For those who cringe at the thought of music theory, I would like to share my experience and give a tip.

First — you gradually learn music theory as you continue to play and write music. You don’t have to go to school and take a course, you don’t have to read a bunch of dry and boring books. It just happens as you continue to do what you love to do — make music.

For example, if you play guitar you will soon learn that songs are in keys. And each key has certain chords within it and other chords that aren’t included. And after that you learn that if you know some chords are major and some are minor, you can fit them in to spice up a song. Pretty soon, you will be interested in learning more types of chords to improve your music — like 7th chords, sus4 and even diminished chords.

Now the tip — to learn where all these chords fit in and how to know when to use them, I recommend learning the cycle/circle of 4th/5ths. The reason this has two names will be apparent when you learn them. The best tool to use the circle (so you can look them up and not have to memorize them) is a simple graphic you will find many places on the internet. If you don’t like the one I show you here, just search for the term (circle of fifths) and take your pick.

Circle of Fifths

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I think my brother fell in love with trucks during the CB radio craze of the mid-1970s.

Craig often had a wild affinity for some subject or another, and when he did he went all out.

And when Craig was crazy about something, everybody in the family would be roped in by his enthusiasm.

So then we all got into CB radios, every one of our vehicles had to have one. Everybody had to have a CB handle. Craig even went so far as to install a separate CB band aerial on top of the house. The breakfast nook in our kitchen was turned into the base station for the CBs. And of course we had to have a lot of equipment.

Craig Ward with his parents

Craig was the “Happy Hippy”. I was “Camelback”. Brother Bart went by “Cool Breeze,” and Dad was the “Roadhog” which he could never remember. He would get on the radio and say, “This is the Road Agent” or something similar but totally unlike “Roadhog”.

During this time it wasn’t just the radios that were hot — It was trucking in general. There were hit songs about truck driving and the newer ones were CB radio-oriented. There were movies about Over-The-Road-Truckers and their CB radios doing various things. There was even a hit TV show at the time called “Moving On” and it featured a theme song by Merle Haggard, no less.

Although I can’t lay my hands on it at this time, I remember well a photograph we took of Craig on his 22nd birthday. The cake was shaped like a CB radio and the legend in frosting said “Break

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Many musicians and songwriters still believe that they can strike it rich by becoming a recording artist.

It has never been easy — and seldom lucrative — to be a star. In the top 40 era (1950s through 1980s) most artists who had a major recording deal went broke in a big way. Recording and songwriting royalties were swallowed by the record companies and music publishers. The artists were even paying the record companies the majority of their live performance money since those companies paid for the touring expenses (and charged huge interest on the “loans”).

Creative bookkeeping more often favored the companies than the artists — even the Beatles. Their first recording/publishing deal was a giant rip-off.

Yet even today, people have stars in their eyes about having a hit song.

Here’s the reality — you need to get your song played 1,000,000 times on Spotify to make $3,000. And only a handful of songs ever reach that. And those songs are all “Producer” songs — the artists are just puppets.

Winners of competition shows (American Idol, The Voice, Star Search, etc) have signed outrageous contracts to get into that system and their future career is basically indentured servitude.

The people making money today are doing their own live performance and tour bookings and are licensing their music themselves.

The glamor has faded — but it was always just a mirage.

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Joseph Bologna passed away last week. Funny name, huh? Never heard of him?

Maybe he wasn’t a huge movie star, but his achievements were quality, if not quantity.

People behind the scenes aren’t as celebrated as those who appear on the screen. Joe did both. Besides acting in many movies he wrote and directed some pretty popular works. In many of these, his wife (Renee Taylor) was his creative partner.

Joe Bologna with Renee Taylor

Husband-and-wife team of Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor.

I stopped to think of all the pleasure Joe had given me, mainly from a sentimental favorite of mine, “My Favorite Year.”

This 1982 movie isn’t remembered by many — not like Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz. But it is a gem and meant a lot to me. It’s a great piece of writing and acting, as well as a nostalgia piece and a tribute to one of the greatest shows ever to air on TV in the golden age, and a tribute to several great talents that made that show great and went on to do other great things.

Premiere Magazine (a big glossy magazine I call “The Rolling Stone Of Movies”) voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” back in 2006. Of course, I agreed with them.

The movie is a behind-the-scenes story of a comedy variety show based on “Your Show of

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Probably 40 years ago (I don’t have the exact date) my family owned a small, minor newspaper in an out-of-the-way little town in a nationally-insignificant news market, in which I wrote an article about food.

This was well before the day when it was expected of one to snap a photo of one’s meal and publish it on the most accessible mass-media platform in the universe. In fact, now that I think back, I am disappointed that I was not able to “Yelp” and was limited to a potential audience of less than 10,000.

On the positive side, (unlike today’s web audience) nearly all of them knew how to read.

However, I found a report that was obviously buried by a massive government conspiracy (the USDA) about food purity.

There are feces in all hamburger
Yes, I Blew-The-Whistle on what our sneaky government was trying to do to innocent and ignorant consumers by serving them contaminated food. I was the Edward Snowden, the Wikileaks, the Pentagon Papers of yucchhhy food.

Because ancient technology (1970s) was unable to guarantee absolutely pure food to be presented to the unwitting citizens of the greatest country in the Universal History, the government allowed the grocery-processing-industrial-complex to include up to certain limited amounts of things like insect parts, rat hair and feces and even … GASP! … human skin, hair and fingernails!

Well, this revelation caused a nationwide …. ummmm … statewide … er, uh … well, nobody actually commented on it. But I’m sure that somewhere a farm wife looked up from her Barcalounger during “Someone’s In The Kitchen With Dinah” (this would have been when she was canoodling with Burt Reynolds) and said, “Hey, Harve — do you know what those Commie Pinko Guv’mint agents are slippin’ into our food?”

To which her husband would undoubtedly reply, “Hush! They’s rats in the silo and they’s eatin’ all our wheat and poopin’ in it too!”
I was reminded of this by a recent article that reveals that nothing has changed.

Ahh … so on top of the many new problems we have in the modern world, we find there are still all of the OLD problems to contend with. And some people still insist on ending a sentence with a preposition!

Is this the end of America? Will the world survive?

Oh yeah, there’s also a presidential election coming and we are still at war and a couple new diseases have been discovered which are very dangerous to babies.

And now, back to your social media and funny videos of kitties and urban legends about Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg trying to give their money away to you for doing very little if anything.

Don’t Panic.

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The ex-standup comic I married and I are enjoying a new series on Showtime called I’m Dying Up Here. It is apparently the brain-child of Jim Carrey (listed as executive producer) and he claims some of the sequences are based on his experiences.

Surprisingly it isn’t a comedy. I was afraid of something like “News Radio” was to, well — news radio (It weren’t no WKRP in Cincinnati!). But it is a drama populated by the types of people you would find in comedy clubs in the 1970s.

But it is dark! Jeez — is it dark! Of course the LA comedy club scene (fictionalized here) was full of

I,m dying up heredesperate climbers who would knife each other in the back and worse (think of bribing a homeless man to poop in your rival’s car). They are all jockeying for position and angling for a shot at the big time — mainly the Johnny Carson Tonight Show.

It is getting mixed reviews but I think that is because it isn’t for anybody. But those who have been or are currently in a comparable situation will find a lot to resonate with — and realize that times haven’t changed that much in 40 years.

I was just saying recently that you can’t count Jim Carrey out. The man is a pure genius and this project benefits from his involvement.


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A fond farewell to Roger Moore, probably best known as James Bond (but so much Moore).

He is the Bond most of the people my age grew up with. He was the 70s Bond and his movies reflected the era.

All actors who have played James BondIn fact, all of the James Bond movies reflect the time period in which they were made. The films had to keep contemporary, at least so they thought. It didn’t always work well, though.

Let’s pretend you have never heard of James Bond and don’t know a thing about him. Well, I would be glad to fill you in.

Bond was a naval veteran of WWII, rank of Commander. He joined the British intelligence

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My brother Bart is three years younger than me. One of my earliest Easter memories is the time I nearly killed him.

I remember Bart was so little he wasn’t walking yet, so probably less than one year old. He was in one of those little seats where his legs could stick out and touch the floor so he could scoot around.

We were in the kitchen — I can picture this vividly. I was enjoying a chocolate Easter bunny so I wanted to share with my new little brother. Is that so wrong?

He started choking. Fortunately my parents heard him and came rushing in from another room. Mom was asking what happened and I just said I gave him some chocolate.

My father opened his mouth, fished around and withdrew a wad of tin foil.

I was lectured that the wrapping must be removed before feeding anything to the baby.

Who knew? I guess I though he could do it himself.’

Maybe this will help future generations.

Happy Easter Bart. I hope I didn’t ruin chocolate bunnies for you.

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Carolyn Rae Bartley was born at the height of the Great Depression, April 17, 1932. Today would have been her 85th birthday.

She grew up in Almena, KS, a small town, even by Kansas standards. The town was founded 1872 and had little to offer except being a shipping point located at the junction of two

Carolyn Bartley — approx. 4 years old. Thanks to Fran Post and Inge Bartley for the photo.

railroads. The population in the 1890 census was 366 and that’s about where it stands today. At its peak in the 1930 census, it was credited with about 700 citizens.

Mom was the youngest of three children born to Thomas R. Bartley, editor and publisher of a one-man newspaper, the Almena Plaindealer and Leona Bartley, known by her middle name, Ferryl.

My grandfather (born in Nebraska in 1894) was reportedly a brilliant man, but tragically alcoholic. I never knew him and the family never talked about him. Grandma divorced him when my mother was young, and this was quite scandalous in the 1930s — especially in small town rural areas of the Bible Belt. He died when my mom was 13, probably due to his alcoholism. My parents told me and my brothers that he died in a car wreck. When pressed for details, they said that a bee got into the car and he was trying to kill it or shoo it away while driving, lost control and had a wreck.

This story was supposedly better than acknowledging the shame of his “sinful” condition.

That’s really all I know about him, except that I have seen some of the newspaper columns he

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