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So You Want To Be A Songwriter?

Today’s advice.

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So you want to be a songwriter? I have given this refrain to hundreds of people throughout the years; it is my opening line to would-be songwriters everywhere.

Song writing is an art but it is also a craft and that implies patience and practice. Those are two qualities that are often lacking in new songwriters. This business is a bitch and impatience and a lack of fine tuning your craft can only lead to disappointment. Goals need to be defined early on and they need to be realistic. Nobody and I mean nobody  ever sat down and wrote their very first song to see it become an immediate hit.

If you are serious about songwriting, I have a few suggestions:

1. Write from the heart. Don’t let someone else’s idea of what’s important to say superimpose itself on your own voice. Be your own person with your own person…

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Me And The Munk

“Son of a bitch! He fooled me again!”

This refrain has been heard around our house for a couple of years now. As I gaze out my kitchen window, my nemesis has once again eluded me and hopped happily into the waiting forest. Again I think aloud, “I have lost another battle of wits to a rodent with a brain the size of a dime.”

My nemesis? A simple chipmunk who frequents our yard way too often. He depletes the bird seed that I put out for more deserving creatures: the cardinals, wrens and their many friends. He is one crafty little creature. He can shinny up a steel shepherd’s hook, grab his booty and then disappear in an instant.

My wife says, “Make him walk the plank!” She is referring to the old chipmunk dispatching trick of placing a small baited stick over a pail of water. But I really don’t want to drown the little fellow. I just want him to go away and leave me and the birds alone. Is that too much to ask? Apparently, it is!

Let me digress a bit. Many years ago, when we lived in Oregon, my mortal enemies were the 40 plus raccoons that regularly patrolled our property. They would stop at nothing to drive me over the edge. They would try to destroy the wooden shingles on our home’s roof, they would wake us at night as they fought with each other and they did immense damage to our pond and landscaping. Frequently our neighbors would see me out in my underwear at three in the morning as I tried to get the creatures to leave by spraying the hose on them. They just laughed (the neighbors and the raccoons). I would chase them as they dove under our deck. Again, I didn’t want to do them any real harm so I tried a sling shot loaded with chick peas. My masked enemies thought that was just great. As I pelted them in the ass, they would just turn, eat the garbanzo bean and sit up begging for more. I was always vanquished. I never won a single round. Finally, I just moved to Italy. There are no raccoons there.

Returning to the striped little demons that now vex me, I must say that once again I have been outsmarted at every turn and by a mere member of the Rodentia order at that! I tried spraying a little WD-40 on the shepherd’s hooks that hold the bird feeders. The amusement of watching the chipmunk slide back down after his initial assault was short lived. Apparently, most use four-paw drive technology and can go anywhere. Red pepper doesn’t dissuade them either. I have tried to simply scare them by clapping at them loudly. They seem to clap back as though they are applauding my comedy. They genuinely love the sport in all of this and I do not.

Another day has ended and I humbly thank God as I know that chipmunks, like me, must sleep. Tomorrow is another day and another battle will be enjoined. Who will be the victor? I’m guessing that it will again be Mr. Munk and his minions and that I will hear a faint murmur from my back yard: Veni, Vidi, et torquentur.

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Lunedi Senza Parole #88

Indovina dove! Guess where!
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Read my latest novel – Hey, Mister Publisher Available in paperback or e-book.


Follow songwriter Al Sapetello as he takes you through the back streets of the 1970’s music business on his way to the top. Where will the road lead him?The 1970’s music industry is explored from the inside out, exposing both the beauty and the ugly underbelly of the business. Presented with authority by veteran songwriter Allen E. Rizzi, Hey, Mister Publisher will give you a new understanding of music and the people who make it.

There Is A Place For Us

Fast backwards (That’s a favorite term of mine.) I am a newly minted English teacher in San Fernando High School in my hometown of San Fernando, California and I am attempting to teach Romeo and Juliet paired with Westside Story. Back in the day I was an innovative type of teacher, “newfangled” as we were called back then. The common practice then for us newbies was to pair the two in order to bring Romeo and Juliet to life in the modern era.

My class was a typical inner city affair with about 45 percent Hispanic, 45 percent black and 10 percent white students. I was having a terrible time trying to get the core concepts of the two paired pieces of literature to hit home. The class just didn’t get it. After a week of frustration, I hit upon a most unorthodox idea.

I divided the class purposefully along racial lines, a thing that  absolutely could not be done today. I put all the black students on one side of the room, the Hispanics on another side and left the white students in the middle as impartial “judges.” I then thoroughly explained the background of the opposing sides in each piece of literature. That being done, I calmly walked over to the black students and said, “You’re the Capulets. These Chicanos just called your mamma a whore. What do you have to say to these half brown honkies?” There was a lot of murmuring at first and then finally a young man stepped forth and said to the Hispanic group, “Fuck you.” I smiled and said, “Now you’ve got the idea! That’s just what a Capulet feels!” The lesson proceeded as I let each side take a couple of verbal swipes at the other while exploring the motivations of both the Capulets and the Montagues. Without many words from me the class began to truly understand the guttural theme from both pieces of literature. It also helped relieve some of the racial tensions that I had observed in the class early in the semester. Of course the three white students in my class asked, “What about us?” With I wink I replied. “You are like Shakespeare. You don’t really belong to either clan. Count yourselves lucky!”

Over the years I have often wondered if I had gone astray and a bit overboard in my lesson planning way back then. Again, today a teacher could not even legally use this method nor even think the thought. My vindication came some 40 years later in the form of messages from former students on the website Classmates indicating how much they enjoyed my choice of teaching these two great pieces of literature. Several commented that it was certainly the only way they ever would have been attracted to literature. I had made it very real by force. In fact I never received anything but praise for this unique approach from the 30 plus students who contacted me. On the whole, I guess I did well so many years ago.

🎵There is a place for us🎵, all of us. Whether it is Shakespeare in the inner city or West Side Story in the suburbs, we all need to learn the lessons from both of these pieces. How you choose to give or take that lesson is a matter of personal choice and circumstance.

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(No kidding, please read one of these books!)

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The Rhyme Doctor

The doctor is in!

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I probably started liking poetry and lyrics as an infant and I cherished the rhymes that went with them as I grew into my youth and was later propelled into my adulthood. Now that I am an old man, I look back through the decades and feel a great pride for being known as the Rhyme Doctor for so many years. The Rhyme Doctor? Yes.

The nickname has its early roots in my high school years when I was an aspiring poet. I had studied poetry intensely and learned all of the styles very well. While I excelled at free verse, I was always drawn back to the good stuff that rhymes. Though my friends were rowdy surfers and not the stuff of Rhodes Scholars, I persisted with my poetry. My first poems were published when I was 14 and I received my first check as a writer at…

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24 Hour News

This morning’s thought…

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When I was a kid, the evening news (there was no morning version) came on after dinner so that the entire family could be brought up to date together on the state of the world including local happenings. It was actually enjoyable to sit around with the whole bunch and to be collectively informed. The news reporters or presenters as they are called today were swift to the point, articulate and did their job with the utmost of economy. After a news broadcast, you felt informed and even a bit comforted.

Things changed in the late 1960s as the Vietnam War was brought to the screen nightly along with another lying president coming to us live with a “heavy heart.” News started to become a bit more than just news, sort of an endless series of presentations on the same subject intermingled with a large dose of propaganda. However, there…

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Benvenuti a Fondo?

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Sul consiglio dello nostro buon amico di Fondo, ho scritto questo blog.

We live in a lovely part of northern Italy known as the Val di Non, between tall mountains, lush green forests, lakes and streams. Our home is located in the midst of this paradise in a small village known as Tret, which is a suburb of the larger village of Fondo. Having lived here for many years, we have learned quite a lot, not all of it good.

Of the 38 villages that dot our valley, the village of Fondo has the worst local government with the worst services and poorest rapport with its residents, especially those in our suburb (frazione) of Tret. Representatives from Fondo come to Tret very infrequently. Local Fondo politicians do arrive promptly before local elections to pander for votes. This aside, our small village of Tret is largely ignored except for the annual “tidying up” ahead of the tourist invasion in August.

Through the years, we have learned to accept the inadequacies of Fondo and its largely lazy politicians. Our water bills arrive three years in the rears, our electricity often vanishes without any warning and there is a general sense here in Tret that our “mother city” of Fondo simply doesn’t give a damn about us.

Over the years, I have searched for a proper metaphor that best exemplifies Fondo’s attitude. While driving the seven kilometers to Fondo two months ago, I finally found it. Alongside the state highway that separates Tret from Fondo, I happened upon a bag of shit (literally) that some local resident had hurled from their car. It was precariously caught by a tree limb near the pavement and it is still there as a testament to political problems and inaction here.

Not being one to mince words, I sent photos to our local government officials featuring the aforementioned plastic bag and its contents with the following words inscribed upon them: “Nulla dice ‘Benvenuti a Fondo’ come un sacco di merda…. vergogna!” (Nothing says “Welcome to Fondo” like a bag of shit…. shame!) I stand by my comments and hope that Fondo removes this embarrassing monument soon; they need to literally “get their shit together.”

PS – After posting this originally, the bag in question was indeed removed. Bravo!

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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Lunedi Senza Parole #87

Indovina dove! Guess where! (Love the honesty!)
Foto © Allen E. Rizzi

Please follow this blog by clicking  follow below. Your comments are always welcome.

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Read my latest novel – Hey, Mister Publisher Available in paperback or e-book.


Follow songwriter Al Sapetello as he takes you through the back streets of the 1970’s music business on his way to the top. Where will the road lead him?The 1970’s music industry is explored from the inside out, exposing both the beauty and the ugly underbelly of the business. Presented with authority by veteran songwriter Allen E. Rizzi, Hey, Mister Publisher will give you a new understanding of music and the people who make it.

1,000 Followers

Well, that took awhile! Thank all of you for reading my blog. It really has been gratifying to meet so many nice people here from all over the world. Please take a look at my many books as well.

1,000 Follows!

Congratulations on getting 1,000 total follows on allenrizzi! Your current tally is 1,005.

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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Il Cognome Franch In Cloz

Di questo cognome ci è pervenuta una ricerca completa da parte di Allen Rizzi, un Americano originario di Cloz, attulmente residente a Tret.

Franch è lo cognome più comune in Cloz e anche un di più antico di Cloz. Il cognome Franch originalmente descrisse una persona libero delle tasse. Ma, perche? Ricerca recente ha trovato che i Franch eranno originalmente delle classe nobile sotto Charlemagne, Re di Franks (742-814) durante la sua conquista di questa regione di anno 773. Il cognome sviluppò come un sopranome per descrivere un gruppo di famiglie che non doverono pagare tasse sotto l’imperatore. Eranno libre delle tasse per la volanta del Charlemagne. Perciò, noi possiamo presumere che le persone chiamarono Franch sia originalmente di Lombardia e una parte della corte di Charlemagne. Le altre teorie suggeriscono che Franch è un nome ebreo portato a questa regione dei schiavi ebrei di Roma. Comunque, questa teoria non accoppia i fatti di storia in questa regione.

Le famiglie Franch della Val di Non originò nel villaggio di Cloz, ma anche si trovanno poche famiglie in Val di Sole e anche Val di Adige. Prima di arrivando nel Val di Non, la famiglia di Franch era certamente da Lomabardia. Un certo Giorgio Franch (nato 1540 a Cloz) andato in Waldmunchen, Bavaria, Germania. Lui era la prima Franch (Franck) della Val di Non in Germania. Oggi sono tanti Franch (Franck) in Germania e Austria. Immigranti al America spesso cambiano il nome a Frank.

La ricerca del autore ha trovato che la prima persona fondò nell’archivio di Cloz chiamò Franch era un certo Henrigito Franch, nato a Cloz circa 1165. Lui era capo comune. Sto Henrigito (Enrico) è lo fondatore di tutti Franch qui a Cloz oggi.

Le variazioni di Franch sono: Franch, Franck (in Germania), Franke, Franco, Franchi, e del Franco. Ci sono molti stemme per la famiglia di Franch.

(English)

The Franch Surname

We are presented with a complete research of the surname prepared by Allen Rizzi, an American with roots in Cloz currently living in Tret, Italy.

Franch is the most common surname in Cloz as well as the oldest. The surname Franch originally described a person free from taxation. But why? Recent research has found that the Franch family were originally of the noble class under Charlemagne, King of the Franks (742-814) during his conquest of this region in the year 773. The surname developed as a nickname that described a group of families that did not have to pay taxes under Charlemagne. They were free from taxation at the express will of Charlemagne. Therefore, we may assume that the persons called Franch were originally from Lombardy and a part of Charlemagne’s court. Other theories suggest the surname Franch is Hebraic and was brought to this region by Roman slaves. However, this theory does not agree with the historical facts of this region.

The Franch families originate in the village of Cloz but some families are also found in the Sole Valley as well as the Adige Valley. Prior to arriving in the Non Valley, the Franch family was certainly from Lombardy. A certain Giorgio Franch (born 1540 at Cloz) went to Waldmunchen, Bavaria, Germany. He was the first Franch (Franck) of the Non Valley in Germany. Today, there are many Franch (Franck) families in Germany and Austria. Immigrants to America frequently change their surname to Frank.

The author’s research has found that the first person called Franch in the Cloz archives was a certain Henrigito Franch, born in Cloz in about 1165. He was the head of the community. This Henrigito (Enrico, Henry) is the founder of all Franch families in Cloz today.

The variations of Franch are: Franch, Franck (in Germany), Franke, Franco, Franchi, and del Franco. There are many variations of the Franch family coat of arms.

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