New Zealand Natural Wonders Tour – with Greg

Thanks for checking out our New Zealand Natural Wonders North and South, hosted by me, Greg, your friendly neighborhood Musical Lafologist.

UPDATE, Dec. 22, 2016: This tour filled up in 6 days, but one couple just postponed due to a work conflict. So as of today we have space for 2 people on this departure.  We also have a second identical tour to begin when this one ends (Feb 16). As of today, we have only two (2) spaces left on the 2nd tour. For information on that 2nd departure, please click here.

New Zealand is a spectacularly fun and beautiful place that almost everyone wants to visit, but sadly, few people take the time.

What You Can Expect:

  1. Incredible unspoiled scenery. These are some of the most diverse environments on earth, from beaches and rainforests, to mountains, lakes, glaciers and even volcanoes. Many of these different natural features can be visited on the same day.
  2. The people. New Zealanders are naturally warm and friendly, and are particularly hospitable to tourists. Every New Zealander I’ve ever met became an instant friend. They all seem to be great people, with a wonderful attitude about life.
  3. Fantastic climate. Although there are four distinct seasons in New Zealand there are not the extremes of hot and cold to be found in most other countries.
  4. Culture. New Zealand was inhabited by the local native people, the Maori, before the arrival of the Europeans in the 1700s. New Zealand today is a fascinating blend of cultures who mingle and thrive in a peaceful yet vibrant society.
  5. Safety. Crime is low in New Zealand and as a tourist you are unlikely to encounter problems. Furthermore, there are virtually no lethal creatures among New Zealand’s wildlife, so you can explore without concern for being bitten or eaten!
  6. Sheep. Not that this is a reason to go, but it brings up an interesting question. New Zealand has something like 40 million sheep. How did they ever stay awake to count them?
  7. Politics. The next US President will be sworn in sometime in late January. Depending on who you voted for, you may feel like getting away for awhile. (Okay that’s a joke. Don’t worry, we don’t get political on my trips.)

If you’ve never traveled with me, we’re positive, open-minded explorers who enjoy new experiences and new horizons. We enjoy getting to know each other, and the new people and places we visit. We make time for connecting with each other. Whenever possible, we sing, and tell jokes and stories. (I’ll have my guitar along, and share as many songs and stories as you can stand.)

Our one basic rule is: No Whining.

THE QUICK FACTS

When: Feb 2-18, 2017 (16 days, including travel) (This group is full. The 2nd identical tour begins on Feb 16 and returns on March 4.)
Where: New Zealand, both large islands
Who: Overseas Adventure Travel (5 star rating)
What: New Zealand Natural Wonders North and South

How Many: Our group is limited to 16 travelers, including me.

Why Now:

  • Unforgettable adventure, incredible photos, videos, and memories to last a lifetime
  • The dollar is strong
  • February is summer in New Zealand

How Much: $4,895 plus airfare *

* There is no surcharge for single rooms. But the number of single rooms is limited to 5. First come, first served. (Bringing a friend is usually more fun anyway.)

* I did not find a better or even comparable price for a tour like this anywhere online. And OAT has a “Best Price Guarantee.” If you find a better price for a comparable tour, OAT will match it.

* Airfare options are many and flexible. The tour company will be happy to arrange airfare, or let you get your own, or even let you compare their best price with whatever you can find.

VISIT THE WEBSITE – IT’S EXCELLENT!
Videos, Detailed Itinerary, FAQs

This is the best travel company website I’ve seen. Watch videos of the exact same tour, the guides, see maps of the itinerary, read reviews, and get a day-by-day account of our activities. You can get all your questions answered about food, lodging, packing, and almost anything else you can think of by clicking the tabs on the left.

Note: the price quoted on the website says “starting from $4,295.” That’s $600 less than our tour, because the tour is priced differently in different seasons. That lower price is for a tour in the winter, when it’s COLD. (You don’t want that!)

Here’s the website: http://www.oattravel.com/nnz17

HOW TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE

Call OAT at this number: 800-597-2452, option 2.
When you make your reservation, mention “Service Code” G7-26633. (This points the agent to the GREG TAMBLYN’S NEW ZEALAND GROUP.)

TRAVEL PROTECTION

Travel protection is highly recommended. It covers you for almost any reason you need to cancel, unforeseen emergencies, medical, baggage, etc.

- OAT has it, or you can obtain your own.
- Some credit cards have travel protection included, so check with your credit card company.
- Also, another travel insurance company has been highly recommended to me from a fellow group host. The prices are great, but it’s not as comprehensive:
https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance

Make sure you compare what is actually covered in different policies!

QUESTIONS?

Overseas Adventure Travel can probably answer specific questions better than I can, but feel free to call me any time: 816-756-0069. If you get the voice mail, just leave your name, number, and I’ll get back to you asap. Or you can always email.

THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST!

I’ll do everything I can to make sure you have the most wonderful, memorable adventure imaginable. If you’ve ever dreamed about going to New Zealand, I hope you’ll join me on this trip of a lifetime.

Thanks!
- Greg

Feel free to leave your comments below. All questions will be answered. If you’ve never commented on this blog before, your comment will have to be approved (by me) before it is posted. But it will, as soon as I can.

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Tripping In Turkey and Tanzania

Here, for what I hope is your own personal amusement, are a few short highlights from three wild weeks in these two wildly different countries.

Although Turkey was fun, I was disappointed not to encounter even one car dealership named The AutoMan Empire.

Tanzania was fantastic, except for almost getting eaten by lions.

TURKISH DELIGHT (Photos below)

For the uninformed, “Turkish Delight” is a candy, NOT a reference to the “Turkish Bath.” (An ancient middle-eastern ritual designed to test your pain threshold.) The candy comes in lots of flavors, is very chewy, and is quite good if you don’t mind losing a few fillings. Judging from the number of places that sell it, if they stopped selling it, the Turkish economy might blow away like an empty Snickers wrapper.

My first – and undoubtedly last – Turkish Bath felt like something out of Gladiator. Briefly: you take off your clothes, put on a towel, then lie on a marble slab that’s been heated to the temperature of a flame broiler. You keep turning over, because your skin is basically screaming, “You idiot!! What are you doing?” You also become become intimately acquainted with every bone, ligament, and body part that is not genetically designed to support you on a hard stone surface.

After that, they put you in a sauna to see if you have any sweat glands left.

When your glands are exhausted, you exit the sauna to lie on another hard marble slab while a Turkish guy the size of Hulk Hogan scrubs you with a locally crafted, exotic blend of steel wool and sandpaper. After every few strokes, he stops and rinses you off with boiling water. This goes on for about half an hour, or until you start to cry.

After that, you’re done.

You stagger to your locker, find your way into your clothes, and return to the lobby. They bring you tea, hold out their hands, and there’s tips all around!

On the good side, you do feel lighter after losing 6 pounds of skin.

Tea is very big in Turkey. The people are quite friendly. They invite you to their shops for tea so they can practice their English. Amazingly, somehow, they ALL happen to have rugs they would like for you, their new American friend, to take home — for a big discount! Sadly for Turkish-American relations, I have a dog who, if given a choice about where to throw up, always prefers a carpet.

The REAL Turkish Delight: Food

My favorite Turkish restaurant:

This is actually a terrific place, owned by a Turkish guy with a great sense of humor. I had two good meals there.

Here’s another one:

I didn’t actually eat here, but I think it’s safe to say the world could use a lot more shops that sell pudding.

Truthfully, I enjoyed Istanbul. The history, architecture, and food are mostly wonderful. Yes, the rug sellers are pushy, but the hotel and restaurant people are genuinely friendly and helpful. I arrived only 12 days after the terrorist bombing in the tourist area, and much of the tourist business had vanished. They were very happy to see anybody, even me.

It was my first time to experience the Muslim call to prayer. The sound is hauntingly beautiful and resonates throughout the city. I especially enjoyed the sunrise and sunset editions.

TANZANIA: BEASTS AND BABOONS (Photos below)

Our two-week group safari had so many highlights they would fill a continent. Here are just a couple.

The Lion Doesn’t Sleep Tonight

(Photo by Carla Meeske)

For five nights we camped in the Serengeti National Park. It’s NOT like camping at KOA. In the Serengeti you can’t leave your tent at night. Hyenas, jackals, cape buffalo, elephants, and even lions come prowling around. One of our ladies (Linda) left her flip-flops outside her tent all night. The next morning, a hyena had eaten half of each one.

* Which makes one wonder: what brand of foot lotion was she using?

** Hyenas are also famous for eating their prey before they’re dead. It’s an experience you want to avoid.

(Photo by Carla Meeske)

One night some lions thoughtfully kept us company right outside our tents. Evidently they were making lion noises all night, but I sleep very soundly. Didn’t hear them. At 6:00 AM when the attendant came by our tent, he gave the wake up call and said, “Lions.” He didn’t speak English well, so I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant by “lions.” There ARE lions? There HAD BEEN lions? He HEARD lions? Lions are joining us for BREAKFAST?

I threw on some clothes, grabbed my flashlight, and poked my head outside. It was still pitch dark, but I didn’t see or hear any lions. I did see the attendant a couple of tents away waking some other people up, so I figured everything was normal. I walked 100 yards down to the mess tent and poured some coffee. I drank that, poured two more cups, and headed back to the tent with coffee for me and my roommate Heidi.

When I reached the tent just in front of ours, one of the gals inside it (Lisa) said, “Greg, what are you doing? There are lions out there!”

I said, “I haven’t seen any.”

She said, “Right THERE! I saw their eyes with my flashlight!”

She meant a few feet from where I was walking.

My first thought was, Well, I can always throw hot coffee in their faces.

But I dashed into our tent, and – strangely – found I had lost any need for caffeine.

(Photo by Carla Meeske)

Zebras To The Rescue

Later that morning we watched this scene unfold in the Serengeti:

A jackal was chasing a baby gazelle. The mama gazelle was running interference, trying to stay between the jackal and her baby. Meanwhile, off in the distance, a hyena was galloping toward the scene. After a few minutes, the jackal did manage to catch the baby gazelle, and killed it quickly. Unfortunately for the jackal, the hyena arrived promptly and stole the carcass. A few seconds later another hyena showed up, and the two hyenas pulled the carcass in half. (Sharing. Hyenas are so polite.) The jackal was left with nothing but a spectator ticket.

Hyenas:
Jackals:(Photos by Carla Meeske)

Shortly after that we encountered a rhino. For a long time we watched him make a beeline toward nothing in particular.

* Which reminded me of me.

Then we stopped for a picnic while some hippos lolled around next to us in a pond. Hippos are the most dangerous African animals in terms of people killed. They look so goofy and slow, it’s hard to believe they’re aggressive and fast. But none of our fearless guides seemed worried, so we ate our meal pretty close to them. (You know, to get good pictures.)

(photo by Carla Meeske)

After lunch we drove past lions, wildebeests, and zebras. One of our guides explained that right after the mama wildebeest delivers a new baby, she walks a short distance away to drop the placenta. That way, the hyenas will smell the placenta, and spend some time eating it before they come for the baby. If the baby has just 15 minutes to stand up, that’s all it needs. Fifteen minutes after birth, the baby can run with the herd.

As if on cue, we came upon four mama wildebeests with four babies. We stopped to watch. Two of the babies were standing, and two were lying down, not moving. But we couldn’t tell if the two on the ground were sick, dead, resting, or had just been born. We did, however, see a jackal a couple hundred yards away trotting toward the babies.

As we watched, one of the babies on the ground struggled to its feet. We realized these were new babies. The jackal was still coming, so we all started pleading (from the safety of the jeep) for the remaining baby to get up. The mama was doing her best too. She kept making come-and-go movements to tell the baby it was time to get up. The jackal was still approaching. And off in the distance we could see hyenas.

Well, where you see wildebeests, you often see zebras.

(Photo by Carla Meeske)

They like to travel together because they graze in a complementary way. So there were a few zebras near these four mamas and babies. As we urged that last baby to stand up, and as we watched the jackal coming closer – maybe 50 yards now – five zebras casually moved into a line, side by side, about ten feet apart. They stood directly between the baby wildebeest and the jackal.

It was an amazing thing to witness. The jackal had to come to a sudden halt. He stood there, eyeing the baby wildebeest and its mother, with five large zebras standing like sentries in his path. There was nothing he could do.

Finally, a couple of minutes later (to the sound of cheering from our jeep!) that last baby struggled to its feet for the first time. We had already seen one baby killed that day, and one was enough.

And one more frustrated jackal went hungry, outfoxed by zebras.

(Photo by Carla Meeske)

Baboon Goons

Later, to top it off, we parked our big jeep at a restroom stop. As we opened the car doors, a mama baboon with a baby on her belly jumped into the jeep, grabbed a plastic bag with some souvenirs in it, jumped out again, and ran off. It shocked the hell out of everybody. Gary (one of us – not a guide) bravely ran after it. And while that was happening, a large male baboon jumped in through an open back window and landed on the seat next to me. We looked at each other for a split second, then he jumped between the seats in front of me, scaring the hoohas out of the two ladies there. But before I could take heroic action, he jumped out the open door. It was a crazy exclamation point for the whole day.

baboons:

Singing for the Masai

Another big highlight for our group was singing a few songs for Masai villagers, and for a school full of kids. It was a ton of fun for us to give them something back.

This video, unfortunately, was shot in vertical mode, but you’ll get the idea.

Singing for Maasai – Video – Click Here

Maasai Kids:
School Kids:
(Photo by Carla Meeske)

More Great Photos By Carla Meeske (Thanks Carla!)

(To leave a comment, just scroll down to the comment box)

grants gazelles and wildebeest:

thousands of wildebeest migrating:

big vegetarian:

giraffes doing a line dance:impala:cheetah on the prowl:

elephant wearing red dirt makeup:zebras doing something fun:ostrich laughing at zebras:giraffe looking hopeful:

Want To Go?

Going on safari to see the big animals is a fantastic experience. If you’re interested, I can recommend a great tour company, and even get you a bit of a discount.

If you’d like to travel with one of my group tours sometime, just sign up for my newsletter at GregTamblyn.com. Tentatively, our next destination is New Zealand in January 2017.

Reliable sources have assured me there are no lions in New Zealand.

Feel free to comment in the box below. If you’ve never commented here before, your comment will have to be approved, which may take a few minutes. Or a few hours, if I’m out on patrol with my dog, the Rabbit Sheriff, who I think is half jackal:


© 2016 Greg Tamblyn

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Funny Shirt Gets Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Note: This is a story of wildly improbable events. A series of many unlikely and good things happening one after the other. I don’t mean for it to come across like boasting. My attitude is more like astonishment. It’s the only time I can recall ever being this “lucky.”

And there is a point to it, which is simply this: the value of friendship.

______

Every once in awhile you get lucky. If you’re really lucky, you get on a roll. Good things start snowballing. It’s like the stars are aligned, your karmic ship comes in. God says, “You deserve a break today. And I don’t mean McDonalds.”

This is the story of my most memorable Thanksgiving. Or at least the most memorable one I can remember.

In 1980 United Airlines had a contest. They passed out little scratch-off game cards to their airborne passengers. If you got 3 airplanes in a row – up or down – you won a free trip. Any class, anywhere they flew. That simple.

I didn’t fly much in those days – couldn’t afford it -  but the law says “no purchase required.” You could mail in a request for a game card, one per day. Optimist that I am, I decided to mail in a request every day for 30 days, which was the limit. Forgetful as I am, I only remembered to do this for two days.

Incredibly, one of the two turned out to be a winner. A free trip! I decided Hawaii was about as far as I wanted to go – and of course first class was a no-brainer. Late November seemed about right. Probably because it would be getting cold in Kansas City, and Hawaii could smack some sun on my Fluorescent Celtic Skin.

Meanwhile, shortly after winning my trip, I met a gal who was a United flight attendant.*

* Another lucky break. In 1980 the Kansas City Royals went to their first World Series. (That’s not the lucky part. They were good.) A friend of mine had two tickets for the first game, and was planning to take his wife, a flight attendant on United. But at the last minute she got a surprise visit from a colleague, and decided that good manners dictate she stay home and entertain her fellow flyer. So I got to take her place, getting great seats (free!) for the first-ever World Series game in Kansas City.

After the game, we went back to my friend’s house, where I met his wife’s friend. (We’ll call her VaVaVoom.) She and I hit it off. I told her about my free trip to Hawaii, and she let me know she was going there at the same time. Naturally, we decided to meet in Honolulu and travel together.

1980 was before airline deregulation, so airfares were higher and the airlines didn’t have to cram people in like sardines. This meant that the upstairs compartment of the 747 was used for what it was originally intended: a first class lounge. Meaning, I had a cushy first class seat on the main level, with all the usual perks, and I was also free to wander upstairs and stretch out on a sofa or play games with other passengers. Which I did. I played backgammon with some guy and won $20.

They also had a contest in first class. They gave you the air speed, the wind speed, the distance from LA to Honolulu, and some other numbers, and you had to calculate the exact minute we would be halfway. The winner got a bottle of champagne. I won it on both flights, coming and going.

When I got to Honolulu, VaVaVoom was there to meet me, along with another friendly female flight attendant. We’ll call her VaVaMama. Also very cute. The benefit of traveling with a flight attendant – at least back then – was they got great discounts on hotels. They had booked a deluxe room for the three of us in an oceanfront hotel on Waikiki for – get this – $20 a night. That’s total, not apiece.

We had a great time for a few days, then VaVaMama left to go back to work somewhere in the friendly skies. VaVaVoom and I decided we wanted to see the island of Kauai. Naturally she had another great deal there, a condo on the beach for what I believe is known as “a pittance.”

This is where it starts getting good.

On Kauai we wanted to hike the spectacular Waimea Canyon. There’s a state park up there with rental cabins, but they’re always booked up a year ahead of time. And since this was the day before Thanksgiving, the chances for getting a cabin were slim and none. But the way things were going, it was worth a phone call.

By now you know what’s coming. The guy who answered the phone said they had just had a cancellation for that night, and if we drove up there now we could have it. We got there in mid-afternoon, checked into our cozy cabin, hiked a bit a bit of the amazing canyon, saw a gorgeous sunset, and had dinner in the park lodge restaurant.

The next morning we went back to the lodge for breakfast. As it happened, I was wearing one of my favorite t-shirts. A green shirt with white lettering. It read:

If God had wanted
Texans to ski,
He would have
made bullshit white

As soon as I got inside the restaurant, a guy got up from his table, came over to me, and said, “I have to have that t-shirt. I’ll trade you my two best Hawaii t-shirts for it.”

Well, today I would trade that t-shirt in a second. I mean, I wouldn’t even wear it in the first place. But back then I thought it was pretty funny, and I told him no way. But we sat and ate with him and his wife, and had a great conversation.

It turned out they had a country band, the only one in Kauai. This was right after the Urban Cowboy craze, and country music was starting to go mainstream. So they had a lot of good gigs around the island. They were former hippies from San Francisco, having lived there during the Summer of Love, and had a bunch of crazy stories.

VaVaVoom and I left to hike for the day. We gawked at more beautiful rock formations than I’d seen in maybe ever. Then, after the hike, we bumped into our t-shirt friend again. He told us they were having Thanksgiving dinner in their cabin, with all their musician friends. There would be way more than enough food, and please come join them.

Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), we were on that like monkeys on a mango.

Their friends were terrific folks, and after dinner we all sang songs for several hours. They knew all the songs I knew, and sang fabulous harmonies. Tons of fun.

Around midnight it was time to leave. We had the condo to go to, but our friends offered us their Hawaiian house down below the mountain, which was much closer. Before we left, they told us that that the bathroom at their house was outside in the back yard.

Thinking this meant an outhouse, I was delighted to discover a beautiful outdoor shower and bathtub in a secluded tropical garden. (More good luck: the toilet was actually inside the house.)

At about two in the morning, I took a warm shower. As the water washed over me, I stood in the salty breeze, looked up at the stars in the black sky, and thanked whichever one was bringing me so much good juju.

The rest of the week was filled with our new friends taking us boogie-boarding, hiking the Napali Coast, and other wonderful stuff. At night we’d go to wherever they were playing, and they’d let me sit in with them.

One night at a bar listening to my friends’ band, I met a record producer from LA. I think his name was Reggie Fisher. He told me he was producing a first album for a new artist named T-Bone Burnett. You may or may not be aware that T-Bone’s artist career has never really gone supernova, but he has become one of the most respected album producers and film music consultants out there.

Anyway, Reggie invited me to send him some of my songs, and later on I did. But he was about 10 years too early. None of my songs was any good then. Still, it was an amazing thing to have happen.

Finally VaVaVoom had to get back to work, so we flew back to Honolulu. She continued to the mainland, but somehow I suddenly remembered I had a family friend in Honolulu. I called and was invited to spend a week with her and her husband. They showed me all the cool, remote places on Oahu. They introduced me to a lot of local food, and gave me my first authentic taste of Hawaiian music.

It was all great fun except for the part where I almost drowned trying to body surf in big waves on the north coast. From the beach it looked a lot easier.

By far the best thing to come out of the whole lucky adventure was this renewed friendship with my old family friend Jane, and her husband Ev. How many couples do you know that are both cartographers? They were intelligent, full of fun, with an intimate, quirky knowledge of Hawaii that made it ever more fascinating. Their only house rule was that as a single guest, I had to cook dinner every third night. And they were good cooks. What I’m saying is I was forced to grow.

Over the years I’ve stayed with Jane and Ev every time I’ve performed in Hawaii. We’ve had a lot of great meals, conversations, explorations, many good laughs and funny memories. They’ve added so much to my life.

Then…

On Wednesday this week, my friend Jane passed away from liver disease. She was much, much too young. I’ll miss her a lot. Jane had a big, generous personality. I’ve never been to Hawaii without visiting her and Ev. I can’t imagine it.

But I’m so thankful she was in my life. I hope she felt the same way.

This week I suggest we take time to appreciate those who have enriched our lives immeasurably. Especially if they’re no longer with us.

© 2015 Greg Tamblyn

* I gave that t-shirt to my Kauai musician friend.

** No idea what happened to VaVaVoom. Didn’t keep in touch.

*** Feel free to leave a comment below. If you’ve never commented on my blog before, your comment will have to be approved before it’s posted, but it will be!

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Wrathful Electrons Bring Smitedown

“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”  (Elvis Presley)

Last month, in the span of one week…

  • My roof leaked into my kitchen.
  • My cell phone called in sick.
  • My TV went on the fritz.
  • My car A/C called it quits.
  • My central air got fried.
  • My refrigerator, including a freezer full of fresh-frozen wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, died.*

* The dog and I ate very well for several days.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Greg, I ‘m not sure I wanna stand too close to you.”

Or: “Hey pal, I hope you’re not injecting some bad juju into my computer.”

No, pretty sure this is not contagious.

I admit feeling some mild frustration at first. But when it all started piling up, it just became amazing. And frankly, kinda funny. I posted a shorter list on Facebook (I was only halfway through the week), and some of the comments were brilliant:

  • The Universe is telling you, you are hot!
  • You’re cool enough without that stuff.
  • Play that country song backwards….they will all come back!
  • You have been industrially negligent. Your sentence is …CONSUMERISM!
  • So maybe you need to figure out who’s messing with you.
  • Are you on “auto-smite?”
  • Can’t wait to hear the new song!*

*New song is in the works.

The Good News:

  1. I was HOME and not on the road. That was lucky.
  2. Half this stuff was my landlord’s job to fix. I have a great landlord, so everything is fixed now except the TV. And frankly, I’ve considered just using the screen for an art project.
  3. My computer did NOT crash. That would have been a sign from the gods to move to a remote island and start weaving baskets.

At this point you might be thinking: “Greg, all that stuff happening at once, have you thought about what it means? Do you think there’s a message for you in there somewhere?

I’m glad you asked. Everything that broke (except the roof), in order to function at all, depends on a mystical phenomenon known as “electricity,” which George Carlin called “organized lightning.” You might recall that Benjamin Franklin tried to figure out what lightning was, then it hit him. Dave Barry has the best explanation:

“Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking.”

And in the last 200 years of human existence, electricity has become critical to enjoying a preferred physical condition known as “comfort.”

“To put it bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land; I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel.” (Fran Lebowitz)

So yeah, there’ a tendency to think: “This is some really weird karma. What have I done to piss off all these electrons? I mean, I wrote a really nice song about atoms. You’d think they’d be grateful.”

But the message for me came at the end of the week. One of my best friends called to tell me he has melanoma. Another close friend wrote to say he’s very sick with something the doctors thought was “tularemia.” But now they have no idea what it is. He’s been in bed for a month.

When our comfort is disturbed, it’s tempting to get irritated, and to disturb the comfort of others by complaining. But when it’s not life-or-death, it’s usually better to find some humor in the situation.

“Don’t get mad, get funny.”  (Garry Shandling)

When it IS life-or-death, comfort becomes most important. So it’s good to reach out for it. Or share it.

And even then, laughter can be comforting.

“A good time to laugh is when you can.” (Jessamyn West)

© 2015 Greg Tamblyn

Feel free to comment below. If you’ve never commented on this blog before, your comment will have to be approved by the head fred, but it will be. Thanks.

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The Call Of (Jury) Duty

Greg Tamblyn Newsletter – June, 2015

“Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.”
- Mark Twain

In this issue:

  • The Call Of (Jury) Duty
  • Insomnia Strategy That Works
  • Fathers Day Humor
  • Expert Relationship & Dating Advice
  • The Future Of Yoga, and More Cool Stuff
  • Upcoming Concert Schedule

THE CALL OF (JURY) DUTY

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am not encouraging anyone – even you! – to avoid jury duty. But if you think you’ll ever have to, read on…

Jury duty is one of those civic obligations like voting, recycling, and complaining about potholes, that everyone should do out of sheer gratitude for living in a country where the government doesn’t spy on its citizens. Oh, wait….

I’d often wondered why my government had never called me for jury duty. I’m a registered voter, have a passport, driver’s license, social security card, traffic tickets, annual correspondence with the IRS, and a yearly dog license. I even signed up for Obamacare. How could they not find me?

Maybe they didn’t like my youtube videos or something.

Anyway, they must have picked up my psychic angst (or tapped my calls) because they finally got in touch.

Perfect Timing

Naturally, they found me at the most inconvenient time. I was scheduled to hit the road for my only gig tour of the month. (No tour, no income.) Fortunately my next door neighbor, a county legislator and nice guy named Scott, was able to get my jury date postponed for a few weeks.

* Scott also worked in the Carter White House, and knows rock star Stephen Stills.

** I highly recommend living next door to Scott.

So another month rolled around and it was time for my date with some accused person’s destiny. The way it works here in Jackson County, Missouri is you show up at the courthouse bright and early Monday morning. Then you spend a few hours waiting for guidance.

The main courthouse is downtown, only 5 minutes from where I live. Or 10 minutes, if you include time to park legally. So of course they sent me to another, smaller courthouse at the opposite end of the county. A place called Independence. It’s so far away I didn’t even know it was inhabited. I thought only hobbits and deer hunters lived there.

Ha Ha! Just kidding. Independence is not only full of regular people, it’s the home of Harry Truman, the former President who famously said of civic duty, “The Buck Stops Here.” Although these days he would be referring to Congress’ refusal to fund infrastructure and fix potholes.

Free Coffee and Video

So after driving 45 minutes across town in rush hour traffic, I got herded into a holding cell the size of a grade-school classroom containing 150 people and chairs for maybe 75. I made it just in time for the free coffee. (Well, they said it was coffee.)

They tried to keep us occupied with a video explaining what jury duty is all about. The video did its work, to an extent, but not because it was actually helpful. Mainly because I thought it was funny.

It was co-hosted by a woman – possibly a news anchor – who was very attractive and elegantly dressed. The other co-host was local baseball legend George Brett. George was “dressed,” shall we say, rather casually. He wore a golf shirt, jeans, and boat shoes with no socks. I think he was trying to suggest that we could show up for jury duty in lawn-mowing clothes.

Also, George – bless his heart – doesn’t live in Jackson County. He doesn’t even live in the state of Missouri. George lives across the state line in Mission Hills, Kansas, a ritzy suburb where even the starter houses cost about 2 million. If you get called for jury duty over there, they send a chauffeur.

This struck me as ironic.

Judge Descends From Olympus

After what seemed like forever, the judge finally graced us with his presence, and began to dispense his wisdom. He tried to be Judge Roy Bean and Atticus Finch at the same time – a tough hombre, but occasionally pleasant. His basic message was that unless you were pregnant, on active duty military, or a surgeon with a bleeding patient, you were there for the duration, and there was no way out.

He made a special point of letting us know that financial hardship was not an excuse. As an example, he recounted how famous baseball player Ted Williams gave up four prime baseball years to fight in two wars. And if Ted could give up four of his prime earning years, we could give up a couple of weeks of our measly, mundane lives.

* He neglected to mention that Ted got paid an officer’s salary during that time.

** I was intrigued by the ongoing baseball theme of the day. I wondered if we were going to sing “Take Me Out To The Courtroom” at stretch time.

Anyway, he let us know there wasn’t much chance to get out of jury duty. But if we thought we had a good reason, he would be in a back office for 10 minutes, and we could go talk to him. A few people got up and formed a line in the back.

Then It Got Weird

Did I want to get out of jury duty? Not especially. I thought it might be kind of fun. Or at least interesting. I’d seen The Runaway Jury. I’d seen 12 Angry Men. I know what life and death drama goes on in those jury rooms. And besides, it was my civic duty as a multi-card-carrying, tax-paying, pothole-complaining citizen.

But there was a problem. A conundrum. I was teetering on the horns of a citizen’s dilemma. And I decided I better go tell him the truth.

So I stood at the end of the line and waited my turn. When I got called into his little office, there was Mr. No-Nonsense Judge Roy Finch sitting behind a desk.

He motioned me to sit down and asked, “What’s up?”

I said, “I’m a musician.”

He said, “I can see that from your paperwork.”

Wow, I thought. These guys are organized.

I said, “The reason I’m a musician is because my sleep habits are so weird I can’t have a normal job. I’m a night owl. Every night I’m up till one or two AM. Then I sleep for five and a half hours. Then I’m wide awake so I get up and work till lunch. Then after lunch I basically go into a coma for two hours. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m just telling you this so when you look over at me in your jury box after lunch and I’m unconscious, you’ll know why.”

He stared at me for a minute.

Then he smiled.

Then he started laughing.

Then he said, “In 40 years of jury prospecting, I’ve never heard that one. Go on, get out of here.”

So, I did.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
- Mark Twain

INSOMNIA STRATEGY THAT WORKS

Coincidentally, there’s a helpful article in the New York Times this week about an insomnia strategy that’s been proven more effective than drugs. You can check it out here.

FATHERS DAY HUMOR

I’ve added new quotes and one-liners to the Fathers Day Jokes page at my JokeQuote site. Also added a brand new page of Dad Jokes & Funny Father Quotes. Go grab a laugh!

EXPERT RELATIONSHIP & DATING ADVICE

My long-time friend, Dating & Relationship Coach, author and trainer Rosalind Sedacca, CCT moved from divorce in mid-life to embrace being single and then happily married for the past ten years. Now she’s sharing her insights and strategies in coaching programs for women and men looking for long-term meaningful relationships.

Rosalind is offering a FREE relationship advice session via phone or Skype so you can share your thoughts, and ask questions about your dating and relationship concerns. :)   Contact Rosalind to schedule your complimentary session at rosalindwrites@gmail.com. (Copy and paste email address into a new email message.)

If you’d like to check out her sites first:
www.womendatingafter40.com
www.mensdatingformula.com

THE FUTURE OF YOGA, AND MORE COOL STUFF

The good people at The Shift Network have some amazing courses running now, and coming up, including:

  • The Future of Yoga
  • The Inspiring Women Summit
  • The Body Intelligence Summit
  • The Enlightened Business Summit
  • The Healthy Money Summit
  • Re-Igniting Your Creativity
  • Activating Your Heart Energy
  • And more

As always, the intro materials are free and extensive. You have the option to go deeper. For info about all these courses, including the well known instructors (Deepak Chopra, etc.) click this banner:

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Below are cities where I’ll soon be inflicting myself, my songs, and my messages on the general public. Hopefully including you. All info about each appearance is at the CALENDAR LINK below the list.

  • Wichita KS – Sunday June 14
  • Houston TX – Weds June 24
  • Kerrville TX – Thurs June 25
  • San Angelo TX – Fri June 26
  • San Antonio TX – Sun June 28
  • Lawrence KS – Sun July 26
  • Bloomington IN – Sun Aug 30
  • Grand Rapids MI – Sun Sept 20
  • Kitchener ONT – Weds Sept 23
  • Bay City MI – Sun Sept 27 (dates still open on MI & Canada tour)
  • Mesa AZ – Weds Oct 15

All current info available on my Calendar – please click the link for times, dates, ticket info, etc.

If you’ve read this far, big thanks. As always, I appreciate your support, and love hearing your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

* If you’ve never commented here before, it will take a short while to get your comment approved. But don’t worry – it’ll happen!

Injoy!

Greg

© 2015 Greg Tamblyn

 

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African Safari With Greg – Time Sensitive

Thanks for checking out our African Safari Adventure!

As it happens, one of my best friends, a very discriminating attorney, took this exact same tour last year. He described it as “the trip of a lifetime,” and something he absolutely plans to do again.

Here are just a few of the things he raved about:

  • Almost every kind of wildlife you can imagine: lions, zebras, giraffes, elephants, wildebeest, hippos, even cheetahs, leopards, and rhinos which are hard to see
  • The people, like Masai villagers who welcomed them into their humble huts, danced for them, offered handmade silver jewelry at absurdly low prices
  • The totally black night sky – millions of stars
  • The food, all included and very tasty (no grasshoppers, e.g.)
  • The accommodations, some nights in lodges, some nights in luxury private tents (real beds, bathrooms, hot water)
  • The friendly, entertaining, knowledgable, helpful guides
  • The tour company, very accommodating and easy to work with

If you’ve never traveled with me, we’re progressive, open-minded explorers who enjoy new experiences and new horizons. We enjoy getting to know each other, and the new people and places we visit. We make time for connecting with each other. On this tour, for example, we’ll be sightseeing during the day. At night, we’ll relax around a campfire where we’ll sing and share stories. (I’ll have my guitar along, and share as many songs and stories as you can stand.)

Our one basic rule is: No Whining.

THE QUICK FACTS

When: Jan 26 – Feb 8, 2016 (12 days, including travel)
Where: Tanzania, Africa
Who: Overseas Adventure Travel (5 star rating)
What: Safari Serengeti Tour (5 star rating)
Why Now:

  • Unforgettable adventure, incredible photos, videos, and memories to last a lifetime
  • The dollar is strong
  • Average price increase for African Safaris is $200/year!
  • Some species, unfortunately, are getting scarce
  • January is warm (76 deg), low rainfall, little foliage, much easier to see animals

How Much: $3,595 plus airfare *

* I did not find a better or even comparable price for a tour like this anywhere online. You’ll receive a $100 rebate if you’re a first-time traveler with OAT. Airfare options are many and flexible. The tour company will be happy to arrange airfare, or let you get your own, or even let you compare their best price with whatever you can find.

  • Group size limited to 18, maximum (including me)

VISIT THE WEBSITE – IT’S EXCELLENT!
VIDEOS, BROCHURE, FAQs

This is the best travel company website I’ve seen. Watch videos of the exact same tour, the guides, see maps of the itinerary, read reviews, and get a day-by-day account of our activities. You can get all your questions answered about food, lodging, packing, and almost anything else you can think of by clicking the tabs on the left.

You can even download a free Travel Handbook with all kinds of valuable info. (Click “What To Know” on the left, then click “DOWNLOAD THE TRAVEL BOOKLET”)

Note: the price quoted on the website says “starting from $3,495.” That’s $100 less than our tour, because this tour is priced differently in different seasons. That slightly lower price is for a tour in the rainy season. (You don’t want that!) Remember, you’ll get a $100 rebate if you’re a first time traveler with OAT.

Here’s the website: http://www.oattravel.com/UNX16

HOW TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT

You’ll see the phone number on the website: 800-955-1925.
When you call, mention “Service Code” G6-26633 (this points the agent to the GREG TAMBLYN’S AFRICAN SAFARI GROUP) to make a reservation.
If you’re a first-time traveler with OAT, tell them that.

TRAVEL PROTECTION

Travel protection is highly recommended. It covers you for almost any reason you need to cancel, unforeseen emergencies, medical, baggage, etc.

- OAT has it, or you can obtain your own.
- Some credit cards have travel protection included, so check with your credit card company.
- Also, another travel insurance company has been highly recommended to me from a fellow group host, and its prices are great:
https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance

Make sure you compare what is actually covered in different policies.

QUESTIONS?

The tour company can probably answer specific questions better than I can, but feel free to call me any time: 816-756-0069. If you get the voice mail, just leave your name, number, and I’ll get back to you asap.

THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST!

I’ll do everything I can to make sure you have the most wonderful, memorable adventure imaginable. If you’ve ever dreamed about going to Africa, I hope you’ll join me on this trip of a lifetime.

NOTE: Check out the comments below from other friends who have done this tour and recommend it!

Thanks!
- Greg

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Made the “Country Boogie” Top 10

Yes, my friends, it’s true. There IS a Top 10 chart for “Country Boogie.” Amazing I know. And even more improbably, one of my songs snuck its way in there.

It’s an older song, but one that got recorded a couple of times by major label artists (Pake McEntire, Becky Hobbs), and even made me some cash.

Here’s my version, and if you’d like to download it for the perpetual enjoyment of your own personal self, you can do that at the link below the song.

(What I Got Is) Good For You

Link to download – Click Here (Scroll down till you see the song title, below the photos)

© 2015 Greg Tamblyn

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The TRUTH about Valentine’s Day

Greg Tamblyn Newsletter – February 2015

“I’m looking for someone who will love me for who I think I am.”
(from a cartoon by Tim Lachowski)

In case you were wondering…

Valentines Day originated a long time ago when Bacchus, the God of Fun, dropped a live gecko down Cupid’s diaper at a drab New Year’s Eve soiree hosted by Socrates, the God of Endless Questions, Hemlock, and Dull Parties.

To get revenge, Cupid shot a love arrow at Bacchus’ girlfriend Cleopatra, who at that precise moment was admiring a pricey necklace / bracelet / nose ring combo sported by Cupid’s uncle Tiffany, the God of Shiny Sparkly Things.

To keep Cleopatra happy, Bacchus got roped into a high-vig loan from Cupid’s other uncle, Valentino, the God of Easy Money and Bad Decisions. Which is why Bacchus started drinking. Which is how he became the God of Wine and Mardi Gras.*

* Mardi Gras, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed, occurs right around Valentine’s Day.

Not many people know this.

In fact, only my readers know this.

Whatever your love status, spread some around this week. Especially to folks who don’t normally get much. As long as it comes from the heart, it’ll do.

“I got a Valentine’s Day card from my girl. It said, ‘Take my heart! Take my arms! Take my lips!’ Which is just like her. Keeping the best part for herself.”
(Robert Orben)

“On Valentine’s Day, remember: the only truly painless way out of a relationship is to be the first to die.”
(from a cartoon by BizarroComics.com)

LOVE SONGS YOU CAN LAUGH TO

You might know this already, but I have a number of songs that – in matters of the heart – go straight for the funnybone. Like:

  • The Top 10 Whiny Victim Love Songs
  • I’d Like To Be The Man My Dog Thinks I Am
  • Common Side Effects Include
  • The Shootout At The I’m OK, You’re OK Corral
  • Why They Broke Up
  • I Have A Tendency For Codependency
  • I Thought I Would Miss Her
  • Proctor and Johnson’s Pills
  • Passing Trains

Not sure I’ve ever mentioned this before, but you can download my songs on iTunes, as well as my website (via CDBaby). You can download individual songs as well as entire albums. And of course, you can always go for the good old actual hard-copy physical CDs, which also make nice coasters if you don’t have any. Coasters, I mean.

If you can use a little love humor this week, help yourself!

Many studies have shown that one of the most-desired traits in a love partner is a sense of humor. The same is true for friendship:

“If you can make me laugh, I will help you hide a body.”
(Christopher Piatt)

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Here are public events currently on the books. For all times, locations, tickets, and more info, please visit my Calendar Page. Please go there first before you email me with a question! Thanks.

Feb 22: Baton Rouge LA

Feb 25: Tallahassee FL

Feb 28: Tampa FL  (Posi Music Awards)

Mar 1: Tampa FL

Mar 6: Tampa FL

Mar 7: Palm Beach Gardens FL

Mar 8: Port St. Lucie FL

Mar 12: St. Augustine FL

Mar 13: Cocoa Village FL

Mar 15: Lecanto (Citrus County) FL

 

Apr 12: Davis CA

Apr 17: Brentwood CA

Apr 18: Hayward CA

Apr 19: Vacaville CA

(3 dates still available on this tour)

 

May 28: Charlottesville VA

May 29: Richmond VA

May 30: Chesapeake VA

May 31: Chesapeake VA

May 31: Fairfax VA

Again, please visit my Calendar page for all info. I hope to see you somewhere out there on the road.

As always, thanks for reading. It keeps me off the streets!

“Love doesn’t make the word go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”
(Franklin P. Jones)

Big Love,

Greg

Signing up for my newsletter gets you 2 free song downloads: click here.

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HOLIDAY CD & BOOK SALE: 2.5 DAYS ONLY

All day Thursday and Friday, plus Saturday morning this week you can save 40% on my CDs and books, in any combination. Order as many as you like for gift giving. Minimum order before discount: $25. Here are a few possible examples:

Grand Design Double CD: normally $25 / now $15

Single CD plus my book: normally $25 / now $15

2 single CDs plus my book: normally $40 / now $24

4 single CDs: normally $60 / now $36

3 CDs plus 2 books: normally $65 / now $39

5 books: normally $50 / now $30

Holy Holidays, Batman! What a deal.

Phone orders only, please. Just call the office at any time day or evening. We’ll take your order and credit card, and ship the next day. (Or if you’re not in a hurry, you can mail a check.)

If you get the voice mail, we’re on with somebody else. Leave your name and number and we’ll get back to asap.

Here’s the number for Thursday/Friday/Saturday Sale:  816-756-0069

Sale ends at noon central time Saturday. So we can get everything packed and shipped.

Happy Holidays!

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Something Rotten On The Way To Denmark

My Danish friend Helen was cruising toward her 50th birthday – halfway up the Stairway to Heaven – and planning a big weekend bash to celebrate. Friends from all over Europe were coming. Three days of fun and frolic, capped by an elegant Saturday night dinner and dance. (Photo at bottom.)

She called me up and invited me to come, along with my guitar and a few songs of my choosing. Preferably to be presented during the Saturday night extravaganza.

“Big fun,” I thought. Lots of interesting, progressive people. A cool country. Great food. Music. Extracurricular activities. And best of all, my dear friend Helen, who I love like a fish loves water.

But I didn’t want to go.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there – I did – but getting there was the problem. It’s a long way from Kansas City MO to Aarhus Denmark. Flying all night, multiple connections, topped off with the usual three days of zombie-like jet lag.

Plus, I was busy with a huge project.

If that wasn’t enough, it was winter. Denmark in December! Fantastic if you’re a penguin. As my old Grandpa used to say, “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.” (He was frequently a LOT more colorful.)

There was an undefinable feeling in my gut that this was not what I should be doing.

But Helen was persistent. So for a few weeks I put her off, hoping something like a paying gig would intervene and save me. But no luck, and Helen, bless her heart, was not giving up. Finally she offered to pay for my ticket. At that point, I felt that if she wanted me there that badly, I couldn’t say no.

The cheapest ticket I could find went through Toronto on Air Canada. Now, we all know that Canadians are lovely people and their country is just swell. I once even considered living there, back when we had an Army draft lottery.

But Air Canada is about a half step up from Greyhound.

All the flight attendants, male and female, looked like they were maybe two months away from the Happy Canadian Rest Home for the Retired and Bewildered. They moved at the speed of dark. Yes, they were nice enough (everybody in Canada is nice), but for those of us traveling back in steerage, they came around about as often as Obama visits Boehner in the tanning salon.

The evening dinner appeared to be leftovers from a third world prison. (Speaking metaphorically here, not from personal experience.) Like something out of Papillon or Midnight Express. I have no idea what was on that foil tray, or what it was in its original incarnation. But I know it had more past lives than the Dalai Lama.

Then for breakfast, they came through the aisle with muffins wrapped in cellophane, and tossed us each one of those. I’m pretty sure those muffins were imported from an Albanian brickyard and cement works. I’m gluten-free and didn’t eat it, so I didn’t break any teeth. But I did keep it – it makes a great door stop and boat anchor.

That was the entirety of the food service.

Evidently, something in that diabolical dinner waged nuclear war with my gut. By the time I got to Aarhus I was really sick. And within a few hours, whatever it was had taken control of my entire body. Especially my head. I felt sicker than I could remember being maybe ever. By the time I got to Helen’s guest apartment, all I could do was sleep, hit the bathroom, drink water, and sleep some more. It was awful.

This went on for three days until Saturday, the day of the main event. So I dragged myself out of bed and decided I needed help. I could barely talk, let alone sing. I put on all the clothes I had, went out into the Frozen Tundra, and walked to the gas station mini mart to get some cold medicine.

But they didn’t sell that there. They didn’t even sell aspirin. “In Denmark,” they said, “you have to go to a pharmacy.”

Fine. I figured out the bus route, waited out in the Siberian Wilderness for a bus, and rode downtown to find a pharmacy. At the pharmacy I got in line, waited my turn, and went to the counter. There was a nice Danish man there waiting to help me. This is how it went:

Me: “Do you speak English?”

Him: “Yes, everyone in Denmark speaks English.”

Me: “Great. I have a bad cold. Do you know what that is?”

Him: “Of course.”

Me: “I have to sing tonight at a party, and I need some cold medicine to alleviate my symptoms for awhile so I can try to sing.”

Him: “We don’t sell that here.”

Me: “You don’t sell what?”

Him: “Cold medicine. We don’t sell that.”

Me: “But this is a pharmacy. You have to sell cold medicine.”

Him: “I’m sorry, but we don’t sell that here.”

Me: “Alka-Seltzer Plus? Sudafed? Surely you have something like that?”

Him: “No, sorry. We don’t have that.”

Me: “So what do you do for people who have a terrible cold?”

Him: “We tell them to go to bed and sleep. You’ll feel better in about four days.”

That’s what he said. I’m not kidding.

Helpful Travel Tip:

Be advised there is no cold medicine in Denmark.

The thing is, on the rare occasion that I get a cold or flu, what he suggested is how I deal with it. I go to bed, don’t take any medicine, and sleep it off. So the one time I desperately need symptom relief, I can’t get any. That, my friends, is irony. Proof the Universe has a sense of humor.

As bad as I felt, I felt worse for Helen. She had paid all that money for me to be there, and although I did sing a few songs that night, my voice – to quote the great Leo Kottke – sounded “like geese farts on a muggy day.” It was embarrassing. It was pathetic.

The good news is I’ve learned my lesson. The next time I have a big decision, I will listen to my head, listen to my heart, then go with my gut.

And bring my own cold medicine.

© 2014 Greg Tamblyn

Feel free to comment below. If you’ve never commented on this blog before, your comment will have to be approved before it shows up. But it will – trust me.

Helen and daughter Freija (now a medical doctor) at the party:


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