Vicky Collins Online

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Happy Hanukkah (Yeshiva University Style)

Mazel Tov to the students of Yeshiva University who came up with this clever video, “Candlelight.” What a creative way to wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah and appeal to people of all ages. Love all these knock off’s of of Taio Cruz’s song “Dynamite.”

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

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Delhi’s Commonwealth Games Face

When I came to Delhi in 2008 I remember the palpable culture shock.  It was overwhelming even for a rather intrepid traveler.  I had been in Beijing and Uganda earlier in the year so I thought I would be prepared for anything, but nothing I had ever experienced set me up for India.  On the roadway from the airport cows roamed the street.  The traffic was indescribable and everyone honked their horns. There were thousands of stray dogs loafing in the sun, then at night they would roam in hungry packs and turn aggressive.  Squatters camped along the roadways and children would race up to your car when you were stopped at intersections to beg or perform little tricks in hopes of a handout.  It took me about 24 hours to adjust and I still am ashamed of my ugly American moment when I couldn’t get the hot water to work.

Two years later, I see a different city.  For all the international ridicule Delhi suffered as it ramped up to the Commonwealth Games, the Indian capitol definitely has on its game face now.  The cows and dogs have been relocated for the time being to shelters.  There are few squatters and I haven’t seen one beggar yet.  Traffic is moving well and things are clean and tidy.  It remains to be seen what it will be like in three months when the international spotlight turns away (I still wonder how Beijing transformed once the Olympics were over.)  Of course Delhi will be left with the emotional and financial hangover these huge international sporting events leave behind, but for the moment, it is a new day in Delhi.  The only thing that hasn’t changed is the warmth of the people.  That is the same as it was in 2008.  Warm smiles and namastes.  Great hospitality to cure the worst case of culture shock.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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The Grapes of Wrath: The Next Generation

Even with 500 TV channels at our fingertips my 12 year old son, Blair, and I could not come up with a movie to watch.  He manned the remote flipping from title to title while I played God saying “next” and “pass” until we had gone from A to Z.  He grew impatient and started lobbying for “Family Guy” instead.  I was undeterred.  We would come up with a movie to share.  We went backwards from Z towards A and finally stopped on John Ford’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic “The Grapes of Wrath.”  Not his first choice for sure but he surrendered to a 70 year old film based on mom’s favorite book of all time.  We settled on his bed in a cuddle and since we started late it took us two evenings to get through it.

I’m sure I watched this epic when I was in middle school or high school yet decades later I’m still in awe of this movie.  It is so honest, so realistic.  It was startling in its simplicity by today’s standards yet that made it even more powerful.  I was struck by the starkness of the landscapes, the grimness of the Depression and the Dust Bowl, the contrasts in black and white and the melodrama of the acting.  The performances by Henry Fonda as a young Tom Joad and especially Oscar award winning Jane Darwell as the beleagured mother trying to keep her family together stay with you long after the final credits.  Compared to 3D films, Pixar and Disney animation and the special effects we have today it was so unsophisticated.

The themes of this great and gritty masterpiece resonate 70 years later.  Oppression of migrants, the cry for economic and social justice, the difficulty of achieving the American dream and the endurance of the spirit over inhumanity and adversity feel every bit as relevant in 2010 as they did in 1940.  But these are just my impressions.  When I asked my son Blair what he thought of the movie he said the big surprise for him was that the protagonist did not win.  He said in movies these days the protagonist always triumphs and that sometimes it spoils things because he knows how the film will end. But at the end of the movie Tom Joad and his family were still suffering. I told him that good guys don’t always win and sometimes in the real world people are bloodied and nobody wins.  There are not always happy endings. For him, “The Grapes of Wrath” was unexpected and for me, well, they just don’t make movies like that anymore.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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K’Naan: Waving Flag’s Backstory

I love backstories. I love looking behind the scenes at inspirations and motivations that lead to great creativity. Here’s musician and artist K’Naan’s story in his own words on BBC Radio about what led to his epic song “Waving Flag,” which became a rallying cry for earthquake stricken Haiti, and then a joyous anthem for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/08/100811_knaan_nh_sl.shtml?s

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Burka Barbie

Barbie in hijab and burka

To celebrate Barbie’s 50th anniversary a line of Muslim Barbie dolls have been released to help Arabic children connect.  There’s a love/hate relationship with Burka Barbie.  They wear hijab and brightly colored burkas.  What do you think of this diversity doll?    

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/12/arab-world-burka-barbie-iconic-doll-gets-an-islamic-makeover-for-50th-anniversary.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BabylonBeyond+%28Babylon+%26+Beyond+Blog%29

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Esther’s Last Dance

Esther Heller tells me she used to be a dancer.  She says she won competitions in Paris and Athens and even Kamchatka (although she no longer is certain where that is.)  She used to teach dancing in Denver.  Waltzes and Polkas and Fox Trots.  She did it for free so people could learn to move their feet.  But now Esther’s feet have betrayed her.  Until a couple weeks ago, 90 year old Esther lived in her own apartment, overlooking the college where she also taught French for many years.  Over the past years she hardly went out but she led the life she chose.  Then she fell and broke her arm. 

Now Esther, who says she visited 200 countries and speaks 12 languages, lives in a assisted living world called Shalom Park.  She lies in bed and politely refuses to eat.  She likes Ginger Ale so she drinks a bit.  Each day she grows weaker and each day dementia takes more of the memories that have sustained her for a lifetime.  The memories of Poland and the family she lost in the Holocaust and how she didn’t go to school and how she was put to work at 13 and somehow out of sheer will she managed to go to college and eventually become a teacher at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School. 

I come in to visit her but she doesn’t remember who I am anymore or that I am the one who brought her the orange tulips.  She wants to know what day it is, what time it is, and why so many people keep coming into her room.  I show her pictures of places she has seen in Israel, Rome, Istanbul and Prague.  She looks at the Coliseum and the Western Wall in Jerusalem and says “I can’t place it.”  Now and then memories flicker by and she smiles sadly.  But she remembers she used to be a dancer and how she won competitions and taught people how to move.  From where I sit, in the chair across from her bed, Esther seems to be choreographing her last dance.  She has chosen not to follow.  She will do it her way.  She will lead as she dances out of the world.

NOTE: Esther Heller died peacefully in her sleep on December 3, 2009.  I was blessed to know her and am grateful that I had the opportunity to hear her stories. 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Ode to Ode Magazine

I got a call from a lawyer the other day. “How are you?” I said. “Better than you will be,” she replied. Turns out she was calling on behalf of Ode Magazine to tell me they could not afford to pay their bills and I would not be getting compensated for my contribution to their magazine. They wanted to be up front with me and with everyone else who was beating down their doors to get paid for their work.  I wrote an article on touring Brazil’s favelas for their spring travel issue. It was the first time I’d written an article for a magazine and I was very proud.  They asked for 1500 words and said they’d pay fifty cents a word.  The story ended up being 900 words but they’d pay me $750 anyway.  They warned me it would take a long time to get paid.  Eight months later I was starting to feel my story would not have a happy ending.

I’d like to say I’m angry or even disappointed by Ode’s failure to follow through but more than anything I’m sad.  This was a really good publication and the editors had wonderful intentions to create a smart magazine for “intelligent optimists.”  They were responsive and seemed to work very hard from their offices in the Bay Area and the Netherlands.  But the economy is killing Ode Magazine just as it’s ushering in the demise of so many publications.  Ode can’t even afford to file for Chapter 11 so it can reorganize.  Short of a funding miracle, Ode Magazine will most likely die a quiet death.  The magazine is trying to raise $50,000 in the next ten days to stay afloat. 

By the end of the year we’ll have written the obituaries of Metropolitan Home, Fortune Small Business, and Conde Nast’s Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride.  Other magazines bit the dust before them.  They were victims of a declining advertising market where ad sales, according to one report, were down almost 12% since 2008, while the cost of printing continues to skyrocket.  Newspapers are taking it on the chin even worse than magazines as we’ve seen with the deaths of the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, even the Christian Science Monitor.

More established publications have been able to downsize, outsource and cut costs but it seems Ode Magazine, even with its good intentions, might not be able to outrun the bad economy.  There are many others besides myself who are not getting paid for their work.  For me, it is the very first time in my career.  The money would have been nice but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter that much.  What matters is that a really good magazine is running out of time and another voice will be silenced.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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United Breaks Guitars: The Sequel

Canadian Dave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, are not giving United Airlines a break after they broke his beloved Taylor Guitar.  The sequel to United Breaks Guitars is out now.  His first video received over 5,000,000 hits on YouTube and earned him appearances on the morning shows. The production of this video is a bit more sophisticated and it even has credits and a copyright. Make sure you watch the video until the end. Its still a huge dig at an airline that frequently has little regard for its customers.  So suck it up United. So glad we still have Frontier Airlines in Denver.


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United Breaks Guitars Encore

As of this morning at 9 a.m. MT, Canadian Dave Carroll’s video “United Breaks Guitars” has had over 1.3 million hits on YouTube and the singer/songwriter says “it’s been a whirlwind.”  He has received a deluge of emails, a flood of Facebook friends, requests for gigs and interviews, and even a call from Oprah’s people to be a guest on the show.  “Every musician wants to get their stuff out there.  I just didn’t necessarily expect it to happen in this way,” said Carroll.  The 41 year old artist says his video has received far more attention than anything else he has done in his 15 year career as a musician.

As for United, well, it has been a learning experience.  Carroll took the high road and it has apparently “struck a chord” with United.  Not only did he and his band, Sons of Maxwell, produce a terrific music video but they also gave United the gift of a training tape so that all of us who fly the “Friendly Skies” will get better service.  Carroll says the sequel to “United Breaks Guitars” will be flying through cyberspace soon.


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United Breaks Guitars

For anyone who has ever had a nightmare flight on United Airlines and was unsatisfied with their customer service, you will enjoy this video.  United did not care about Canadian Dave Carroll after they broke his Taylor guitar when his band, Sons of Maxwell, was going to a gig in Nebraska.  So he wrote a song.  A scathing song.  A very scathing song. Thanks to YouTube, United had a PR headache on its hands and finally are trying to make things right. What a clever way to get attention.
   

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.