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Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Who Did It Better? I'll Never Stop Loving You

Who Did It Better? 
I’ll Never Stop Loving You 

For today's Who Did It Better? selection we have a song written by a pair of musical heavyweights along with a girlfriend of one of the legendary artists. Will the song live up to it's title? Stay tuned to find out!

I'll Never Stop Loving You was written by David Cassidy, John Wetton and Sue Shifrin. Both Cassidy and Wetton have quite the musical history.

Wetton, a songwriter and bass player, was a key member of the super group Asia, as well as spending time in such notable bands as King Crimson, U.K, Roxy Music, and Wishbone Ash.

Cassidy, a former teen idol, Top 40 favorite, and star of the popular television program The Partridge Family, was in a relationship with Shifrin at the time the song was written. The two would marry on March 30, 1991. It was Cassidy's third marriage and Shifrin's second. That same year, they had a child, Beau.

The song was first recorded as Never Stop Loving You by Heart and released on their Japanese special edition bonus CD for their 1990 album, Brigade. It  can also be found on the Heart compilation Ballads: The Greatest Hits  which was first released in 1997 and then reissued in 2001. 

Produced by Ritchie Zito (Cheap Trick, Eddie Money, The Motels), Brigade was the group's tenth studio album. Released on March 26, 1990, by Capitol Records and featuring material written by others, it was their third successful album for the label, reaching #3 on both the US and the UK albums charts while peaking at #2 in Canada, Finland, and Sweden.

In 1991, Ritchie Zito, along with Bob Rock, would team up with Cher for her 20th studio album, Love Hurts. Zito thought I'll Never Stop Loving You was a perfect fit for the artist, and Cher agreed. Released on June 18, 1991, by Geffen Records, the album would serve as her final studio album with the record company after a four-year recording contract. Spinning off five singles, the album peaked at #48 on the Billboard's Top 200 albums chart.  

The song was recorded once more, in 1992, by David Cassidy for a one-off album on Scotti Brothers Records. Didn't You Used To Be... was the singer's ninth studio album and features ten tracks written or co-written by his wife, Sue Shifrin. The album was a big hit with his diehard fans.
 
Sadly, and contrary to the title of the song they'd written together, in August of 2013, Cassidy and Shifrin separated, with Shifrin filing for divorce in February 2014.

And that's the whole story.

Now? On to the competition!

The Song: I'll Never Stop Loving You
The Competitors: Heart vs. Cher vs. Cassidy

Never Stop Loving You - Heart

I'll Never Stop Loving You - Cher

I'll Never Stop Loving You - David Cassidy

Heart

This is not my favorite era of Heart. While I was happy for them and their success, it made me sad that they were no longer writing their own material. I get it; it was a trade-off, and better that, than had they faded into obscurity. Most rock 'n roll acts are lucky if they get one act - Heart has played out three.

And, while Ritchie Zito was once voted Producer Of The Year, he is not someone I want shaping the sound of this particular band. But he is, and he did. 

That intro? Bombastic to say the least. But those screaming guitars were all the rage, helping to fill stadiums and sell units. That said, it could be just about anybody. Whitesnake? Toto? Bad Religion? 

But the moment we get to the vocals, there's no mistaking who this is; Anne Wilson's instrument is truly remarkable. Listen to how she tries to create a bit of interplay between her voice and that inelegantly plucked guitar. So, given her incredible pipes, why Zito feels the need to electronically treat them is beyond me - unless he's attempting to make up for what may be weak material. 

As we work that bridge into the chorus, Zito does everything expected, which is to say, he's clearly not interested in actually bringing an ounce of creativity to this arrangement or mix. If Anne is simply punching the clock, one would never know it. She sounds amazing. Too bad she's riding on top of a flank of schlock guitars and a wooden-stiff rhythm section. Zeppelin, this is not, kids.

That chorus? It's get out your Bic lighters and crowd wave time all the way. The harmonies help add a bit of depth. But all I am thinking is... I wish Elvis had lived long enough to record this song. 

My word. Apparently all the guitars only have one volume in a Zito run studio. Could that instrumental bridge be any more by-the-numbers?

And, as is typical of Anne, with the second chorus, she takes more risks, not that they always pay off. Here? No. No, they do not. 

Leaden drums. 

You know... I was never that enamored with hair metal in it's early stages, and by the time it had been incorporated by bands like Heart, while it sounded great on MTV and made for fun videos, it rarely made for great music. 

Anne came out pushing hard, and she just keeps doing so. Maybe she's trying to propel the whole thing forward so that she can go home?

A bit of muscle appears on the bridge (I like that chugging rhythm) to the key change, and it's a subtle one - it had to be, for if they reached much higher this would end up in shrill territory real fast (not that it isn't already.) 

Well, not a single surprise in the whole thing. Not a breath of air. Nada.

Still... one must say, Anne certainly more than earned her paycheck that day.

Cher

Zito on the board with Bob Rock. The intro is a bit more melodic. Clearly, they noticed the orotund knob and turned it down to eight.

Cher is in halting, vulnerable mode. Three albums into her rocker chick persona, I think she probably was on the look out for a new door to walk through. And clearly, the producers know that Cher is not Anne Wilson and they compensate by toning everything down a notch so that listeners actually notice that a song is being sung. 

Nice harmonies. Same leaden rhythm section, head banger nonsense. But Cher remains true to herself. Love that vibrato. Love her depth of delivery. 

That said, that chorus plods like a Clydesdale in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.

Second chorus works a bit better, here. I like that keyboard, with its Asian-tinged vibe.

And there's a hint of that chunky rhythm that played well in Heart's instrumental break. It's too bad that wasn't brought out more often. It would have broken up the predictability of this arrangement.

Oddly enough, when it does come to the instrumental break, the only really interesting thing that was in the Heart version is missing in action.  

Tiny key change. Blah blah. Well, at least it ends.

David Cassidy

This came out immediately after an interesting phase in another former pop idol's output.  Donny Osmond, in 1988, was clearly taking a page out of George Michael's playbook when he suddenly reappeared in the Top 40 with 1988's Soldier Of Love. That album yielded two Top 40 hits. And then he rode that same sound in 1991 for an additional album and was rewarded with a third Top 40 hit. 

Here? I would think Cassidy is taking a page out of Donny Osmond's playbook - except...

Cassidy got there first. 

In 1985 he had a #6 hit in the UK with Last Kiss, a song that featured backing vocals by... George Michael. 

This? This is Father Figure

Cassidy's vocals are... all over the place. It's almost like there are three singers in there.  He keeps moving his vocal sound into various cavities, but without reason. Still, pleasant enough. My favorite is his breathy pop sound. It's straight forward, clear, clean and right for the job. My least favorite is that hooded-nasal thing he keeps doing. It's like his eyebrows are bearing down on his sinuses or something. 

That's Treana Morris swooping in. She sounds great. 

And they sound great together. This is such a pleasant surprise. I'm finally getting a sense of this song. It's well-constructed. 

So, the production work here is thin... a little cheap - rather typical of anything ever released on Scotti Brothers Records. That's okay. I'll take this over what came before. This is a lovely Adult Contemporary take. It's clean. And it sounds relatively fresh. 

Oh, I love that fake guitar on the instrumental break. That brought a tear to my eye.

I even like the key change.

I must also say, I'm imagining Cassidy singing this with Cher using this arrangement with a bit of richness added to the mix. 

Interesting ending. 

The Verdict

Heart  and Zito deliver a hunk of steely, predictable, faceless corporate rock. Anne is in great form, but she's merely punching the clock here, kids. The guitars are so overamped they could be playing just about any song from the era. There's a reason that this ended up as an extra track on the Japan release, although, to be honest, it's not all that different than what made the actual album's final cut. A product of its time, to be sure.

Cher, with Zito and Rock in tow, take a bit more melodic approach, toning down the excesses of Heart's version, but it's still a rather by-the-numbers affair. The singer is in fine form, providing a bit of warmth, while clearly more focused on the actual content of the song. Unfortunately, even her well-honed pop smarts can't pull much of a hook out of that plodding chorus.

Going in, I was pretty sure Cher was going to steal this. And I bet, for a number of you, she's still your choice. But...

For me, this goes to Cassidy, as ably assisted by Treana Morris. Yes, it's got a very familiar George Michael quality to it, but the song's not anything Michael would have created. It succeeds despite the thin quality of the production, and I feel Cassidy ends up with the version that does justice to the song itself. 

Sometimes? Songwriters know best. 
--- ---

And that's enough of me.

Okay, your turn. Leave your choice and thoughts in the comments section. I love hearing a differing opinion. 

Until next time...

Thanks for reading... and listening!

Last Kiss - David Cassidy

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Labyrinth of Blue Towers: The Disappearance of Jack Arneson: Chapter Three

The Labyrinth of Blue Towers:

The Disappearance of Jack Arneson

(A Sewing Box Mystery)

Chapter 1: Friday, June 10, 2011, 7:21 pm

    Chapter 2: Saturday, June 11, 2011, 8:38 am

Chapter 3: Thursday, June 28, 1984, 10:10 am

The heat. There was no escaping it. Nor was there any escaping little Missy Motor-mouth this morning. Jean really needed to sit Dorie down next time her daughter decided to breeze through the house and tell her to stop giving that kid so much sugar; otherwise it was going to be a long summer. Sugar was like a drug to that child and Jean was right there with Nancy Reagan on that one - “Just Say No!” That damn orange pop was the biggest culprit. Thank God for sugarless Kool-Aid - next best thing to water. Jean reached into the cupboard next to the sink and pulled out two of the fat, shiny packets. So, which would it be today: Tropical Punch or Lemonade? Jean hated the way the Tropical Punch stained everything (especially Missy’s mouth), and given how Missy was running in and out of the kitchen and all over the living room she didn’t want to risk a stain on her beige couch, so she opted for the Lemonade.

“Grandma!” spat Missy as she ran into the kitchen. “Grandma, Grandma, Grandma!” The child rattled on like a gatling gun.

Jean turned around slowly. It was all she could do not grab the spray head on the side of the sink and hose the little speed demon down. She loved Missy to death, but there were limits. “Whaaaat?”

“What time is lunch? What are we going to have? We should go to McDonalds. Or the pool. Let’s go to the pool! I want to go swimming. It's hot and I want to wear my yellow suit. I want to wear it all day.”

Jean felt defeated Was it the heat? She wasn't sure, but something was sure zapping her enthusiasm for the day. “Okay, okay we’ll see what we can do. I'm making you some lemonade.”

“Yay!” As Missy disappeared in a flash once more into the living room, Jean wished she had that girl's energy What a difference fifty years made. She moved to the utensil drawer next to the fridge and was just about to remove her favorite wooden stirring spoon when Missy reappeared in the doorway of the kitchen and barked so loud her heart almost stopped.

“Grandma!” yelled Missy.

Jean closed her eyes and gathered her wits before answering. “Yeeeeeesssssssss?”

Missy’s giant Bambi eyes looked up at her, blinking innocently. The child’s voice returned to a normal volume as she demurely pointed out, “You forgot to tell me what time lunch is.”

Jean crouched down with a little effort. At fifty-five, she was still pretty agile, although her knees and elbows were definitely starting to give her a little trouble. No doubt, it was having Missy around that kept her body so young while turning her hair so gray. Patiently, she asked, “What time do we usually have lunch?”

“Noon.” Missy now spoke like a student in front of a classroom.

“And why would today be any different?”

“Becaaaaauuuuuuse...,” drawled Missy.

Jean rested her elbow on her knee and her chin in her hand, as if to indicate that she was not going to be playing 20 Questions this day. Missy, sensing this, quickly volunteered, “Because I thought you were taking me to McDonalds.”

Gathering Missy in her arms, she held her so close she could smell the girl’s hair; that strange combination of sweet and sour that brings to mind youth “Mmmmmmm,” she hummed. "Not today. Today we’re having my absolute favorite thing in the world.” Pushing Missy back so she could look her in the eyes, she continued, “Do you know what that is?”

A clearly disappointed Missy shook her head back and forth in an exaggerated manner.

 “Leftovers!” cried Jean. “Lovely, lovely leftovers. As much as you want. Until you're filled to the gills!”

With that, Jean rose and opened the ancient Frigidaire. “Just look at ‘em all. They all want to live in your belly!” Jean made a grab for her granddaughter’s midsection, as if to tickle her. There was a time when this type of play would have produced a gale of giggles, but Missy was getting older. Instead, Missy pushed Jean’s hands away, stepped back two steps, and crossed her arms defensively. The girl’s lower lip swelled into a well-practiced pout as her brow furrowed.

“I hate leftovers.”

A little hurt, Jean countered with her own defensive tone, “Yeah? Well, that’s all Grandma Jean's restaurant has on the menu today. So,” she added, as she closed the fridge door, “Eat 'em or starve.” Retrieving the wooden spoon from the drawer, Jean moved back to the harvest gold plastic pitcher of almost-lemonade and began to stir.

“I am VERY unhappy.”

This statement was a recently-adopted, reoccurring pronouncement. Jean was pretty sure Missy had heard Dorie say it countless times. Apparently, it resonated with and impressed Missy as something sophisticated to say, so she trotted it out whenever things didn’t go her way. Apples don't fall far enough, thought Jean. Without turning around, she spoke distinctly, “Well. I for one am sorry to hear that. Missy. Grandma does the best she can with what she has. I would love nothing more than to take you to McDonald’s every day, and buy you a new bike, and go on shopping sprees in Paris each spring, but I am not the Queen of England and you are not Lady Di, so today,” and with this she tossed the wooden spoon into the sink and turned around, “you and I will dine on leftovers and be grateful for what we have.” Jean leaned her back against the counter and crossed her arms, hoping Missy would realize that this conversation was over

Except, apparently, it wasn't.

"Paula’s mom takes her to McDonald’s every day.”

Jean met her head on, “Missy, I happen to know that is not true. No one goes to McDonald’s everyday.”

“The people who work there do.”

“Are you telling me you’d like to get a job at McDonald’s? Because that could be arranged.”

Missy’s eyes widened, “Really?”

Not the response Jean had expected. Now she would have to backpedal. “Someday. When you’re a bit older, they would be lucky to have you.”

But Missy persisted, “What about this summer?”

“No, hon. You’re not old enough yet. But I’m glad you’re interested in working. I have a few jobs around here you could help me with.”

“Like what?” Missy asked suspiciously. She knew this trap all too well.

“You could start with your room. Pick up all your toys and clothes and then we’ll see about going to the pool today. How about that?”

"My room is perfect.”

"Your room is a mess. And little girls with messy rooms do not grow up and get jobs at McDonalds. You want some lemonade to drink while you clean?” Jean grabbed one of Missy’s favorite glasses from the dish drainer where it had been air drying since the previous night. Moving to the fridge, she added, 'I’ll put ice cubes in it.”

The prospect of a cold drink seemed to mollify Missy. "Okay. I’ll go look at my room.”

Jean was already pouring. Okay, she thought. Maybe this day could get back on track. “Here you go,” she said, as she turned around only to find that Missy was already gone. Hoping she’d headed directly to her bedroom to start picking things up, Jean headed toward the living room. She was about halfway through the room when something on the television caught her eye. The entire screen was taken up with the school photo of a young boy. Jean stopped dead in her tracks. She was struck by the way his chin was raised toward the camera, his innocent smile, and how thin his neck seemed; she thought he looked like a little hopeful bird waiting in a nest for his mother to feed him. A 1-800 number appeared at the bottom of the screen. The local T.V. anchor’s voice hummed beneath the surface, but, for some reason, the gist of what he was saying wasn't registering with Jean. She was still transfixed on the photo of the boy. Only when the screen switched to the image of a farm, as taken from a hovering helicopter, did the words begin to make sense.

The boy was missing. He’d disappeared from his home near Jasper, MN some time yesterday. The farm was replaced with a close-up of the distraught mother’s face. She was holding a press conference at the farm. A man, presumably the boy’s father, stood close behind her right shoulder, his face tight and hard. The woman looked like she was going through hell. In her hands she held a copy of the school photo.

“This is my son. Jack Arneson,” she began The wind and the bright sun seemed to make her cower a bit "Jack has been missing since Tuesday afternoon He was last seen walking along the dirt road that leads into Jasper. He was wearing...” the woman’s voice faltered, her face crumbling into a mass of anguish. Her husband squeezed his wife's shoulders in an effort for her to summon the strength to carry on, which the woman somehow managed to do Clearing her throat, she started again, “He was wearing his orange little league t-shirt, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Jack is ten years old.” she paused to inhale deeply, “and is four feet, eight inches tall, with dishwater blonde hair, and weighs about 70 lbs. If you have seen Jack or know where he is, please call the 1-800 number at the bottom of the screen. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. Please...” and with this, the woman paused, looking up from her notecards while peering directly into the cameras, “please, help bring Jack back home.” She was about to step back and cede the podium to one of the officers from the Sheriff s Department, when she suddenly changed her mind. Moving swiftly back to the phalanx of microphones, she hastily and quietly added, “Jack, please come home. Mommy and Daddy miss you, and we love you.” These last words came out hard and strangled, the woman’s throat closing as her face once again seemed to fall in upon itself. Surrendering,  she swiftly turned into her husband’s arms and buried her face in his chest.

An announcer in the studio sprang onto the screen repeating the 1-800 number scrolling along the bottom of the screen. Then the school photo of Jack reappeared. Jean, so mesmerized, neglected to notice the perspiration forming on the glass of lemonade she was tightly gripping in her hand. As it began to slip from her hand, she felt as if the world was moving in slow motion, and that she was powerless to prevent what was about to happen. The glass fell onto the light tan carpet, bouncing and sending its contents spewing forth, raining across the room

“Grandma!”

The sound of Missy’s voice brought Jean back to reality and suddenly everything began to move at normal pace. Looking down at the floor, to her feet, her brain registered that the lemony-smelling liquid was now everywhere—nothing in the living room seemed untouched “Oh, shit," cried Jean before catching herself, mindful that little pitchers having big ears. She immediately gathered he wits about her and turned to face Missy, who was standing in the door of the hallway that led to the bedrooms.

Missy’s face was frozen in horror. Jean smiled and, matching the always cheerful, somewhat robotic tone of June Cleaver said, “Don’t worry, sweetie I'll get you another glass."

 Leaving the fallen glass just as it was, Jean turned on her heels, and moved swiftly back into the kitchen with one thought in mind...

Thank God she hadn't gone with the Tropical Punch!

--- ---

That's all for now.

Next Week: Chapter Three

Thanks for reading.

Lemonade - Alexandra Stan

Monday, January 30, 2023

Acquired Tastes XLIII: Gay Pulp Fiction, Part 132 - Adonis Classics, Part 17 of 25

Acquired Tastes XLIII
Gay Pulp Fiction, Part 132
Adonis Classics, Part 17 of 25

Greenleaf Classic Books, the publishers of  the Adonis Classics imprint, began in 1959 and continued until 1971, when management lost focus on the business due to the government's prosecution of obscenity, which became of major concern. 

By 1974, a new management team and staff were in place, operating out of an office at 7523 Raytheon Road in San Diego and production ceased on all existing imprints. In an attempt to break into mainstream markets, two new imprints were started which used cover art and titles that were not provocative. These efforts failed.

In 1975, with the loosening of censorship laws, the Adonis Classics imprint began production. It marks the end of Greenleaf Classic's Classic Age (1959-1975.) 

Adonis Classics would release a total of 252 titles during it's lifespan. 

The first twenty covers feature white backgrounds (with one exception) and colored drawings or black and white pencil illustrations. After the first two titles, a particular type-face was established, with the title appearing above the illustration. The distinctive Adonis Classics symbol was established with either the seventh or eighth title in the series.

After the first twenty titles, the imprint switched to their iconic red covers (though sometimes pink,) featuring a black and white pencil or ink illustration framed in a black circle which has an arrow attached - the universal sign for the planet Mars or to designate something as 'male.' The book's title at the top of the cover is similarly encased in a white circle with an arrow (the symbol for the planet Mars and 'male'.)

This week: 10 out of 10 covers were found.

--- ---

Hustling Stud 
Author: Jason Bonds
AC 271

Hmm. Tropical paradise. Well-hung stud in tiny speedo. I am so there!

Looks like blondie is hitching a ride, a practice that might have once flew, but no more. Based on all the true crime television programming I have consumed over the years, that is a one-way ticket to trouble - the kind that ends with your body eventually being discovered in some sort of state of decay. Not very sexy, is it? Then don't ever do it. Never get into a car unless there is a witness!

Available as an e-book or pdf download at Hommi Publishing.

--- ---

Golden Shower Slave 
Author: Lambert Wilhelm
AC 272 

More men's room fun. This must be the place to go if you're looking for this kind of action. I wish they were all so upfront about it. Thing is, while I know that some continue to haunt restrooms in the hopes of a little anonymous action, for me, it has lost it's appeal. It could be the smells. It could be the wait time between tricks. It could be the vice cops who get off on entrapping the men who do this sort of thing. I simply have better things to do and more direct applications to secure such action. Sure, Grindr is not picnic, but it beats sitting in a stall for three hours in the hopes of a little action. 

--- ---

Black Room Buddies
Author: Lambert Wilhelm
AC 273

I just bought this one... the actual paperback, at Hommi Publishing for a song. It was only $25, which, considering what they're asking these days on eBay is an absolute steal. 

As pictured, they have some serious Cirque du So Gay going on in the backroom of whatever bar this is happening at. I must confess, other than a couple of quick walk-throughs in order to get a sense of the scene, I have never spent anytime in the backroom of a bar. They sort of terrify me. And since I've never had a buddy brave enough to go with me, this remains a road untaken. Not sure what it is about them that scares me... could be my fear about getting myself in a situation I cannot extradite myself from... like the young blonde suspended in mid-air on the cover of this little tome.   

--- ---

Chicken Coming Out
Author: Jason Bonds
AC 274 

Looks like more restroom mayhem. One of the things I do enjoy about visiting a  strange men's room? The graffiti on the stall walls. Oh, it's rarely clever or original, but it's sort of like 'Kilroy was here.' You know, the gay communities hieroglyphics or cave drawings. There is a sort of gay history to the whole thing. And really, no matter the sexuality of the writer, it can end up to be some rather clever stuff; the sort of thing that, if photographed, would make for an awesome coffee table book!


Available as an e-book or pdf download at Hommi Publishing.

--- ---

Bourbon Street Studs
Author: Jason Bonds
AC 275 

A throuple on Bourbon Street, huh?

It is becoming much more common. And it makes a lot of sense. First, there's the sexual variety... and maybe that whole thing dies down after a bit, just like any other relationship, but... if you keep it open, well... the possibilities increase threefold, right? And then there is the manpower/skill set thing. If three are cohabiting, then housework becomes a breeze, not to mention shoveling, mowing lawn, gardening, etc. And then there's the addition of a third income - which means you all get to live in a much nicer place. That makes for a win-win-win. 

Just make sure you each have your own bathroom. Crowding around the same bathroom mirror for facetime as you're getting ready to hit the town on a Saturday night? Not all that fun.
 
--- ---

His Father’s Lover 
Author: Franklin Brooks
AC 276

Oh, imagine being in a love triangle with your own father! The stuff of nightmares for most, I'm sure. 

This is a lovely illustration. Not only do I enjoy Tom Selleck bringing up the rear, I also like Junior's take on the whole denim cut-offs thing. A little odd to see it belted, but to each their own. When you're his age? They look fabulous - almost - no matter what. Back in my summer theatre days? I can recall a few gentlemen who really should have given that look a second thought... and then gone with something else. 

Available as an e-book or pdf download at Hommi Publishing.

--- ---

Tenderloin Hustler 
Author: Wes Cranston
AC 277 

A rather dramatic cover, don't you think? That mysterious hand appearing out of the dark from behind? 

Me? I like to know who and what's touching me. But I suppose, given the chosen occupation of Mr. Universe there, he just takes them as they come... so to speak.


Available as an e-book or pdf download at Hommi Publishing.

--- ---

Midday Cowboy 
Authors: Jason Bonds
AC 278 

Ah, yet another riff on the groundbreaking film, Midnight Cowboy - the gift that keeps on giving. 

I would love to seen the film again, unfortunately Jon Voigt, who plays the titular cowboy - and is Angelina Jolie's biological father -  has turned out to be something of a conservative curmudgeon in real life - and I have a hard time watching anything featuring someone of that ilk. I used to think the world of James Woods, but he's a total a-hole, too. So, I will have to satisfy myself with my memories... or invent some new ones by reading this book!

Available as an e-book or pdf download at Hommi Publishing.

--- ---

Roped Whipped Wranglers 
Authors: F.W. Love
AC 279

Do cowpokes really have time for all this sex play? Don't they have non-stop work to be done on the ranch? 

Well, I guess everybody has to have time to let their hair - and their blue jeans - down. All work and no play makes Cecil a distracted ranch-hand. So, get along little doggies... preferably on all fours, ass up, in the barn!

Available as an e-book or pdf download at Hommi Publishing.

--- ---

Street Hustler 
Author: Franklin Brooks
AC 280 

Ah, the allure of a well-sheared pair of denim cut-offs!

Looks like blondie has his act down cold... playing a little coy with the boy across the street. Thing is? That boy across the street probably has no need for blondie's services, since he appears to be the sort that gets plenty of action without money exchanging hands. While not always the case, the sort of men who seek out and pay for such services are the sort that actually need to seek out and pay for such services. Yeah, Pretty Women, this is not.

But then, sex workers provide all sorts of services to all sorts of clientele. So, start thinking of those angels as physical therapists and appreciate them for the work they do... 

Available as an e-book or pdf download at Hommi Publishing.

--- ---

And that's all for now.

Next week: another ten tantalizing, titillating titles.

Until then...

Thanks for reading!

Bourbon Street Parade - Wynton Marsalis

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday Diva/Three From A Hip: Alicia Keys

Sunday Diva/Three From A Hip
Alicia Keys

In my own, personal, big gay church, there is a wing dedicated to Those of the Heart. These are the singers, songwriters and muses who have spent a lifetime capturing various aspects of the human condition. Frequently, due to the whims of the music industry, their lives were not always their own... perhaps they fell out of fashion, but they persevered... ultimately remaining true to their roles as seers of the heart.

One such soul?

Alicia Keys.

There's an honesty which resonates in this woman that's refreshing. It's been there from day one, growing more powerful as her career continues to unfold.

She's her own person. And true to her own voice. 

Possessing a musical style all her own, she's a fascinating combination - having truly assimilated the influences of all the divas who've come before her.

As a songwriter, she's both old school and new school, weaving tales of romantic longing and self-empowerment. 

Physically stunning, she's never traded on her looks in order to score a hit. This is no dolled-up hootchie. That road? Not for her. And she made that clear to the industry from day one. 

Yet, she is glamourous. And undeniably successful. 

As she matures, she remains as vital as ever and an artist to watch. 

The gospel according to her?

Well, here are three from the hip, dropping form her lips.

The topic: Reaching your highest potential.

"There's too much darkness in the world. Everywhere you turn, someone is tryin' to tear someone down in some way; everywhere you go, there's a feeling of inadequacy, or a feeling that you're not good enough. I want to bring a certain light to the world."

"What breaks my heart is suffering of any kind. Too often, our world is divisive and cruel where it needs to be uniting and loving."

"We have the potential to help people out of poverty, out of disease, out of slavery and out of conflict. Too often, we turn the other way because we think there's nothing we can do."

"Things can be really empty in this world, and I don't just mean the music world. It can become a very meaningless place if you don't really understand: 'who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing?' To feel fulfilment and have a deeper level of understanding, personally, that is the most important thing. I'm a very positive person, but this whole concept of having to always be nice, always smiling, always happy, that's not real. It was like I was wearing a mask. I was becoming this perfectly chiseled sculpture, and that was bad. That took a long time to understand."

"I feel the presence of a higher power. I believe that what you give is what you get. It's universal law. I believe in the power of prayer and of words. I've learned that when you predict that negative things will happen, they do."

"I feel like the majority of the fear that I had or that we have, we hold from other people. They're like people that we trust; they're their fears. All of a sudden we think that they're our fears."

"It's when we become afraid of everything and worried about everything that you are never going to reach your highest potential."

Fallin' - Alicia Keys

No One - Alicia Keys

This Girl Is On Fire - Alicia Keys

And one last parting shot...

"The element of fire to me is very powerful because of what it symbolizes, how it symbolizes a strength. It symbolizes something that's unstoppable. You can't get through it, you know."