<![CDATA[Art Wheeler Music - Blog]]>Sun, 21 Jan 2018 11:35:19 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Bingo]]>Sun, 21 Jan 2018 19:00:03 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/bingo
​When my youngest daughter was little, she liked to sing.  While all my children have musical talent, she is the one who continues to play. She is the most outgoing of my kids and has always been more likely to sing in public. At family gatherings, she would occasionally sing my song Wild Man in the Desert while my son and I would accompany her on guitars. But like most kids, she was more likely to sing children’s songs that she heard on the variety of recordings and videos she watched.
One of the songs she would sing is Bingo. You are probably familiar with this song but here are the lyrics anyway:
“There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o
And Bingo was his name-o”
Little children aren’t the only ones what get the lyrics to songs wrong.  How many of us thought that Creedence Clearwater Revival sang “There’s a bathroom on the right” instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise”?   I know I did. But my daughter sang Bingo this way:
“There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o
B I itchy hole
B I itchy hole
B I itchy hole
And that is what his name is”
<![CDATA[Feeding the Multitudes]]>Sun, 14 Jan 2018 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/feeding-the-multitudes
I’ve had more than one person ask me about the lyrics to my song Water into Wine.  The confusion is around the difference in the lyrics when I’m singing about Jesus feeding the multitudes.  Early in the song the lyrics are:
“He fed five thousand people
With five small loaves of bread
Two fish was all the meat they had
But everyone was fed”
Later in the song, I sing the following:
“He fed four thousand people
With seven loaves of bread
A few small fish was all the meat they had
But everyone was fed”
​Why the difference in the number of people?  Is it 4 or 5 loaves? Why 2 fish in one case and a few small fish in the other?  The answer is simple: these are two separate stories about Jesus feeding multitudes.  It isn’t even a difference accounts from different books of the Bible.  Both stories can be found in the book of Matthew.  In Matthew 14:13-21, we get the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people. This story talks about 5 loaves of bread and two fish. In a similar story in Matthew 15:29-39, Jesus feeds only 4,000 people but has seven loaves of bread. We don’t get a specific number of fish in this account, only that they were small fish. 
One of the reasons we know that these are two separate stories is in Matthew 16 when he tells the disciples to guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  In verse 9 he refers to the first story while in verse 10 he references the second. When I wrote Water into Wine, I wanted the narrator of the song to be a witness to both miracles. He has either seen or heard about these and other miracles of Jesus.  Because he talks about Jesus turning water into wine, he knows about the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry. He is also the rich young man from the story in Matthew 19:16-26 and the main part of the song focuses on that encounter with Jesus. 
<![CDATA[Reading the Bible]]>Sun, 07 Jan 2018 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/reading-the-bible
Most of my religious songs are based on specific stories from the Bible.  This is the main reason that the title of my first CD was Bible Stories. My motivation for writing these songs comes from a desire to share the stories from a different perspective, usually the view of someone on the sidelines in the story.  I will at least choose a character in the story that usually doesn’t have much of a voice in the story that we read.  I credit my familiarity with these stories to years of reading the Bible.  I haven’t always been a Bible reader.  There are a couple of key moments in my life that brought me to the point where I am today and the way that I look at Bible Stories.
I worked in the lab a factory and my job required me to work swing shift.  I would spend 2 weeks on 1st shift, 2 weeks on 2nd shift and 1 week on the midnight shift.  I was by myself in the lab on midnights and the work load was very light.  Most of the testing that was required could be completed in an hour.  It took another hour to catch up on the work left from the previous shift.  This left a lot of spare time.  I would occasionally read.  I had a Gideon Bible that I brought from home and I decided to read it one night.  I didn’t want to commit to reading a whole lot at that time. I looked through and saw that Mark was the shortest of the Gospels.  The shortest book meant the smallest commitment so it was easy to pick Mark as the book that I would read.
This was sometime in the late 1980’s when I took on this reading assignment.  The 1980’s was a time when there were many evangelists on TV getting a lot of attention.  I was very skeptical of their ministries and motivation.  I still watched many of them but I found myself disagreeing with much of what they said.  They took scripture out of context and twisted it for their own profit or political goals instead of spreading what I understood to be the gospel.  I would watch their shows and talk to the TV saying, “That’s not right!” when they said something I didn’t agree with. 
I found myself taking the same approach with the Book of Mark.  I would read something and I would say to myself, “That’s not right!”  Then I realized that what I was disagreeing with were the words of Christ.  I had to reassess my approach to this reading.  If I was disagreeing with what Jesus said, how could I count myself as a follower?  Somehow, I had to reconcile my beliefs with what I was reading.  It changed my approach to studying the Bible.  It also changed the way I believe.
A few years later, there was a revival at our church.  The guest preacher challenged us to do a daily reading of the Bible.  He suggested reading a consistent number of chapters daily to get through in a year. I didn’t start reading immediately but I did start at the beginning of the following year based on his challenge.  I would repeat this practice about every other year.  It’s been a few years since my last read through but as of this writing, I have made it through the entire Bible eight times. I have read a variety of versions with the only repeat being the King James Version.  Not every day of reading inspires or changes me, but it has made a difference in my life often enough to make it worth my while.  It has gotten me through the roughest times in my life.  It has also given me the basic understanding of the Bible Stories that has helped me put them to music.
<![CDATA[Spirograph Christmas]]>Sat, 23 Dec 2017 20:03:12 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/spirograph-christmas
​When I was growing up, there was a family that lived just up the street from us that we spent a lot of time with.  The Steeles were my second family. They had 3 kids and their youngest daughter, Nan, was my age. Nan, my sister, Gina, and I played together almost daily.  Our parents would get together at least one night every weekend and play canasta.  Our families spent enough time together that it was natural for us to celebrate Christmas together and exchange gifts.  One year, one of us kids received a Spirograph set for Christmas. I think it was my sister. We all were playing with the Spirograph set.  We were at the Steele’s house and we were playing at a folding table that was set up in their living room. Our parents were at the kitchen table playing canasta. 
​Nan and I were completely into the Spirograph, but Gina had stopped playing with us.  She had either gotten bored with it or was frustrated that Nan and I had practically taken over her Christmas gift. Anyway, she was standing against the wall in the living room.  We started to smell a burning odor.  Nan looked over at Gina then went into the kitchen to tell the adults that “Gina is smoking!”  Gina had decided to lean against the wall in front of an electric wall heater. She had long, red hair that started burning when the heater kicked on. There were never any flames, but her hair was extremely singed. Gina received a haircut that evening before we went home. 
<![CDATA[Favorite Christmas Movies]]>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 01:42:57 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/favorite-christmas-movies
​I consider myself to be a movie lover.  There are a handful of movies that I consider my absolute favorites that you would think I would watch them on a regular basis that I can go for years without watching.  But I always watch my favorite Christmas movies every December.  This is not intended as a complete list of every Christmas movie that I like. It only includes the ones that I absolutely have to watch every year.  If you haven’t seen these films, I highly recommend them all. This is not intended as a review of these films, only a recommendation list and a few of the reasons I suggest watching them.

​Christmas in Connecticut - 1945

​This is my favorite Christmas movie.  It is a screwball comedy set at Christmas. While it has romance, it’s not your typical sentimental Christmas movie.  S. Z. Sakall as Uncle Felix is one of the main reasons to watch this film. His lack of command of the English language is comedy gold.  I never cared much for Barbara Stanwyck when I was growing up because I didn’t like The Big Valley. This movie changed my mind about her. The other people that make this movie worth watching are Sidney Greenstreet and Una O’Connor being great doing what they do in every other movie they’ve appeared in.  The other reason to watch this one is to learn about “the old magoo”. The most memorable line from this movie for my family is actually Sidney Greenstreet just giggling at the end of the move.  Stay away from the TV remake from 1992 with Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson. 

​Holiday Inn – 1942

​I remember watching this one for the first time in the late 1970’s.  I immediately fell in love with the cheesy songs that celebrated each holiday.  You’re Easy To Dance With is the first song I remember when I think of this movie, not White Christmas.  Highlights are Fred Astaire’s firecracker dance and Fred Astaire’s drunk dancing. You should look for the unedited version with the blackface song Abraham intact.  You should also see the edited version with this song taken out to see what a hatchet job they did.  Louise Beavers portrayal of the stereotypical character Mamie could easily be seen as offensive Abraham, but Mamie, Daphne and Vanderbilt are easily some of the most lovable characters in the film.  And Mamie is one of the few characters who says exactly what she’s thinking making her the smartest one in the picture.  Watch for those exploding jars of peach preserves.

​The Bells of St. Mary’s – 1945

​Just like Holiday Inn, The Bells of St. Mary’s isn’t really a Christmas movie. Less than 8 minutes of this movie takes place around Christmas.  That 8 minutes contains the funniest Christmas pageant ever. This was the first movie I ever saw with Ingrid Bergman. I have a hard time not picturing her as a nun. I also have a hard time believing that her character ever taught the lovable but goofy Eddie any boxing skills. Eddie’s mom is portrayed by Una O’Connor, making her second appearance on this list of films. This also makes the second appearance by Bing Crosby. For my family, The most quotable line from this movie comes from Patsy: “To see, to hear, to taste, to smell, to feel... to be.” You wouldn’t think that good holiday movie would have subplots involving prostitution and tuberculosis, but they are in this one.  Leo McCarey directed the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup before he made this one. Watch for the kittens in the hat.

​A Christmas Carol – 1938

​There were 9 versions of this film released before this one.  As of this writing, there have been another 9, not counting various versions done for television. I haven’t seen many of the other versions but this one is my favorite of the ones I have seen.   Most people identify the version of A Christmas Carol by the person playing Scrooge. In this case, it is Reginald Owen.  His transformation during this movie is an example of great acting.  The real reason this is my preferred version is Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim.  This portrayal is totally convincing and as iconic as Boris Karloff’s portrayal of The Monster in Frankenstein.  Terry Kilburn owns the role of Tiny Tim. With a running time of only 69 minutes, this film is a model of economic storytelling.  There is not a wasted second of a scene in this movie.  My family’s favorite line in the movie is when Tiny Tim is excited about the goose and declares “I’d like to stroke it!”  Pay attention to the Cratchit family scenes.  They are excited about everything with the Christmas meal.  All the food, the chestnuts and whether all the family members will be there. A Christmas movie with a true Christmas message.

​It’s A Wonderful Life – 1946

​I don’t count this one a Christmas movie and it’s not a Christmas tradition for me.  A local TV station would always show it at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  When I was a kid, I had stayed up by myself to watch Guy Lombardo ring in the new year. That show went off the air and I was about to get ready to go to bed. The TV station I was watching showed a clock that clicked to midnight and a voice said, “Happy New Year”.  Before I got up, a movie started.  It caught my attention because I had never heard of a movie studio called “Liberty Films”.  I continued to watch the movie because one of the angels was named Clarence and the main character’s last name was Bailey.  My first name is Clarence and my mother’s maiden name is Bailey.  I continued to watch because of that and fell in love with the movie.  Even though more of it takes place on Christmas than some of the other films on this list, I still don’t watch it until New Years because that’s when I grew up watching it.
<![CDATA[Watching The Room]]>Mon, 11 Dec 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/watching-the-room
​For a long time, I have been a fan of cult films and movies that are considered “bad”. I am always looking for bad films that I haven’t heard of before. A few years ago while looking at the CNN website, I saw a link to an entertainment article that said “A Room with a Cult Following”.  Before I clicked on the link, I assumed the article was about the film A Room with a View and I wondered why it would have a cult following. It turned out to be about a film called The Room by a first-time filmmaker called Tommy Wiseau. I found a copy of the film and decided to watch it by myself.  I was sleepy the night I started watching it but didn’t want to fall asleep on it, so I stopped about halfway. The next night, I finished watching it. I had watched it in our living room and my wife was already in the bed for the night. She had not fallen asleep yet when I walked in and told her that I thought I had just watched the worst movie I had ever seen in my life.  She could tell I was serious. She had watched with me many of the worst films ever made and for me to declare this one as the worst was saying something. She was sick and stayed at home from work the next day.  She watched it that day and she agreed.  While she was watching, she texted me a running commentary about how bad it was.
​I don’t want to do a full review of the film, but you need to know a little about it to appreciate how bad it is.  The film was written, directed, produced and stars Tommy Wiseau.  He has a hard-to-understand European accent. He is also reluctant to tell people where he is from. He stars as Johnny, a banker that is engaged to his “future wife”, Lisa. In turn, Lisa is attracted to Johnny’s best friend, Mark.  It’s a typical love triangle story but has tons of other plot lines that go nowhere and odd characters that add nothing to the story other than unintentional humor.  Among the things that make this film bad are:
  1. A male character whose age is hard to determine named Denny. He likes to hang out at Johnny’s apartment, Johnny is paying for him to go to school and he is involved in drug deals that went bad.
  2. Lisa’s mother casually announces that she has breast cancer and there are no other references to it.  Lisa responds, “Don’t worry about it.”
  3. Johnny likes to pitch a football around with his friends when they are about arm’s distance away from each other.
  4. More close proximity football later in an alley and all the participants are in tuxedos.
  5. Tommy Wiseau should never have nude scenes an any film. Unfortunately, in this one he does.
This film has developed a cult following similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But even if you like that one, I recommend that most of you do NOT see The Room. Item #5 in the list above is the primary reason most of you should not see this film.  Even if nudity in films doesn’t bother you, there are just some people you should not see when they are not wearing clothes.
I discovered that the easiest way to make it through this film is to watch it with commentary from the Rifftrax guys.  Rifftrax is a company formed by some of the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000.  For those of you not familiar with that show, it featured a man and 3 robots watching bad movies and making fun of them.  Through their Rifftrax company, they record commentaries for films that can be synced with films.  My family are big fans of Mystery Science and Rifftrax.  We introduced them to The Room with the Rifftrax commentary to make it easier to watch.
A couple of years ago, we discovered that the guys from Rifftrax did live events where they riff on a film in front of a live audience. These live shows are broadcast nationwide. Many of them originate from a theater in Nashville.  When we found out they would be live riffing The Room in May of 2015, we knew this would be a family outing. Not only did we get to see The Room on the big screen, we would get to see the Rifftrax guys in person.  While we were waiting in line, a couple of the Rifftrax guys came out and mingled with the audience.  It was a perfect night and an experience we didn’t think could be topped.
But in August of that same year, we were able to go to St. Louis to a midnight showing of The Room with Tommy Wiseau there in person.  He did a meet and greet before the show, signed autographs and pitched football with fans. He did a Q&A before the film. My son went to the restroom during the movie and Tommy was pitching football with fans in the lobby.

Greg Sestero is the actor that portrays Mark in The Room. He wrote a book called The Disaster Artist about his friendship with Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room.  As I write this post, they have just released a film based on this book starring James Franco.  We went to see it last night.  It is a good movie that accurately recreates the scenes that make The Room such a challenge to watch.  While this new movie is good, I believe that most of you shouldn’t see it either.  James Franco recreation off Tommy Wiseau’s nude scenes is a little too accurate.  Unless you are a hardcore bad movie buff, don’t see either film. If you must know more about The Room, talk to me or email me.  
<![CDATA[Inflatable Baby Jesus Ukulele Chords]]>Mon, 04 Dec 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/inflatable-baby-jesus-ukulele-chords
A few weeks ago, I performed Inflatable Baby Jesus during the worship service at our church.  Hopefully, you have listened to the song and know that there is a ukulele part. My pastor plays ukulele and played that part during this performance.  I put together a chord sheet that we used during the performance. I thought you ukulele players might like to have a copy so you can play along with my recording.
File Size: 54 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

<![CDATA[Kangaroo on the Loose]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/kangaroo-on-the-loose
​In my hometown of Alamo, Tennessee, there is an exotic animal park.  When I was growing up, one of the local farmers had several buffalo. These were a rare sight in West Tennessee. The farm where they were located was on a major highway near town. They were always something to keep an eye out for when travelling down this highway. Over the years, he added more different animals to his collection and later opened a drive thru park that has become a tourist attraction for the area. 
​My father was the fire chief for the city of Alamo for several years and served in that capacity when the animal park opened. He his Emergency radio that he used for fire calls also picked up any police calls.  One night after the park opened, he heard a report on his radio that the kangaroo had escaped.  There was no need for the fire department to respond to this call but he followed the reports because, well, it’s a kangaroo on the loose. How often do you have a kangaroo loose in your town? 
The safari park is located beside a four-lane highway just outside of Alamo. The town is on the other side of the highway.  The kangaroo had made its way into town.  My dad found out about this when he heard one of the police officers report, “The kangaroo is on the north side of Koonce Street!!” Koonce Street is inside the city limits in a neighborhood on the side of town closest to the safari park.  A few minutes later, there was another report. “The kangaroo is on the SOUTH side of Koonce Street!!” Soon after that came another report. “The kangaroo is on the NORTH side of Koonce Street!!”  Every few minutes there was a new report about the kangaroo swapping sides of Koonce Street.
Soon the reports changed when the kangaroo attempted to return to the safari park, only to be hit by a car when crossing the four-lane highway.  That was went the fire department was called out to assist with the wreck.  
<![CDATA[Inflatable Baby Jesus]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/inflatable-baby-jesus
​The years have not been kind
To the figurines you'll find
Scattered ‘round my lawn at Christmas time
They're plastic, illuminated
Not inflated or animated
By modern standards they are somewhat dated
Their bodies cracked and worn
And some are even torn
Purchased years before my kids were born
Before they get misplaced
Or my family is disgraced
I think it’s time the whole thing gets replaced

I’m looking for an inflatable baby Jesus
To decorate my lawn this Christmas eve
And I’m looking for an inflatable Christmas stable
With an inflatable star that everyone can see
And I’m looking for an inflatable Joseph and Mary
With lights inside to show us all the way
To get to the inflatable baby Jesus
To decorate my lawn on Christmas day
Yes I’m looking for an inflatable baby Jesus
Lying in an inflatable manger and hay
An inflatable cow and an inflatable donkey
All anchored down so they don’t blow away
Inflatable sheep and an inflatable camel
Kept behind an inflatable fence
Inflatable shepherds and inflatable wise men
With inflatable gold and myrrh and frankincense

I’ve got a brand new snowman
And a great big Santa Claus
His head turns side to side and he waves
And a bunch Christmas penguins
Sliding down a slide
And dancing reindeer pulling on a sleigh
But I really need an inflatable baby Jesus
Because the plastic one don’t work no more
And I cannot find an inflatable baby Jesus
When I look for one at my local store
If you see an inflatable baby Jesus
Pick him up and send him on my way
So I can have an inflatable Baby Jesus
To decorate my lawn this Christmas day

Art Wheeler © 2017
<![CDATA[Why the Three Stooges Scare Me]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/why-the-three-stooges-scare-me​There are a handful of Three Stooges shorts that have scary stories.  When I was a kid watching these films, I saw them way more often than I saw any other horror movies.  They were just scary enough to introduce me to the pleasures of horror films.
​One of the earliest of these is a short with the title Spook Louder.  The Stooges end up in a house that is supposedly haunted. They encounter three criminals dressed in Halloween costumes.  The guy in the skeleton costume was the most frightening character in the movie.  At one point Curly is “chased” by a balloon that is attached to his jacket. The balloon is round and has a frightening face drawn on it.  The balloon gave the skeleton guy a run for his money as the most scary character in the movie for this little boy.
​The Stooges upped their game for fright in the short, If A Body Meets a Body.  This film features a parrot that ends up inside of a skull. When it walks across the room, the feet look more like they are rolling than they look like bird feet walking.  Later, the parrot starts flying and grabs a white sheet.  It has a ghostly appearance. It flies around creating a lot of excitement for both me and the Stooges. 
​The short, Idle Roomers is notable for a wolfman character that was just as scary as any of the Universal studios werewolf characters. The look of the makeup had a young Art Wheeler convinced that this is what this guy really looked like.  It also features a mirror scene between Curly and the ghoul that is like the Duck Soup mirror scene.
​All the shorts I’ve mentioned so far featured Curly as the third stooge.  One of my all-time favorite Stooge shorts is The Ghost Talks, which is a Shimp short. The boys are movers and they are at what appears to be a castle on a stormy night. They encounter a suit of armor that is possessed by the spirit of Peeping Tom.  He is waiting for the ghost of Lady Godiva to come through.  The Stooges also encounter “Red Skeleton”.  This was just the right amount of scary for a young kid. It also had the sex appeal for a little boy just learning about Lady Godiva.