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Helen Reddy and the cabbie from hell

I am happy to see that Helen Reddy, who popularized the anthem for the women’s movement in the 70’s, is coming out of retirement to resume her singing career.

I had an interesting encounter with Ms. Reddy, a long-time idol of mine, in 1996. My husband and I headed a community concert series in the 90’s and we chose Helen Reddy as our very first act to introduce our series to the community. We wanted someone with a big name and reputation to let the community know we were a legitimate group. We got more than we bargained for when we booked Ms. Reddy. She had a big name and a big reputation, at least among entertainment producers. She had a reputation for being a diva and difficult to please.

Preparing for opening night

We began months in advance making all the preparations for opening night. We plastered the town with posters; we rented a Lincoln Town Car for the weekend to chauffeur Ms. Reddy; we had a large welcome basket in her room with snacks and an assortment of teas since she would be arriving late; and the stage was decorated with plants, twinkling lights, and borrowed props making it look like something to rival Vegas.

A welcoming committee, which consisted of my husband, myself, and Frank the driver (who was a member of the concert series board), met her at the airport. Before arriving at the airport we nervously reviewed the plans. (We desperately wanted to make a good impression and hoped we didn’t look like the neophytes which we were.) After greeting her we would then escort her to the baggage claim area and wait for Frank to bring the car around. All he had to do was meet us at the exit nearest the claims area. It isn’t hard to miss because everyone gathers there to catch their rides or a shuttle bus. This sounds simple enough, but beware of simple plans. Ms. Reddy traveled with a single carry-on bag and did not need to go the claims area. This added a few extra minutes to our wait time so we took advantage of the time to get to know each other.

Beware of simple plans

We waited and waited (and waited and waited) but Frank never showed up. When more than enough time had passed John said he would go out to the curb to look for Frank leaving me to entertain Ms. Reddy alone. What do you say to a recording star, movie star, and multiple-award winner? After we had exhausted the small talk I notice her expertly manicured nails are impatiently tapping the handle of her suitcase. Meanwhile, John is avoiding the gathering storm clouds by waiting on the curb looking for Frank. I go out and tell him that she is nearly at the end of her patience and we need to do something—quick!

We decide to hail a cab for Ms. Reddy and John will look for Frank and meet us at the hotel. I tell her the good news/bad news that we have given up on Frank and will take a taxi. We crawl into a cab with a driver who barely speaks English and tell him we want the hotel that is nearest the airport. At this he shouts something, jumps out of the cab, and runs down the middle of the street waving his hands in the air.

The cab driver from hell

Ms. Reddy and I look at each other and she says, “Is he coming back?” I see the scene developing out the back window and have a sinking feeling. “I don’t think so,” I reply. Now what do I do? I have a travel weary diva on one hand and a crazed cab driver on the other. At that moment I see a security officer and run to tell him what has happened. He looks at the driver running down the middle of the traffic flow and says he’ll be back.

The cab driver finally returns mumbling unintelligent sentences. He gives us a lecture all the way to the hotel telling us we should have taken the airport shuttle bus. I tell him, in no uncertain terms, we didn’t want the shuttle but he totally ignores me. This episode has taken quite a bit of time and I expect to see John pacing the lobby of the hotel when we arrive but instead they pull into the parking lot just ahead of us.

While I was dealing with the crabby cabbie, John searched the parking garage for Frank the chauffeur. John found him standing beside the parked car with the trunk lid open waiting for Ms. Reddy to haul her luggage to the car. John was surprised to see us arriving at the hotel so late and asked what happened. “You won’t believe it,” I said. “We had the cab driver from hell.”

You learn from experience

Everything seemed to be working against us that night. Both drivers must have gotten into the same batch of spiked juicy-juice which made them a little crazy.  Our patience were tested but Ms. Reddy saw we were trying hard to keep her happy and make a good impression. She couldn’t have been nicer. She gave us a splendid performance the next night and the audience responded with a standing ovation.

 After this difficult beginning all other shows were easy. As they say, “you learn from experience”.

 

 

John Philip Sousa and The Stars and Stripes Forever

Perhaps nothing expresses patriotism more than a parade—an Independence Day parade to be more specific. Old Glory and its honor guard lead the parade with the stars and stripes fluttering in the breeze. Following the flag is a band most likely playing The Stars and Stripes Forever.

The Stars and Stripes Forever is not only one of the most recognizable marches of all time but is the official march of the United States and one of the most popular marches by John Philip Sousa. I challenge anyone to listen to it and not feel a lump in the throat, a tear in the eye, or goose bumps on the arms. As popular as this tune is, it is only one of over 300 musical works composed by Sousa and only a third of those works were marches. It was composed during a voyage home after a tour of Europe and was reported in his obituary as one of his favorites. It was also the last piece he conducted the day before his death.

Other popular pieces composed by Sousa include Semper Fidelis (the Marine Corps march), The High School Cadets, King Cotton, El Capitan, Liberty Bell, Manhattan Beach, The Thunderer , Washington Post and many others.

Sousa was a man of many talents and was very prolific. In addition to his famous marches he also composed operettas; ten operas; a number of suites; The Last Crusade for orchestra, choir and organ, considered his major work; wrote three novels; a full-length autobiography; and was an avid trapshooter. He is known as the father of organized trapshooting in America.

A timeline of Sousa’s Life

John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6, 1854, the third of 10 children. He is a true product of the American melting pot, a child of immigrant parents. His father was born in Spain of Portuguese parents and his mother was born in Bavaria.

He began his musical studies at the age of 6 studying voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn. It is said he had perfect pitch. When he was 13 his father enlisted him in the Marines as a musical apprentice to keep him from running away to join a circus band. (His father played trombone in the U.S. Marine band at the time.) In 1875 he was discharged from the Marines and began performing the violin with a touring company. He eventually took over as a conductor and conducted Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore on Broadway.

In 1880 he returned to Washington to be the leader of the U.S. Marine Band. He conducted The President’s own band serving under presidents Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur and Harrison. In 1892 he resigned from the Marine band and formed the Sousa Band. In 1900 Sousa’s Band represented the United States as the official band to the Paris Exposition.

Between 1900 and 1905 The Sousa Band made three successful European tours. In 1910 the band took a World Tour which included New York, Great Britain, Canary Islands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Hawaii, and Canada. In 1917, during World War I, Sousa joined the U.S. Naval Reserve at age 62. He was a lieutenant and was paid a salary of $1 per month.

After the war, between 1919 and 1932 Sousa continued to tour with his band. He championed the cause of music education, received several honorary degrees and fought for composers’ rights, testifying before Congress in 1927 and 1928.

Souse died March 6, 1932 in Reading, Pa. at the age of 77. According to his obituary he died of “an attack of heart disease.” He was in Reading to conduct the local Ringgold Band in its 80th anniversary concert as its guest conductor.

John Philip Sousa’s obituary

Also included in his obituary, as reported by the New York Times in an attempt to explain his musical career and patriotic enthusiasm, it said:

Mr. Sousa was born in Washington in 1854. The fact that his father was a musician and a member of the Marine Band which his son was later to lead, combined with the marital spirit of Civil War days of his youth in Washington, served to give his talent the bent which made him the “march king” to all the world for a quarter of a century.

Regarding Sousa’s service record the New York Times reported:

One thing on which Mr. Sousa prided himself was his service record, it being his boast that he had seen service with the army, the navy and the Marine Corps. The latter was represented by his service at the head of the White House Band. During the Spanish- American War he served as musical director for the Sixth Army Corps. In the World War he organized bands at the Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Ill.

Sousa’s worldwide influence

Sousa’s influence even reached Broadway thirty years after his death. Meredith Wilson’s hit musical The Music Man had its roots in Wilson’s years playing flute and piccolo in Sousa’s band. Wilson’s band experience and small town Iowa roots inspired him to write the Broadway and motion picture hit The Music Man starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.

John Philip Sousa was the beloved March King of the U.S. and performed before over a million people. His influence was felt by many around the world and he was, perhaps, the best ambassador for America and its ideals during the early years of the twentieth century. During this Independence Day celebration you will hear several of Sousa’s compositions and I bet you, you can’t listen to them without tapping your toes and feeling an emotional stir in your soul. Hurrah for the flag of the free!  

 For an interesting read and to learn more about Sousa’s life click on the link below for The New York Times obituary from 1932.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1106.html

 

 

Don’t say there’s nothing to do

 

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and affordable entertainment and traveled to German Village to see the Actor’s Theatre presentation of Robin Hood at Schiller Park.

We packed a cooler and headed downtown. Knowing that the Freeway is under construction (when isn’t it?), we decided to take the Neil Ave. exit off of I-670. As soon as we had committed ourselves to that exit we knew we had made a mistake. We forgot that the hugely popular Com Fest was in full swing. Once we fought our way through that mess we found ourselves in another traffic jam. It seems the Clippers were playing that night. We patiently worked our way through the sports enthusiasts when we found ourselves, once again, in another line of cars snaking its way to the Picnic with the Pops.

We finally reached our destination at Schiller Park only to find another huge crowd gathering on the knoll of the amphitheatre. Fortunately, there is always room for one more at an outdoor event with lawn seating.

Mayor Coleman should be proud. He has worked for years to bring more activities and people to downtown Columbus. He has suffered some criticism for spending money on various buildings, parks, and improvements; but all the work has not been in vain. The beautiful new Columbus Commons, now the permanent home of Picnic with the Pops, looked to be almost to capacity with approximately 8,000 attending that night.

 Huntington Park, the new home of the Columbus Clippers, farm team for the Cleveland Indians, has won several awards. I’m not sure if it was a sell-out last Saturday night but my observation was that the event was well attended.

We weren’t able to drive past the new Scioto Riverfront Park but I’m sure there must have been many people strolling past the park and enjoying the beautiful gardens, fountains, swings and benches.

No matter your taste or background there was something for everyone that night. For the hippies, original hippies, and wanna’be hippies there was the Com Fest with all the rock music, tie dye T-shirts and miscellaneous stuff associated with that era you could absorb. Sports fans had the Clippers and for more sophisticated tastes there was Picnic with the Pops and Actor’s Theatre. A concert was happening at Promo West, CAPA’s summer movie series at the Ohio Theatre was presenting Hello Dolly, and many other people were enjoying a leisurely dinner at the various restaurants and on their patios.

This coming weekend there will be more of the same. Many venues will be finding various ways to celebrate the Fourth of July beginning with the traditional Red, White, and Boom celebration along the riverfront on July 3. The rejuvenated Ohio Village is planning an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration, CAPA’s summer movie series will have James Cagney’s Yankee Doodle Dandy and Picnic with the Pops will feature patriotic tunes including The Stars and Stripes Forever and The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

In addition to the downtown activities each local community usually has its own parade and fireworks so check local papers for the times. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, there is the Doo Dah Parade in the Short North the afternoon of the fourth.

Columbus is a happening place, whether downtown or in your own community. There is entertainment for every taste and budget whether it is running through the fountains at Easton or the splash park at the Scioto Mile, downing brats and beer at a ball park, or dinner and theatre at many of our excellent restaurants and venues. If you live in the Columbus area never say, “There’s nothing to do.”

 

NOTE—for a detailed schedule of events see Upcoming Events at www.homekeynotes.com.

 

English: Man riding a monowheel in the 2011 Do...

English: Man riding a monowheel in the 2011 Doo Dah Parade, Columbus, Ohio. Parade route viewed on W. 2nd Ave. in The Short North. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

http://capa.com/presentations/current-season-presentations/capa-summer-movie-series-2012

Fly the flag proudly

 Today, June 14, 235 years ago the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official symbol of our country. Up until that time several different flags were used including one with 13 alternating red and white stripes and the Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner which was a compromise between the radicals who wanted a separate nation and those more sympathetic toward the crown.

Gen. Washington felt it wasn’t a good idea to fly a flag that resembled that of the enemy and asked the Continental Congress to adopt an official flag. On June 14, 1777 they passed a resolution stating “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Legend states that Betsy Ross made the first flag but there is no official documentation of who came up with the design and whether or not she actually made the first flag. In 1870 her grandson, William Canby,  held a press conference telling of her possible role in the creation of the first flag. This was the first time the public had heard of her contribution.

Defining the flag’s look

The flag took on various shapes through the years as new states were added and in 1818 Congress passed an act providing for 13 stripes in honor of the 13 original colonies and one star for each state. In 1912 President William Howard Taft signed an executive order that clarified what the flag should look like. Up until that time some flags were oddly proportioned or had six or eight pointed stars instead of five.

Flag Day was first observed by a Wisconsin teacher, Bernard Cigrand in 1885. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as Flag Day and in 1949 President Harry Truman signed legislation officially designating June 14 as National Flag Day.

Ohio plays a part in final design

A young Ohio student played a part in the final design of today’s 50 star flag. In 1960  seventeen year old Bob Heft borrowed his mother’s sewing machine and added two more stars to the original 48. Alaska had just been added to the union and he foresaw that Hawaii would soon follow. He stitched 50 stars in a proportional pattern and handed it in to his history teacher for a class project. He also sent the flag to his congressman, Walter Moeller, who then presented it to President Eisenhower after both states joined the union. The President chose Heft’s design and on July 4, 1960 Heft and President Eisenhower stood together as the 50 star flag was raised for the first time. Heft’s teacher changed his grade from a B- to an A.

Proper flag etiquette

  •      The flag should always be displayed with the stars in the upper left corner—whether it is hung vertically or horizontally.
  •       The flag should always be illuminated either by sunlight or another light source while on display.
  •       The flag should always be kept aloft and never touch the ground.
  •        The flag should never appear on clothing, bedding, or decorative items.
  •        No insignias, drawings or other markings should be added to the flag.
  •        When other flags are flown on the same pole Old Glory should be at the peak.
  •        Old flags should be properly destroyed by burning.
  •        When not on display the flag should be folded in a rectangular manner with the star-studded field on top.

 Respect the flag

I wish more people would follow the proper flag etiquette. Nothing disturbs me more than to see the flag improperly displayed or thrown on the ground, or, even worse—thrown in the trash. Remember, many have died protecting that flag and what it stands for and it should always be treated with the respect it deserves.

Meet my critters

 

I now know what the phrase suffering for my art means. My journey of creating my critters has been marked by blood, sweat, and tears—literally!

Countless pin and needle stabs resulted in big drops of blood which I quickly attended to so that the material wouldn’t be stained. I sweated over every detail, and, yes, there were tears—tears of fear and frustration. But now that they are finished I can say that it was worth the effort. They accurately portray the picture that was in my mind and that is an accomplishment for any artist.

This is the end of a long journey and hopefully the beginning of a new adventure. The pathway is littered with many rejection notices from publishers but I never gave up.  The publishing industry is in a state of flux these days with production costs ever-increasing and electronics taking it in new directions. With all these unknown variables publishers don’t want to take a chance on an unknown author.  Today, authors have to create their own stage or platform as they call it. I’m hoping my renewed creative efforts will eventually land THE BIG ONE someday. In the mean time, I’m having fun visiting with all of you on my blog and doing what I love—writing.

Now my books (teacher recommended for grades K-3) will come alive for the young ones. One day when I was working, my niece visited with her four-year old son and as we talked he played with all the birds scattered about the room, he lined them up on the ironing board and talked and sang to them. I hope this is an indication of good things to come.

Two of the books are about birds—The Beautiful Bird from Birdburgville and Robert Robin’s First Flight—and the third is about a flower, a late bloomer—The Sad Seedling. The Sad Seedling is planted in a pot on the cover which actually holds sunflower seeds compliments of de Monye’s Greenhouse.

For a fun time this weekend stop by Sunbear Gallery in Alexandria, Ohio on OH Rt. 37. It is just 10 miles east of New Albany on Rt. 161. Take the OH Rt. 37 exit towards Johnstown. For those not familiar with Alexandria it is a typical charming rural Ohio farming village midway between Granville and Johnstown.  We will be there the whole weekend Saturday 10 to 6 and Sunday 11 to 5.

Come for fun and be amazed by the art.  There will be live music, artist demos, door prizes, a children’s art auction, container gardens from Baker’s Acres, great snacks and antiques too!

When you are there be sure to stop by and say “Hello.” All my critters are freshly groomed and tagged and tucked into their nests waiting to say Howdy!

 

Below is a short synopsis of each book.

The Sad Seedling   

A flower is a late bloomer when its seed is planted in a dark corner of a crowded garden. When it blooms its only friends are the wiggly, giggly worms and the icky, sticky spiders until a new friend, Sadie the Ladybug, shows up.

 

 

 

 

 

 The Beautiful Bird from Birdburgville

A beautiful but vain bird suffers a terrible injury when a cat catches her. With the help of a friend who overlooks her deformities she learns to adjust to her injuries and live a normal life. (Based on an observation at my birdfeeder.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Robin’s First Flight

A young robin isn’t paying attention to his mother when she is teaching them how to fly. The result causes a BIG problem in Birdburgville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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