Touch of Grey will, well, touch upon the rainbow that is life. Good music, good times, and good friends combine to make all the splendid colors. Touch of Grey will celebrate this beautiful rainbow.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


So the old saying is true. You DO learn something new every day.

Check this out and see if any of that fascinating information is applicable to your daily life. Me, not so much, but it was surely interesting.

Ah, the world of finance.....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fun

Go here for a little mind-bending entertainment!

I've always loved M.C. Escher's stuff, and this site is official, with many of his works, and interesting bio stuff as well.

Finally, go here to trick your eyes but good.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

For Your Pleasure, Amigos!

And mine, too!

I heard this little gem the other day, and it occurred to me that it doesn't get enough airplay. Oh, I'm sure there was a time, around 45 years ago that it did, but most folks nowadays have likely forgotten about it or never even heard it. I pity them. This is such a lovely song, and it got me to thinking about other foreign language songs, and how they became a part of Americana. So I would like to put some of them in one place for you to enjoy! First, the lovely song which started me down that road of nostalgia, with what must be the original video, which I had never seen until I went hunting for it. Even though I don't understand a word of it, it still makes me smile every time I hear it.

And along the same lines, but in a different language, comes this beautiful song that has the ability to transport one across the seas:

Es muy bueno, si?! As is this early rock and roll hit, in the same poetic language, with a decidedly different flavor:

Of course, one Latin language can be complemented by another, as you can clearly hear in this delightful tune here:

Bella, eh?! Lest we forget our other neighbors across the pond, we have this unique entry that was, against all odds, also a smash hit, the only song in Belgian to hit number one in the United States:

And, although the entire song is not in French, this lovely song is included because its title is foreign, and because, well, it's Nat King Cole, and I would listen to anything by him in ANY language. Even though he thinks his "French is not good enough", I think it's completely perfect:

Come travel the world with me! We still have plenty left to see and hear, so enjoy this song that was a huge hit and is still played at many weddings today:

As we travel the world, I would also like to travel time in a way. I have a trio of hits from the eighties, so imagine, if you will, growing up with these wonderful hits on the radio, and enjoying them in languages other than yours. The first was performed in German, and also had an English version on the radio, and both were hits, but most seem to prefer the German version. I think people understand the message in any language, even if "Captain Kirk" may be the only two words they clearly get:

And this video includes footage from one of the greatest movies of that decade:

And I'm allowed a cheat here simply because this song is SO awesome, and I love it as much today as I did all those years ago. The title IS foreign, if not the rest of the song, so have fun:

And, finally, this one's not really in any foreign language, but it is a song which I believe ANYBODY can understand and love. It is included here because it comes from one of my most favorite movies of all time "Lillies of the Field" starring my favorite actor Sidney Poitier. For those who don't know the story, a handyman (Poitier) happens upon a group of German nuns in the desert, teaches them some English, and proceeds to "build them a chapel". Even though their English skills are not great, and his German skills are nonexistent, they are able to sing this song together, as music is a universal language. In the movie, the singing was done not by Poitier, but by Jester Hairston, whom some may remember as ROLLIE on the TV show called ironically, "Amen". So here is that lovely song for all to enjoy from that movie that I so adore and have to watch every Easter, or it just isn't Easter for me:


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Goodbye to the Mom and Pop Store?

After a somewhat dispirited visit to my local Wally World yesterday, I thought of an old Victoria Advocate blog of mine and revisited it. I still agree with the words of that blog, and will repeat it here for you in its entirety. It does make one think about the smaller, family-owned businesses that are being gobbled up by the big-box stores, and just what is being lost along the way.

What happens if the day comes when the small family proprietors, the independent artists, and the local friendly shops no longer exist? I spent a bundle yesterday at Wal-Mart, more than I should, as is usually the case there; after all, with so much selection and inventory, why not fill up the cart? I know I also saved a lot of money, as I had many coupons to complement Wal-Mart's already LOW prices. But what have I really saved? Time? Nope. Hassle? Are you kidding me?

Maybe it's a good time to post this old blog, as back-to-school shopping commences. The largest place we ever shopped at in Houston for back-to-school necessities was Foley's, Weiners, and the little teacher-supply store down the road. We also would go the small hobby shop on Crosstimbers to buy art supplies for both myself and my parents, now that they would have a little extra time on their hands once I went back to school; mother would pursue her multitude of artistic endeavors, while dad would busy himself with his model building.

But I digress. Think of those little shops as you read this repeat, and ask yourself what has been saved, and what has been lost.

There has been an interesting thread on the VicAd discussion forum concerning Wal-Mart and peoples' experiences there. While I could jump in and join the fray, venting my frustration at the long lines and sometimes less than courteous associates at the big-box stores, I have been thinking all day about the smaller stores, the mom-and-pop stores, if you will, that seem to be a vanishing breed nowadays.

Contrary to one poster's sentiment, the mom-and-pop store is NOT yet gone, but is rapidly fading in the shadow of all the mega-stores, the Johnny-come-latelys of retailing. Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, and others have changed the landscape of the retail world, and have left their mark on American consumerism. Left in the dust are the smaller stores, the little guys who were always there, on the town square, to do business with a smile and a "How are the wife and kids? Have a good day, now, hear?". The days of walking in an establishment (not through a sliding, electronic-eye door, mind you), hearing that bell on the door announce your arrival, and being helped by a friendly and KNOWLEDGEABLE person are going the way of the dodo.

I recall even in Houston, we had a few small neighborhood stores that offered a welcome respite from the concrete jungle surrounding them. One grocery store in particular, Stutes' on Jensen Drive, was the one we would always patronize for small grocery items and meats. Mr. Stutes, the owner, knew every customer by name and would cut and wrap his own meat daily. He would cash a check for money for the customer, serving as the local bank in a way, as well. He always had a smile and a kind word for every customer. I remember well the old cash register, the kind that seemed to "talk" when the lever was pulled, not these modern electronic contraptions that have no personality. There was one cashier in particular named May, and whenever my parents would come in with me in tow, she would let me sit up on the counter while she keyed in the price of our groceries. She was always so kind and cheerful. I wonder if kids nowadays will have memories of this sort when they get older? It seems such an impersonal world now. In addition to Stutes', there was also a corner grocery called Doyle's and a service station (when service really was FULL SERVICE) called Jone's Gas. How I miss those small stores!

There are some small mom-and-pop stores left, particularly in the small towns. There is one place I love going to in particular, Morrow's Hardware, here in Yoakum. The wooden floors appear to be the original ones from its inception, and the shelving is likely the same that has always been there. The Gin and Feed in Yoakum has been transformed to a farmer's market but still has the original architecture intact. I must confess, I don't frequent these small stores as much as I should, finding myself in Victoria half the time and stopping by Lowe's or Home Depot, because it is most convenient.

I am reminded of an especially poignant "Wonder Years" episode where Kevin finds employment at the local hardware store, yep, the kind with the bell on the door and the wooden floors, just like Morrow's. But the lure of the burger stand in the local mall is calling to him, and he leaves the hardware store to work in a "cooler" place, the mall, where he can be around all his friends. Meanwhile, the little hardware store is dying day by day, and the old man who owns the place has nobody to pass along his knowledge and concern for good customer service to. We all know the unhappy ending of stories like these, even though the episode doesn't go into all of that. Kevin has a decent job, making even more at the burger stand than he ever could have at a local hardware store, and he seems cooler to his friends. But what of the things that have been lost? How to put a price on that? How to restore pride, care, and love of a business that has been built through generations, from the ground up? It seems that many of us are too busy nowadays to ponder these questions. Someday soon, the whole point may be moot, as we mourn the demise of the mom-and-pop store.