Rich Paschall:

Following up last week’s reblog about Chicago the band, here is another about the latest album.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

AKA Chicago XXXVI, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Chicago, the band, has done something most older bands are reluctant to do.  They have put out a new studio album of original music entitled “Chicago NOW.” Legendary bands with staying power such as Chicago make their living off their faithful fans at live performances and sales of older albums.  They know that only a select handful of older bands can actually sell new singles and albums.  The buying public for new music is mainly in the 13 to 34 age bracket and many of them tend to stream music rather than actually buy it.  The main buyers of CDs are in the 45 and over crowd but they are buying “catalog” music, or that is to say, classics from their favorite artists of the past.

Studio time can be expensive, both in terms of the studio cost and the lost concert performance time.  A…

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AMERICA – Rich Paschall

Rich Paschall:

With all the political nonsense I have been seeing on social media and in the so-called news, I thought it would be a good time to reblog this.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A view from Chicago, the band

Chicago has been around a long time. No, I don’t mean the city, I mean the band. In 1967, five guys from DePaul University recruited a sixth from Roosevelt University and started a band known as The Big Thing. Soon they recruited a tenor, moved to California, and changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority. In 1968 they released a self-titled, double album that included some of their biggest hits and led them down the road to a Hall of Fame career.  After threat of legal action by the home town transit authority, the band shortened its name and the rest is pop history.

Their pop, rock, jazz infused sound was ground breaking.  In an era of bands that included a guitar player, bass player, and a drummer, Chicago’s music majors were letting a trumpet, a trombone and a saxophone lead the way.  It was a sound that led to…

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Rich Paschall:

A Sunday story, I think.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A short story of gratefulness from Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Max had to get an early start on Monday.  Three times a month it was the most important day of the week and he did not want to be late.  It was quite the walk to the Methodist church but he felt he was up to it.  Anyway, he did not want to ride part of the way on the bus as that seemed a waste of money.  If he had a good haul, however, he would definitely consider public transportation on the way back.  Even though Max was not a Methodist, he was headed to the Methodist church.

Next door to the church stood a small wooden building.  It was painted grey, like the church building, and it seemed too small for most uses.  No one recalls why the building was there originally, but now it served as the neighborhood…

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Along the French and German border, a photo gallery

Last week we made no stop at the Sunday Night Blog because we were stopping at sites in France while visiting friends.  I have made similar trips in recent years to sites in the Alsace region of France.  The reason for these trips is not just the scenery or historic sites.  It was something even more important.  This was explained on SERENDIPITY last Sunday in “Where Would You Travel?”

The trip went from Chicago to New York with a five hour lay over.  I explained to my friend that spending vacation with him was the only reason I would spend 5 hours in JFK airport.  From there it was on to Frankfurt, Germany and a two hour lay over waiting for the Lufthansa bus to Strasbourg, France.  The bus arrived near the Strasbourg train station two and one half hours later.  There my friend collected me for our trip back to his town.

You can go to Paris and connect by train to Strasbourg.  The trip is just as long and I did not believe the connection would be as easy.  Now there is a train from Charles De Gaulle airport direct to the Strasbourg station which means I would arrive at the same spot.  They did not have this in past years so perhaps it is a better way to go.  I will let price and connection time determine which airport I use next time I go to Alsace.  Whenever that may be will not be soon enough while good times with friends await.

Click on any image for a larger view and go through the gallery.

In The News

This and That from Here and There

In an era when too many people get their “news” from facebook and twitter postings, the loss of a real reporter is sad indeed.  It is especially sad when the reporter is working on an investigative piece for 60 Minutes.  Bob Simon tragically died in a car accident this past week.  He was a passenger in a livery vehicle that got into an accident.  The two drivers were not seriously injured.
The Bill Moyers web site ran two interesting videos as a way of telling us about the journalism of Simon. When Simon was based in the Middle East he questioned the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda that others were trying to make. Simon also shows regret he did not more thoroughly investigate the Bush administrations claims regarding 9/11 in his 2002 story. We now know he got the facts while the talking heads were spewing opinions on the Sunday morning talk shows.  He was a real reporter who lived to see an era when so-called news people are only offering opinions.

Gary Owens also died this past week at the age of 80.  He had a long and extensive career in radio and television.  He was the voice of many cartoon characters and announcer to many shows.  If you can picture him in your mind without looking for his picture on the internet, then you probably know him from his best known role as announcer on the ground breaking television show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In (1968 to 1973).  The entertainment website Variety lists his many credits here.

Jon Stewart is doing something that David Letterman and Craig Ferguson are doing, walking away from highly successful television jobs.  At age 67, it might not be a surprise that Letterman has had enough of the grind, but Stewart is just 52 and reigns supreme on The Comedy Channel.  Can you remember who hosted the Daily Show before Stewart?  Probably not.  Stewart helped give the channel a wide audience and launched the careers of a variety of “reporters.”  Someone will have big shoes to fill there.

Major League Baseball would like to get more run scoring and speed up the game. The obvious problem is the fact that those two ideas did not go together very well.  One area of discussion is the strike zone.  Now that MLB has umpires who are calling the actual strike zone more consistently, MLB doesn’t like the result.  Yahoo Sports reported the story:

Sam Smith had a big night at the Grammy awards taking home 4 of the little trophies, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year (How are these different?) for “Stay With Me.” Does it not seem strange that the song won any award when it is a rip off of Tom Petty’s 1989 “I Won’t Back Down.”  Petty’s lawyers didn’t back down and they reached a settlement back in October which did not come out until January.  Now Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, formerly of ELO, get song writing credits.  Smith also had to hand over royalties to Petty and Lynne as co-authors. At least Petty took the high road in his comments.  “About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, a frequent target of gay rumors on some entertainment sites, the ones I read anyway, married Sophie Hunter on Valentine’s day.

Alex Rodriguez has rejoined the Yankees and will make 61 million over the next 3 years.  Do you think he will sue the Yankees for the additional bonus money they are going to refuse to pay him if he meets certain milestone achievements?

Hunter Hayes had a good week.  No, he did not win a Grammy for Invisible, but he did get to host some “premiere” Grammy events online prior to the broadcast and he did get to be in the company of big name stars.  We talked about Hunter last Sunday on SERENDIPITY ( and you can find that article here.

Here’s the Tom Petty rock classic.  If you know the Sam Smith song, you will find you know this one too:

Notice the big name stars backing up Petty on the video.


After another snow storm here, it seems a good time to reblog this. Thanks to Marilyn Armstrong for running it last year at this time on Serendipity.

By Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

As far as Ralph was concerned this was the worst winter ever.  There were years with more snow, that’s for sure.  There were years that brought colder days.  There was never a winter that brought one snow after another followed by one arctic blast after another. Memory had no recollection of this many days below zero.  There were several days pipes were frozen at Ralph’s house, leaving him without water to the kitchen.  After that, every sub-zero day meant water would be left running to prevent from freezing.  Towels and throw rugs were tossed against the bottoms of exterior doors to prevent drafts.  Humidifiers were used to make the house more comfortable and the gas bill…  Well, Ralph did not want to think about that.

75-BigSnowHPCR-7While he hated every day of it, the neighbors might have thought otherwise.  Ralph was always out shoveling the snow that fell or that drifted across the sidewalk in high winds.  Even when the temperature fell below zero, he was out doing something for a little while.  For some years, there were teenagers to be bribed, but this year there were none around so Ralph was resigned to doing the work himself.  When he finished the walks, he would shovel around his car and brush the snow from the windows.  Sometimes a snow plow would push a ridge of snow against the car and then it was time to dig some more.  This winter, Ralph was a busy man.

After he finished the work by his house, he frequently walked down the street about 5 houses and shoveled around an old brown Pontiac.  Some days, he could not do it due to subzero temperature, but when he could he went down there.  No one else on the block seemed to know whose car it was that got so much attention.  Now and then it was moved and parked back in the same area, but when the brutal weather hit, it just stayed put.

And yet, Ralph walked down and cleaned it off, just in case.  It was not Ralph’s car.  He never drove it in his life.  A few on the block might have wondered why he shoveled around the car and cleaned it with great regularity.  It was just something that Ralph felt inside he had to do.

Certainly there were some that felt that a man of Ralph’s age should not be out shoveling snow in such extreme weather.  It was winters like this that made Ralph understand why people retired and moved to Florida or Arizona.  As a matter of fact, Ralph might have retired and moved to Florida on his last birthday when he turned 62, but the pension he paid into for decades lost most of its value 6 years earlier.  It was reduced to 25 per cent of what he had.  He knew he would never make that up in the short time left before he would have to retire.  He just hoped when he did, the meager pension and meager social security would be enough to live on.  It certainly would not be enough to send him to Florida.

One particularly frosty day, Ralph arrived home to some fresh snow on the ground, took his usual parking spot and went right to work. When he finished his walkways and parking area, he was tempted to go in, but decided to walk down to the brown Pontiac anyway.  It was weeks since the car last moved and no one had seen the driver.  Nevertheless, Ralph was on the job, cleaning off the car and all around it.  By the time he was satisfied with his work, his fingers and toes were numb and almost in pain.  As he started to walk away he noticed an old man come carefully down the stairs of a brick 2 flat house and walk toward the Pontiac.  He had a decidedly puzzled look upon his face.  Ralph tossed his brush and shovel aside.

“Hello, Mr. Schuman,” Ralph called out.  “How are you today?”

“Cold,” Mr. Schuman replied with an odd smile that he had acquired whenever he was unsure of what was going on.  “And who are you again, young man?”

“It’s Ralphie, sir.  Ralphie Combs.  I had you for Economics in Senior Year at the high school.”

“Oh,” Schuman said.  “What year was that?”

“I guess it was quite a few years ago, but I remember it well,” Ralphie beamed, as he recalled his senior year.

“Were you one of those boys that I put in the front of the class so I could keep an eye on you?  You look like one of those boys,” Mr. Schuman said with a suspicious glance.

Ralphie laughed.  “Yes, sir.  That was me, sir”  At that Mr. Schuman laughed too.

“Well I was expecting a lot of work on the car today, but all the snow is gone.  I am certain it was piled on there earlier when I looked out the window.”

“It must have been the winds, Mr. Schuman, sir.  The wind was very strong this afternoon and has blown a lot of it down the street.”

“It’s a good thing, because I have to run some errands and shoveling snow is too much for me.  I guess I was pretty lucky with that wind.”

“Yes, sir, I think you were.”

“Well, I have to go young man, it is too cold to stand and chat.  Now you be good.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Schuman.  I will be good.”

The old teacher got in the old car and drove away.  That few minutes of conversation was the warmest Ralphie felt all winter.

SNOW HATE – By Rich Paschall

Rich Paschall:

Another Harold! I wonder how often I used that name. Since we are in the midst of a blizzard here, I thought it would be a good day to reblog this.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A NO H8 story by Rich Paschall – Sunday Night Blog

The door bell startled Harold.  He was not expecting anyone on a snowy Saturday afternoon in January.  He moved quickly to the front door and opened it to find his teenage grandson.

“Hello grandpa,” the boy blurted, “I came to shovel your snow.”  At that Billy grabbed a shovel from just inside the front door and went immediately to work.  Harold closed the door and watched him through the glass in the door.  Billy attacked the snow like he was angry at every single flake that fell from the sky.  The look on his face and the force at which he threw each shovelful of snow concerned Harold.


He went directly to the phone and called Billy’s parents.

“Hello,” came the voice of Harold’s daughter-in-law.  Madeleine was sweet, nice looking and ultimately clueless.  Her small social circle was her main…

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I AM HOME – By Rich Paschall

Rich Paschall:

One of my favorites from a little over a year ago.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A piece of home alone fiction by Rich Paschall

The alarm went off at 6 am as usual.  Instead of hitting the snooze bar, George turned off the alarm and got up.  It was Wednesday, trash collection day in the small Florida town.  He no longer had Ethel to push him out of bed so he had to muster the resolve to get up and take care of the chores.  Jack, the faithful terrier, got up as well and was running around George’s feet as he tried to go through his morning routine.  Terriers do not lack morning energy.

96-Rockers-NKAfter he got dressed and made his way to the kitchen, he started the coffee.  Ethel used to take care of this while George took care of the hyper active dog, but his wife of 40 years was gone now.  George had to make his own coffee.  George had to do all the…

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Beyond Freedom of Speech


You probably would not like Charlie.  Most people in America would think him crude and insensitive.  They would brand him a racist and bigot.  They would likely call for a boycott of him.  Now, while they know him not, they come to his defense.

Few people really know the French satiric publication known as Charlie Hebdo.  Prior to the attack on an editorial staff meeting that left a dozen dead, few outside of France knew of the weekly.  They may have heard about it in the news due to threats against the paper, but in truth, the paper was not widely read.  The circulation was reported to be about 60,000, some claim only 30,000. With the world-wide publicity following the terrorist attack, the demand for the paper skyrocketed by people who did not know it.  The paper’s run has been translated into 16 languages and increased to seven million copies according to Yahoo News.  That is astounding for a paper that regularly pokes fun at one of the world’s great religions and it leader, the prophet Mohammad.

The ironic twist to the story is instead of shutting down the publication that insults Muslims, approximately 1.6 billion people on earth, it has popularized the paper and dramatically increased its circulation.  While the increase will certainly die down, the furor will not.  The debate over the content will continue and perhaps increase.  In fact, today France 24 reports, “Almost half of those in France believe cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed – like those printed by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – should not be published.”  Charlie is not so likeable when you get to know him.

As the so-called defenders of free speech, from nations where journalists are jailed, gathered in Paris for a photo-op, Muslims around the world must have been wondering why it is OK to insult their religion so openly, while talk against other religions would not be tolerated in those same countries.  It is a double standard of perplexing proportion.

If a small publication in America put Jesus on its cover in ways that mocked Him and the Christian Churches of the world, there would be a major political and social media firestorm.  People would be protesting outside the publication.  Calls for a boycott would be loud and long.  Leaders would be on all the talk shows demanding such a publication be forced out of business.  That is what we think of such “free Speech.”  It is not OK to mock our God, our prophets and our saints, but some think it is OK to mock other religions.  The type of lewd and disrespectful drawings Charlie Hebdo is known for would never be tolerated here.

The 80-year-old co-founder of Charlie Hebdo, Henri Roussel, thinks the editor of the publication, killed in the terrorist attack, went too far in his insults of Muslims.  “What made him feel the need to drag the team into overdoing it?” Roussel asked (in French) in a letter he wrote and published in the French magazine, Nouvel Obs.  He called the now deceased editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, brilliant, but stubborn. Speaking of the risks taken by the paper, Roussel states, “For years, decades even, it was a provocation, and then one day the provocation turns against us.”

Following the show of support by people worldwide who had no idea of the lewd and provocative drawings published in recent years, counter demonstrations erupted in Muslim nations across the globe.  Many have been killed and churches burned in response.  Certainly, we are right to condemn the violence, no matter what the provocation, but we must ask ourselves an important question.  How would we react to anything we would take to be insulting to our church, our prophets and our god?  Moreover, how do you think the extreme Christian right would react?

While we value freedom of speech, we must also recognize that such provocations will over time bring a response.  One would hope that the response would also be by cartoon or editorial, but how often can you attack what others hold dear?  When should sensitivity and political correctness take hold?  When should good judgment and common sense tell you that you have crossed the line from freedom of speech, to racism and bigotry?

Another tragic irony to the story of Charlie Hebdo is the murder of police officer Ahmed Merabet.  He was on site at the publication when the terrorist attack took place.  Ahmed was himself a Muslim and died trying to protect those who would regularly and provocatively insult his religion.  He was assigned to protect freedom of speech in the 11th Arrondissement (district) of Paris.  He tried to do just that.  Many of us would defend the right of others to freely publish satire and cartoons, even if we do not agree with its content.  In that regard we can adopt another phrase.  It is not as popular as “Je suis Charlie,” but it stands for those who would die defending his freedom.  Therefore, I am Ahmed.



HASHTAG: I am Charlie


I am CharliePerhaps you have seen it trending on social media or reported in the press.  People have placed the French phrase on facebook and Twitter as well as many other sites, using the hashtag method so that it can be found by others.  Some have changed their facebook, twitter, Instagram, tumblr or other social media profile pictures to a plain black box with the words written out in white letters, “Je Suis Charlie.”  French NBA players wore black t-shirts with the same phrase in white during their pre-game warm-ups.  Simply speaking, the phrase went viral.

During the past week criminal extremists assaulted a French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 at an editorial meeting including two police officers.  The publication was fire bombed in 2011.  The editor, Stephane Charbonnier, had received death threats in the past and was actually under police protection.  That did not stop the brutal attack.  In the two days that followed, a massive hunt for the attackers took place.  By the time the criminals were hunted down, seventeen people had died.

Place de la Republique in central Paris  Photo by Ian Langson/EPA

Place de la Republique in central Paris Photo by Ian Langson/EPA

If you can recall how people in America felt after the World Trade Center bombings in 2001, then you will have some idea how the French reacted to such a brutal crime in the beloved capital of Paris.  People were angry, of course, but they had a larger message to spread.  Within hours people took to the streets of Paris, Lyon and other areas around France to show the world they were “not afraid.”  Many brought a powerful weapon along and held it up in defiance of those who would attack free speech.  They had pens or pencils and held them up in tribute.

As the manhunt unfolded across the region of the French capital, rallies of support took place in cities around the world, including New York and Washington, DC.  People appeared in front of French embassies holding up signs stating “Je Suis Charlie.”  At the Embassy of France in Madrid, people also held the signs “REPORTEROS SIN FRONTERAS por la libertad de informacion” (Reporters without borders for freedom of press).  Even as they stood in silent tribute, the crowds expressed the message that they were not to be silenced.

One of the things that terrorist hope to accomplish is to spread fear among its enemies, in other words, to terrorize them.  People across France and around the world have largely rejected this with a strong show of support for the French publication as well as journalists and cartoonists everywhere.  By Saturday, Charlie Hebdo staff had found another location to hold a meeting and under the protection of French police, they planned their next publication, now due out Wednesday.  To do otherwise would be a victory for the terrorists.

The Arabic says "In support of Charlie Hebdo." Source:

The Arabic says “In support of Charlie Hebdo.” Source:

Unless you are FOX News, you can find that a number of Arab publications stood with French journalists against these attacks.  Cartoonists in Arab countries did what others were doing, drawing responses to the Paris massacre.  In that region of the world, it takes a bit of courage to respond with support.  Israel’s Ynet newspaper writes that even 4 years after the so-called Arab Spring, “people are still watching their step.”  The online publication .mic published cartoons from various Arab countries, Here’s How Arab Papers Reacted to the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Massacre.

Prior to this week, I had never heard of the French satire, Charlie Hebdo (short for “hebdomadaire,” or weekly paper).  I can not honestly tell you if I would agree with the satire that they publish.  Perhaps I would even find some of it offensive.  I will say that I am for freedom of the press and the right to poke fun at the foibles of humanity.  Therefore, I am Charlie.