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Two Music Firsts: Grammys and Super Bowl

22 Jan

So here’s good news in the music world. One expected. Since the Grammys are all about exploring the present music scene, a new award is always welcome. The other is totally unexpected. And oh so cool. The Super Bowl is exploring beyond their comfort zone. Check it out.

Here’s a really cool Grammy award. It’s a new one. And if you loved your music teachers as much as I loved mine, you’ll dig this news. TheGrammyMusicEducator.1.22.14 GRAMMYs are recognizing for the first time ever the significant role music teachers play in shaping students’ appreciation of music with the Music Educator Award. The first recipient is Kent Knappenberger of Westfield Academy in Western New York – “Mr. K” to his students.

“I think it’s my job to try to approach children in a way that I can try to find something musical in them and sometimes in the kid you think shouldn’t have some musical gifting. If you start looking – wow, it’s there and amazing things happen.”

It will be presented to Mr. K at the Special Merits Awards Ceremony during GRAMMY Week. Congrats, Mr. K! Do you know a great music teacher? The deadline to nominate next year’s music educator is March 31. Applications are at

At the Super Bowl, we’re accustomed to hearing huge popular artists take the stage. At half-time and before the game. In groundbreaking ReneeFleming.1.22.14.decca-AndrewEcclesand truly great Super Bowl news, the national anthem will be sung by opera star, Renee Fleming. The winner of four Grammys and the National Medal of Arts, she is such a perfect choice. If you’ve ever been at a performance or event where she is the host, you know how down-to-earth and gracious this brilliant soprano is. And what a voice! Usually performed by pop and country stars, it’s not an easy song to sing, but Ms. Fleming will nail it. And I bet she will win over a lot of new fans. Hey NFL, outstanding!




Grammy quotes: Official Grammy website
Kent Knappenberger pic: CBS News
Renee Fleming pic: Decca/Andrew Eccles


1 Jan

Change is hard. Everyone agrees this is so. This year brought each of us changes that were expected and unexpected, welcome and unwelcome. We adapt to some. Others we struggle through. Hope gives us the strength to persevere. Friends and colleagues provide inspiration.

Here’s to changes. And here’s to welcoming them in the new year.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Ah, changes are taking the pace I’m going through

Dec13.DavidBowieChangesListen to David Bowie’s Changes


Changes lyrics: words and music by David Bowie (EMI Music Publishing)

Johnny Cash Explains the Hurt

27 Nov

Do you watch Person of Interest? A television show I recently got into. Interesting concept, heroic characters, fast-paced plots. From Bad Robot, JJ Abrams (Star Trek, Fringe). And there’s a dog. What’s not to love?

Question: Can a piece of music elevate and even elucidate an episode of a television show? Did you watch last nite’s episode? If you did, you know the answer is yes, it can. Because it did.

JohnnyCash.11.27.13.hurt.crThe opening four minutes was accompanied solely by Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt. It set the tone and it stated the thesis for what followed.

Revenge, eye for an eye, retaliation, settling the score. The characters suffered a mighty loss in last week’s episode. This week was all about their response.

Healing, light at the end of the tunnel, there’ll be better days…

Sure, there’ll be time for all that.

For now, Johnny Cash is tellin’ you, it’s just about the hurtin’.


I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
I wear my crown of thorns*
On my liar’s chair

Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stain of time
The feeling disappears
You are someone else
I am still right here

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
If I could start again

A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

Hurt: Music and lyrics by Trent Reznor (*changed to crown of “thorns” in Cash’s version)
Johnny Cash’s Hurt: From the album, Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002), produced by Rick Rubin
Johnny Cash Pic: from Hurt shoot

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

20 Nov

I have written about mourning Buddha. But writing solely of my sadness, well, that’s something else. Maybe addressing sadness head-on is the step that leads to healing (read: getting to the opposite of sad). So here goes.

Essentially, I have an upbeat, positive, happy nature. And now I am unbearably sad. As is understandable and expected at such a time. I do know that the day will come when I will be ok. That I will be less sad. I cannot yet say, even in contemplating future feelings, not sad. So less sad it is. For now.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ― Kahlil Gibran

Although I don’t know much about Khalil Gibran, I know he speaks truth TulipEars.b.hi-cin this quote. For what I am sad about is exactly that – that which gave me happiness, joy, and contentment. The delightful creature Buddha was. And who I now weep for. Snippets of remembered pictures appear in my mind’s eye. Especially the last time I saw my baby. For it was a beautiful picture. Thankfully. His all white body surrounded by white down comforter and white pillows. A black nose. And those beautiful big pink ears. Sleeping peacefully. A comforting picture.

“Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.” ― William Faulkner

A recurring theme in talking about the loss of our companions is their shorter lifespans than ours. Yet we repeat this experience throughout the course of our lives. We love them, we lose them, we grieve. Repeat. Would I want it any other way? Sure, I wish they would live long lives alongside ours. But the thing I have always thought, during Buddha’s lifetime and since losing him, is that it is better to have him than not. It surely, surely is. That he affected my life positively, I am thankful for. That Buddha affected many along his life’s journey, I am thankful for, too. So many things to be thankful for. So we choose pain over nothing. But really we are choosing love. And choosing to live. And whatever comes, well, that is life.

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining, Behind the clouds is the sun still shining, Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have found solace in the words and music of George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun and Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken. Their identical messages resound in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem. That the sun is sure to shine again. I know it will. Because, Buddha, you are my sunshine. My memories of you and the beautiful pictures I have of you – those that are tangible and those in my mind’s eye – are beside me now. I hold them close. I have hope and I have peace and one day soon I will be less sad because I have the certainty that your enduring spirit will shine forever. And ever. Amen.


Khalil Gibran quote: On Joy and Sorrow from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (Alfred A. Knopf)
William Faulkner quote: The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem]
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem: The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Can We Get Inspired by the Runner-Ups? Sure!

23 Oct


Shane Snow, CCO of Contently



Flawed People and Underdogs, by Shane Snow, July 22, 2013



What is the Most Printed Phrase in the English Language?

16 Oct

What phrase has been printed more often than In God We Trust and Sanitized For Your Protection? “Close Cover Before Striking” has appeared on each of the many trillions of matchbooks that have been manufactured in North America since 1912.

Matchbook.10.16.13.pepsiIn the days before disposable lighters were invented and smoking was still sexy, paper matchbooks were as common in the average purse or pocket as lint. Matchbooks were not only handy as substitute toothpicks and for jotting down telephone numbers, they also were tiny portable billboards. As far back as 1902, the Pabst Brewing Company purchased 10 million printed matchbooks from the Diamond Match Corporation, and during World War II American G.I.s kept the home fires burning (literally) when they lit up their Lucky Strikes with the elaborate pin-up girl matchbooks … 

Despite the package warning, a lot of consumers didn’t “close cover before striking,” which of course was an accident just waiting to happen. In fact, it happened enough that the U.S. Government enacted a federal regulation in 1978 that required the striking strip to be placed on the back of matchbooks.


Post courtesy of: Mental Floss
Matchbook Cover Pic: Pepsi-Andy Warhol “Close Cover Before Striking” 1962

Yoko’s Positive About Imagining Peace+Love

9 Oct


Dear Friends,

On October 9th 2013, I will relight IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Iceland in memory of my late husband John Lennon.

WWW.Yoko.ImaginePeaceTower.10.9.13Please ask all your friends to join us by Tweeting wishes to IMAGINE PEACE TOWER … You can also send wishes by post, email & Facebook. Tell all your friends. Spread the word!

I hope the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will give light to the strong wishes of World Peace from all corners of the planet and give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion.

Let us come together to realise a peaceful world.

Love is our energy.
Wisdom is our power.
It’s time to shed light to all corners of the world.
Enjoy the trip we make together.

Yoko Ono Lennon
October 2013

IMAGINE PEACE TOWER is a Tower of Light which emanates wisdom, healing and joy. It communicates awareness to the whole world that peace and love is what connects all lives on Earth.

Pic: All Rights Reserved Yoko Ono Official


Yeah, It Works, But Is It Beautiful?

2 Oct

R. Buckminster Fuller was a designer, architect, poet, educator, engineer, philosopher, environmentalist, and, above all, humanitarian. Driven by the belief that humanity’s major problems were hunger and homelessness he dedicated his life to solving those problems through inexpensive and efficient design. So there’s no reason why solving a marketing assignment shouldn’t follow his lead and have an elegant and beautiful solution.

“When working on a problem, I never think about beauty; I only think of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know that it is wrong.”


Pic: R. Buckminster Fuller, cover art for Time Magazine/Hilary Mason

How Do You Write A Song, Neil Diamond?

25 Sep

Five days following the Boston Marathon bombings, the Red Sox invited Neil Diamond to perform Sweet Caroline at the game’s eighth-inning. Returning home to New York, he knew he wanted to do something. So he wrote a song.

NEIL-DIAMOND.9.25.13.BostonCapThe Freedom Song (They’ll Never Take Us Down)  took him about six weeks to write and record. He had a lot riding on it. He wanted to get it right. He felt he needed to get it right. Neil Diamond wrote a compelling and passionate message from his heart. He ended up writing an anthem.

Sold on Amazon and iTunes, 100% of the proceeds benefit the Boston One Fund and The Wounded Warriors Project. The song is a tribute to the first responders, promoting freedom, pride, unity, and strength. What a keen demonstration of the power of music. Can you listen to it without shedding a tear? I can’t.

“Every song is different. I wrote ‘Sweet Caroline’ in an hour and it took me four months to write ‘I Am, I Said’ … This was one of the most difficult songs I’ve ever written. And I wanted to get it right.”

“I was moved by the unity and the attitude of the people in Boston. And that’s really all a songwriter needs, is to be inspired. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does you have to follow that muse and I did …

“I didn’t know exactly what would happen with this song, but I did know I had to write it. So I set out on that creative journey of writing something that would lift people up, lift their spirits in the way that mine was lifted when I flew to Boston to sing at the Red Sox game.”


Pic: Michael Dwyer, AP
1st Quote: Boston Herald, June 27, 2013
2nd Quote: Billboard, June 26, 2013

What Is Fantasy? George R. R. Martin Knows

18 Sep

Fantasy is imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained; and its mental images are especially wondrous, unreal, and fantastic. The author of the Song of Ice and Fire series of books known as A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin is a master of such writing and has something to say about the differences between fantasy and reality.

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old … and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.”

Soundtrack to this post is, yeah, you guessed it, has to be Traffic’s Dear Mr. Fantasy. Enjoy!



Definition of fantasy:
GRRM quote: GRRM Official Website

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