing, reading, blogging, web shows, Q&A's, giveaways... I see a 2014 that should be filled with magnificent feats that only await. Once again, I want to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and may your holiday be filled with cheer and warmth!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Twilight Zone: "Night of the Meek"

The winter break has come to me, thus time to update my blog with some new reading and hopefully posting enough to reach the 250th post by a decent time next year. Around this time two years ago, I recommended The Twilight Zone and to this day see it as one of the greatest television shows of all time. I should also mention how it's one of the greatest reality shows of all-time, because unlike many of other reality shows that have so many obvious holes to them, The Twilight Zone puts forth plenty of truths in our society. This includes the idea of sameness ("Number 12 Looks Just Like You"), scapegoating ("The Monsters are due on Maple Street"), replacing humans with computers ("The Brain Center at Whipple's), and the list keeps going on, though at the same time, many of episodes explore the supernatural or simply tell a story that leaves you thinking.

Warning: Reviews of television episodes contain spoilers. If you don't want to find out what happens, I suggest watching the episode first before coming back to this review.

One of those that plays with the supernatural is the Christmas special: "Night of the Meek." There is most definitely a magic that makes up the Christmas holiday and its intent is to leave the viewer with a warm fuzzy feeling known as sentiment. A great Christmas special can fill you with plenty of different emotions, but once it fills you with sentiment of some fashion, it has engaged in much of its purpose. This Christmas special did this perfectly and at the same time never strayed away from its initial purpose. "Night of the Meek" follows an unemployed man named Henry Corwin (played by Art Carney) who has a job once a year as a department store Santa under Mr. Dundee (played by John Fiedler), an uptight boss who feeds into the norms of a commercial society. Mr. Dundee is waiting for Corwin to attend a Christmas event filled with plenty of youngsters while Corwin (in his Santa suit) is having a few (to put it in a subtle fashion) drinks at the bar. Hilariously enough, plenty of young kids are watching and shouting for "Santa," to which Corwin waves.

Henry Corwin is eventually kicked out after swindling the bartender out of a bottle of booze and is confronted by some children from struggling families. They begin asking for toys, but progress to asking for more serious things such as food on the table. Corwin (in his Santa suit) sends them on their way and arrives an hour late at the department store. An angry Mr. Dundee expresses his mind quietly, but furiously to Corwin before telling him that he'd better succeed at impressing the children (but in reality the parents). The first child to go up is a "Percival Smithers" who wants a new name for Christmas, causing a reaction from his mother. Corwin becomes unable to sit still and constantly passes out, leading him to be fired by Dundee. Before leaving, Corwin provides a philosophical speech as to why he drinks heavily, as he has the option to weep about his life or drink and feel a little less pain. He expands to talking about what Christmas should really mean and that Dundee, like plenty of others, see it in a more commercialized fashion. Corwin leaves, barely able to walk the streets.

Corwin eventually walks by the alleyway and comes across a bag, which is where a sentimental tune that sounds like it came from a child's music box begins to play. This feeds into the idea of Christmas sentiment. The bag is at first filled with garbage, but at a second glance, it becomes filled with presents. Not just presents, but a bag that provides people with what ever they ask. He goes to his mission house and presents everyone with what ever they ask, only to shock Sister Florence (played by Meg Wyllie) and cause her to bring a police officer, Flaherty (played by Robert P. Lieb) onto the premise. Flaherty feels that Corwin shoplifted the items and took him to the police station. They are met by Mr. Dundee, who knows that something suspicious has been going on, until they realize the bag is (as originally found) filled with garbage. Mr. Dundee feels that it's a sham and that this is not a bag Corwin found, but stole. Mr. Dundee asks for a specific bottle of cherry brandy that Corwin feels and pulls out. Corwin leaves to hand out more gifts to the children, while Mr. Dundee gets himself drunk.

As Corwin hands out the last of the gifts, a friend from the mission house comes across his path and thanks him for the pipe and mentions how incredible this whole evening has been. He asks Corwin what he wants, to which Corwin wishes that he could do this every year, which could be viewed in a way that he sets himself up for some more supernatural, but sentimental magic. As he returns to the alleyway to the sentimental tune, he comes across a sleigh with reindeer in the front. An elf, played by a young boy, tells him how they've got more to do and then have to prepare for next year, indicating that Corwin has become Santa. As he rides away, Flaherty and Dundee see him riding on his sleigh, to which an intoxicated Dundee accuses Flaherty of "seeing things" and that he'll take him back to his place and make him feel better with some of his brandy.

The beatitude states that: "The meek shall inherit the Earth," which happens as Corwin portrays a drunk department store Santa each year, but eventually having the opportunity to become more than just that drunk Santa and instead THE Santa, coming out with the strongest statement. What Corwin really conveyed was that the meaning of Christmas should be doing everything you possibly can to make somebody happy in any which way. The person providing the happiness comes out with a feeling of sentiment, which is an advanced form of happiness that comes with a fuzzy feeling. "Night of the Meek" is filled with plenty of evident flaws of the Christmas season, the biggest being the commercialization that has only escalated. Just look at how Black Friday has flooded into the entire Thanksgiving (remember, Kmart opened at 6 AM on Thanksgiving and stayed open until 11 PM the next day!). Mr. Dundee represents this cold-hearted, misunderstanding element toward the heartfelt emotions that come with Christmas.

"Night of the Meek," in a very different way, is one of my favorite Christmas specials. It displays something far different from most, but what it displays provides such truth to what Christmas really means. The fact that it delivers a feeling of sentiment also drives it to being a special that can stand the test of time and at the same time a bit of necessary humor, supernatural elements, and messages of honesty. I should also remind everyone that The Twilight Zone marathon will be showing, as it always does, on New Years Eve and New Years Day on the Syfy channel.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Death Of Roy Orbison: 25 Years Today

During the late 1980s, Roy Orbison saw his singing career drastically surge back from his success in the early 1960s. Despite fading for several years, he saw plenty of excellent opportunities. In 1980, his duet with Emmylou Harris, "That Loving You Feeling Again," won a Grammy award. By 1987, he was working on several musical projects that included new singles that would contribute to later albums, a special televised concert known as Roy Orbison's Black & White Night, and as a member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. What started as arrangement for George Harrison's album Cloud Nine became the building blocks to The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. This group featured Orbison, Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. Lynne would be involved in the production of Mystery Girl (an album that even Bono contributed a song to), released in 1989, and King of Hearts, released in 1992. Orbison was taking part in a tour when he realized he was suffering from chest pains. When returning home on December 6, 1988, he took a heart attack that evening and died before he could successfully receive the right medical treatment. He was just 52 years old and participating in one of music's greatest comebacks.

Roy Orbison inspired many, such as Bruce Springsteen, who even mentioned him in his song "Thunder Road." His songs were covered by Linda Ronstadt, Sonny James, Don McLean, Gene Pitney, and the list keeps going on.

I'm going to recreate the list of my ten favorite Roy Orbison songs that I created back in 2011 to celebrate his 75th birthday. The only difference will be in the fact that I will also include some videos. The summaries will be a bit shorter, but I have the videos to make up for it that I hope you enjoy. The videos are from YouTube and the uploader owns these videos. Ultimately, those who produced the albums and created the lyrics own the rights to the music (much of which is delegated by his living sons).

#10- California Blue

During his 1980s comeback, Orbison had plenty of excellent hits that have continued to stand the test of time. Some of my favorites include "A Love So Beautiful" and "You Got It," but there's something so mesmerizing about "California Blue" and how Orbison captures such beauty and longing through his lyrics. He hits some excellent notes as well.

#9- Oh, Pretty Woman

If there's any song that is forever attached to Roy Orbison's legacy, it's this one. Released in 1964, this remained on the charts for five weeks during an era dominated by the British Invasion. It would eventually inspire the 1990 film, Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. I enjoy the song as well, as it takes on a more upbeat tone, but at the same time capture the essence of Roy Orbison.

#8- Only The Lonely

Orbison's first hit was "Ooby Dooby" from 1956, but it was "Only The Lonely" in 1960 that really brought him a decent flow of attention. This rightfully represents the gist of where Orbison goes with his music, appealing to those that are having the hardest times. He does quite a job hitting those notes as well!

#7- It's Over

Written in 1964 with new co-writer Bill Dees, "It's Over" provides an apocalyptic mindset to losing your love. It's one of his most passionate songs, capturing a feeling that many of us dealing with a breakup go through.

#6- Blue Bayou

Before Linda Ronstadt performed this song in the 1970s, Orbison performed it in 1963 and did quite a job! I always loved the way it was so soothing and painted an image in my mind of such a beautiful place.

#5- Crying

First performed in 1961, Orbison wrote this song when he saw the reaction he had with an old flame and it left him saddened. We feel just that emotion of raw sadness. During his 1980s comeback, he sung this as a duet with k.d. lang, which proved to be one of the most dynamic duets of all time. Rightfully one of the saddest songs and it absolutely defines how Roy Orbison goes for the gut with his music. (solo) (with k.d. lang)

#4- In Dreams

This has to be one of his most brilliantly written songs, released in 1963. It tells of a "candy-colored clown they call the Sandman" coming into Orbison's room that puts him to sleep, where he goes through a mesmerizing dream that he awakes from. I was told through the replies, who learned from a reliable source, that this was Orbison's favorite song. I also have a review specifically for this song I wrote over the summer.

#3- Running Scared

There's just something so incredible about this song. It provides a dramatic buildup on the fear that the person (in this case, the woman) you love having her attraction to her previous partner. It builds up so beautifully before it lets loose for an unforgettable finish.

#2- Crawling Back

This is not a song that everybody recalls, but it's just so emotionally brilliant. It captures the emotion of how much you adore somebody, no matter how much pain they inflict onto you. It also captures the loss of a partner and while there was so much pain in the relationship, you will do anything and everything to be with them. The tone starts off soft, but it grabs you and doesn't let go.

#1- The Crowd

This song from 1962 is not his most memorable, but it's my favorite. The song has to do with coping with the loss of a relationship that held so many memories and Orbison sings about simply going about with the crowd and living life as it should be lived, but things could definitely be better since his love has left him. This song starts out soft before going up a few notches before letting loose and ending of a powerful note. There are very few songs that are arranged so brilliantly as this one is.

Of course, there are plenty of songs that were incredible that I wasn't able to include. Arranging the list to ten is the most challenging part, but it's doable and has been done.

It's incredible that it's been 25 years since Roy Orbison has left us physically, but his music continues to live on and inspire several individuals. I'm going to leave you with my original post I wrote for his 75th birthday on April 23, 2011 and a little Christmas video of his signature Christmas hit, "Pretty Paper."

"Pretty Paper"

The original post:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Thanksgiving Post

A few weeks ago, a blogger named Heather Von St. James of Life's A Banquet approached me through comment and then via email about the idea of creating a post having to do with what you are thankful for in observance of Thanksgiving. Heather is a long-term survivor of Mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure. While she was given just fifteen months to live, she is still alive today, despite the fact she was diagnosed in November 2005, which is eight years ago. Reaching out in different methods that include the creation of her blog,, Heather's mission is to encourage us to dig into what Thanksgiving really is. It's more than just a holiday represented by turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. It's a holiday where people come together and cherish the appreciation they have for one another. This was a holiday built on the appreciation the Pilgrims and Indians had with the relationship the two would form when the Pilgrims came to this new land known as America. While this appreciation didn't last between the Pilgrims and Indians, it has lasted among much of America and has since become a national holiday, occurring on the fourth Thursday of every November. I will now take time to just share with you what Thanksgiving means to me.

I continuously keep up with the news, which MSN makes it so easy to do, and I came across a decision K-Mart made with regard to setting up for the Christmas season. They made a decision to open up on 6 AM on Thanksgiving day and will stay open until 11 PM the next day, providing a massive head start for the crowds on Black Friday, which I have always seen as a manic rush of people having the first opportunity at the holiday sales. I mean, thirty years ago, Cabbage Patch Dolls were a sellout during the Christmas holiday, but the notion of eating away at the Thanksgiving holiday in order to get ready for Christmas is not what Thanksgiving is all about. Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving and should be treated as its own holiday and follow its own values.

I operate the Cafe and sometimes serve as a cashier at the ShopRite in my area. One Friday, when I was in the break room, I came across a poster from P.C. Richard & Son having to do with their tradition of closing each Thanksgiving, due to the respect they hold toward their customers and the meaning of family and that those who choose to object this notion are disrespecting the meaning of family. Like P.C. Richard & Son, ShopRite (at least those that are under my owner's ownership) is closed every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. I hold a high respect for the notion of store owners holding the human quality of employee appreciation and that unless they volunteer to "babysit" the store, everyone is off for Thanksgiving. I'm very thankful to be able to work for such a great company and am thankful to have a great group of coworkers to the point that I would never be able to work for another supermarket or ANY job that holds similar wages to ShopRite, because there's just a humanistic quality that ShopRite holds.

On the topic of being provided the ability to spend time with loved ones, I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy dinner and dessert with my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousin, and sister. I have mentioned my opinion about Thanksgiving food, but the fact that I'm spending the holiday with my family trumps all of my opinions about what is being served. I'm sure that plenty of people can say that they couldn't ask for a better family. I am one of those plenty of people that can truly say that I couldn't imagine being in any other family than the one I am in. The love and appreciation I hold for everyone is just endless and I have absolutely no idea what I would do without them.

This year specifically, along with my family and coworkers, I am also thankful for my friends, from high school, college, work, Facebook, Blogger, or Garden State Speculative Writers. I have a great group of friends that I either made this year or continue to hold from years past. I have developed a strong core of "regulars" that I have made at my college. We take multiple classes with one another and this group of friends/classmates makes coming to college an additional reason to look forward coming into class. I enjoy the college experience already, but taking classes with such a good group of people makes it even more enjoyable. My instructors have also taught me a lot about an appreciation for poetry and the art of literature in general. I'm going for my English degree and hope to graduate in 2015. From there, I want to find an occupation that concentrates on writing, but really hope to write fiction in the field of horror, science fiction, speculative, psychological, or situational (what-if) fiction.

This year, I joined the Garden State Speculative Writers association, that meets on the first Saturday of each month at a library. At these meetings, we discuss business about how the club is run, hold writing exercises, read and critique each others work, and have guest speakers (I attended those featuring Linda Addison, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Ellen Datlow) that are in the speculative field in some way, shape, or form, whether as writers or editors. I attended four meetings this year, but hope to attend more when next year rolls around. I'm planning to broaden my writing horizons even further. This reminds me that I have a little announcement about the Speculations of New Jersey anthology I mentioned back in July. My horror short story, "Pity Teeth," got accepted and will be featured along with about nine to fourteen others. I will update everyone on details as we go along, but for now, I know that it will be released to the general public in January 2014. My dream is to be a published author and this is a start. This is inspiring me to broaden my horizons and I plan to explore different outlets to publishing my work.

I also want to express how I'm thankful for the various opportunities I have come across as a blogger. I've been writing my Caponomics column through Blogger for two years and have had over 20,000 page views. I currently have 19 followers and have interacted with plenty of people in the blogosphere, including those that have commented on my posts. I'm very thankful to have an active mentor in Mr. Clark, who pushed me to start a blog in the first place. Caponomics was active in my high school newsletter, the Bulldog Business, and then it went to Facebook for a short period of time before Blogger became my official home. Mr. Clark has remained an active follower and is excellent at everything he sets his mind to. I am also thankful for active followers who are also fellow bloggers. There's Kevin Brownlie, who operates Road of the Month, which was an alternate outlet for his Bulldog Business column. He's been active with providing feedback and questions for my "Questions for Caponomics" posts. Among those I have met through Blogger, I have been thankful to keep contact with bloggers such as Carina Olsen from Carina's Books and am thankful for our interaction on each others posts, which includes her encouragement on many of my posts, whether they were book reviews, celebration posts, or just topics of interact; Michele from The Girl Who Loves Horror, as we have also interacted on a few occasions and she always comes up with some exciting material to post about; then there's Caragh and Brianna from Loaded Shelves, which has become a favorite of mine. They're a growing blog that's looking for a breakout moment and I'm sure that within the near future, they will become the blog that everyone talks about. Beyond the blog, they're very nice people and I'll be excited to serve as a guest blogger sometime during the end of this year or the beginning of the next.

Of course, there are so many people and outlets to be thankful for, but that would be a list so long that this post would never end. The concept of being thankful for what you have, even if they're just the simple elements of life, is a trend that we should follow. I can go on and on about the issues people have with the feeling of complex entitlement, but I don't feel like it. I have a great family, great friends, a great job, a great college opportunity, plenty of writing opportunities, and there's just so much good I have in my life that no matter how bad it gets, the good outweighs it all. In addition to all of this good, I have the gift of life and have the opportunity of write this post today. That in itself is something to be incredibly thankful for.

I want to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you enjoy the holiday with those you love most in your life and are thankful to be around. Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, my "thank you" is just as strong as it would be for one who celebrates. I hope you have a wonderful day and God bless you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years Ago

On Friday, November 22, 1963, the United States of America and the world were shocked when they learned about the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy was in Dallas, Texas promoting what was slated to be his campaign for the presidency in 1964 and had chosen to ride in a convertible vehicle with an open roof in order to reach out to the people. Unfortunately, this would set up his immediate, but tragic demise. The death of John F. Kennedy, who was just 46 years of age, was one of the few times within the last fifty years that shook the country to the point that a drastic change would come about due to such an event. The other event being September 11, 2001, in which suicide planes crashed into the World Trade Center and ultimately resulted in conflict with Iraq. Indirectly and in more ways than one, conflict came about from the Kennedy assassination, but it also came with plenty of questions...

The man that was responsible for the majority of the bullets shot at JFK was Lee Harvey Oswald, who would inevitably be arrested and was ready to be tried for the murder of the president. While heading to his case, he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. On one hand, this act could have been due to fury of the president's assassination (in the way of "an eye for an eye"). On the other hand, the murder of Oswald could have been a cover-up. Oswald deemed that he was just "a patsy" and the evidence came about with his own murder. The question at hand is: Did Lee Harvey Oswald solely assassinate JFK? It's very hard to stand by the point that Oswald was in fact the lone shooter.

Many of other groups and individuals were connected to the assassination. This ranges from the mafia, the FBI, the Cubans, even Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson is connected. Kennedy and Johnson did not see eye to eye, but the ticket was created in order to level out their areas (Kennedy's Massachusetts to Johnson's Texas) and provide them with a vast range when it came to winning the election. Kennedy, unlike most political figures, disagreed with the notion of being in Vietnam and was taking steps to backing out. Soon after Johnson was sworn into office (immediately on the plane ride back to Washington D.C.), he sent more troops into Vietnam. The Vietnam War was another attempt at opportunity that began during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, continued into the Kennedy administration, escalated during the Johnson administration, and came to a head during the Richard Nixon administration where it ultimately died down before ending during the Gerald Ford administration in 1975. People constantly ask that if Kennedy had lived, would America stayed in Vietnam as long as they did? There are strong inclinations that this would not be the case. There may have been other issues that brewed in the process with other countries, but interference with Vietnam could have ended and the takeover would have occurred sooner. Vietnam seemed to be an opportunity for the political figures during that time, so involvement was within their interest. Whether or not this had to do with Johnson wanting to eliminate Kennedy from office could not be determined, but we do know that the view Johnson had with moving forward was not the same as Kennedy's. Recent studies from a FOX News special point out how the bullet that caused the death to Kennedy was not shot from Oswald's gun, but from a county building. The information behind the shooter was not provided.

John F. Kennedy was not a favorite president of mine. Some of the decisions he made with regard to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion seemed to show less assertiveness when it came to foreign policy. The two best traits Kennedy had and made him perhaps the most notable president of the 20th century were his charm and his ability to move crowds by being a great public speaker. When running against Nixon in the 1960 election, he visibly presented himself much better, even if he didn't possess knowledge like Nixon. This allowed him to go forth with winning the presidency in what was a brief, but notable era. Among his foreign policies, he also developed the Peace Corps and had his hands in civil rights (for black citizens). It would be Johnson, however, that got the credit for signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and go on to become the champion of being the man that ended segregation in America (according to federal law). His speeches, along with his brother Robert F. Kennedy, are always powerful to listen to, which I have taken the opportunity to do whenever I found the moment. He always had a message that he presented very passionately, whether I agree with it or not.

I am going to leave you with two powerful videos that relate to JFK. One of which is the powerful, poignant report that Walter Cronkite gives, struggling to keep his composure as he reports the death of the president. The other, a more positive notion, is how JFK discusses his intention to send a mission to the moon and how he not only wants to accomplish such a task, but accomplish it before any other country. This notion shows an incredible amount of passion for America.

Cronkite's Report:

Kennedy on Space Race:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Post: The Kiddies Like To Pick Pumpkins, I Like To Eat Them

This is halloween! Yep, that time of year where people do their best to scare the crap out of one another and/or dress up in costumes and go trick or treating, aka. "the holiday in which you go to other people's houses and demand that they give you candy." In the weeks leading up to it, people do plenty of things involving pumpkins. People go pumpkin picking, they put up pumpkins that are real or fake, they carve or paint them, then they either put a light in them and turn them into a jack-o-lantern or hang them up just the way they are.

It just so happens that I like pumpkins, too. The only difference is that I can do perfectly fine without carving them or anything else you do with them. If you make it into a meal, that's perfectly fine as well. I very much enjoy eating the pumpkin as a key ingredient. Pumpkins play an excellent star when they are the key role of a dessert or even a main course. I have had pumpkin soup from where I work and it can be very good. You just need to be in the mood in order for the pumpkin soup to strike a positive chord. Then again, I am fond of a soup that is prepared in the form of a puree. Tomato puree is commonly used in pasta sauce, thus plenty of vegetables (or fruits) that are pureed make for an excellent course.

I do, however, believe that pumpkins play a better role when they are sweet and not savory. That doesn't mean that's it not subject to savory courses, because anything that can be made savory and make a connection to a sweet element (like proscuttio and cantaloupe) is a work of culinary genius. As a dessert, I have had pumpkin in bread, doughnuts, and cheesecake. Yes, we all know about pumpkin pie and how it's a staple for Thanksgiving dessert (which may cause this to be a Halloween/Thanksgiving crossover, just as they are portrayed in American holiday cooking), but the three I have had were just as good. I am not a pie person (except pizza pie), so I would not be the best possible judge for such a confirmation about pumpkin pie.

While I may not be the judge for pumpkin pie, my smooth Dachshund, Link (God bless his soul), is associated most with this meal. On his first Thanksgiving back from being a show dog, he snatched the pumpkin pie, still in the box, from the table and tried to open it. He didn't succeed, but he dented the Thanksgiving dessert and got a scolding from my mother for doing so. Last year, before his death, I bought him a small pumpkin pie that he snatched from the plate and gobbled up. While he was ailing from a heart condition, he still had an excellent appetite.

That's the reason my dog liked pumpkin. I like pumpkin, because of its distinct, yet familiar flavor. Pumpkin bread is a fine example. A flavor of cinnamon without the tang interacts with your taste buds as you enjoy such a dessert. It's not sweet in the way that banana bread is, so enjoying something that has a bit of a spice (but not too spicy) to it is exactly the experience you get out of pumpkin bread. Butter could very well accompany pumpkin bread, but I'm perfectly fine with it just as it is.

I bought some pumpkin doughnuts for Halloween, for those and apple cider doughnuts are staples for Halloween (at least in my book they are and if they're not, they definitely should be). The pumpkin doughnuts deserve a lot of hype for what they have to offer. One could eat the whole box if they wish and in my situation, I am fortunate to even have the resistance to call it a snack after one, maybe two, pumpkin doughnuts. It sure takes plenty of resistance. In the glazed fashion, pumpkin doughnuts are quite delicious as well.

Pumpkin cheesecake has grown to be the one variable of cheesecake I have begun to enjoy instead of the regular. I absolutely love cheesecake, for it's my favorite kind of cake bar none (with cannoli cake being a close second). My ice cream creation for a high school project was chocolate chip cheesecake and it got "best taste." I felt it was a magical flavor myself. When you make a pumpkin cheesecake into the mix, you have something that has a sweet spice, but at the same time is creamy to the point it plays a vibrant tune in your mouth. On Thanksgiving day, I'll take the pumpkin cheesecake over the pumpkin pie any day!

On the topic of pumpkin cheesecake, Ben & Jerry's is coming out with a "Pumpkin Cheesecake" flavor that will be on my "to buy" list as soon as it comes out. From what I saw, the ice cream will be a pint of pumpkin cheesecake ice cream with a graham cracker swirl. While graham cracker isn't necessarily my favorite element of the cake, it should provide the pint of ice cream with the drive it needs. I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate (or fudge) covered cannoli, but the pieces of fudge-covered shells in their "Cannoli" ice cream provide an excellent element to their piece. Before I go off on a tangent having to do with how they need to bring cannoli ice cream back, I will say that the pumpkin cheesecake ice cream from Ben & Jerry's will be something to get. Whether I like it a lot or only a little will be determined in a simple fashion: if I finish the pint in one sitting, it's on my list of favorites.

Pumpkin picking is not necessarily an October tradition I keep up with. I'm just fine with seeing pictures of my friends on Facebook doing the pumpkin picking instead. I can do without the chalky dirt on my hands. Pumpkin eating during the last quarter of the year is something I do like to take part in. So if one person invites me to go pumpkin picking while the other invites me to dinner and dessert with a pumpkin cheesecake dessert, you can easily guess with one I'll settle for.

I want to wish everybody a Happy, Healthy, Fun, and Safe Halloween and I hope you're able to eat as much candy and consume as much holiday indulgences as you possibly can!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Ninth Season Of "Whose Line Is It Anyway"

First off, I must mention the unfortunate trend that has been occurring with my updates on this blog. I'm currently in a semester in which I'm taking five classes, four of which are English, and my time is stuffed with reading books, writing papers, arranging powerpoints and group presentations, and then tending to a job in the mix. Fortunately, I will do my very best to find the open time that DOES reside in my life to submit here. The finale for the ninth season of Whose Line Is It Anyway premiered last week, going out on a very good note with host Aisha Tyler, regular performers Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles, and guest performer Nyima Funk. So while this season had a lot to remember, which includes the obvious comeback of the show, there may be some touching up that the show can work on in order to make the tenth season of the show, which will have twenty-four episodes, a bit better... but not very much at all.

It was great to see Wayne, Colin, AND Ryan return to the show as regular performers. These guys were excellent during the Drew Carey era and it feels as if nothing changed. Wayne was as flashy as ever, Colin was as quick and blunt with his humor as ever, and when Ryan wasn't feeding the media's poking fun at the conservative agenda only or the fact that we like to make New Jersey the butt of all state jokes, he was quite the riot! In addition, the guest performers were a good batch to choose from. The best of the bunch has to have included Nyima Funk, Jeff Davis (who was also in the Drew Carey version), Jonathan Magnum, and my personal favorite, Keegan-Michael Key from MAD TV. These guest performers were able to fit in quite well and provided us with some outrageous humor. The only thing I would ask is that these guest performers are provided with a bit more time on the program, which we eventually got to see as the season progressed.

The one thing that we don't always need is the celebrity guests on all except one episode. On some occasions, the celebrity guests would get just as much or more time on the show than the guest performer, which isn't a good thing. If I'm not mistaken, there were more celebrity guests in this season alone than there were on the whole duration of the Drew Carey era of the program, but Carey made the most of his guests (Jerry Springer, Richard Simmons, Florence Henderson, Sid Caesar, Lassie, etc.). This time around, the guests were b-rate. I did like Wilson Bethel, who played along very well with the notion of the program. Perhaps the best celebrity guest sketch this season was when he, Wayne, and Ryan performed a "three-headed song" titled, "I Just Can't Live Without Your Rubber Duckie." If there are particular guests I wasn't fond of, it would be Kevin McHale, who was irritating and had way too much air time (in addition, I'm not a fan of Glee) and Maggie Q, who was just painful to watch, because she put no effort into her participation. In the "Dubbing" sketch, she didn't even move her lips on some occasions. If I were arranging the episodes, I would cut the celebrity guest appearances to about 33%. It's far more powerful to have three meaningful guests on the program for the season than eleven b-rate (I would go as far as declaring some of them to be c-rate) performers that eliminate performance time for the meaningful guests.

I also hope that Whose Line Is It Anyway captures much of the essence that made them great under the Drew Carey era. While it wasn't my favorite sketch was I was younger, they need to bring the "Hoedown" back, because a lot can be done with this sketch at this point in time. Allow the "winner" to sit out and either have Aisha Tyler or the celebrity guest (if we choose to keep having time) perform with the other three. Speaking of the Carey era, they need to bring back some of those performers to participate on the program. I would like to see Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, and Chip Esten, maybe even Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Colbert, among some of the others that made the show magical. If the tenth season features a concentration on the guest performers and at the same time highlight their main three, this show will be a mainstay on CW.

What I liked a lot about this season was the execution of the one-liner sketches, such as "Scenes From A Hat," "Props," and "Online Dating Profile." These sketches allowed each performer to provide us with samples of the best they have to offer. In "Online Dating Profile," I saw some of the most outrageous, but hysterical examples of undesirable profiles of men you wouldn't want to date. Colin's was so outrageous that it stopped everyone's train of thought. I also enjoyed "Hollywood Director," "Greatest Hits," and "Weird Newscasters." Ultimately, if they're able to incorporate different material and perhaps some new material that they only use every so often on the program, then the show could see a flow that allows them to reach even higher marks than it did in this ninth season of the show.

The tenth season, which will be much longer, should definitely be something to check out. It should be far more outrageous now that things are back on pace and with more episodes, there will be more opportunities to come up with was incredible improv!

Verdict for Season 9: 8/10

Friday, August 30, 2013

My Prediction: 2013 NFL Season

Some of my posts have become annual trends, because I feel it's just so fitting to do so. In this case, I'll be predicting the entire NFL season from top to bottom, inside and out, and then any additional information I feel is worth mentioning about things bound to happen this season. The 2013 season will be quite an exciting year, as I say about most, but I expect somewhat similar results, but with somewhat different outcomes, many of which are on the ends of strength in the division and who does and does not make the playoffs.

Last time around, my prediction of the Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl rang true, even if I had them defeating the Green Bay Packers and not the San Francisco 49ers. Also, for the second year in a row, the team I predicted would be the absolute worst (which included the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 and Minnesota Vikings in 2012) actually made it into the playoffs. Another reversal of psychology was how the teams I predicted would lose in the NFC Championship actually crashed and burned instead (which included the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011 and Carolina Panthers in 2012). This time around, I hope to hit these nails on the head harder than I did before. In addition, even if the experts attempted to sway me a certain way, I have to head in the direction I intended to in the first place.

So here they are, my 2013 predictions!

AFC East

New England Patriots (10-6)- The New England Patriots, perhaps the most flawless team of the 21st century, as they only missed the playoffs three times (2000, 2002, and 2008), are dealing with some issues, primarily with the murder accusations from Aaron Hernandez, who was released from the team when news broke out, and Rob Gronkowski, who is dealing with injury issues. The Patriots had the best tight end crew on the entire team and this will be a stinger for Tom Brady and his intentions of having an explosive offense. Fortunately, they still have the mechanics that are needed to win games and they will win in a reconstructing division.

Miami Dolphins (9-7)- The Dolphins have plenty of young talent, led by second year QB Ryan Tannehill. Last season, they made the jump to 7-9. This time around, they should see some crucial improvement to the point that they just miss the playoffs, because there will be wildcards that do a better job. Fortunately, this team is growing under head coach Joe Philbin and underrated offensive coordinator Mike Sherman to the point that they may end up contending with the aging Patriots for the division and spots in the playoffs in future seasons.

Buffalo Bills (6-10)- The Bills we see some improvement under new head coach Doug Marrone. They will, however, only see marginal improvement to the point that they're 6-10. Word on the street says that Jeff Tuel may be the starter come week one of the season, but we'll just have to wait and see. E.J. Manuel and Kevin Kolb are dealing with some physical dilemmas, but we'll just have to see what happens come the start of the season. The Bills have always been poised to strike, but have always fizzled or fell short. If this trend continues, we'll be seeing a coaching change at the end of the 2015 season.

New York Jets (4-12)- The Jets will be the hottest mess come the 2013 season, the hottest mess on the field AND the hottest mess in the media. Both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith can see themselves unable to perform due to injury, which leads to the scenario of having a backup perform... just like it happened in 2005. Matt Simms did quite a decent job in his preseason game, which leads me to believe he could do something as the starter in the season. Now let's talk about Rex Ryan, who has always been a center of controversy and will be out the door come the end of the season. He may even be gone by midseason. The fact that he put his starting quarterback on the line when he didn't need to leads to the belief that he's so reckless that it's bound to do him more bad than good. AFC Championship appearances in 2009 and 2010 will only be bullet points on Rex Ryan's resume. He will be remembered for turning the Jets into a hotter mess than they were under Eric Mangini and angering fans and viewers with his game time decisions.

AFC South

Houston Texans (11-5)- The Texans are coming up with players that are now household names. Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, J.J. Watt, and free agents Shane Lechler, Ed Reed, and Ben Tate are just naming a few. A few seasons ago, making the playoffs was the task at hand. Nowadays, the top of the division has become a place of residence and they are the hottest team in the division. They will remain the hottest team in the division until the Indianapolis Colts begin to warm up under Andrew Luck, but that should take a few more seasons.

Indianapolis Colts (8-8)- Speaking of the Colts, they will see some form of regression, but still excel statistically and as far as numbers are concerned under Andrew Luck. It's incredibly unfortunate that with all due respect to Chuck Pagano, who fought a battle with leukemia last season, reaching the playoffs had a lot to do with the direction of Bruce Arians, who served as the interim head coach. Under Pagano, they were 2-2 and just 1-2 before he left to get treatment. Now with Arians on the Cardinals, the orchestration of the team will be completely different. I only see this team being average at best, but good enough in what will be a weak division with the exception of the Texans.

Tennessee Titans (4-12)- The most that the Titans can give their fans is running back Chris Johnson, which is why they probably have more fantasy football fans watching their games than actual fans. Johnson, however, may see a trend of inconsistency come the 2013 season and the quarterback has to move the game along in order to keep him on the field. I don't see Jake Locker as a quarterback that can perform such a task. The Titans may need to seek a new direction at the end of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)- The Jaguars are the team I see picking first in the 2014 NFL Draft, which means that since I am making this prediction, they will make the playoffs. The Jags passed up on the opportunity of bringing Tim Tebow onto their team, which was one of the worst decisions they could possibly make. While Tebow isn't an elite quarterback and he demonstrated with the Patriots that he's nothing more than an emergency solution, he is popular with the Jacksonville area and not only would he provide them with the recognition and ticket sales that this team desperate needs, but garnering at least seven or eight wins would be a plus for this team. The Jags currently have Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne as QB options. Gabbert is okay at best, while Henne is one of the worst in the league, which is why the Dolphins disposed of him as they did. Maurice Jones-Drew is a fantasy favorite at best, while Justin Blackmon will be dealing with a suspension, but should see an okay return when it could be too late. The Jags may see a better solution when they're the ones that move to Los Angeles or elsewhere (just as long as it's not out of the country).

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (11-5)- The Ravens lost plenty of players to retirement (like Ray Lewis) and free agency (like Ed Reed), but they still seem to hold the dynamic that makes their team powerful and worthy in the league: an offense that does what it needs to and a defense that does the rest and then some. The Ravens have everything it takes to remain consistently strong year after year and the fact that John Harbaugh's the head coach is only an additional plus in itself, since he has reached the playoffs in each of his five seasons with the team. Making it a sixth will be no issue.

Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)- The Bengals will be right on the Ravens' tail feathers, for they are only developing as a team under QB Andy Dalton and a powerful receiving corp that includes A.J. Green. Playing their final game of the season against the Ravens at home will only increase excitement for how things in the AFC North will turn out. The feature will be the one that develops the most impact and this MAY be it (unless a more bitter battle deserves the spotlight). The large hump they will have to make it over is the postseason bump, where they haven't won since 1990.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)- The Steelers lost some talent (primarily James Harrison and his departure to the Bengals) and it doesn't look like they picked up major talent to the point that it evens things out. The Steelers are seeing one of those slumps that they will just see an average season up ahead. The good thing about this team is that when it sees a stride, it sees a stride, and it strikes. Unfortunately, this will not be that season. The challenge up ahead is that they seem to be the only team in the division that's not growing in some way, shape, or form.

Cleveland Browns (6-10)- Toward the end of last season, the Browns saw some marginal improvement. This time around, it seems like they're warming up under the direction of offensive coordinator Norv Turner. In addition, they have one of the best defensive coordinators in Ray Horton, who was only let go by the Cardinals, because Bruce Arians wanted to bring one of his selections in to do the job. The Browns may be on their way to bigger and better things under second year QB Brandon Weeden. It's only going to be a matter of time. This direction, however, will mean that they remain in last place in the division.

AFC West

Denver Broncos (14-2)- The Broncos have some hurdles that they're going to have to deal with (including Von Miller's suspension), but if you're going to have a good run, you're going to grab those hurdles by the horns and swing them out of the stadium like they're frisbees. The Broncos are set with talent led by QB Peyton Manning, a strong running back corp, and plenty of targets that include Wes Welker, who came from the Patriots. This should be an exciting team to watch and Peyton Manning is bound to have a strong season.

Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)- It was clear that Andy Reid would immediately pick up a head coaching gig following his departure from the Eagles. You cannot deny a head coach that reached a Super Bowl and four championships. Reid, along with the young talent that includes QB Alex Smith and plenty of others, should really bring this team back on the path of positive strive as opposed to their dreary, 2-14 season led by Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli.

San Diego Chargers (5-11)- The Chargers will see a difficult road to success as they're in the process of heavy rebuilding. It could be easy to say that things will gel for QB Philip Rivers, but he's going to have to deal with a challenging road and that may take awhile to accomplish. Eventually, things may work out for new head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, but in a division with the Broncos and Chiefs that should see success, this isn't the season.

Oakland Raiders (5-11)- I read something about how the Raiders were bound to be the worst team in the league. I disagree, especially if Matt Flynn remains healthy. Flynn is perhaps one of the most flawless backup quarterbacks in the league. He just hasn't had the opportunity to shine, since he was behind Aaron Rodgers while playing for the Packers and Russell Wilson with the Seahawks. This may be where we figure out that Dennis Allen is not the head coach of the future for the team and that he's better off as a defensive coordinator. This is where we realize that Tom Cable and Hue Jackson (especially Tom Cable) just needed an extra season or two in order to make the right direction. The playoff drought for the Raiders (which started in 2002) will continue.

NFC East

Washington Redskins (10-6)- If RG III is healthy, he will have a stellar second season with a great supporting cast. If RG III isn't healthy, you always have Kirk Cousins, who is a top-notch backup. The Skins are finally establishing themselves since Mike Shanahan and the Skins management made the decision to draft Robert Griffin III and start a franchise with him as their quarterback. That was the difference between Mike Shanahan and his son, Kyle, having a job and not having a job with the organization. The NFC East will still see the trend of ten wins or less, as the last season to see a team in the NFC East with ten seasons or more was 2009.

New York Giants (10-6)- The Giants will see a seasons identical to 2010 and 2012 melded together. They will have powerful wins and painful losses. Unfortunately, their painful losses will catch up with them and these crucial losses will cost them the division title. Eli Manning will still be quite strong, while it will take healthy running backs, a third wide receiver to rise, and the offense being able to create plays in order for the team to score points. Another thing going against them is how the last time a team whose stadium, field, or dome made the playoffs was in 2000, when the Buccaneers reached it.

Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)- There is a lot of hype about how Michael Vick is seeing the possibility of a huge season. Unfortunately, this sounds like hype and nothing more. Vick is vulnerable and while a season like 2010 seems possible, his chances of going down are a bit more likely than they were at that point in time. Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles most consistent wide receiver, will be out for the season, and DeSean Jackson is incredible, but he's not incredibly consistent. The fate of the Eagles and their season will come down to what LeSean McCoy can do.

Dallas Cowboys (6-10)- This is do or die for head coach Jason Garrett, who has been mediocre at best for the team. Mediocre will be the best the team sees come 2013, because the concerns have not been answered thoroughly, which will ultimately be the deciding factor for moving forward. It may take a new generation and some motivation for Tony Romo in order to put this team in the right direction that sees them in the same position that they were during the early nineties.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (9-7)- The NFC South is bound to be that division that has the pieces together and yet things just aren't going to work for them. They are all going to compete against the NFC West, which has become the strongest division in the league and it's just going to be a challenge for this group. The Falcons are the team that is the most arranged in each position and they have the least amount of drama in their background. Matt Ryan should remain powerful and his receiving corp that includes Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez remains intact. It's going to be challenging, but the Falcons will manage to take the most out of the division.

New Orleans Saints (8-8)- It's beyond unfortunate that all of the magic created by the Saints up until the 2011 season was destroyed by the fact that Gregg Williams was paying his players to injure specific opponents like they were on the FBI's Most Wanted list. "Pay to Play" has been common in the general sense, but targeting specific players and body parts is immoral, like Williams has become the Dr. Mengele of the NFL (and yet he's allowed back with the Titans and Pete Rose is dead to Major League Baseball). Drew Brees will continue to demonstrate offensive excellence and the Saints will top the list statistically. Unfortunately, it won't translate to wins in the way they would be searching for. In addition, Rob Ryan's their new defensive coordinator, who does the job well, but always keeps teams from the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)- The Greg Schiano era shows a bit more promise than the Raheem Morris era. Unfortunately, this promise isn't the most extreme. The team is left with not too many sparks that allow them to shine big and it may mean that moving on from Josh Freeman and head coach Schiano is a part of the future. The object is to contend with the top of the division, which is bound to be the Falcons and the Saints and it will take a lot to get there.

Carolina Panthers (2-14)- The Panthers aren't really answering many of their questions. Sure, they have Cam Newton and they have Steve Smith as wide receiver, but their isn't much depth to their team and none of their players really stick out nor WILL they stick out. The Panthers need to bring in some tools that Cam Newton can use and they need players that will provide worth. Unfortunately, the Panthers haven't answered these questions and it may mean they take Ron Rivera out and bring someone new in as the head coach.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers (13-3)- The Packers lost plenty of players to free agency and they're becoming a bit thinner in their strong areas (primarily wide receiver). The hardest loss was that of Greg Jennings... TO THE VIKINGS! Fortunately, it seems like the Packers always find a way to make those very important plays when they need to make them and they should be bound to have a strong regular season. As for the postseason... that may be another story.

Chicago Bears (10-6)- The hiring of Marc Trestman was the best kind of justice the team could do for Jay Cutler and the rest of the crew, for Trestman's specialty is working with the quarterback and he's bound to make Cutler more than the overrated, underachieving QB he currently is. The Bears missed the playoffs by the decision of a tiebreaker. They will be much better this time around and they will see what they did last season, only with the very important victories intact.

Minnesota Vikings (7-9)- The Vikings won when they needed to last season and they found themselves in the playoffs as a result, as the sixth NFC seed. Unfortunately, they will return to planet Earth this time around, with the realization that Christian Ponder is just okay, Adrian Peterson is fantasy footballer's gold, but just one man, and the heat is only going to be hotter for this crew.

Detroit Lions (3-13)- The Lions are always that team with such a good gel, but they just cannot win the games when they need to. Last time around, they had Matthew Stafford and plenty of good talent, but they went 4-12. I don't see them growing, especially in a division that's only becoming better. Extending Jim Schwartz's contract was a mistake, because Schwartz is the head coach with one of the hottest heads (only behind Rex Ryan by a slight margin) and he isn't the one that's going to extend the long term magic with the team. He had one good season and that will be his only good season.

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers (12-4)- It is true that Jim Harbaugh has taken the struggling 49ers and put them back on the path to being one of the most consistently powerful teams in the NFL. Between 2003 and 2010, the Niners were lucky to reach .500 and miss the postseason each time. Under the younger Harbaugh, the Niners have rocketed above .500 each season and saw the NFC Championship AND Super Bowl. This will sure be a common trend and they will definitely touch the Lombardi trophy at least once by mid-decade.

Seattle Seahawks (11-5)- The Niners and Seahawks will be the hottest divisional rivalry throughout the decade or at least as long as things gel for both teams. Right now, the Seahawks have plenty of talent PLUS some new additions that are really helping the team. This upcoming season will see them remaining an active presence in the league and Pete Carroll is proving that he can stick around and win with a team.

St. Louis Rams (9-7)- Since they last reached the postseason in 2004, the Rams have struggled regardless what season it may be. Under Scott Linehan, they couldn't sneak past .500. Under Steve Spagnoulo, they reached 7-9 once and were one game away from the playoffs when the NFC West was the weakest division and then struggled in the rest. In Jeff Fischer's first season, they went 7-8-1 and will seek slight improvement by going 9-7 and until the crucial moments of the season, contend for a spot in the playoffs. Drafting Tavon Austin, a wide receiver, with their first round pick, was one of the smartest selections for round one. Sam Bradford needs targets and something to play with and that's what he's finding during the Jeff Fischer era. I say that come next year, they will be playoff bound.

Arizona Cardinals (7-9)- The Cardinals are another team that is seeing an era of strong possibility, which means the NFC West will always be an open field. They have Bruce Arians as their head coach, Tom Moore as an assistant offensive coordinator, and Carson Palmer as their new quarterback. With this being said, once things start to come into place for this team, the NFC West will be a division where everybody finishes with at least an 8-8 record, sometimes even 9-7. This time around, though, the Cardinals need to play with some pieces before they ultimately get everything right.



(3) Houston Texans defeat (6) Kansas City Chiefs, 27-10
(4) New England Patriots defeat (5) Cincinnati Bengals, 44-38 (OT)

(6) Chicago Bears defeat (3) Washington Redskins, 24-18
(5) Seattle Seahawks defeat (4) Atlanta Falcons, 34-24


(1) Denver Broncos defeat (4) New England Patriots, 38-35 (OT)
(3) Houston Texans defeat (2) Baltimore Ravens, 19-13

(6) Chicago Bears defeat (1) Green Bay Packers, 21-14
(2) San Francisco 49ers defeat (5) Seattle Seahawks, 37-28


(1) Denver Broncos defeat (3) Houston Texans, 27-20
(2) San Francisco 49ers defeat (6) Chicago Bears, 28-13

Super Bowl XLVIII

(1) Denver Broncos defeat (2) San Francisco 49ers, 38-34

There you have it, I see the Broncos overcoming their hurdles and instead tuning in to their strengths as they win their third Super Bowl. This would be John Fox's first as a head coach and Peyton Manning's second as a quarterback. Like John Elway, Peyton Manning is seeing what could be a veteran surge toward the later half of his career. Manning is the same age Elway was around the time he won his two Super Bowls before retiring, but Manning seems like the kind of player that would still be around into his forties and not in a Brett Favre kind of way (Manning made his move and this will be his last move). The Broncos were the hottest team in the regular season and they will now be the hottest team in the regular season AND postseason.

The Niners will see another loss in the Super Bowl, but as I mentioned, they will be back throughout the decade and see at least one Super Bowl victory, maybe even two. Colin Kaepernick is only on the rise and if Alex Smith's departure came on the coattails of Kaepernick's talent, then Kaepernick is quite the worthy player.

Coaching Carousel

While last season saw eight coaches being shown the door, all of which occurred after the season's end (THANK GOODNESS), this season is bound to see some departures as well. Those most likely to be shown the door include Rex Ryan (Jets), Mike Munchak (Titans), Dennis Allen (Raiders), Jason Garrett (Cowboys), Ron Rivera (Panthers), and Jim Schwartz (Lions). That's six, with Schwartz being the only one that MAY be safe following a poor season, but if the Lions management was smart, they would let him go. While I predict the Jags as being the worst team of the season, I feel that Gus Bradley will get another chance. If the Jags make the move out of Jacksonville and into Los Angeles or elsewhere, Bradley would be the seventh on the list. If both Ryan and Schwartz depart, that will wrap up what was the failure of the 2008 coaching carousel.

Coaching nominees for the 2014 season will include hot coordinators such as Mike Sherman (Dolphins OC), Jay Gruden (Bengals OC), Mike Zimmer (Bengals DC), Ray Horton (Browns DC), Kyle Shanahan (Redskins DC), Perry Fewell (Giants DC), Pete Carmichael Jr. (Saints OC), Brad Seely (49ers STC), Greg Roman (49ers OC), Vic Fangio (49ers DC), Darrell Bevell (Seahawks OC), and Brian Schottenheimer (Rams OC). I wanted to include Wade Phillips (Texans DC) and Dean Pees (Ravens DC) onto the list, but those who are hunting may overlook them in favor of the talent mentioned above. Those mentioned above are hot coordinators who seem to have the potential to become hot coaches. For Mike Sherman's case, he simply didn't have the greatest chance and deserves another. He was fired after one bad season with the Packers in 2005, was turned down for the Bills head coaching position right after in favor of the mediocre Dick Jauron, and again after the 2011 season, when he was turned down by the Buccaneers in favor of Greg Schiano. If he can help Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense get on the right path, he should see another head coaching gig.

Speaking of another head coaching gig, there is always discussion about whether or not big winning head coaches from the past will return for another coaching gig. This list usually includes Bill CowherJon Gruden, and Tony Dungy. My answer to this is no. They all seem content in the both and don't look like they're going anywhere. Dungy's coaching career is complete, Cowher's is just about the same, and Gruden, while the most likely, sounds happy where he is. Perhaps, Mike Holmgren may be a more logical decision if he ever shows interest in returning as a head coach who is granted some power. If for some reason Jason Garrett is let go from the Cowboys, I'm sure that Jerry Jones will pursue a big name. The previous head coach not participating in this season that seems the most likely (and a reasonable selection) to return is Lovie Smith, as he brought the Bears to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season, to the NFC Championship in 2010, and to the divisional playoffs in 2005. He was fired on a 10-6 season, so his reputation is still a decent one. John Fox and Jeff Fischer had similar coaching careers and they're doing quite well in their second gig. While Brian Billick and Marty Schottenheimer are among the other possibilities, they seem to be fading from the view.

The 2013 NFL Season should be filled with some excitement, regardless what I say with these predictions. We'll just have to see how accurate these turn out and whether or not new trends will form or the things that have been happening with regard to my predictions continue to flow in that matter. I will now ask: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL???

Friday, August 16, 2013

Song Review: "In Dreams" (1963) by Roy Orbison

Those of you who have read my list of Top Ten Songs By Roy Orbison post I wrote two years ago know that the "Big O" is a favorite singer of mine. This makes it no surprise that one time or another, I will use this song review segment to review songs from Orbison's songbook. Perhaps, one of his more intriguing songs to analyze is his 1963 hit, "In Dreams." No, I am not going to analyze it like Blue Velvet portrayed it, where the candy-colored clown was a drug dealer and he referred to this favorite song of his as "Candy Colored Clown." I am going to analyze it the way that the song was portrayed and made it one of the greatest songs to ever be written. This song would eventually be remade by Roy Orbison in the 1980s in time for Blue Velvet, but in my mind at the very least, the 1963 version is the best version.

Roy Orbison co-wrote many of his songs with writers Joe Melson and Bill Dees during the 1960s, which was the first stage of his notable career (the second would be his comeback in the 1980s). When it came to "In Dreams," he wrote this one completely on his own. Known for dreaming up lyrics to his songs, he came up with these lyrics when he was half-asleep and had the lyrics completed within twenty minutes for this song.

"In Dreams" is intended to be a love song where the narrator dreams of being with his lover before realizing that he awakes to find this lover gone, just as a dream is meant to work. He begins by referring to "a candy-colored clown they call the Sandman" tiptoeing into his room every night. These opening lyrics were included on Spinner's list of their greatest lyrics of all-time (which is where "she's a very kinky girl" from Rick James' "Superfreak" took #1). This Sandman is the source that puts the narrator to sleep. This beginning is so mellow that it mesmerizes you regardless of your current location. When describing his sleeping ritual, he goes up an octave, vocally and musically, until he finally reaches his dreams.

The dreams he sings about in "In Dreams" are the main meat of the song and the vocals and powerful to the point that they just cause you to drift away with Roy Orbison. The dreams have to do with how he gets to walk and talk to his love and how she's always his during these dreams. This is the part that he also hits some good notes as the song continues to flow.

Inevitably, he wakes up just as he left off. This is meant to be the sad part that exists in plenty of Roy Orbison's music. Realizing the truth, he becomes uncontrollably emotional, but to assure himself that everything was okay, he mentions that the girl who he was with said goodbye. This here could either be truth, because it's in the dream, or an act of denial that allows him to feel better about the situation of reality. At the very least, dreams happen every night they are able to (I don't want to get all Freudian with specifics).

The song ends with a response to how it's just too bad that some things can only happen while dreaming. Toward the last two verses is when Roy Orbison begins to reach his emotional peak that can be seen in some many of his hits. Eventually, a sequel would come out of his comeback titled "In The Real World." Whether you can call it a direct sequel is up for debate, because the song primarily has to do with how when relationships end "in the real world," they are over, and goodbye is goodbye. I would consider it a sequel, but not a direct one.

"In Dreams" to me falls under my favorite category of music that came from him and that's the category in which there are no choruses or reprises. He repeats the song's title to add description to the song, but there's no chorus that's referred to two or three times during the song and would be the meat of a reality show performance. There are reasons that this falls under the category of his greatest hits and that has to do with the lyrics, the power, and the execution that Orbison is known so well for doing. While it was strangely portrayed in Blue Velvet, it did elevate him back into American households and allow him to finish his singing career on top. It's unfortunate his career ended because he died from a heart attack in 1988, leaving behind plenty of posthumous material that would be released in the years to come. Fortunately, his legacy is larger than ever.

I will leave a link to the song, which can be found on YouTube, at the bottom of this post. I'm sure listening to this will be a mellowing and powerful experience, just as I get when I listen to the song. If you don't get goosebumps at anytime during the song, I don't know what I can say.