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TONI'S
TAKE
- 2008 -

Toni’s Thoughts on Life, Music and Whatever...
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Dec 18 , 2008
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OUT OF THE DARKNESS

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November 5, 2008 -The politics of hate, fear and division has been pushed back into the dark cave from which it came. It will still rear its ugly head from time to time, but we have a fine young man as our president, who, I believe, will lead us with a calm, steady, compassionate hand. This country that we all love so much is now lit by the pure white light of hope. Last night we came out of the darkness and into this beautiful light. I am grateful to have lived long enough to see this.
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I wrote the above thoughts the morning after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. I am sure that some of you were disheartened, sad, and fearful when it became clear that he had won. I can only say to you that now you understand what I felt after the elections of 2000 and 2004. However, this great country will go on because our founders were very wise men. Although our nation is going through some very hard times right now, her people are strong and resilient. We are “can do” Americans and we will rise again to our respected place in the world. I can only ask that you give this young president a chance..... give him a chance to lead. If, after offering him a “grace period”, you still feel he was the wrong choice, you have the opportunity to vote him out of office in 2012. We are a most fortunate people indeed to be Americans.



TONI'S TAKE.... AGAIN

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Some of you have written many times asking when I would start writing TONI’S TAKE again. I have been known to be a procrastinator, but this is ridiculous! Actually, I have been having a very long talk with myself about why I have not written in such a long time, and here is what I have finally decided is the reason..... my life now would not be particularly interesting to most of you. Daryl and I are, for all intents and purposes, retired from performing and recording.
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Retiring wasn’t so much a deliberate decision as it was something that just seemed to happen. After the VICTOR/VICTORIA tour, I was emotionally bruised and battered.... no one’s fault but my own. I made a decision without thinking about how it would actually affect me and my family. I loved the show, and couldn’t wait to tackle the part..... I really felt I would be great in the role. However, I didn’t think it through well enough as to what the tour would actually entail. Once I got out there and started the tour, the bottom fell out of my heart because of homesickness..... I missed my home, my dogs and cats...... and I ached for Daryl’s constant reassuring presence. Lying in bed in one of the hotel rooms in a big city, listening to the sirens and the trash trucks, I missed the sound of silence at night in rural northern Nevada, a quiet occasionally broken by the sound of the wind or a coyote’s manic laughter.
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Well..... I’ve discussed all of this in previous posts. Let’s just say that was the beginning of the end of touring for me. And it’s funny that now, THAT life...... the one I had on television and on radio.... seems like a dream.... like Toni Tennille isn’t me. I see her on YouTube, and admire her energy and singing, but she seems unreal and totally unconnected to me.
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I now have a much simpler life, and it suits me and Daryl just fine. But I doubt it will be that interesting to most of you. But so many of you have written to ask how we are doing, let me take some time to catch you up on what has been going on since I last wrote TONI'S TAKE.



OUR NEW PRESCOTT HOME

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Daryl and I moved into our beautiful new home in Prescott AZ in June. We lived in the guest house for about 2 1/2 weeks until the main house was completely finished. I must say I am so proud of Daryl's work on the design of this home..... the fourth house we have built from the"ground up." We essentially copied the house we had in northern Nevada but made some changes we thought would improve the original design. Daryl had the vision to design exactly what was needed. The house is sturdily built, gracious, open and welcoming.... exactly what we wanted.



DARYL'S KNEES
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We have been going through some rather difficult times physically. Daryl had bi-lateral knee replacement surgery on October 13th. That means he had BOTH knees surgically replaced at the same time. His knees have been horrible since his 40s, but he put off having surgery until he just couldn't stand it any more. We are extremely fortunate to have a couple of wonderful orthopaedic surgeons here in town. Daryl's surgery was done by Dr. Bertrand Kaper (pronounced "copper"), and he did a spectacular job. Daryl was in the hospital here in Prescott for five days, and then came home to begin recuperating along with help from my brother-in-law Frank, who is a nurse. Frank flew out here from Florida and stayed with us for 18 days, eliminating any necessity for Daryl to go to a rehab facility, thank goodness.
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Daryl is now walking on his own, using a cane occasionally. He is going through post-op rehab three days a week, and drives himself to the rehab facility. His tremor is still quite bothersome and embarrassing to him, so he is really uncomfortable in social situations...... even more than usual. The most difficult thing for Daryl has been re-training his leg muscles to support his perfect, new knees. He was using those muscles incorrectly for decades, compensating for his bad knees. Now they have to learn to work with his new ones. It is truly amazing.... where Daryl used to be slightly knock-kneed, his legs are now perfectly straight. Thank God for the skill of a fine surgeon.
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I foresee Daryl's struggling with his recovery and rehab for another couple of months, but there will come a time when he will be able to hike with me again.... hopefully soon.



MY LEFT HIP

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Actually....it will take ME a couple of months before I can go hiking again. A week ago Sunday, I broke my left hip running agility with our dog, Smoky. He and I were running a pattern of three jumps leading to "c" shaped tunnel, with both ends pointing towards the jumps. The object was for the dogs to go over the jumps, enter the tunnel on the right side, come out of the tunnel on the left, and go back over the jumps. I put Smoky in a sit/stay, walked halfway down the jumps, and then called him to jump and "go tunnel". After he went over the jumps, he headed for the left entrance to the tunnel, instead of the right side I was indicating. I called, "Smoky.... here! Here!" He turned on a dime and headed for the correct entrance, but I didn't move fast enough to get out his way, and he knocked my feet out from under me. I landed with my full body weight on my left hip.
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Actually, I was most fortunate.... I didn't BREAK the hip, I cracked the femur. Luckily I have big, strong, dense bones, so I didn't need a hip replacement, just three titanium screws to hold the crack in place until the bone heals. The only trouble is I am not allowed to put any weight on my left leg for at least four more weeks, so I am limping around the house using a walker or crutches. The walker is good because it has a basket to carry things around, but it really slows me up! The crutches are faster, but I have to be very careful while I'm using them. If I re-injure the hip, I will have to have hip replacement surgery...... YIKES. So I am being VERY careful and patient so the bone will heal good as new.
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So, here we are...two injured people.... recuperating with the help of my wonderful younger sisters and nieces, who have been here since I got out of the hospital, and will be here, in shifts, until January 3rd. After that, my terrific neighbors will help out a bit until I can throw way the crutches...hopefully by January 11th.



OUR CREATIVE LIVES IN PRESCOTT

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I am doing some creative things, but nothing big. I took part as an actress in an "old fashioned radio show" at the Prescott Fine Arts Theatre on Prescott Ghost Walk night during Halloween. Although the show was presented live on stage, we acted an original mystery script, written by a local writer. It was lots of fun and was great to be part of an ensemble again. The experience took me right back to my days of community theatre, and I will probably do more of it if asked.
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I also sang (donating my performance) as part of the Prescott Jazz Festival, held in Prescott every August, and presented by Mike Vax, a terrific trumpet player and jazz educator. He brings in top quality jazz artists from all over the country to perform in various venues in the Prescott area. I dug out some of my great Sammy Nestico Big Band arrangements and performed with the big band here in town. It was great, because I was just part of the show...I sang five songs, I think. It was kind of a relief not to have the entire show depend on me.
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I have been doing a lot of dog agility with our 18 month old blue merle Australian Shepherd, Smoky. I always wanted to do agility with Adelaide, but we were on the road all the time, and I never had the time to work with her. Now she is almost 12 years old..... feisty as ever, but a bit too old to be learning agility.
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Smoky and I are also in training to pass the Delta Society Hospital Therapy Dog test in late January. Once we are certified, he and I will become part of the therapy dog volunteer teams who visit patients and their families once a week at our local hospital. His father, Moon, was a beloved therapy dog who worked at the hospital for six years. Sadly, Moon died of a virulent cancer just two months after Hubble died. He was only eight years old. Smoky has his daddy's sweetness and gentle nature, so I know he will carry on Moon's legacy with honor.
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I have just started working on a theme song for our agility club, TOP DOG. I'm really doing it for fun, and to keep myself creative. I am at a stopping point now, because I need Daryl to do a track for me based on what I've written. Unfortunately, Daryl doesn't have his recording area set up yet, and now that he has had knee surgery, he won't be able to do it until he can get up and down from the floor easily (all the plugs and outlets are down low to the ground).
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I can honestly tell you that our touring days are over. Neither of us can stand to fly, especially as things are now. Daryl's tremor embarrasses him so much, I doubt if he will ever appear onstage in public again, which really puts an end to Captain and Tennille, since I will never do those songs without him. He has always been the sound of C&T. There is no one quite like him.
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Now I have brought you up to date. Our lives, I'm sure, are not that interesting to you now. We've gone back to being just regular people...kind of like we were before all the hits. I plan to contribute my talents in smaller ways, but hopefully meaningful ones. I hope to always be creative in some way. My deepest thanks to all of you who have been such great fans over the years. We have loved hearing from you. If you like, I will try to write a TONI'S TAKE every now and then. Mostly I will just write about what's going on here in Prescott.
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I hope some of you are enjoying our Christmas CD, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS. You aren't likely to find it in stores, but all of the online stores (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, CD Universe.com) have it available. In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful Holiday Season, and..... Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
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May 9, 2008
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YOUR BIRTHDAY WISHES / ON TURNING SIXTY-EIGHT / RAVENSTONE / HUBBLE

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YOUR BIRTHDAY WISHES
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Well, I just had to come out of my self-imposed blog break to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you who wrote with birthday wishes. It is very heart-warming to see how many fans sent emails and ecards. Although I haven’t always been thrilled to see another birthday come around, I have always been happy that I am a May baby. It seems hopeful and positive to me to have been born in the spring, when the world is waking up from a dark, cold winter and we are able to open our windows wide to the bright warmth and sunlight of spring.




ON TURNING SIXTY-EIGHT

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Now, as my dear and well-spoken younger sister, Louisa, might say, “HOLY CRAP....HOW CAN I BE THIS FRIGGIN’ OLD????????????!!!!!”
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There are a few problems with being a so-called “celebrity”. One of them is that, since it is often announced in the newspapers or on television, everybody knows when your birthday is, and how OLD you are (unless, of course, you have lied about your age from the beginning).
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If I had my way, birthdays would roll by, and no one would be the wiser, except perhaps my sisters and closest friends (can’t do much about them). I’d really rather that each birthday was just a day like any other day. However, it WAS quite nice to hear from all of you, and to go out to a “romantic” dinner with Daryl last night to one of our lovely restaurants here in Prescott. He actually did his best not to talk about all of his conspiracy theories and negative notions, and he even used his own credit card to pay the bill! That was particularly amazing, since his personal credit card hardly ever sees the light of day.
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Daryl makes the whole birthday thing a bit more unpleasant, because he starts talking about my next birthday about six months before it occurs. “Well, in six months you’ll be SIXTY-EIGHT” (emphasis mine). Then a few weeks later, “Well, you know you’re going to be SIXTY-EIGHT soon.” Then as the months go by, “Hey, you’re almost SIXTY-EIGHT.” By the time I have heard this often enough, I start thinking of myself as a year older than I actually am...... “Well, I’m, ALMOST sixty-eight, I might as well BE sixty-eight.” I hardly get to enjoy being whatever age I just turned. I can’t wait until this fall when he’ll say, “You know, you’ll be turning SIXTY-NINE soon.” Arrrgggg!!!!
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As I am nearing my seventh decade, in spite of eating a very healthy diet, working out at the gym, walking several miles a day and visiting the hair salon regularly, things are beginning to sag, droop, wrinkle, dry up, creak and turn gray. Somehow I always thought these signs of age would never show up, or, at least, would show up MUCH later.... but here they are. I am almost at the point where I say to myself, oh what the hell.... time to cut my hair short and spiky and let it go totally gray. It WANTS to go gray. It has been GOING gray for the past several years! But my damned vanity just won’t let me give up just yet. So a few more years of fighting the inevitable, I guess.




RAVENSTON
E
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Our new house is close to completion, and our builder has promised us we will be able to move in the third week of June. We have decided to call the house Ravenstone, because it is a stone house and because the skies around Prescott always seem to be teeming with big, black, glossy, incredibly imposing and intelligent ravens.
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It will have been a very long fourteen months since we broke ground, but the house is beautiful, and we are very happy with how it is turning out. I can tell you this...... it will be the last house we will ever build from the ground up! You might remember that, in one of my earlier blogs, I told you about an elderly friend who admonished us that we should “be where you are going to be by the time you’re seventy.” It was that remark that made us finally make the decision to leave northern Nevada’s cold, snowy winters and head south to Prescott, Arizona.
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Prescott is a wonderful town, with beautiful scenery, a colorful history and a terrific arts scene. We have been living here for almost a year, and with each passing day we realize that we made the perfect choice to move here. Prescottonians are warm and welcoming, and we have made some wonderful new friends. Prescott is a lot like northern Nevada where we lived for so many years, only without all the deep winter snow and the heavy traffic. One of the great things about Prescott is that it is not on the way to anywhere. You have to make an effort to get here. That keeps the traffic way down!




HUBBLE


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Now I have something very sad to tell you. Monday morning, three days before my birthday, we had to put our eight and a half year old Australian Shepherd dog, Hubble, to sleep.
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In early March, we had to rush him to the emergency hospital where he was diagnosed with a fluid build-up between his heart and the pericardial sac that surrounds it. The Cardiology Veterinarian removed the fluid and then told me then that this condition was probably caused by cancer, but we’d have to take another set of x-rays in a few weeks to see if there was any more evidence of a metastasis.
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X-rays about two weeks ago showed what we had feared most. He had developed a particularly virulent form of cancer... probably a hemangiosarcoma... and it killed him very quickly. Up until a week before he died, he showed no signs of the cancer that would end his life. In his last week, the only symptom he had was a slight slowing down of his pace on our daily walks.
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On Monday morning when I got up, the moment I saw him I knew we would lose him that day. He moved slowly and painfully and his gums were almost white, indicating that he was probably bleeding internally. I could see in his eyes and in his demeanor that he was suffering.
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Daryl helped me lift Hubble into the car. On the way to the vet hospital, I picked up my friends Kathy and Carol (who are also Australian Shepherd owners), and I am so grateful they were there to help me through this. After examining Hubble, his veterinarian told us his heart sounds were very muffled indicating he had most likely developed fluid around his heart again. She also said that it appeared the cancer was causing bleeding into his abdominal cavity. It was time to let him go. I caressed his head and whispered that I loved him while my friends Kathy and Carol laid their gentle and reassuring hands on him. Through the skill and mercy of his veterinarian, he passed peacefully away within fifteen seconds.
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We have lost many pets over our 36 years together, and it is always hard to make that last decision. But almost all of them had been elderly, and because we knew they had lived out their full lifetimes in health and happiness, it was a bit easier. Hubble was only eight and a half years old. But he was a HUGE presence in our lives. When he was really excited, he would make a sound I have never heard from another dog. It was a high-pitched sort of musical trill, that moved up and down the scale. He usually made this sound as he somehow turned his head toward his tail, almost forming a circle with his body, and approached us sideways, kind of like a crab does on the beach. It was funny and endearing, and made us laugh. What a boy he was!
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This was so sudden and so very hard. I still wake up each morning with tears in my eyes. He was a funny, goofy, strong, loving dog... a daddy’s boy. He is over the Rainbow Bridge now with all of our other dearly loved pets, and he is safe and free of all pain and suffering. I know from experience that time will heal, but we will always miss that dear, funny boy.
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Thank you all, once again, for your birthday wishes. Now I’m going to slip back into my blog break until after we have moved into the new house. Until then, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
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March 4, 2008
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A TONI’S TAKE HIATUS | LOOKING INTO OUR FUTURE | OUR SHIP OF STATE

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A TONI’S TAKE HIATUS

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To all of my faithful readers who have noticed how UNfaithful I have been about posting, I must say thank you for your patience. I have been asking myself why it has been so difficult for me to sit down and write TONI’S TAKE, and I have finally realized that I am so distracted by this house we are building, I simply can’t concentrate on matters that, hopefully, might be of interest to you.
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So I have decided to take a hiatus from TONI’S TAKE until after the house is finished and we have moved in and gotten ourselves settled. The builder seems to think the house might be finished in early June. Since we broke ground last May, that is just about a month over the estimate of one year to build. So I would hope I can get back to regular posting in late summer or early fall.
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If you send me specific questions, I will copy them to a list, and from time to time answer them in TONI’S TAKE. I also promise to post any “momentous” news that may occur in our career (although I wouldn’t hold your breath for anything like that).
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LOOKING INTO OUR FUTURE
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I’ve been thinking a lot about the stage of life that Daryl and I find ourselves in. This beautiful house we are building will probably be the last home we live in. Truthfully, since I am 67 years old now, I will be 87 after we have lived in the house for 20 years. This is a fairly scary thought. The house is big, and I have always done my own cleaning and such. I have to start thinking of how I will manage when we become VERY old.
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The first thing I think of is how critical it is that Daryl and I stay as strong and healthy as we possibly can, both physically and mentally, so we can do what needs to be done as long as possible.
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Here’s an example of how we are thinking now. When we worked with a landscape contractor for the new house, we realized that we would have to buy at least a few VERY large, expensive trees, because we don’t have the luxury of years to wait for little ones to grow and mature.
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We are installing grab bars and high-boy toilets in the new home... not because we need them now, but because we know we will need them down the road.
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I recently took an online test, sent to me by my brother-in-law, Frank (Jane’s husband). You answer about 37 questions about your current health, your diet, family medical history, whether or not you smoke, use your seat-belt, exercise regularly, have a chronic disease, etc. Then the test calculates your “Virtual Age” (versus your real age) and how long you can be expected to live (assuming you don’t get hit by a truck or struck by lightning). The test results said that my Virtual Age is 38.1, and I can expect to live 109.9 years. Yes, that’s right.... 109.9 years. If that is the case, I need to work VERY hard right now to stay strong and independent. I can’t see myself still cleaning that big house by myself in my 100s!
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Daryl and I are also re-thinking our “career”. Our life together has always been about music.... loving it, writing it, creating it. The truth is, we were damned lucky to have had the career we’ve had. As I may have mentioned before, a Personal Manager-type who was frustrated by some of the less-than-ambitious career choices we made, told us we had to have a “RAGE TO SUCCEED” to make it big in our business. Well, we have never had that rage. Our choices were all about the music, and nothing else. Of course, there WAS that Verizon commercial we did a few years ago..... but that was all about fun (and we did make a nice bit of change for that).
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I guess what I am trying to say to you is that we have come to a very important milestone in our lives, and are trying to figure out the right choices to make. At this point, both of us want to make music for the joy of making it.... not because we have to do it to make a living. We are thinking about drawing down into a smaller, more manageable, less stressful universe now.
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We are seeing the
music business, as we knew it, disintegrating before our eyes... something Daryl has been predicting for years. It is very sad. But, once again, we realize how lucky we were back in 1974 to have been able to walk, unknown, into a radio station with our 45 record of THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, and convince the station Music Director to give it a chance on the air. You just can’t do that today.
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I have hope, since I am an optimist, that the recording business will find another way to work that will give young, worthy artists a chance to be heard... to find their audience... to make a good living doing the thing they love most. In the mean time, we’ll just have to watch and wait.



OUR SHIP OF STATE

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So.... just a quick comment on the events of this momentous day in politics...... Tuesday, March 4, 2008... another “Super Tuesday” that may determine the Democratic candidate for president. John McCain (who lives about an hour from us in Sedona, AZ) is a given on the Republican side.
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I did receive four emails from Republicans after my last post, so I am relieved to know that I DO have Republican readers. I had hoped that they wouldn’t feel excluded after reading about my political beliefs. We are an equal-opportunity blog here!!
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Right after my last post, we had our presidential primary here in Arizona. I must tell you I honestly had no idea which candidate I would choose, even as I stood in line to vote. I didn’t know even as I stood at the voting machine. I finally just let myself go “Zen” and calm (quickly, because there was a line behind me), and my vote went to Hillary.... almost like I was standing outside myself, watching me vote! Still, I have second-guessed myself constantly after that, and I still am.
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I like both Democratic candidates for different reasons. I also like John McCain as a person, but disagree with him on many of his political positions. As I’ve told you before, I consider myself a Pragmatic Centrist, and I feel we MUST start a change in Washington. I am appalled at what has happened to our beloved country in the past seven years. But the great and beautiful ship of the United States of America
cannot turn on a dime. It has to turn very slowly and very carefully.... like a huge tanker in the vast ocean. But it will turn, and hopefully find itself on a straight, solid, safe path to the future.
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That’s it for now. Send in your questions, and I’ll try to answer them in my next post.... whenever that might be!!! In the meantime, Keep A Song Of Joy Inside Your Hear
t. ( LISTEN NOW...) -
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February 9, 2008
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PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SURVEY | GOODBYE TO BILL BELEW

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PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SURVEY
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WOW!!!!!  I finally found the time to sit down and tabulate the results from my informal poll of TONI’S TAKE readers. First of all, I have to say how incredibly impressed I am with your thoughtful, carefully considered expressions of your thinking in making your choices. I detected minimal cynicism, which pleased me so much. It is very easy to become cynical about politics, and more difficult to try to make the best of the political situation you face.
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Having been around Alabama politics for many years while I was growing up (my father was a one-term State Legislator in Alabama), I understand how easily cynicism can creep into political thinking. Politics can be sleazy and corrupt, filled with “insider dealing” and “good ol’ boy” networking. There is a great deal of “horse trading” and under-the-table bargaining. Still, I truly believe our system of government is the best in the world, and I am proud to call myself an American. It thrills me to see our political system at work.
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Only one writer expressed any negativity towards those who might disagree with her position, calling them “ignorant”. The rest of you expressed yourselves in positive ways, using often eloquent language. It is exciting to a political ”junkie” like me to realize how seriously you are taking this election.
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Of course, most of you mentioned how ready you are for the Bush Administration to go, but none of you used unpleasant language or pejorative terms to express your feelings. Good for you.
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Since I expressed my OWN political leanings in the same TONI’S TAKE in which I asked for YOURS, I hope I didn’t deter those of you who disagree with me from writing. I am a bit concerned that might have skewed the results a bit. But since I am not an official pollster, I doubt it matters much.
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Here is what you told me:
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53% of you would vote for Hillary Clinton.
19% would vote for Barack Obama.
12% for John McCain
14% for John Edwards (many of you wrote before he withdrew)
There was one vote for Mitt Romney.
30% of those choosing Clinton or Obama said they would be fine with either candidate.

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You can see why I am a bit concerned that those of you who are staunch Republicans didn’t write to express your choice, since the vast majority of writers said you would be voting the Democratic ticket. Maybe I just don’t attract Republican readers. That is interesting to me.
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At any rate, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for writing, and giving me such a good sense of the thoughtful, well-spoken readers I have for TONI’S TAKE. I am pleased beyond words.



GOODBYE TO BILL BELEW
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On another note, I want to mention the passing of Costume Designer, BILL BELEW. Bill died of complications from diabetes on January 7th in Palm Springs, CA. He was 77 years old. Bill was most famous for designing those extravagant, be-jeweled, amazing jumpsuits Elvis Presley wore during his “Vegas” years. He also designed that sexy, tight black leather outfit Elvis wore on his fabulous “comeback” television special.
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But Bill was special to me and to Daryl, because he was the Costume Designer for the CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE VARIETY SHOW on ABC, and for two of our ABC Specials.... HAWAII and NEW ORLEANS. He designed all those wild polka-dotted, striped, plaid, pink, lime green and red Captain’s hats that Daryl wore (wonder where all of those hats are now?), and all of the gorgeous gowns my sisters and wore on the shows. He was a gentle, kind, gracious man with a soft southern accent, and I adored him from the first time we met.
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I remember that he used to make trips to Paris, France once or twice a year to buy fabrics that he thought would make beautiful gowns for me. When he returned from one of his Paris trips, we would go over the luxurious fabrics he brought with him... satins, taffetas, peau de sois, silk jerseys, in beautiful colors, both vivid and soft, fingering them lovingly, both of us enjoying the sensuous feel of gorgeous fabrics.
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And Bill certainly had his work cut out for himself trying to dress me. I had HIPS and THIGHS!!! (still do). The ideal figure for wearing clothes beautifully belonged to Cher..... slender, narrow hips, modest bust. I had the modest bust, but the rest of me was, to say the least, generous. Bill finally came up with a basic design that worked well for my particular shape..... a kind of spaghetti strap top, and a skirt that gently skimmed my “problem area” without being too tight. He and I made a few “miscalculations” over the years, but for the most part he made me look about as attractive as possible.
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One of my favorite of Bill’s designs were the four taffeta gowns he created for my three sisters and me to wear on our 1976 Christmas Special. He wanted us to look like beautiful, elegant “Southern Belles”, and that is exactly how we felt when we wore them. You can see me, Jane, Louisa and Melissa wearing those gowns while we sang LITTLE SAINT NICK on the Christmas Special. I will always remember Bill with deep fondness..... he was a wonderful designer and a true gentleman.
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Now I’m off to run all my Saturday errands so I can watch tonight’s Presidential Primary returns while I make dinner. Thank you again for your terrific emails. I’m very proud of you! Until next time....... Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
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January 19, 2008
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BACK TO PRESCOTT | MY TALK SHOW | PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
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BACK TO PRESCOTT
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Once again the days have flown by since I last posted TONI’S TAKE. Since then, Daryl and I loaded up the two dogs and the three cats and moved to our little rental house in Prescott, AZ. Our new home here is about four months away from completion, and we really need to be here every day to answer questions from the builders and keep an eye on things.
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Our little “Chalet in the Pines” seems smaller than ever now, bursting at the seams with the seven living souls in residence. This is because it is SO COLD in Prescott right now! When I let the dogs out this morning, the thermometer read 16 degrees! Brrrrr! The locals say temperatures this cold are very unusual, and I am certainly glad to hear that!
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When we were here from last June through late fall, we used the long, wide deck that runs the length of the house as an extra “room”. I was out there all the time, reading, writing my blog, watching the birds, and just enjoying the fresh air. Since this little place faces north, and is in the midst of shady pines, we get practically NO sun. That worked just great in the summer, when the daytime temps could reach the mid to high 90s, but not now!!!
Still.... .the sun is shining brightly every day, the little gas fireplace is cozy in the early mornings, the house heats up quickly, and we have absolutely nothing to complain about!




MY TALK SHOW
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Quite a few of you have written, asking about my short-lived, 1980 syndicated talk show, the TONI TENNILLE TALK/VARIETY SHOW. Some musical numbers from that show have been posted on YouTube, and I guess that piqued your interest.
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When I was approached in 1980 about hosting a talk show, I was very interested in trying my hand at it for a couple of reasons. My mother was a pioneer television talk show host on the ABC affiliate, WSFA TV, in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s. Her half-hour show was called THE GUEST ROOM, and she was on “live” five days a week, interviewing notable personalities who might happen to find themselves in Montgomery. My sisters Jane, Louisa and I often went down to the station to watch her do her show (Melissa was too young), and sometimes we were even her “guests” if one didn’t show up. Mother was gracious, charming, and funny, and I was very proud of her.
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As for reason #2, I always admired singer, Dinah Shore. She was a southerner (Tennessee) about my mother’s age, and hosted a nationally syndicated talk/variety show for many years, after enjoying a long, wonderful career as a singer. Daryl and I appeared on her show many times in the 70s, and she always seemed to be thrilled to see us (EVERY one of Dinah’s guests felt that way). She was truly interested in people and the stories they had to tell. Dinah’s warmth and southern charm reminded me so much of my mother, and I thought that, perhaps, I might be able to follow in Dinah’s footsteps, since she was about to retire from her show.
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What I discovered when I finally started taping the show was how very, very hard it was to do. Since it was a Talk/Variety show, that meant I had to do at least two or three musical numbers per show.... an opening song, sometimes a duet with a guest, and usually a featured song during the show. Since we taped two shows a day, three days a week (a total of six shows, so there would be some to air during hiatus), that meant very intense musical rehearsals on the off days. Songs had to be chosen, arrangements had to be written, and I had to rehearse, learn the songs I wasn’t that familiar with and have all the songs performance-ready for those three days of intense taping.
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In addition to the musical numbers, I had to read all of the information and bios about my guests, go over possible questions for them with the producers, and keep all of that info in my mind so I could do a fairly intelligent interview.
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As far as my particular interview style, I preferred to have a conversation with my guests, making them feel comfortable and welcome (like my mom and Dinah... and Merv Griffin, as a matter of fact). I was not in that interview chair to play “gotcha” or try to make them look foolish or shallow (although some of them did that on their own!). It is my opinion that you get more interesting information from people when they feel comfortable with you than when you make them mad.
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I had a great band on the show, headed up by guitarist, Ira Newborn, and including, among other fine musicians, Rusty Higgins, who was a member of our Captain and Tennille band, and later on was my conductor for Big Band and Symphony gigs. Daryl made guest appearances as often as I could persuade him to, but he wasn’t interested in committing to the daily talk show grind.
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The band was so good, it made the musical numbers a real joy for me. But there were so MANY songs!!!! I soon found my head so full of musical arrangements and information about guests, I could hardly remember things like my own phone number! Once I had interviewed a guest or performed a song on the show, I tried to remove that data from my brain’s hard drive, but so much of it would remain there. It was alarming and drove me crazy.
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I also discovered that I began to have reservations about what I was doing. I was interviewing people who were usually celebrities... actors, musicians, singers, directors, etc..... who were very excited about what they were doing creatively, and eager to talk about it. I found myself thinking, “Wait a minute. I’M a creative person. I’m a singer. I’m a songwriter. And, because of this show, I don’t have the time or energy to do any of it!” It was a real dilemma for me. In many ways, I loved doing the show. I met and talked with some incredibly accomplished people and sang some great songs with a wonderful band. Once again, I was torn as far as the direction of my career. In a way, by doing the show, I was kind of saying that I thought my own creative days were behind me.
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Anyhow, I was saved
by the bell, I guess, because the show was not renewed. Since it was syndicated, it showed up at different times in different cities. In some places it did wonderfully. In New York City, for example, it was the top-rated show at 7PM. I was always proud of that, because New Yorkers are very sophisticated about their entertainment. After all, they have a true banquet of the arts available to them at all times.
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In Chicago, a city I also love, the show was on around 3AM.... NOT my audience, I think. Anyhow, it was not meant to be, and I actually felt a tremendous amount of relief when it was over.
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Another thing happened towards the end of the show that contributed to my cynicism and distaste for a lot of the so-called reality shows on television now. My show had always been about interesting, creative guests and terrific musical artists, and I loved it. My producers came to me one day and said they wanted to do a piece about a family that had been separated somehow by adoption or something. I honesty can’t remember the details, because I’ve blocked it out of my memory (I do that all the time with unpleasant things... keeps me sane).
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Anyhow, they wanted to have a “surprise” reunion of this family on the show. I immediately had a bad feeling about it. This is probably because I am a very private person, and don’t believe in sharing momentous, personal events like this one on national television. After all, who knows what the participants actually would think about the “surprise”. Their reactions would be tainted by their knowledge that they were on television.
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I just hated the whole idea..... not that these people would be having a special family reunion, but the fact that we would all be voyeurs.... ”peeping Toms” in a way. Still, I agreed to it. I thought that maybe I was being too stuffy about the whole thing. Television was changing, and I was supposed to change with it.
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Well, the “reunion” was taped. Tears were shed all around.... by the family members, audience, etc. I hated it. I thought it was phony, contrived, and I refused to do such a thing again.
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Now, of course, you see this kind of thing all the time. I know the strings being pulled behind the scenes to make it all look spontaneous and real, but don’t be fooled by it. I guess, in the long run, it is just hard for me to watch people sharing their most personal and most private moments with a vast bunch of strangers out there in the dark, faceless television audience. Who knows... there may come a time, God forbid, when we will have NO private moments anyway. But I can assure you that I will go down, kicking and screaming, to protect mine!



PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
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On another note....we are finally at the beginning of the Presidential primaries. It seems like the candidates have been running for years and years, but this is really it. I don’t usually talk publicly about politics, although I am a true political junkie. My father was in the Alabama State Legislature when I was a kid, and I remember sitting in the legislative chambers, playing with the Silly Putty daddy kept in his desk, while voting was going on. I got a very good lesson in the intricacies of questionable, and even “dirty” politics on the state level.
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Today, I am a registered Democrat (Daryl is registered
Independent), but I call myself a “Pragmatic Centrist”, and usually vote for the person I think is best for the office, regardless of his or her party affiliation. It is no secret that I am ready for the Bush administration to go. I was actually ready seven years ago.
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I will tell you that I am not interested in any of the candidates fielded by the Republicans this year, although I believe John McCain to be an honorable man who cares about our country. I’m just not happy with his strong support for continuing the Iraq war.
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I think the Democratic candidates have more in common policy-wise than they differ. I am leaning towards Obama, although I would be fine with Clinton or Edwards, too. Actually, I loved Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, but the people (and the money) have spoken, and they are no longer in the race.
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I am telling you where I am standing at the moment, because I’d like to hear what YOU think. Where is YOUR vote going? It would be very interesting to me to know how my readers are leaning. After I’ve heard from a good number of you, I’ll try to put put together a report for you, admittedly an unscientific one..... just more of a snapshot of my readers’ opinions.
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Let me know if you have any specific questions about my former talk show, and I’ll try to answer as best I can. Also, I have to admit that you are more likely to hear from me every other week right now. With all that is going on with the new house construction, I just can’t seem to keep up a weekly schedule. Actually, I have to say I am surprised and pleased at how many of you seem to be interested in what I have to say.... especially with all of the millions of blogs out there!
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SO, until next time...Keep A Song Of Joy Inside Your Heart.
( LISTEN NOW...) -
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December 25, 2007
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MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS | ET APPEARANCE | C&T FUTURE?


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MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS
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To all of my Christian readers...a Joyous and Happy Christmas, celebrated in the glow of your faith! To all of my readers of other faiths.... and of no particular faith.... a Warm and Wonderful Holiday Season! I hope all of the holidays that fall from Thanksgiving through December, leading up to the “clean slate” of the sparkling, hopeful New Year, will bring to all of you all of the love, good health and happiness you could possibly hope for. And I hope you will remember from this Christmas to the next, the wise words of the legendary lyricist Sammy Cahn..... ”the secret of Christmas is not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through.”
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It is Christmas morning in La Quinta, and as I write this at my little desk in the kitchen, I can see, through the sunny window in front of me, the large terracotta flower pots filled with bright red, pink and white geraniums blooming cheerfully in our courtyard.... perfect Christmas colors against the green of their leaves. And as I do every single day of my life, I think of how absolutely blessed I have been in my life. I am truly humbled and thankful.
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Today Daryl and I are going to share Christmas dinner with long-time dear friends of ours. As my regular readers know, my sisters and their husbands were out here earlier in the month, and now is the time to concentrate on friends... who are, after all, extended family, and just as precious. I am trying out a new recipe for my contribution to dinner today...Bishop’s Bread.... a dense, moist cake filled with pecans (or walnuts), chopped dates or raisins, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and chopped marachino cherries. It is meant to be eaten in thin slices, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee. Just so you know..... it is NOT the dreaded FRUITCAKE!!! If it turns out well, I’ll post the recipe in my blog before the New Year.



ET APPEARANCE

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ET finally aired the segment they shot on us, and before I say anything else, I want to say thank you to the ET producers for including us in one of their shows. It gave us a great deal of exposure for the Christmas CD we would never have otherwise, and we are grateful.
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However, I am now going to give you my impressions of the surreal experience of watching ourselves on that show. To me, Daryl and I seemed like a couple of big old elephants in a room full of darting, racing bees and hummingbirds. It is very clear to me now that television and people’s tastes have really moved on since our heyday. I mean, I knew it, but, frankly, I don’t watch ET or ACCESS HOLLYWOOD or any of those shows. My taste in television runs to news, Public Television and HGTV.
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Daryl and I didn’t know where we would appear in the show, so we watched it right from the beginning. Frankly, after about 15 minutes, I was starting to get a headache. All of the quick cuts, rapid pace, commercials, Paris/Lindsay/Britney/Britney’s little sister/and all kinds of superficial silliness was just getting to me! Most of the “stories” seemed to be measured in seconds. I must say I was pretty amazed when our segment lasted a bit longer than a minute or so... that seemed very generous for that type of show.
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What did NOT make me happy was the emphasis on my comments about Karen Carpenter’s anorexia...... although I now realize that was probably the only reason we made it onto the show. A little bit of “dirt” seems to be needed for today’s audiences. Here is how that happened.
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In November, the ET crew was at our home in La Quinta for about four hours, setting up the lights and camera, taping an interview, taping us performing CHRISTMAS IN CALIFORNIA at our piano, and also shooting some footage of us walking together in our backyard. They also shot some of the personal photos we have in the house, including the one of us that quite a few of you mentioned.... the sepia-toned photo of us taken way back in the early 70s. It was our first “publicity” photo, and we have it displayed on the mantel over our fireplace in La Quinta.
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Anyhow.... after the producer finished our interview and the crew was getting ready to wrap things up, somehow Karen’s name came up. I think the producer and I were talking about singers we particularly loved. She asked if we had known Karen, and I said we had been at A&M Records at the same time and knew each other casually. She then signaled the camera operator to start taping again, and began to ask me about Karen and her anorexia.
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Although alarm bells went off in my head, I thought (in my usual positive way), “Maybe they are going to do a special about Karen some day, and want to store comments from people who knew her in their files.” So I went along with it. It never occurred to me they would use it on the show we were on! After ALL of these years in this rotten business, I am still too damned trusting! Yes, indeed, things have changed, and tabloid TV has taken over.
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I had hoped that my comments about Karen might be used in a way to help other young women (and men) struggling with anorexia and bulemia. Instead, it was used to titillate and tease, and draw in an audience in the cheapest possible way. I am so sorry. She deserves so much more kindness and respect for the great joy she brought to all of us with her beautiful voice.




C&T FUTURE?
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This new year ahead of us looks like it will be a year when Daryl and I will have to make a lot of decisions about our future, and what we want to do professionally in the next twenty or so years of our lives. We have a lot of thinking and pondering to do. Here are some of the things we are taking into consideration as we think about our professional future.
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On the ET show, it was kind of unnerving to watch one’s self “age” so rapidly in such a short piece..... from our first publicity photo (1972) to early TV clips from 1976-77, to our appearance on the GLAAD Awards show back in the early 90s to NOW. Yes, we both look pretty darned good for folks in their late 60s, but there is no doubt that we are now looking rather... ahem.... mature. I see my mother looking back at me from the TV screen.
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This is not a BAD thing.... my mother was such a terrific woman, and so much fun to be around. It is just that, inside myself, I was always that young woman from 1970's TV. Now it is time to move to a much later phase, and be the most graceful, cheerful, MATURE woman I can possibly be. I am thinking that the best thing I can do right now is to pass on to younger people some of the things I have learned over a pretty long career. For example, Daryl and I were thinking about doing some Master Classes for the local Prescott colleges, perhaps passing on some of our performance and music business knowledge to the students.
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Every October in Prescott, jazz trumpeter and music educator, Mike Vax, puts on a jazz festival that lasts for three or four days. The events occur in several venues throughout the town. Last year I had the privilege of attending one of the jazz concerts, which included a performance by a big band made up of Arizona university musicians... I believe they were from either Arizona State University or Tucson. Anyhow, their musicianship and enthusiasm just knocked me out, and took me right back to the days when I sang with the AUBURN KNIGHTS ORCHESTRA while I was at Auburn University in the early 1960s.
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I was thinking that, once Daryl and I get settled into the new house and finally get our music library moved down from Carson City, I would dust off my great big band arrangements, and volunteer to sing and share them with these young college bands. It would be great fun for me, and I think they would love playing the fabulous arrangements Sammy Nestico and Matt Catingub (among others) have done for me over the years. This is kind of what I have in mind... giving back musically in some way.
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I will write more about things Daryl and I are considering for the future as soon as we figure them out!! Right now, I think I’ve gone on enough for now. I do appreciate all of you who take a look at TONI’S TAKE from time to time, and I will try to write more regularly after the first of the year. So... until next time... Keep A Song Of Joy Inside Your Heart! (
LISTEN NOW...) -
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December 19, 2007
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UPDATE !!
DARYL AND TONI ON ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT

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Well, we just got word that ET will air the Christmas segment they shot at our La Quinta home in November TOMORROW NIGHT, December 20th. I am so sorry I am so late letting you know about this, but we just found out this morning. Remember, the segment could be as short at 30 seconds, so if you are going to watch for it, don’t blink!!!!
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I think I told you that an ET crew was at our home for four hours last month, shooting the segment. It was supposed to air on their Christmas Special, but according to the producers, they “ran out of time and wanted to give us more time than was available on the special.” Actually, considering how many Christmas CDs have been released this year (about 3 times more than last year), we feel fortunate to be included at all!!!
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I will try to write a new blog before Christmas. Thank you so much for being patient during this busy and hectic time. Right now we are in Prescott, checking on the construction of our new home. In about half an hour, we’re going to be receiving a call from my sister, Louisa, who teaches second grade in Torrance, California. Her second grade class is going to sing I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS just for us over the phone! Louisa says they just love the song, and can’t wait to sing it for us. This will be fun!
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Until next time....Keep A Song of Joy (and a hippopotamus) Inside Your Heart!
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