Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fruity, Spiced Wine

The holiday season is a blissful season, times spent with family and friends in a joyous atmosphere. During this time parties commence, people come and go, bringing forth festive food and spirits. Christmas treats fill candy jars and cookie trays in abundance. Tables are set with kitchen aromas announcing somethin' good's cooking! Enjoyed throughout the holidays is seasonal fruit, either sliced, chopped, diced, mixed together for salad or ambrosia, baked in pies, served in a punch or other fruity, spiced beverage, which by the way is the topic for today.

December 20 is...

Sangria is a spiced wine, an ancient and much-loved tradition, and even though it originates from Spain and Portugal it’s enjoyed world-wide. It can be served as an iced outdoor treat in the summer, or as a great way to warm up indoors in the winter. Its warmth and festive color make it perfect for Christmas time.


There are practically as many recipes for sangria as there are drinkers of the fruity punch, and for sure a lot of delightful sangria recipes you should try, but the most common ingredients are wine, fruit, honey and sugar. What is truly neat about sangria is the ability to adjust the recipe to individual tastes. Before delving into the actual make up of sangria let's take a peak into its origin.

A Bit of Sangria History...
Over 2,000 years ago, when the Romans inhabited Spain, they knew the water was unsafe for drinking because of bacteria, and so it was common to fortify it with alcohol to kill it off. The first sangrias (whose name comes from sangre, or blood, and refers to its dark color) were likely heavily watered down mixes of wine, water, and herbs and spices. Basically, the Romans added anything they could to kill off the bacteria in the water and to disguise the taste of mediocre table wine.

Onward to the holiday spirits... if you have not already clicked the images do so for they link to a variety of recipes. Keep in mind sparkling water can be added to give the drink more fizz, and fruit can be kept out of the glasses using a strainer. Some of the fruit can even be mashed or grated and then stirred into the wine to give it an extra-rich flavor. How this drink varies centers on the type of fruit, the presence or lack of carbonation and the kind of spirits added, if any at all. 
For the choice of fruit, the key is to use that which is in season in order to underline the flavor of the drink. If possible, try to let the fruit marinate in the wine a day ahead, or at least a few hours before serving, to get the most out of the natural fruit flavors. With this being wintertime, apples, quinces (California’s Pineapple quinces and the East Coast's Orange and Smyrna varieties), persimmons, Asian pears are in season but, of course, you can actually enjoy the taste of any fruit year around.
For the type of wine, connoisseurs suggest using a good quality red wine such as Rioja to get the authentic Spanish flavor. However, many agree that you should just choose something you like and it does not necessarily have to be an expensive wine. Inexpensive wines are perfect for this drinkafter all, masking the taste of cheap wine is exactly how sangria came into existence.
Other variations suggest adding a good brandy, a few shots of a favorite liquor, or a splash of orange juice combined with Triple Sec. Do remain mindful, however, with every little bit added is an increase in alcohol content. Of course, sangria doesn't have to be alcoholic at all! If you’d like to add bubbles, consider soda water or a citrus-flavored soda pop. Some sangria lovers add honey or sugar as well. It's all about individual taste!



Is your mouth thirsting yet?

yum, yum, yum . . . yummy!

Next on the Calendar...Stay tuned!

Folk Legends - greatest folk artists ever!

Today in Music History: December 20, 1969

In the 1960s, Greenwich Village was a crucible of creativity. Involvement in music was a matter of joyous discovery, not business. Everyone knew folk music was having an enormous impact in the Village, but was a couple of years away from being embraced on a national scale. Dozens of cultural and popular icons got their start in the Village's nightclub, theater, and coffeehouse scene during the 50s, 60s, and early 70s.

Welcome into the Spotlight...

1960s publicity photo of the group.
"Peter, Paul and Mary are not only three of the greatest folk artists ever, but also three of the performing arts' most outstanding champions of social justice and peace. They have lent their time and talents to the Civil Rights Movement, labor struggles, and countless campaigns for human rights for decades, and their compassion and commitment remain as strong as their extraordinary artistry." [Source: Peter, Paul & Mary History]
Peter, Paul & Mary: No American folk group has lasted longer or amassed a more loyal following than Peter, Paul and Mary; indeed, few groups of any genre have logged more years (45) or miles (countless) in direct, yearly touring; spreading the message and engaging the next (now four) generations.

Beginning with their debut at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village in 1961, Peter, Paul, and Mary launched a decade of recording songs that would bring socially conscious music to the mainstream. The group is now virtually synonymous with Folk music, but before Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers came on the scene, McCarthyism had forced folk music from the likes of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie underground. A decade later, the trio had 11 albums and 12 hit singles, including classics such as "If I Had A Hammer" and "Leaving On A Jet Plane," firmly establishing themselves as the most successful Folk music group of all time.
[Source: Songfacts.com]

1969 Peter Paul and Mary went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Leaving On A Jet Plane'. The song was written by John Denver in 1966 and most famously recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. The original title of the song was "Babe, I Hate to Go" but Denver's then producer Milt Okun convinced him to change the title.
No.1 singles on this day...

No. 1 Albums on This Day... 
1969 The Rolling Stones went to No.1 on the UK album chart with their 10th release Let It Bleed, featuring 'Midnight Rambler', and 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'.
2008 Britney Spears went to No.1 on the US album chart with Circus, the singer's sixth studio album. Spears explained that the album's title has a double-edged meaning. It refers to both her life being a metaphorical circus, and also her fondness for the actual big-top show. She said: "I like the fact that you're always on the edge of your seat when you're at a circus... You're never bored. You're just really engulfed in what's going on around you. And you want to know what's going to happen next."

1962 The Osmonds appeared for the first time on the NBS-TV Andy Williams show. The brothers performed 'I'm A Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas'.
2012 Adele was named Billboard's top artist of 2012, while her hit record 21 was named top album of the year in the music magazine's annual review. The 24-year-old was the first to receive both accolades two years in a row and the honors for Adele came in a year which saw her win six Grammy awards and dominate the US charts. Her second album 21 went straight to No.1 when it was released in March 2011 and did not leave the top 10 until the beginning of September 2012, during that time, it spent 24 weeks at the top spot.

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

Titanic Sails & Sinks...Again

This Day in History: December 19, 1997


The Titanic. Its history is of epic proportion from the time of its inception to its shattering ending. On this day in 1997, the Titanic sailed once again but this time on the silver screen depicting the historical events surrounding its beginning and its tragic end with a Hollywood love story thrown into the mix for benefit of the world's captive audience. After all, what is more enticing...recapture of a historical event or a love story? Throw them both together and its hard to not produce a winner. This has been proven over and over...From Here to Eternity, Gone With the Wind, Pearl Harbor, etc. 

If you were asked what you remembered most would your answer cover the plights of the soldiers in From Here to Eternity, devastation brought about by civil war in Gone With the Wind, the sights, sounds, smells of war depicted in Pearl Harbor OR the love affairs between Burt Lancaster (Sergeant Warden) and Deborah Kerr (Karen); Clark Gable (Rhett) and Janet Leigh (Scarlet); Josh Hartnett (Danny), Ben Affleck (Rafe) and Kate Beckinsale (Evelyn)? The answers are definitely no-brainers! Similarly are the same questions about Titantic...which stands out in your mind, the number of passengers who succumbed as a result of the sinking of the Titantic OR the love affair between Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack) and Kate Winslet (Rose)? Another no-brainer!

Titanic will go on to become the highest-grossing movie in history...true or false?

The combination of fact and fiction makes for a great story not only for purposes of entertainment but also for gross sales! According to History.com, "it (Titanic) will go on to become the highest-grossing movie in history." It is not absolutely clear how much Gone with the Wind earned from its initial release. The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. and Avatar all increased their record grosses with re-releases. Some of the older films that held the record of highest-grossing film still have respectable grosses even by today's standards, but do not really compete against today's top-earners: Gone with the Wind for instance—which was the highest-grossing film for twenty-five years—does not even make the top fifty in the modern market, but, adjusted for inflation, it would still be the highest-grossing film.

So, what is the highest grossing film in history? Difficult to pinpoint when theatrical venues are not the only dollars to be taken into account. Consideration must also be given to home video and television income, which can form a significant portion of a film's earnings. More info...

 Are you aware of the FIRST Titanic film - 1953? 

Interested in the History Behind the Titanic? 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Smooth Balladeer

Today in Music History: December 19, 1958

A taste of country. Behind all the southern drawls, guitars and cowboys is an affluence of emotion. Country music reaches deep into real life, real emotion that you not only hear but you feel. It hits you right in the gut so to speak, close to home. Almost any situation in life, good and bad, has found a place in the lyrics of country music. It embraces people from all walks of life.

Welcome into the Spotlight...


Conway Twitty: iconic country singer who scored 55 No. 1 hits over the long expanse of his career

Originally a 50s rock 'n' roll singer, Conway Twitty racked up hit after hit after hit after hit over the course of two decades becoming the reigning superstar of the 70s and 80s. This was the country-pop era so Twitty's deep resonant, down-home voice led him to achieving success as one of the smoothest balladeers to work in Nashville.
More than any other singer, Conway Twitty was responsible for selling country as an "adult" music, slipping sexually suggestive lyrics into his lush productions, yet never singing misogynist lyrics -- by and large, his songs were sensitive and sensual, which is part of the reason why he achieved such a large success. Once Twitty reached the top of the country charts in the late '60s, he stayed there for years on end, releasing a consistent stream of Top Ten hits that both defined and expanded the limitations of country-pop by adding subtle R&B, pop, and rock & roll influences. Though he had some pop success, Twitty remained country to the core -- occasionally, his song titles were simply too corny -- which was why he retained his popularity until his death in 1993. [Source: Artist Biography]
1958 Conway Twitty was at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'It's Only Make Believe'. The first song to reach the UK Top 10 in four different years: Billy Fury (1964), Glen Campbell (1970) and Child (1978).
How does Twitty's version compare to the covers?

No.1 singles on this day...

    1964 The Supremes scored their third US No.1 single of the year when 'Come See About Me', went to the top of the charts. It made No.27 on the UK chart.
  • 1970 Elton John's first US hit, ‘Your Song’ entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it went on to reach number eight. The Hollies had been offered the song and Three Dog Night had already recorded a version which was included on their ‘It Ain't Easy’ album.
  • 1987 The Pet Shop Boys had their third UK No.1 single with their version of 'Always On My Mind'. The duo had performed a version of 'Always on My Mind' on Love Me Tender, an TV special commemorating the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, their performance was so well-received that the group decided to record the song and release it as a single.
  • 1999 Irish boyband Westlife started a four week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with their versions of the Abba song 'I Have A Dream' and the Terry Jacks hit (written in French by Belgian, Jacques Brel and English lyrics by poet Rod McKuen), 'Seasons In The Sun'. It gave the group the Christmas No.1 and the last No.1 of the century.
No. 1 Albums on This Day... 

1964 The Beatles fourth album 'Beatles For Sale' started a seven-week run at No.1 on the UK album charts. Recorded when Beatlemania was just past its peak 'Beatles for Sale' was The Beatles' fourth album in just 21 months.
1981 Abba scored their seventh UK No.1 album with 'The Visitors', the Swedish pop group's eighth and final studio album. It was one of the first records to be recorded and mixed digitally, and was the first in history to be manufactured on the new CD format in 1982 on Atlantic.

1957 Elvis Presley had his draft notice served on him for the US Army. He went on to join the 32nd Tank Battalion third Armor Corps based in Germany. [NOTE: Most sources quote the date as December 20.]

2012 Nick Mason stepped in to help save Foote's, the historic London music shop where he bought his first ever drum kit. The Pink Floyd drummer, along with the store's sales director, Rob Wilson, were buying the business (which will now re-open in a new location at 41 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London) from the family who has owned it since the '30s.

"After 40 something years of playing, I still have great affection for a real drum shop. And Foote’s has a special significance for me. In 1958, I headed down to the West End of London to a basement in Denman Street where a kindly man called Sid, in a white coat (maybe that’s significant as well) sold me my original kit for £7.50." ~Nick Mason

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

Unsung Heroes

There are countless nameless heroes throughout history. These are the lesser-known persons who encourage and inspire by example or deed. They are the champions of unrecognized contribution doing what comes naturally without effort, without question, whose bravery is unquestionable, unknown or unacknowledged. They are more often than not considered 'underdogs' who may not rise to the top of the ladder but without whom those at the top would not be where they are today.

December 19 is...

 Being the underdog isn’t a bad thing. It might mean you have more at stake,
more to prove, more headroom to grow, and more reasons to succeed.
~The Underdogs

For those that may not know, an “underdog” is a person in a competition or other event who is popularly expected to lose or fail. On Underdog Day honor goes to the world’s greatest unsung heroes, runners-up and unlikely winners who have pulled off the unexpected! Remember Susie Simple? How many times have you rooted for the underdog in major league sports event, especially when you didn't have a favored team playing?  

A Bit of 'UnderDog' Trivia...
Originally, an underdog was a shipbuilder who stood in a dark pit and helped to saw planks of wood from beneath whilst the overdog, a supervisor of sorts, sawed the planks from above. The underdog got all dirty and covered in sawdust, yet the overdog got all of the credit for the hard work carried out. The first recorded uses of the term occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century; its first meaning was “the beaten dog in a fight”.  An “underdog bet” was a bet on the underdog for which the odds were always considerably higher.
The most likely places to find innumerable underdogs are in our military, among our firefighters and within the police force. Our service men and women, military and community, give their all on a daily basis without thoughts of 'going for the gold', being the fastest, best or baddest, and becoming rich or famous. Their bravery is the epitome of one being an unsung hero.

It is inherit for many of us to root for the underdog starting with our love of cartoons and comic books. Popeye the Sailor appears to be no match for Bruno, Superheros become their alter ego in hopes of saving the day (which in their normal state would never happen), and possibly a favorite from the 60s, Underdog himself, whose rhythmic tune stuck in our heads all day long.

The movies that always capture our hearts are those where inevitably the losers become winners in the end. Don't you just love The Karate Kid, Forrest Gump, Rocky and Braveheart! What about the humble sidekicks where the main heroes would not be who they are, and would not have achieved what they achieved, if it wasn’t for the underdogs. Imagine Batman without Robin, Sherlock Holmes without Watson, Lone Ranger without Tonto, Green Hornet without Kato, Buffy the Vampire Slayer without Willow. The list goes on. Not quite the same, right? 

Fact: Life tends to favor the underdog. More often than not, the underdog will try, try, try and try again sometimes realizing countless failures, few successes. After all, Life = Risk. One doesn't lose to say, "I quit. I'll only lose next time." When one loses one says, "I'll practice more. Try harder. Next time I may win."

If there's a contest or competition scheduled around the holidays, make sure to become involved but remember to root for the underdog!


Next on the Calendar...Stay tuned!