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December Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

22 Dec

DECEMBER’S WONDERS

Earthrise.dec2017

Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, was entering lunar orbit. As it was circumnavigating the moon, Astronaut Bill Anders took Earthwise, the iconic picture showing Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface …. And then poet Archibald MacLeish penned the essay Riders on the Earth that appeared in The New York Times on Christmas Day that year:

“For the first time in all of time, men have seen the Earth … seen it from the depths of space … To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold. Brothers who know that they are truly brothers.” Amen to that.

 

WE ARE FAMILY

Mishpocha.Peanuts.gang.dec2017-USE

mishpocha mish-paw-khuh, –poo kh-uh noun 1: Yiddish. an entire family network comprising relatives by blood and marriage and sometimes including close friends; clan, kin, kindred, tribe.

“We’re all mishpocha here.” The Yiddish word is from Hebrew, literally meaning family. Sure, it can be used that way but it can also mean so much more. It defines the connectedness we feel with others. Around these holidays, we show our appreciation for our own mishpocha. That could be our blood family or the friends we choose to be our family … In the 1960s, the Chase Manhattan Bank had a well-known advertising slogan: “You have a friend at Chase Manhattan.” There was a bank next to one of the Chase branches that posted this sign: “— but here you have mishpocha!” … Friends are the family we make. The holidays are all about celebrating our mishpocha. So I hope you, my mishpocha, will enjoy a wonderful and fulfilling holiday season.

 

THE SOUND OF ART

Kandinsky.dec2017.brighter-USE

Look at this painting. After a little while you can see the music. Wassily Kandinsky made a mission of how colors and forms affect human emotions. Known for his lyrical style, he was interested in the relationship between art and classical music and painted the visual equivalent of writing a symphony. Inspired by a performance of Wagner’s Lohengrin, Kandinsky used colors and shapes to evoke sounds. He even named his paintings as if they were musical pieces, such as Composition 8 (in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection). Kandinsky believed that abstract colors and forms can be used to express the “inner life” of the artist. He was born on December 16, 1866 in Moscow, Russia and died December 13, 1944 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. December is a good time to honor this truly musical artist.

 

SO WHAT!

So.dec2017-USE

so sō/ Adverb 1. to such a great extent. 2. to the same extent (used in comparisons). Conjunction 1. and for this reason; therefore. 2. with the aim that; in order that.

So I was wondering, have you noticed that it seems everybody is starting their sentences with “So”? We’re not talking about the dictionary’s description. In fact it’s so prevalent that it’s being called a linguistic epidemic. An epidemic? But it only has two letters! Pay attention and you’ll hear experts on the morning shows start their answers with it. Is it a tactic to buy time to think up an answer? Or is the person conveying that what they have to say is particularly important so you should pay attention? Perhaps it’s a signal that the interviewee is uncomfortable with the topic or the questions being asked. In a well-known interview with the New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg managed to use “So” to start four sentences in just one response! … This verbal tic and its gratuitous use is just plain annoying. There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to collect your thoughts and then answer the question. It is true that “So” helps start a conversation in an agreeable tone. Hey, comics and storytellers use it to warm up their audience all the time. But consider this. It is possible that its use in this way is ungrammatical or incorrect, but that’s not really it. What is it but a cultural change over time in colloquial speech. One that is growing, encouraged by the next generation, and eventually it will become the norm. Oh! And don’t get me started on its use in place of a period at the end of a sentence, with the person’s voice trailing off. As if there was something more to be said but there really isn’t. That, too, is very annoying.

 

CHEWIE COME! GOOD BOY

Chewbacca.dec2017-USE

Did you know that the inspiration for Star Wars’ Chewbacca was a dog? According to George Lucas, the lovable Wookiee is based on his Alaskan Malamute, Indiana. “…And when I’d drive around, she’d sit in the front seat. Having her with me all the time inspired me to give Han Solo a sidekick who was like a big, furry dog.” …  The name Chewbacca is actually a derivation of sobaka, the Russian word for dog. The character was envisioned as a mix between a monkey and a dog, and his voice comes from bear vocalizations mixed with lions, badgers, camels, rabbits, and walruses. As Han Solo’s best and most loyal friend, the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon sure seems like a dog! (Note: Yeah, that’s right, George Lucas named Indiana Jones after his dog.)

 

DOG NEWS

DogNews.CanaanDog.dec2017

Could these be the oldest images of dogs as hunting companions? Researchers have discovered cave art in Saudi Arabia that dates back thousands of years and possibly shows hunters leading dogs on leashes.  The modern day Canaan breed of dog (top) seems to resemble the ancient hunting dogs of Saudi Arabia (bottom). The image of a man ready to shoot an arrow with dogs tied to him (being led on leashes?) by his side shows their use as hunting partners. If in fact it is proven that these engravings date back to 9,000 or 8,000 B.C., it could possibly show the world’s first images of dogs. But the Smithsonian Institute Museum of Natural History’s archaeozoologists think that the Arabian Desert cave art might be from 5,000 B.C., when physical evidence of pastoralism was first documented. Dogs were domesticated during the Neolithic period as dog bones dating back roughly ten thousand years were found where humans settled. But it’s more likely that dog domestication was furthered by humans who benefitted from hunting with them. So we can conclude two things: that our emotional attachment to these amiable creatures goes back a long, long time; and that my own companion, Barkley, will still never come when I call him.

 

ENDNOTE: WILLIE NELSON

EndNote.blessings.dec2017

“When I started counting my blessings,
my whole life turned around.”

 

WE CAN HELP

CREDIT: Barry G. Schwartz

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and today, is one of the largest in the world. Its mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” This includes animal rescues, adoptions, working with the government on animal protection laws, and so much more. The end of the year is an opportune time to consider making a donation so they may continue to help animals.

Soundtrack to this Issue

Soundtrack.TPMarquee.dec2017.blurry-USE

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Runnin’ Down a Dream

It seems to me the perfect thing to do is to end the year with Tom Petty singing about his dreams of endless possibilities. Watch the video of this live performance. Then listen to the glorious ovation the band gets as they walk off the stage. I figure the sound of all those people clapping and shouting can be our own everlasting salute to a positive spirit whose enduring music lives on. You are wrapping up our year, TP. May you still be driving into the great wide open looking for something good down the road!

 C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin’
Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway
I was flyin’ 

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream 

I felt so good like anything was possible
I hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes
The last three days the rain was unstoppable
It was always cold, no sunshine 

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream 

I rolled on as the sky grew dark
I put the pedal down to make some time
There’s something good waitin’ down this road
I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine 

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

 

 

 

Who rescued whom?KEEP-YP+BarkleySo grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l
KEEP-Buddha“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
Earthrise pic: Earthrise, December 24, 1968, NASA
Archibald MacLeish essay quote: Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth by Robert Poole
George Lucas quote: Wookieepedia
Dog News pic: Science Magazine, November 2017
Dog News facts: National Geographic
ASPCA pic: ASPCA puppies adopted in cardboard boxes, 1970’s
Tom Petty lyrics: Jeff Lynne, Michael Campbell, Tom Petty ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

December 22, 2017
All Rights Reserved

September Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

27 Sep

SEPTEMBER FULL OF HOPE

helloseptember-sept2016“The breezes taste of apple peel. The air is full of smells to feel. Ripe fruit, old footballs, burning brush, new books, erasers, chalk, and such. The bee, his hive, well-honeyed hum, and Mother cuts chrysanthemums. Like plates washed clean with suds, the days are polished with a morning haze.” (John Updike, September)

HOPE EVERLASTING

911lights-sept2016

“We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we are still each other’s only hope,” James Baldwin said to Margaret Mead in a historic public conversation in New York City, August 25, 1970 … The twin beams of light emitted each September 11, as transcendental as any symbol of remembrance can ever be, depicts the timeless hope of which James Baldwin speaks.

ROCK STAR!

freddiemercuryasteroid-sept2016-2-use“A shooting star leaping through the sky, Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity…Burnin’ through the sky yeah” … An asteroid has been named after Freddie Mercury to honor what would have been his 70th birthday. Asteroid “Freddiemercury” is “burnin’ through the sky” in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Per Brian May, Queen’s lead guitarist as well as an astrophysicist, “It’s just a dot of light but it’s a very special dot of light and maybe one day we’ll get there.”

BREAKFAST IN AMERICA

pancakesinparis-sept2016
Former Hollywood screenwriter Craig Carlson, with no restaurant experience, recounts his dream of opening an American diner in Paris, Breakfast in America, and turning it into a popular restaurant chain in the heart of Paris.

“After a year in France, I was dying for a good ol’ American breakfast. [Back in LA] I ordered a ham steak, scrambled eggs, home-fried potatoes, and buckwheat pancakes. I stared at it wide-eyed and said, ‘Oh my God, this is the one thing I missed when I was in Paris!’ At that instant a year’s worth of eating French breakfasts replayed before my eyes. But the problem was that every breakfast was exactly the same. Croissants and pains au chocolat, croissants and pains au chocolat. I stared down at my pancakes…my heart racing as I repeated the phrase: ‘The one thing I missed in Paris’…I knew exactly what I wanted to do: open an American diner in Paris! I even knew what I was going to call it: Breakfast in America.”

KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S GATE?

dylangate-sept2016Did you know that Bob Dylan liked to sculpt enormous iron gates? Yes, it’s true. After all, he was born and raised in iron ore country in Minnesota. He just built a 26×15-foot iron gateway for the MGM National Harbor casino in Maryland. Called Portal, it incorporates found objects, farm equipment, kitchen utensils, and tools … Per Dylan: “Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed, but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways, there is no difference.” Whoa, that is so Dylan.

WHEN BAD ADVERTISING HAPPENS TO THE ARTS

wellsfargo-nea-sept2016Here’s a real head-scratcher. Seems that the Wells Fargo financial services company thought this was a good idea. Picture this. A smiling young woman with the caption: “A ballerina yesterday. An engineer today.” And the tag line: “Let’s get them ready for tomorrow.” Although they were taken to task for this tasteless ad campaign that they subsequently abandoned, how was it ever approved? The arts and those who choose to be artists are to be cherished, enjoyed, and encouraged. Hey, Wells Fargo, learn something about the arts from the National Endowment for the Arts and put aside some ad dollars for a donation. It’s the arts that fulfill promises and make life grand.

FULL OF AWE

awesome-sept2016-newsWords enable us to communicate with each other. What powerful tools they are! But changes in language and in people, including interpretation, people adapting language to fit their needs, societal changes, and shifting pronunciations, affect the meaning of a word over time. Let’s look at the evolution of the word awful: In Shakespeare’s time awful had the complimentary meaning of “full of awe.With the suffix –ful, awful means having the quality of awe. Its meanings include being worthy of, commanding profound respect or reverential fear, which may have led it to mean causing dread. So over the centuries, awful took on a negative quality – frightful, ugly, monstrous. Then awful was eventually replaced with today’s positive awesome. Note that the suffix -some is basically the same as –ful in its meaning. Since awful had such a strong negative connotation, awesome was used meaning “awe-inspiring” without the negativity. By the mid-1900s awesome went from awe-inspiring to its ubiquitous use today meaning amazing. Okay, so awesome may have reached its cultural saturation point, but its history is nonetheless awesome, right?

TRIUMPHANT NEW MUSEUM!

blackmuseum-baldwinquote-crA new major museum is always worth celebrating! Just opened is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in the heart of Washington DC. Its very design is crucial to the story it tells. From its lowest floor depicting the history of slavery, each ascending floor follows the journey to the civil rights movement and up to “A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond” and President Obama’s inauguration.

…AND THE BEATLES’ CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY

eightdaysaweek-sept2016In the new documentary, Eight Days a Week, director Ron Howard examines the Beatles’ touring years. Of note, we learn that in 1964 when they reached the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL, seats were segregated. They refused to perform until the venue was integrated, gaining a victory for civil rights. “We played to people. We didn’t play to those people or that people – we just played to people,” so said Ringo.

ROCK RELICS DO GOOD!

maxskcauction-bruce-sept2016Cool pic of The Boss, right? Unless you’ve read Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin’s High On Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max’s Kansas City (see May 2016 Newsletter), you’ve never seen it. Taken upstairs at Max’s Kansas City backstage by Lily Hou in 1973, it was one of many great items up for auction to benefit Yvonne’s arts non-profit, Max’s Kansas City Project, which provides artists grants of emergency relief for housing, medical, and legal aid.

DOG NEWS

dognews-911dogs-sept2016Barkley’s incredible veterinarian Dr. Amy Attas (as well as Buddha’s and Skeffington’s!) volunteered to care for the heroic rescue dogs at ground zero. Dr. Attas and her colleagues listened to the handlers while their dogs were being treated for cuts, burns, and dehydration, prompting the vets to ask psychologists to sit with them. “A lot of the handlers told us that their dogs were really depressed, because they were search and rescue dogs and they weren’t finding anybody,” Dr. Attas told NBC News.

WE CAN HELP

9-11stairs-sept2016The Vesey Street stairs, on site at the 911 Memorial Museum and now known as Survivors’ Stairway, is the sole remainder above ground of the World Trade Center. Gazing at it, one visualizes all those people running down them seeking safety and escape with fervent hope that they make it out. The 9/11 Memorial Museum documents the impact of 9/11 and explores its continuing significance. There we bear witness to a collection of artifacts that remind us of the people we lost and the brave souls that heroically went in to help, to save, to do their job. It is a place of commemoration.  Make a monetary donation or you can make a contribution to the collection such as pics, videos, voice messages, personal effects, workplace objects, and diaries.

wecanhelp2-doghope-aacr-sept-2016Fact: Animals have a positive effect in helping people cope with traumatic events. HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response teams have been responding to crises and disasters since 2001, when they sent specially trained handlers and their dogs to provide comfort at ground zero in NYC. They calmed survivors and helped first responders and other workers relax and talk about their experiences, just as you see Tikva here at work. HOPE has since responded to major hurricanes, wildfires, train derailments, and school shootings. An all-volunteer organization, your donation helps them continue training and certifying new crisis teams.

Soundtrack to this Issuesoundtrack-highhopes-teleBruce Springsteen’s High Hopes

Happy Birthday to the Boss. And what a way to celebrate. Four hour concerts! A book! A book tour! A new album! … Along with his captivating, candid, and poignant memoir, Born to Run, is a compilation album Chapter and Verse which features 18 songs that reflect the themes and sections of the book and includes five unreleased songs … High hopes is surely what we are feeling, so here’s the title track from the High Hopes album:

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

Give me help, give me strength
Give a soul a night of fearless sleep
Give me love, give me peace
Don’t you know these days you pay for everything 

Got high hopes
I got high hopes
Got high hopes
I got high hopes

Who rescued whom?
Barkley+Mom.Tartan.IMG_0587.cr.Apr2016
At the New York Tartan Day Parade.
So grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l
IMGP2541.cr.newsltr
“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
James Baldwin quote: A Rap on Race (J. B. Lippincott; 1st edition, 1971)
Freddy Mercury lyrics: Don’t Stop Me Now by Freddie Mercury ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Brian May quote: The Guardian, September 5, 2016
Book quote: Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson Page 42 ©2016 Sourcebooks
Dylan’s gate pic and quote: Forbes, September 7, 2016
Dr. Amy Attas, DVM quote: NBC News/New York, September 11, 2016
Tikva at Ground Zero, NYC, 2001 pic: HOPEaacr.org
Soundtrack High Hopes lyrics: Timothy Scott McConnell ©Universal Music Publishing Group

December Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

23 Dec

DECEMBER WISHES

 HappyHolidays.1.Dec2015

HOPE

Hope.DalaiLama.Optimistic.Dec2015As we wind down the year, I wish you a new year filled with kindness and friendship, love and joy, and peace and prosperity.

JOY

OliverSacks.ArtsQuote.cr-use“I started working with Oliver Sacks on a music therapy program called the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. Up until I started working with him, I had thought that music was a nice thing that I enjoyed and liked making, but it wasn’t a serious healing modality. What Dr. Sacks has proven is that music is actually a quantifiable, profound healing modality. I think that’s true for a lot of these other things that are joyful and expansive. On a very literal level, they are incredibly healing, they promote neurogenesis, they’re good for our immune systems, yet we sometimes ignore them.” (Moby)

GRATITUDE (PART ONE)

Grateful.Proust.Dec2015“My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return … Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” (Oliver Sacks)

GRATITUDE (PART TWO)

EaglesDeathMetal+U2.Dec2015“We want to offer our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for everything our brothers in U2 did for us in the aftermath of the November 13 attacks. They reminded us that the bad guys never take a day off, and therefore we rock ’n rollers cannot either … We are incredibly grateful to U2 for providing us the opportunity to return to Paris so quickly, and to share in the healing power of rock ‘n roll with so many of the beautiful people – nos amis – of this great city … and thank you to everyone in the world who continues to prove that love, joy, and music will always overcome terror and evil.” (Eagles of Death Metal)

PEACE + LOVE

JohnLennon.bdayOct9.Dec2015“If someone thinks that love and peace are a cliché that must have been left behind in the sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.” (John Lennon)

DOG NEWSMoby.Dec2015withDOG-use

His album Play sold over 10 million units worldwide. And his song Extreme Ways plays over the credits of all the Bourne films. Moby partnered with the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) to raise money and awareness for animal rights programs. He created MobyGratis, a library of his instrumental film music “for independent and non-profit filmmakers in need of free music for their independent, nonprofit film, video, or short.” Money generated from commercial license fees goes to HSUS. “One of the things that impresses me most about HSUS is their diligence and their persistence. And because they’re such a big organization, they’re actually able to accomplish a lot on a legislative level.” … Asked what dogs teach us, Moby says: “I’m certainly not the first person to say this, but they teach the idea of loyalty, and the capacity to find joy in just the simplest things—to be uninhibited in our emotions.”

WE CAN HELP

Barkley.WeCanHelp.Dec2015

Barkley hopes you get a lot of toys this holiday … Westie Rescue Of New England sent me this beautiful bundle of happiness. All volunteers, they are dedicated to saving, fostering, and placing West Highland White Terriers into new loving forever homes. Your donation helps them continue their mission, one that is close to my heart … When our Westies smile, the world seems a little lighter.

 

Soundtrack to this IssueBeautifulDay.Dec2015.crU2’s Beautiful Day

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
It’s a beautiful day
Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case 

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out 

It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
Beautiful day

 

Who rescued whom?
Delivery.10.29.14.happiness.cr
So grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l
IMGP2541.cr.newsltr
“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
Moby joy and the arts quote: Thrive Magazine
Dr. Sacks quote: NY Times Opinion Page, My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer, February 19, 2015
Eagles of Death Metal and U2 pic: Eagles of Death Metal Facebook page (December 7, 2015)
Eagles of Death Metal quote: Rolling Stone, December 8, 2015
John Lennon pic: Bob Gruen, Power to the People: The Hits (2010)
Moby and dog pic: The Bark
Moby Dog News quotes: MobyGratis.com
Beautiful Day lyrics: Bono ©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

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