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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Power of One

Rose Meditative (Meditative Rose) Salvador Dali, 1958

“Don't waste your life in doubts and fears: spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that follow it.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Tomorrow is the first day of the New Year and it’s time to meditate on the word “one.”

It is a powerful word that conjures up meanings beyond the obvious numeric significance.

Type the word “one” into Merriam-Webster’s On-line Unabridged Dictionary and you get multiple categories - an adjective; pronoun; noun and even transitive verb.

“One” is sometimes embraced as the deity in whom we invest our faith and beliefs, or something much broader-“constituting a unified entity made up of or formed from or produced by two or more components or sources.” Curious indeed, that such a simple word can mean so much, and in some cases more than “one.”

Placed as the first day of January, “one” heralds fresh starts and brings the promise of renewal and hope in our collective futures.

The video below of the Emmy Award-winning song, “One Moment in Time” written by Albert Hammond and John Bettis, and recorded by American singer Whitney Houston for the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 1988 Summer Paralympics held in Seoul, South Korea speaks volumes about the power of “one.”

It’s time now to ponder the meaning of “one.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Who will light the candles?

Angel of Hope, Sturbridge, Massachusetts - photo by Paula Slade


Who will light the candles

when the children have all gone?

All those brilliant, promising

pinpoints of light winking out

enfolded, enveloped and shrouded

by the velvet black blindness of night.

The once great clock

will still tick and chime,

marking these times

of infinite passage through cosmos

crowded with vaporous voices



but falling

only on shadows of ears.


Who will light the candles

when the children have all gone? 
It's time now, for meaningful legislation to prevent more senseless  tragedies.
Remembering the innocents and educators at
Sandy Hook Elementary - Newtown, Connecticut
Friday, December 14, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

How do you like your news – left, right or center?

“If you tailor your news viewing so that you only get one point of view, well of course you're going to think somebody else has got a different point of view, and it may be wrong." ~ PeterJennings ~

I don’t know about you, but for me, (as an observer, reader and news junkie) this year’s election cycle has been the most verbally vitriolic and contentious in memory. Granted, the stakes have never been greater for our national economy and security.

Most folks have a favorite source for their news coverage, be it traditional print, radio, television or the Internet. Oftentimes however, one source may provide more opinion than actual fact-checked journalism, which is a reflection of the primary model for today’s’ world of news.

On any given morning, I go surfing around the Internet, gathering headlines that appear sensationalized in some manner or SEO (search engine optimization) driven, and am generally able to ascertain quite readily whether the source is opinion or fact-driven, as well as what news takes priority on the world or local stage. For me, this provides a much-needed focus in determining real issues that are based in facts.

An excellent source for gathering traditional front-page print perspectives is Newseum, the interactive news museum based in Washington, DC whose mission is "to help the public and the news media understand one another better" and to "raise public awareness of the important role of a free press in a democratic society".

Newseum features over 800 newspaper front pages from around the globe and stories that are relevant to demographic, regional and local readership.

The only problem as I see it, with reading daily global headlines, is that one gets weary and sometimes depressed with stories that are manufactured to drive media page views for the sake of creating profit. When a news organization mixes blazing headlines with carefully worded opinions and edited sound bites, you have a recipe for conflict without resolution.

With all of that clearly in mind, below are some alternative news sites with stories that are rarely told because they don’t generate top dollars in advertising.  Yet, for several years, these websites have remained relevant, instant and viable in their news-gathering mission, and they bring positive stories, which uplift and show that we all share a common ground in understanding.

The following Internet sites are in no particular order of preference, but all have a unique approach to finding that common ground when it comes to informing the public.

The Good News Network from Pakistan says, For a Change, let’s talk about The Good News.”

Optimist World brings you positive news which shows the very best of the human spirit and helps to show that good news can help to counteract the bad by reminding us what an amazing world we live in.”

OdeWire “searches a network of 102 media outlets” and ”is always looking at the most authoritative news sources for stories that focus on solutions rather than problems, and on positive changes rather than negative ones.”

Good News Network, founded by former television producer Geri Weis-Corbley, offers a free subscription newsletter as well as paid content models, and provides a "Daily Dose of News to Enthuse."

Gimundo is a free daily newsletter that provides positive “news from around the world, exclusive interviews with change-makers, guest columns, and subscriber-only weekly giveaways and special offers.”

Happy News states that they deliver virtue, goodwill and heroism as 'hot news.'”  Bringing you “up-to-the-minute news, geared to lift spirits and inspire lives.”

Positive News from the United Kingdom is a paid membership and “Members receive the print edition 4 times a year, which brings together our most inspiring news all in one place. In an age of information overload, it’s the best way to get an overview of positive developments in the world...”

If these resources are not enough to peak your interest, I have one more suggestion – a video of -The Rumble 2012, which features the unlikely pairing of right and left media commentators Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart in debate. The program was originally live-streamed for $4.95 on Saturday evening, October 6, 2012 with one-half of the net profits from the show to benefit charitable causes designated by Jon and Bill.Topics that were covered are timely and  presented with colorful language and comedic delivery. There are no politicians and no winners, just difficult discourse that brought two disparate sides together. IMHO there’s a good lesson to be learned by watching it, plus you'll be contributing to some excellent causes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Memorable Memes: Sharing some laughs

 Smiling baby with toys photo by Petr Kratochvil

Merriam Webster defines “meme” as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture."

Yesterday, I received a collection of one-liners that as Internet memes have been transmitted via e-mails, and along the way, folks added their own commentary creating a meme complex, which as an end result provided some humorous puns,

There are numerous sites where you fashion your own meme and hope it goes viral via social networks or e-mails. One such online presence is MemeCreator, where you simply press the “create” button at the top of the page, and add your own appropriate pun to the picture of the goofy-looking “Lame Coon.”

The memes below are all real groaners so smile and share. Remember laughter doesn’t cost anything, and it doesn’t hurt  to spread the joy.

-I changed my iPod's name to Titanic.
It's syncing now.

-When chemists die, they barium.

-Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

-I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid.
He says he can stop any time.

-How does Moses make his tea?
Hebrews it.

-I stayed up all night to see where the sun went.
Then it dawned on me.

-This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian
club, but I'd never met herbivore.

-I'm reading a book about anti-gravity.
I just can't put it down.

-I did a theatrical performance about puns.
It was a play on words.

-They told me I had type-A blood,
but it was a Type-O.

-PMS jokes aren't funny; period.

-Why were the Indians here first?
They had reservations.

-We’re going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory.
I hope there's no pop quiz.

-I didn't like my beard at first.
Then it grew on me.

-Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost
her job because she couldn't control her pupils?

-When you get a bladder infection urine trouble.

-Broken pencils are pointless.

-I tried to catch some fog, but I mist it.

-What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?
A thesaurus.

-England has no kidney bank,
but it does have a Liverpool .

-I used to be a banker,
but then I lost interest.

-I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

-All the toilets in New York's police stations have been stolen.
The police have nothing to go on.

-I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

-Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.

-Velcro! what a rip off!

-A cartoonist was found dead in his home.
Details are sketchy.

-Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!

-The earthquake in Washington obviously
was the government's fault.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

‘Celtic Chamber Music’ : Birth of a new musical genre

Violinist Samantha Gillogly with Pianist Tim Maurice photo by Kat Hartigan

"There can be no tradition without innovation." ~ Earle Hitchner, Irish music journalist ~

On April 15, 2011, at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, Massachusetts, a new genre of music was born, in a performance billed as “An Evening of Celtic Chamber Music.’”
The flawless recording was captured live and recently released as a CD and MP3 download, and for my daughter, violinist/violist/composer, Samantha Gillogly, this was a culmination of a dream realized. 

Seeing as today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it timely to share this marvelous collaboration, which features the very talented pianist/composer Tim Maurice, and special guest artists  Roselie Samter (viola) and Zoya Shereshkova (cello).

The album includes 20 lyrical reinterpretations of favorite Celtic fiddle tunes from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany along with Samantha’s original composition,” Mr. Lowe’s Waltz.”

Celtic Chamber Music, is being given extensive airplay on PBS as well as specialty radio stations, and numerous Internet sites across the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain, and has recently been picked up by Pandora for future airings.

The entire album and individual tracks are available for sound sampling and purchase through CD Baby and

Below is a video from the April performance, featuring “Mr. Lowe’s Waltz”.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Take the bus and leave the driving to us…

De Lijn in Mechelen” photo by Vitaly Volkov CC 2.5

“Art has to move you and design does not, unless it's a good design for a bus.” ~ David Hockney ~

After World War II, and the building of the Interstate Highway System, which ultimately opened up new traveling frontiers to automobile owners, a simple one-line advertising slogan, “Go Greyhound and leave the driving to us” helped restore the Greyhound Bus Line’s flagging market share. The slogan appeared everywhere – on billboards, in magazines, on the radio and even the emerging television market at that time. 

To this day, even though Greyhound (over the years) has experienced multiple strikes, mega mergers and financial woes leading to bankruptcies, the slogan remains as fresh now as when it was created. In fact, it’s still fully embraced by the company’s newest owners, FirstGroup plc of Aberdeen, Scotland, who have been continuously revamping Greyhound’s image since 2007.

Coming up with an ad campaign, which is effective and long lasting is not an easy feat. In this day and age reaching a complacent audience sometimes takes more than just a slogan.

Now comes De Lijn, the Flemish transport company that has been providing the citizens of Belgium with safe and reliable public transportation since its founding in 1991, and each year, over 500 million passengers commute on over 3600 buses and more than 350 De Lijn trams. (One would think that this is a healthy rider ship and not in need of additional fares, considering the population of the country is currently estimated  at 11 million.)
Well, as the old saying goes, sometimes you can never have too much of a good thing, particularly when attempting to wean the citizenry off of driving and encouraging the use of public transport. Think cleaner air and less traffic – you can’t argue with that, but how do you sell it? 

Enter a brilliant ad campaign, created by an equally brilliant Dutch animation house, Creative Conspiracy that captures a visual pitch about the benefits of "traveling in a group." (Not an easy sell, but if it's done with humor - all things are possible.)

Thanks to Coolvad’s YouTube Channel,  Duval Guillaume Modem, a multiple award-winning centric communications agency in Antwerp, and the Creative Conspiracy (whose name says it all) for sharing these three marvelous 30-second spots. 

IMHO, each commercial is an entertaining ad and is pure soft-sell genius. In fact, the De Lijn – “Ants” spot has recently been nominated for the Belgian 'VTM top spots awards' for the most popular TV commercials following the Belgian audience.

Enjoy, and feel free to share. These are sure to put a smile on your day!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Advertising with cats: 'Catvertising'

"Mr. Kitty" photo by Paula Slade

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.” ~ Garrison Keillor ~

Whether you call it categorically correct, or a purrfect passion for the pulse of the populace, a very bright creative team of advertising professionals known as John St. have tapped into something very unique in terms of making products memorable, including their own firm.

Based in Toronto, John St.’s mottos is, “We exist to make our clients’ brands unignorable,” and in doing so they count some pretty impressive companies as clients, from corporations such as Tetley Tea and Kraft Foods, to Mitsubishi Motors and Moosehead.

On November 10, 2011, John St. uploaded a video on their YouTube Channel, which has become a viral sensation with almost 1,500,000 page views – it’s titled: “Catvertising.”

According to John St., the video was created, “To stay on top of the ever-changing advertising landscape,” and in their effort to deliver on that promise, they declared that they had, “opened the world's first cat video division. With production, filming and seeding all in-house.”

There’s no denying the worldwide popularity of Felis silvestris catus, better known as the domesticated cat.  One has only to look no further than the runaway success of Lolcats, and Nyan Cats, along with the number of cat videos that are constantly uploaded to YouTube.

IMHO, John St.’s video is certainly humorous, albeit with an ever so slight, tongue-in-cheek delivery.  However, it definitely promotes what was promised.  Even if it’s a spoof,  “Catvertising” has put their name on the map in an “unignorable” way.

Thanks to John St. for this delightful infomercial.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Being a kid again with Debbie and Friends

Jake Morrison Deutsch, an honorary member of Debbie and Friends

“The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.” ~ Jim Henson ~

On Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012 in Brookline, Massachusetts, at the venerable Coolidge Corner Theatre, I bore witness to Henson’s famous quote in action, during a packed-house, live performance of Debbie and Friends.

An extraordinary group of polished musicians, Debbie and Friends takes children’s entertainment to joyful levels, where even parents, grandparents and care givers sing-along, play-along, stomp their feet and clap in time – myself included in that 440 seat interactive audience.

Right from the start of the opening number “I’m Glad You’re Here,” and all the way through to the closing song there was no time for little ones getting restless or whining, as Debbie Cavalier and her band seamlessly delivered an engaging performance that kept the multiple generations mesmerized and involved. At times, it was difficult to discern who was having more fun, the musicians or the audience.

(L-R) Rory McKenzie, bass; Mike Carrera, vocals; Debbie Cavalier, keys and vocals; Bill D'Agostino, drums and vocals; and Eric Saulnier, guitar.
Cavalier, a music educator and author with over 20 years experience, also serves as Dean of Continuing Education at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. She has worked with some of the legends of children’s musical entertainment, which includes such greats as Sesame Street’s famed music teacher Bob McGrath, Buffalo Bob Smith of Howdy Doody, and the beloved Shari Lewis.

Along with being treated to various genres of music, playing a song-version of “Simon Says,” and calling out rhymes with “Rosie,” we watched three of Cavalier’s signature storybook cartoons, helping a rather humorous “Big Bad Wolf” puppet (character voiced by Mike Carrera) blow down piggy houses in “Three Pigs and a Wolf “.

Jake at age 3

A surprise highlight of the morning was the special guest appearance of 10-year old Jake Morrison Deutsch, who as an “honorary” member of the band, played saxophone right along with the accomplished musicians in a number called “Opposite.”

Cavalier explains Jake’s history with the group: “When he was 3, Jake said the intro phrase "Three Little Pigs" at the start of the recording on our Story Songs and Sing Alongs CD. He and his brother and sister (Joshua and Riley) sang along with the chorus parts on that song as well.”

Jake, age 10

Jake took up the saxophone just three months ago, and IMHO his poise and ear for music are quite amazing – a definite name to keep an entertainment eye on in years to come.

Debbie and Friends’ DVD and CDs have won an astounding 18 National Awards, and most recently, have provided a powerful song “Walk Away”, which is performed on an anti-bullying compilation album, All About Bullies Big And Small. The album is one of five Grammy nominees for Best Children’s Album of 2011. The winner will be announced at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony on Feb. 12.

The next performance stop for Debbie and Friends will be at the legendary McCabes in Santa Monica, California on January 22, and then back to the East coast. To keep up with their ever-evolving performance schedule, simply follow this link.

Thanks to Debbie Cavalier and Friends for helping me find my “inner child” again, and thanks to their YouTube Channel for this delightful music video cartoon of “Cinderella,” which emphasizes self-esteem, and is part of their Story Songs and Sing-Alongs DVD.