Monday, January 19, 2015

Chinese New Year Books for Kids
Chinese New Year is coming up. If you need some books to read--especially for school classes and the like, take a look at this list.Chinese New Year Books for Kids  It has books for all ages--from toddler level on up to 5th & 6th graders. My favorites are Goldyluck -- a takeoff on the three bears story, and Demi's book of Chinese animal fables

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Walking in Daniel's Shoes: 15 Years Since Columbine

On the 15th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, I'd like to recommend Tom Mauser's book, "Walking in Daniel's Shoes." After his son, Daniel, was killed, Mauser discovered that Daniel's shoes fit him perfectly. He literally walks in Daniel's shoes when he is advocating for the things he believes Daniel would have wanted--including safer gun laws.

Here's an excerpt form my Amazon review:

When you see things like Columbine on the news, you wonder how parents could cope with something like that. How do they keep their families and themselves together? What would they want to say the parents of their child's killers? How do they deal with unceasing media attention?

Mauser provides a direct and honest account of how he found his way through it all. It's sad and heart-breaking, but it's also a book that describes healing, family bonds and--yes--it includes a bit of humor.

The subtitle outlines the topics of the book: "a father's journey through grief, controversy, activism, and healing."

15th Anniversary of Columbine Massacre

Today is a little different for me. 15 years ago, two students shot their way through Columbine High School., just 4 miles from my house. Since then, it seems there have been too many shootings to keep up with. Now that I have a teenage daughter, everything seems to have new resonance. Here's a link to the article I wrote about my thoughts. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Get Lucky: Get the Grammy-Winning Song Free and Legal

What happens when robots get lucky? Are they up all night?

If you haven’t downloaded the song that just won Record of the Year at the Grammys tonight, you can get it from Freegal. It’s free. Legal. No viruses.


It’s your lucky day.


It’s the 70’s Again: Get Daft Punk Free and Legal

How did this happen?

The 70’s are back 40 years later. Daft Punk, who sound like nothing so much as a 70’s dance band won best dance album with Random Access Memories at tonight’s Grammys.

If you are into robot music, you can download their album from Freegal. Free. Legal. No viruses. No kidding.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Don’t Stop Believin’: In Memory of Cory Monteith

Cory Monteith Meets Fans At Westfield Sydney  wikimedia commons

He’s known as the football star turned glee club singer on the hit show Glee.          

But his life was more troubled and more astonishing than his TV persona.

By 13 he was into drugs, by 16 he had dropped out of high school, and by 19 he was in rehab.

But somehow he went from a job as a Wal-Mart greeter to star of a hit show that features music and dancing, without any music or dancing experience. His audition tape consisted of him playing the drums—with pencils on Tupperware. (You can see him reprise a bit of it on the Ellen DeGeneresshow.)

He told DeGeneres that on the way to the live interview, he listened to the cast version of the Broadway show Rent, and also listened to Billy Joel albums.  Joel’s song “Honesty” was the song he performed.

He was found dead in his hotel room early on Saturday, July 13.

The police haven’t released the cause of death, but early reports are that not foul play seems to be involved. He had recently gone back into rehab, and it seems likely that a drug overdose killed him

Popular entertainment is full of tales of undead villains, but drugs are the real vampires and zombies, possessing people—even the very talented and very young—until they are destroyed.

For a look at better times, here some of Monteith’s best-known pieces. They are available for download on Freegal.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

They’re Coming to America: a Neil Diamond Song for 4th of July

I remember when I first heard this song at the beginning of Diamond’s movie The Jazz Singer.  It has a driving rhythm and a sing-along quality, a great way to start a film. It made me appreciate this country and what it has offered to immigrants.

 The movie had mixed reviews, but the soundtrack was Diamond’s most successful album.

 The slow ballads “Love on the Rocks” and “Hello Again” are also included.

 I downloaded onto my phone today, with the Freegal app. I think it makes nice 4th of July music.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Freegal Songs for Earth Day

Earth Day: flowering crabapple  image credit: Ellen Mackey 2012

I’ve been searching the web for the best Earth Day songs and then searching Freegal to see what was available there.

Some of these songs celebrate nature; others lament what we’ve done to it.

Kansas                         Death of Mother Nature Suite

 John Prine                   Paradise

 Yardbirds                     Shapes of Things

 Johnny Cash                Don’t Go Near the Water

James Taylor               Traffic Jam

Woody Guthrie            This Land Is Your Land

Bruce Springsteen       This Land Is Your Land            

 Michael Jackson          Earth Song

Nitty Gritty Dirt           Fishin’ in the Dark


 John Mayer                 Waiting on the World to Change

 Dave Matthews           One Sweet World


 Kenny Loggins             Conviction of the Heart

                                    This Island Earth (album)

 John Denver                Calypso

                                    The Wind

                                    Annie’s Song

                                    Sunshine on My Shoulder

                                    Rocky Mountain High

 Walk Off the Earth      Little Boxes

 Pete Seeger                 God Bless the Grass

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Song for Earth Day 2013: “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie

Guanella Pass, Rocky Mountains, Colorado  Image credit: Ellen Mackey 2012

I saw Woody’s son Arlo in concert about 20 years ago.

He told us about how his dad had written a song about the Gulf stream waters and the redwood forests.

And he also told us about another verse,

“I saw a sign that said no trespassing
But on the other side
It didn’t say nothing.
That side was made for you and me.”

To see other “subversive” verses written by the champion of the common man, see this story by NPR.

Lots of Woody Guthrie’s work is available for free download on Freegal. So are versions of “This Land is Your Land” by Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Best Songs for Earth Day: “Calypso” by John Denver

Ocean wave  image credit

Calypso. What a great word. What a great for a boat. And a song.

"To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean..."

I'm from the desert and I have to admit that I don't really get all the books I read about people and their longing for the sea.

But what I do get is that the oceans comprise two-thirds of the earth's surface, and that all of us--even high and dry landlubbers--depend on the health of the sea for the health of our planet.

So, let's cut way back on the carbon, let's figure out a way to do with much, much less plastic, and let's do our best to keep the ocean in good shape. For Jacques and John and for all of us humans living on earth.

“Calypso” by John Denver is available for free download from Freegal.