Archive for April, 2009

Today’s Quote

“I believe life is magical.  It is so precious.  
And there are so many kinds of life in this life. 
So many kinds of things to love. 
The love for a husband or a wife. 
A boyfriend or girlfriend. 
The love for children. 
The love for yourself.  And even material things. 
This is my love.  It is mine. 
And it fills me and it defines me. 
And it compels me on.”

   — Peggy, played by Molly Shannon, referring to her love of animals, in the film “Year of the Dog,” 2007, Written and Directed by Mike White

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Watch the trailer of the film “Year of the Dog,” starring Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Laura Dern and Peter Sarsgaard, below.

To order a copy of “Year of the Dog” on DVD from Amazon.com, click here.  To learn more about “Year of the Dog” from the Internet Movie Data Base (IMBD), click here.

 To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Today’s Video

Today’s video is a recording of Judy Garland’s legendary on-screen rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, from the 1939 musical-fantasy film “The Wizard of Oz,” directed by Victor Fleming. 

The song is ranked No. 1 of the “Songs of the 20th Century” list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.  It is also No. 1 on the American Film Insitute’s “100 Years, 100 Songs” list.   The song won the Academy Award for Best Song of 1939.

Judy Garland was 17 years old when The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939.

This song is ranked No. 1 on my list of Top 10 Favorite Songs.  Click here to go to the complete list.

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London’s Slowing Down

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London is slowing down.  Well, at least that’s the hope of the sponsors of the novel “Slow Down London” campaign which is encouraging Londoners to relax, turn off their connected devices, and enjoy life more slowly.  The campaign, which officially runs from April 24 to May 4 features a variety of events across London, including:

*  A slow group stroll across Waterloo Bridge, the campaign’s official kickoff event;
*  Lunch-time yoga events;
*  Slow walking programs across London;
*  Craft lessons; and more.

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Here’s an excerpt from the Slown Down London website regarding the purpose of the campaign:

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To learn more about the Slown Down London campaign, go to their official website by clicking here.

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Earth Day 2009

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April 22nd is Earth Day.  To learn more about Earth Day and to find ways to make a difference, go to the Earth Day Network website by clicking here.

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AIDS Lifecycle 8

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AIDS Lifecycle 8, the fund-raising bicycle ride covering 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles, is being held May 31 to June 6, 2009.  

According to the official AIDS Lifecycle website, the annual ride:

… is the official cycling event of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center;

… is about HIV/AIDS and raising money to help the beneficiaries continue to provide the critical services and education needed to meet the growing needs of our community;

… increases awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among participants, their donors and the general public;

… addresses the widespread misperception that HIV and AIDS are no longer a problem — in fact more people are living with HIV & AIDS today than ever before, which means a much greater need for services;

 

… provides a reminder that the rate of HIV infection is increasing, particularly in communities of color and in individuals under the age of 25. In California alone there are 60,000 people living with AIDS, and another estimated 91,000 living with HIV, many unaware of their infection;

… requires each cyclist to raise a minimum of $3,000. Each cyclist is assigned to a personal Cyclist Representative for assistance with training, fundraising and emotional and practical support from the moment they register through the event’s completion.

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To make a donation to AIDS Lifecycle 8 and/or to support a specific rider in this year’s event, go to the official AIDS Lifecycle 8 website by clicking here.

If you don’t have a specific friend, family member or colleague who is participating in the AIDS Lifecycle 8 this year, please consider supporting Bart McDermott of San Francisco, CA, by making a contribution that will help him get closer to (or surpass) his goal.   To visit Bart’s homepage within the AIDS Lifecycle 8 website and to make a contribution online, click here.  Any contribution helps and will be much appreciated.

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Today’s Word

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Today’s (Japanese) phrase is SHIKATA GA NAI, which roughly translates to “it cannot be helped” or “nothing can be done about it.”  The phrase has frequently been used by Western writers to describe the ability of the Japanese people to maintain dignity in the face of  hardship, adversity or injustice.  The phrase also can have negative connotations, as some may perceive the lack of reaction to adversity as complacence, both to social and political forces.

Many Japanese-Americans may be familiar with the use of the phrase “shikata ga nai” in the context of the forcible relocation and internment of roughly 110,000 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans to “War Relocation Camps,” following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.  Over 60-percent of those interned under Executive Order 9066 were USA citizens.  Some of those who were forcibly relocated to camps (located in California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Arkansas) reportedly remarked “shikata ga nai” (or “it can’t be helped”) as their businesses were sold, possessions confiscated, and physically relocated to camps by the U.S. government.

In 1988, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government.  The legislation stated that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

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To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Word” series, click here.

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Today’s Video

 Today’s video is a recording of Love Changes Everything, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the stage musical Aspects of Love, and performed by Michael Ball in a live performance at Royal Albert Hall in London in 2002.   In 1989, Ball, then 26 years old, originated the role of Alex in the West End production of Aspects of Love, which ran for over 1,300 performances.

The full-length recording of Michael Ball’s live performance at Royal Albert Hall  is available on DVD from Amazon.com and can be ordered by clicking here.

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To order the 2-disc CD recording of the Original London Cast of Aspects of Love from Amazon.com, click here.

Love Changes Everything is ranked No. 7 on my Top 10 Favorite Songs.  To go to the complete list of Top 10 Favorite Songs, click here.

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Today’s Website

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Today’s website/blog is Cute Things Falling Asleep, which recently was featured on NBC’s Today Show.  The site’s owner, Nick Malis, created the site as a form of entertainment for himself and his friends, with a collection of short videos showing dogs, cats, other animals, and babies falling asleep.  Each video is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 for both “cuteness” and “sleepiness.”

The overwhelming success of this site encouraged Malis to create another entertaining site using a similar concept of rating short videos– Cute Things Laughing.

Here’s an example of one of the many delightful short videos from Cute Things Falling Asleep.

To go to Cute Things Falling Asleep, click here.

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Today’s Quote

 ”Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.”

    — Mahatma Gandhi

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 To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Today in History

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At 5:13 a.m., Pacific, on April 18, 1906, an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, California, killing hundreds of people as it topples numerous buildings. The quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault over a segment about 275 miles long, and shock waves could be felt from southern Oregon down to Los Angeles.

San Francisco’s brick buildings and wooden Victorian structures were especially devastated. Fires immediately broke out and–because broken water mains prevented firefighters from stopping them–firestorms soon developed citywide. At 7 a.m., U.S. Army troops from Fort Mason reported to the Hall of Justice, and San Francisco Mayor E.E. Schmitz called for the enforcement of a dusk-to-dawn curfew and authorized soldiers to shoot-to-kill anyone found looting. Meanwhile, in the face of significant aftershocks, firefighters and U.S. troops fought desperately to control the ongoing fire, often dynamiting whole city blocks to create firewalls. On April 20, 20,000 refugees trapped by the massive fire were evacuated from the foot of Van Ness Avenue onto the USS Chicago.

By April 23, most fires were extinguished, and authorities commenced the task of rebuilding the devastated metropolis. It was estimated that some 3,000 people died as a result of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and the devastating fires it inflicted upon the city. Almost 30,000 buildings were destroyed, including most of the city’s homes and nearly all the central business district.

Source: History.com

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To view a video about the Great Earthquake of 1906 at History.com, click here.

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Credits: History.com and The National Archives

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Go, Susan Boyle

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Like millions of other YouTube watchers, I was overwhelmed by Susan Boyle’s bravura performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” from the hit musical Les Miserables, on the British reality TV show, “Britain’s Got Talent.”  What’s stunning about the performance and video is that it has already been viewed an estimated 48 million times, making it one of the most viewed videos in history, surpassing such hits as Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, shoes being thrown at President Bush, and Obama’s election night victory speech, according to Visible Measures, which tracks online video usage.

Although the current record holder for most views on YouTube is held by Evolution of Dance, with a staggering 118 million views, it’s conceivable that the Susan Boyle video will surpass that number in the weeks ahead. 

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In case you haven’t seen the video of Susan Boyle, click here to go to YouTube.  Unfortunately, embedding of the video has been disabled, which makes the large number of views even more impressive.

Go, Susan Boyle.

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Today’s Quote

“I wish I could drink like a lady.  I can take one or two at the most; three and I’m under the table;  four and I’m under the host.”

   — Dorothy Parker

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 To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Today’s Video

Today’s video is a terrific live recording of Louis Armstrong’s classic, beloved rendition of “What A Wonderful World.”  Written by Bob Thiele, George David Weiss and George Douglas, the song was recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1968 and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.  Although it has since been recorded by dozens of other artists, nothing compares to the original interpretation by the great Satchmo (1901-1971).

Even on the darkest days, this song always lifts my spirit and makes me remember– there is always hope for a brighter day.

 Thanks, Satchmo.

“What A Wonderful World,” sung by Louis Armstrong, is ranked #2 on my list of Top 10 Favorite Songs.  To view the complete list of Top 10 Favorite Songs, click here.

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Today’s Video

Today’s video is called “Life’s for Sharing,” a British TV commerical for T-Mobile in which commuters in a London station appear to spontaneously erupt into dance.  It’s great to find commericals that not only entertain but uplift your spirits, in addition to delivering their brand or product message.  According to a published report, a cast of 400 people took part in this commercial.

My thanks to Joan and Bruce for sharing this video with me.

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Video” series, click here.

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Today’s Video

Today’s video is “Desi Girl,” the lively, high-energy signature track from the popular Bollywood film ”Dostana,” directed by Tarun Mansukhani, which premiered in New Delhi during my visit in November 2008.


Enjoy it and dance along!

To purchase the Dostana soundtrack album from Amazon.com, click here.  In case you haven’t seen the movie, which played in most major USA markets earlier this year, you can rent it now at Netflix.com or purchase it from Amazon.com.  To learn more about the movie, visit the official Dostana website by clicking here.

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To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Video” series, click here.

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Peeps III Winners

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Today The Washington Post announced the winners of its third annual “Peeps Diorama Contest, which drew a stunning 1,110 entries.  Contestants submitted photos of their diorama creations, featuring Easter marshmallows, and were judged by a panel assembled by The Washington Post.  The dioramas of the finalists were judged in person.  According to an article, the entries covered a vast range of subjects, such as Charles Darwin’s voyage to the Galapagos (the biologist’s 200th birthday was in February), the Apollo 11 moon landing (the 40th anniversary is in July) and the introduction of the Suleman octuplets (who continue to crawl through the news three months after their birth).  Other popular subjects included the economy (jackknifing stock charts slice through the custard-colored fat of chicks, as pink bunnies float through dioramas on golden parachutes) and Aretha Franklin’s monstrous hat worn at the presidential inauguration, where her hat stole the spotlight.

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The winner of this year’s contest was “Night Peeps,” by Arlington, VA resident Melissa Harvey, with a diorama that is both an homage to and twist on Edward Hopper’s famous 1942 oil painting “Nighthawks.”   According to the panel of judges, “Its meticulous craftsmanship, with two working fluorescent lights that add the clinical Hopper glow, is elevated to a higher level by the subtle integration of the Peeps, which provide a breath of warmth to the otherwise dolorous scene. ”

“Harvey, a graphic designer for WETA, had flipped through a book of 20th-century art for inspiration. She was looking for something iconic. She saw “Nighthawks” and knew it provided the perfect setting for situational irony. Plus, there’s the wordplay between Hopper’s name and the bunny stand-ins, which sold Harvey on the idea,” according to The Washington Post.

Among the finalists, two of my favorites are shown below:

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Above:  One of the finalists, called “Oh My Peep! There’s an ‘H’ in There!” by Gwen Jones, Richmond, is a diorama depicting the Suleman octuplets, which are labeled with the letters “A” through “G”, when suddently “H” appears. 

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Above:  Another finalist, called “Double Peep Strike” by Brady Gordon, LeElaine Comer and Justin Donnelly, of Washington, DC which memorializes the “Miracle on the Hudson ” water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in January.

To read the full article from The Washington Post, click here.  And to view a slide show of the winner and finalists, click here.

Photos credits: The Washington Post

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Into The West

In the midst of sadness, there is always comfort to be found somewhere.  I find comfort in this song– Into The West, written by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore and Annie Lennox, which won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Song, from the film The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

This song is #17 on my list of  Top 10 Favorite Songs.  Click here to go to the full list.

To purchase and download this song from Amazon.com in MP3 format, click here  or go to iTunes.

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Today’s Poem

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

 

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

 

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

 

Or rather, he passed us;

The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

 

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

 

Since then ’tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

 

   –  Emily Dickinson

 

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This post is a tribute to the friends that have passed away over the last two weeks, and to the friends and family of loved ones who recently left us as well.

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Happy Easter

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And for all the bunny and dog lovers, here’s a treat for you!

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Happy Easter!  And Happy Spring!

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Happy Passover

 

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Happy Passover! 

And in honor of Passover, here’s a very amusing video for you to enjoy.  My thanks to Carolyn for sharing it with me.

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The Boss in San Jose

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Bruce Springsteen’s new concert, featuring songs from his latest recording, ”Working on a Dream,” arrived at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA, on 4/1/09, the first stop in a 47-city worldwide tour which runs through August ‘09.  Accompanied by the E Street Band and Patti Scialfa, The Boss delivered a solid, no-frills performance to a sold-out and appreciative crowd in San Jose.  Working on a Dream is Springsteen’s 16th major studio album.  Springsteen turns 60 on 9/23.

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To read more about the Working on a Dream tour, visit the official Bruce Springsteen website by clicking here.  If you want to purchase the CD or the MP3 downdload, visit Amazon.com by clicking here.

Photos taken: 4/1/09

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Today’s Quote

“All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”

   — Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

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To go to previous posts in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

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This classic martini, garnished with a large, individually-sliced lemon twist, was poured at Seven, the stylish contemporary New American Cuisine restaurant located at 754 The Alameda in San Jose, CA.  The spacious lounge at Seven features an attractive and comfortable ultra-long leather-covered banquette with accompanying ottoman-style seating, in addition to a traditional bar with stools.  The Lounge serves its own selection of small plates, although Lounge guests are invited to order anything from the main restaurant’s menu.

Seven is an excellent choice for before- or after-concert (or game or whatever) drink and/or nosh  at the H-P Pavilion.

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To visit Seven’s official website, click here.  To read what other patrons are saying about Seven, click here for reviews from Yelp.com.

To go to previous posts in the “Where is That Drink” series, click here.

Photos taken: 4/1/09

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Today’s Video

This video was shared with me today and I was completely charmed by its artfully-crafted message about spontaneity, community and the universal language of music.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.  And… if you’re a fan of  The Sound of Music, this is a BONUS for you!

We all should immediately pause from what we’re doing and just dance!

If you’ve seen another video that gave you a smile, please pass it along today.

To go to previous posts in the “Today’s Video” category, click here.

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