Love, New America Style: Liberty’s Secret: The 100% All-American Musical

The Dance-Nikki and Liberty

  Liberty’s Secret: The 100% All-American Musical is a movie that brings to mind all the memories from my childhood that made my middle of the road, Midwestern upbringing so rich with its dependable sameness over the years.   Memories of good ol’ fashioned bake sales, the smell of freshly bought apple pie, sounds of Lawrence Welk’s Orchestra in the evening on TV and baseball Sundays filled with the voice of Ernie Harwell keeping a steady drone in the average and typical sun-filled family room that made my childhood so special.   Liberty’s Secret is a special movie. At first … Read More…

“Whiplash”: Truly One of the Greats

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I’ll start this review how I start every review, which is: go see Whiplash before you read this post. But this time I say this not only because there be spoilers below, but because it’s one of the best damn movies I’ve seen in long, long time. A long time. As I begin my thoughts on Whiplash, I am reminded of the Honest Trailers trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If you’re unfamiliar, Honest Trailers is a fantastic YouTube channel that takes films we love and makes trailers for them that rip them to shreds; pointing out every plot hole and confusing … Read More…

House-Breaking Your Phone–and Lowering Your Blood Pressure

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I was too calm at work.  Something had to be wrong.  Then I realized that I had left my phone at home—on the kitchen counter–probably under the bread wrapper.  It was the same unnerving peace I felt on a vacation last summer–when we left the dog with friends. Smudge is a hybrid, a schnorkie-poo, who, in the thankful absence of rats, is obsessed with one thing—the perfect blend of dye, felt and rubber toxins that is the tennis ball.  He is so completely focused on bringing you that ball for you to obediently throw it across the yard/basement/bathroom that he’ll forgo food, rest and … Read More…

New Podcast: De-Agonizing the Essay with Erik Bean, Ed.D.

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  Kevin Walsh interviews author and educator Dr. Erik Bean on his most recent books, including: – Rigorous Grading Using Microsoft Word AutoCorrect – WordPress for Student Writing Projects, Grades 6-12 They discuss… – Overcoming student and teacher fatigue essay-fatigue with the technology – Student and teacher reactions to new tricks for the old dog of MS Word – Advantages of blogging for students (and overcoming stage fright) – Trolling (and how to address them) – Getting published–five times!

Faded Snapshots & Time Travel: Unfogging the Past with PhotoShop

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Take a minute and flip through your phone’s pictures taken this Thanksgiving weekend–now zoom-in to something in the background.  Do you notice anything interesting–or something that <em>might </em>be interesting in a few decades? The new Stephen Hawking bio-pic, The Theory of Everything, can drive you a little crazy if you are one of those people who needs to straighten a picture frame in a friend’s house.  Hawking’s glasses are always crooked and always needing cleaning. The color-correction folks in film know what they’re doing when they choose their palettes.  It’s hard not to get nostalgic with a shot like above–and if you add in string … Read More…

When Opponents Weren’t Enemies: Michigan’s Harry Kelly and G. Mennen Williams–Politically Opposed, Mutually Respectful

Harry Kelly, WWI

It was once Armistice Day–in recognition of the end of the Great War, begun 100 years ago with an assassination in Sarajevo and ending with the loss of millions of lives, the restructuring of the world’s balance of power and with heavy reparation requirements on the defeated paving a certain path to another world war 25 years later.   Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and George Marshall refused to let history repeat itself in 1945 and created a plan to rebuild former foes into allies—not the humiliated vanquished whose death we might celebrate.  The GI Bill would create the foundation of a … Read More…

New Podcast: Marketing Guru Discusses Google-Ads, App-Creation & Common Mistakes

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  Kevin Walsh interviews Sandy Barris, a longtime marketing expert. He is the author of 97 Marketing Secrets to Make More Money and the app, Sales Goal On Fire Pro.  More information at www.SandyBarris.com Sandy shares his lifelong journey and lessons, including: – Writing a book, not to sell but to use as a giant business card of credibility – How Google’s AdWords works, and which words cost the most) – Creating an App (or hiring the right people to do it for you) – Marketing a la carte (one-day turnaround for customers who just need booster-shots) – War stories (successes and failures) – … Read More…

Ken Burns-on-a-Shoestring: Creating Buzz to Launch Mini-Doc “Digging Detroit”

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“The Joe,” the battleship-gray windowless box on the Detroit River, is slated for 2017 demolition, making way for high-rise condos, a hotel and shopping as part of a pay-back to creditors owed $1 billion.  For a few months in-between wrecking-ball and ground-breaking, Detroiters will once again have an unobstructed view of the river at the corner of Fort and 3rd–as if looking back in time and seeing the Purple Gang hijack another bootlegger at the docks, before moving its haul up the street to the speakeasy beside the church. And that same little brick building on the left will probably still be standing when the condos are torn down in 60 years–perhaps … Read More…

Meet Your 2015 Detroit Tigers

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As a displaced Detroit Tiger fan in New England and more specifically right on the Mason Dixon line of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, I need the Tigers to desperately win a World Series championship. The Red Sox have won three championships in ten years and the Yankees won in 2009 and have won 27 of them. I’m starting to need Marty McFly’s time machine to get me back to even remembering 1984. There’s been much angst with fans about our new manager, Brad Ausmus, and how he managed the worst bullpen in baseball. And there’s been the same angst towards … Read More…

“If a Tweet Falls in the Forest…” Life without Applause-Signs, Laugh-Tracks & Likes

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It’s often not so much what happens in our lives—as what we figure ought to happen.  If no one likes this post, did it fail? I started noticing  camera-angles and how they manipulated the audience far too early in my life–especially for the poor bystanders who were stuck in a living room, basement or movie theater with me. The Cosby Show, for all of its garish sweaters and too-good-to-be-true charm of a doctor/lawyer upper-middle class family, was a breakthrough on many levels—it revitalized the sit-com and finally placed a TV African-American family out of the ghetto—if you bypass George Jefferson moving on up. … Read More…

Propaganda, Potholes and Pensions: Political Ads & Business Clichés During Election (Hunting) Season

If only the yellow text could show up on all campaign ads...

It wasn’t supposed to be this close of a race in Michigan. To get Rick Snyder re-elected governor may take more checks from United Citizens like the Koch brothers to create more subtle ads like the following… This cringe-worthy moment was a response to Mark Schauer’s surprising “too-close-to-call” campaign—perhaps riding on the bumpy road of last winter’s potholes and angry pensioners whose fixed incomes become less-fixed with Snyder’s new tax on their retirement. Even GOP legislators weren’t happy with this tax… Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, who introduced the repeal bill on March 20, said he did so in response to constituents in … Read More…

New Podcast: Flooding, Insurance & Ethics – Dialogue with Attorney Judy Herman

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This interview follows Kevin’s August 15th, Acts of God? Creative Interpretations During Flooding: Unlike a Good Neighbor… Following the intense rain within a single four-hour period in August, 2014, thousands of metro Detroiters found their basements flooded with sewage and little to no assistance from their insurers “flood” coverage. Attorney, Judy Herman, discusses her 27 year career dealing with insurance companies and offers some advice for consumers and ethical guidelines both companies and customers would be wise to follow.

Defining the 2014 Detroit Tigers’ Regular Season

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Perspective Somewhere amid Derek Jeter’s fourth or fifth finale on Sunday afternoon, John Farrell spent most of his time faking a smile, trying to be a part of all the pomp and circumstance as another baseball season came to a close. In many ways, the season for Farrell and his Red Sox ending months ago. No doubt the sting hurt more on Sunday, as mathematical elimination and inevitable closure became a physical reality as the sun finally set on Fenway Park, its home players and Beantown’s most faithful. I imagine John Farrell muttering about in his mind of what went wrong; surveying … Read More…

For Kids, Many Voices Become One at “Twenty Feet from Stardom” Benefit Screening & Concert

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Few third graders have been heard to proudly announce to their classmates… “I hope to be fourth cellist in the New York Philharmonic.” “I’d like to be a situational middle-inning relief pitcher for the Yankees.” “I want to be an Indy pit crew member.” or… “My dream is to be an editor.” Not many editors get a standing ovation.   Even at the Oscars, its award is sandwiched between Best Costume Design and the latest Revlon commercial.  And you are more likely to be mistaken as that fourth cellist before someone says, “Aren’t you an editor–of documentaries?” Twenty Feet from Stardom honors the teammate, the … Read More…

New Podcast: Breaking Through as a Novelist – Judy Burke and “Blackrock”

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First time novelist, longtime educator Judy Burke shares with Kevin her eight year journey transforming a fantasy into the international espionage thriller, Blackrock–and how it all started with an Irish lighthouse and next appears in bookstores in November. Topics include… Elmore Leonard and his influence The writing process and when life gets in its way Characters, even when they’re great, and how to kill them off Dialogue’s importance Publishing companies vs. self-publishing Knowing when to end the book Visit Judy’s website to get a sneak peek at: www.JudyBurke.com

And you may tell yourself/This is not my beautiful house!

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Everyone has a “first place” story (except those of you who never moved out of your parents’ basement). My definition of a first place is that it’s where you were in charge of your fate and rent for the first time, rather than your school or your parents. I maintain that whether you loved or loathed your first place, you never forget it. There is a special tribe of “first place” survivors, and it’s those who were bold enough to venture to New York City—often with nothing more than hope in their pockets. Some had lived on their own in other cities; some … Read More…

Labor Day: Created in Six Days from Collective Guilt and a Stubborn Landlord

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This weekend, we’re celebrating the end of summer–the bookend to Memorial Day and a great Monday to have off.  Labor Day was created to supposedly honor the American worker but was  passed in record time in 1887 by a Congress and president with a guilty-conscience. It began with a broken promise–probably one that shouldn’t have been made.  But it was made–and believed to be made for all the right reasons on one side and the more logical reason on the other side–the reason of profit. George Pullman, like any great American businessman, found his niche.  He grew up near the Erie Canal and witnessed the … Read More…

Three Hall of Fame Teachers & Their Influence on a Newbie

Three faculty already acknowledged as immortal, before their induction.

It wasn’t too hard to pick the first round of inductees in 1996 for my school’s Hall of Fame:  Glenn Frey of the Eagles; Judith Guest, the author of Ordinary People; US Congressman William Broomfield, to name a few.  But if you follow the school’s motto, “Enter here to learn, go forth to serve,” many inductees who selflessly serve are not necessarily your marquee names. And fortunately, our school realized that faculty, as well as alumni, deserved a spot on the wall for their service. My first day on the job as a 22 year-old English teacher, I was asked for a hall pass. … Read More…

Superhero Halftime: What “Guardians” Says About Our Galaxy

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We live in an absolutely ridiculous time for geeks. If you were to create an historic timeline of superhero films, you could try and pinpoint the turning point with X-Men or Spider-Man. Around the turn of the century, when those films were released, the blockbuster world slowly began to turn on its head. In the 90s, the basis for most action movies was one of the following: (1) CIA agent, (2) rogue cop, (3) two unlikely cop partners teaming up for an action-comedy. After Sam Raimi’s success with Spider-Man, everyone and their uncle had to get their hands on some hot superhero action. But … Read More…

Acts of God? Creative Interpretations During Flooding: Unlike a Good Neighbor…

I-696 and I-75 in Royal Oak, Michigan

For a follow-up discussion on insurance companies and ethics, listen to our 10/7/14 podcast with attorney Judy Herman. I remember the feeling of helplessness all too well.  And this Monday evening it happened again. Our son was three weeks old and we were camping in northern Michigan when we got the call from my brother-in-law, who just lived around the block from us. “We got a ton of rain, the streets are flooded.  I shined the flashlight down into your basement through the window and the light bounced right back up.” Not a good sign since the carpeting had just been … Read More…