Christmas Music Sensory Overload? Blame it on the Jews…

From Virtual

Our Top 12: The Jews Behind the Christmas Songs

12. The Christmas Song

Written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells.
christmas songs written by jews

Mel Torme was born to Russian Jewish parents. Bob Wells was born Robert Levinson.

The two were a well known songwriting partnership.

This song was born in Toluca Lake, CA on a hot July day, When Torme arrived at Wells’ house, he found a spiral note pad of paper with some words on it “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide Carols being sung by a choir, folks dressed up like Eskimos.”

Wells had wanted to write a song for a completely different season “to cool off.” Torme recognized the potential in the lyric, and the rest of the song was written in 35 minutes.

11. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Written by Albert Hague

christmas songs written by jews

Hague was born as Albert Marcuse to a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany who considered their Jewish heritage a liability, and raised him as a Lutheran. This was written and recorded for the 1966 Dr. Seuss TV Holiday Special How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Seuss wrote the lyrics and Albert Hague wrote the music.

10. Holly Jolly Christmas

Written by Johnny Marks

christmas songs written by jews

Though he was a Jew, Marks was also one of the most famous Christmas songwriters of all time. He appears on our list no less than THREE Times.

He was brought in for this project after impressing executives with the success of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

9. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

Written by Irving Berlin

christmas songs written by jews

Born Israel Isidore Beilin, Berlin was an American composer and lyricist of Belarusian-Jewish origin. This song was one of the numbers from the 1937 film musical On The Avenue, to which Berlin contributed the majority of the music.

8. Winter Wonderland

Written by Felix Bernard

christmas songs written by jews

Born Felix William Bernhardt to a Jewish family in New York City, Bernard was known for his great compositions.

This became one of the most popular holiday songs of all time.

7. Let It Snow!

Written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn

christmas songs written by jews

Born in London as Julius Kerwin Stein to Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine, Styne was a famous American songwriter.

Cahn was born Samuel Cohen in NYC and became obsessed with music shortly after his bar mitzvah.

Although this song is associated with Christmas, there is zero mention of the holiday in the lyrics.

6. Silver Bells

Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

christmas songs written by jews

Livingston was born Jacob Harold Levison in Pennsylvania. Evans, also a Jew, stepped away from all organized religion, including his religious heritage, later in life.

This famous duo is also behind the classic standards and Academy Award winning numbers, “Buttons and Bows” and “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).”

5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Written by Johnny Marks

christmas songs written by jews

Marks’ second appearance on our list! Let’s start with the fact that Rudolph was originally named Rollo, or Reginald! The story of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward department stores, as a promotional gift for customers. The stores had bought and distributed coloring books every Christmas and saw writing their own story as a way to save money. Marks was May’s brother in law, and after developing the lyrics and melody for it, the song was first released in 1949, selling an astonishing 2 million copies that year.

Click here for the rest of the list.

Josh Bowen: What’s Your Fitness Personality? Three Questions to Ask Before Starting a Program

There are many articles and blogs about exercise/fitness written and seen every day. Today’s media is obsessed with the latest fitness fads. We are all inundated with countless “Lose 10 Pounds in 6 Weeks” taglines. From P90X to Insanity to the latest trend diet, we’re on fitness overload. But one problem remains… people still have trouble staying fit. Why? Well, I found a glaring hole into the fitness lexicon: lack of personality analysis.

As a trainer of 10 years, the most important lesson I learned is the client’s personality, goals and abilities dictate how I train them. Personality traits have been used for years in other industries to place workers in the right career or match a single up for a date. How about doing the same for fitness?

Today we start. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

1.For successful workouts, do you need a challenge or do you want more structure?

This is a great question that will forecast where your fitness journey will take you (for now, anyway). If challenge is what you need, define what challenges you. Running, lifting, obstacle courses, or cross training can be challenging on different levels. Keep it fresh to keep from getting bored. If structure is what you need, switching things up too quickly may overload you. CrossFit or P90X may not be something for you if structure is your goal. Keeping your exercise somewhat predictable may allow for more commitment and consistency. What if you have never exercised? Think about what you prefer in everyday life and apply it to your exercise program.

josh2.When you need to reduce stress, do you pick activities that are relaxing, or activities that help blow off steam?

For some, working out is stressful. Add work, life, and kids to the equation and it gets tougher. For some, exercise adds unwanted stress. To create adherence and long term participation with the possibility of results, I advise people to pick what fits their personality. For example, if blowing off steam is my preference, I may pick activities like boxing, weightlifting or cross training. If you prefer something more relaxing, yoga, massage or a nice stroll may be more suitable. People are more likely to keep exercising doing something they enjoy versus something they don’t.

3.Do you enjoy exercise more when it involves a routine that you can adhere to, or one that offers a variety?

Variety the spice of life, but not everyone wants it. Some of us get bored quickly, but not everyone is created equal. Think about what your personality would be best suited for and get the most from it. Would it be a program that you stick with, or would it be a plan that was progressive and changing? Either way, it does not matter. Your dedication to and how you feel about the program matters more than if it’s routine or offers variety.


Many people stop an exercise program at some point. The main culprit is the lack of support, but also because of a failure to identify the right fitness personality. Remember, fitness doesn’t need to take place in a gym. Recreational sports, outside fitness, and yoga are all forms of exercise – a point to consider when developing the program that fits you.

– See more at:

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Christmas

It’s game time. Christmas-wise anyway.

Imagine you are in a football huddle late in the game.

A lot is on the line.

The quarterback unsnaps his helmet chinstrap and looks intensely but hopefully at each and every player

Then refastens his chinstrap and says to the team:

“You know what to do. We’ve practiced every conversation and family interaction for months now.

It’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and even though we may not be ready for them; they are ready for us.

This is it. And I say we are ready. Let’s do this thing!

Oh, and one more thing. Let’s make this the merriest damn Christmas ever!

On one. Break!”

The coolest thing about having teenagers on Christmas morning?It is 10:26am and although Santa and his team finished their work at around 2am, neither child is awake yet.Or even stirring.

Neither Johnny nor Maggie woke up naturally at the crack of dawn like they used to a few years ago.

And apparently don’t even bother to set their alarms as teens.

But I am up.


I am afraid to try to wake them for fear they may say, “Just 10 more minutes…”

So I am enjoying coffee and left overs from last night’s dessert and giving them a little more time to awaken, on teen time, for an exciting Christmas morning. Around noon.


jyb_musingsWhen our son was 5 we surprised him Christmas morning with a new puppy. He was ecstatic but as he held the new puppy my wife and I noticed the puppy was shivering. My wife commented to me several times asking me if I thought the shivering was normal and if our new puppy was OK.

Finally, our commonsense 5 year old son, Johnny, interrupted and said, “Mom, relax. The puppy has been on a sliegh all night long in cold weather. Of course she’s going to be shivering.”

I looked at my wife and laughing said, “Duh!”


My loved ones are so, so hard to Christmas shop for!!

Why do I think that?

Because everytime I slip away to try to shop for them I easily find a thing or two for me– but can never quite find a gift for them. And have to keep looking. It’s very frustrating.

But as frustrating experiences go, more fun than most.

The other night my wife and I split up to shop more efficiently and when we met back up I was carrying a bag with a men’s robe and a pair of slacks. “Who is that for?” Rebecca asked. “What? This?” I responded in mock surprise.

“It is for you,” I explained. “For you to give to me for Christmas. I just had you in mind and was thinking how I could make things easier on you”

I am pretty sure Rebecca believed me….Or at least was hoping I would find other ways to shop for Christmas that had a more direct benefit to her and others….   ;  )

Christmas Eve 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Today feels like that show where the winner got to take a shopping cart and rush through the store for exactly  two minutes and could keep everything put in the cart during those two minutes.

Except in today’s game they make you pay for it all. At the end of your two minutes.It looked more fun the other way.

A Jewish Christmas

From The RP’s sister, Jennifer Miller, on Quora:

Miller Brothers



The following article — torn, yellowed, matted, and framed — has hung on my wall my whole life. I think it gives a pretty good sense of who the Millers are supposed to be, and it launched my fascination with the writer, J. Soule Smith.

Published in 1899, it is an incredible piece of satire triggered by the Christmas Eve vandalism of my family’s store (Miller Brothers, at the lower left of the photo) in Lexington, Kentucky.  The Millers had dared to violate Blue Laws by opening the doors to local children when Christmas fell on a Sunday.  My guess is that the Starbucks now in that location will be open on Christmas Sunday 2011.

By J. Soule Smith
The Gatling Gun, 1899

The accursed and despised Jew continues to get in his work. Like Shylock, he not only wants his pound of flesh but insists on taking the trimmings of blood, etc., along with it. He not only supplants his Christian neighbor in business, but he has been trying to vie with him in patriotism, and at last has begun to rob him of his Christmas. We ought to do something with the unregenerate Jew. In England they convert him at a guinea a head, and a thrifty Polish or Russian Jew can make a fair start in business by backsliding every time he gets strapped and being converted some more. Now and then they convert one in this country, and send him around to tell the country churches how they could convert the whole remnant of Israel if they would only put up enough money. So soon as they put up enough money, he invests it in a clothing store and fills the windows with cheap goods worth $2.00, but labeled “Marked down from $8.00 to $6.99.” Then the suckers come and buy, and the smart Jew laughs at the credulous Christian who converted him.

But some of the unregenerate, and unconverted, Jews persist in practicing Christian virtues while stubbornly adhering to the Jewish faith. They insist on living decently, practicing charity, and loving the human race – well knowing that these things are the peculiar prerogatives of Christians. They ought to be ashamed of themselves for acting so, but they are not. They seem to forget that by all our laws of fiction and philosophy, the Jew ought to be grasping and avaricious and the evil demon of his fellow-men. And one Jew, to my knowledge, got up a regular Santa Claus Christmas. It happened here in Lexington, in the heart of the Blue Grass region, where, according to the Northern idea, we kill “niggers” for breakfast and have cold roast pickaninny for supper; yet nobody killed the Jew. He is still alive, and selling ready-made clothing at the old stand.

Christmas of 1898 came on Sunday, as we all know. That is, it did in the United States, though in England some of the clergy decided it was not Sunday at all, since the prayer-book gave no form of worship for such a day; and of course it would be wrong to worship God except according to the prayer-book. But it was Sunday here – worse than a Puritanical Sabbath. The women had all the saloons closed, and toothless virgins stood on the street corners smelling the breath of every passing male. It had been decreed in England that the day was Christmas – a season of rejoicing – not the Sabbath, on which everybody had to be uncomfortable and make everybody else feel the same way. But the male and female old women, here, decided that nobody on earth should have any fun on that day if they could help it. But this unsalivated Jew had all the fun he wanted, and nobody dared stop him. He celebrated Christmas with a real Santa Claus.

That Jew sent out emissaries through the town for a month before, and sought for and found all the poor children – white, black and speckled – who had no parents or friends able or willing to give them Christmas presents. He docketed them by serial and sexual numbers, so that when entered on the books he knew the age, sex, and previous condition of servitude of each one. The Jew always has method in his madness. Then he gave each one of them a card of invitation to his store on Christmas day, and, with malice aforethought, and that diabolical cunning which is characteristic of the Jew, he purchased a present suitable for each child. He had no charitable organization to assist him, so far as I know, except a soft-eyed, sweet-voiced, large-hearted little Jewess – his sister – who, not so very long ago, perpetuated the memory of a dead brother by furnishing a room for poor patients in a Christian hospital. Maybe it would have been more Christian-like for her to have erected a marble mausoleum, but she did not see it in that light.

So this Jew and his sweet-hearted little sister perfected their plot against the Christian children. If they had tried such a game in Spain, three hundred years ago, they would both have been burned at the stake and their goods confiscated. It was well known in those days that Jews at Christian children for breakfast, and picked their bones over, cold, for supper. There was reason to suspect a similar intent in this case, for the children were required to be washed clean before they came. But even then they were not entirely palatable, for the Jew and his sister failed and refused to eat any of them, white or black.

But this Jew and his honey-hearted little sister had their fun all the same, and broke the Christian Sabbath into fragments, not knowing that one Jesus, a Jew, would have done just as they did had He been situated just as they were. He had spoken a parable – something about going into the highways and the by-ways for guests to a supper that was spread – but these unregenerate Jews knew nothing of that. I believe that Jesus is (not was) the Christ, the Son of the living God, and Himself living, to-day, in the hearts of those who worship the living God. I believe with the Brahmin, in the words of Krishna: “Of all Yogas, I respect him as the most devout who hath faith in me and who serveth me with a soul possessed of my spirit.” But this is not orthodox Christian doctrine as taught in the churches and the Temperance Unions and Young Men’s Christian Associations. And, therefore, these ignorant Jews conceived the notion that it was well to make people happy on Christmas day. Poor, foolish Jews! did they not know that the “Christian Sabbath” is a day of groaning and lamentation, and that Jesus Himself would be put in the workhouse for vagrancy if He applied for a Christmas gift at the door of a coal-oil millionaire’s house? Christ, on Euclid avenue, would be collared by the police before He had worked a miracle.

All Saturday night the good Christians of this town bombarded the front of this wicked Jew’s store with Roman candles and Chinese fire-crackers and sky-rockets and dynamite bombs, and other Christian devices for converting unregenerate Jews who obstinately refuse to become converted at a guinea apiece. Most of the Christians were drunk, but the obstinate Jew remained sober, and, finding he could transact no business, went home and went to bed. I suppose he dreamed of eating Christian babies barbecued, or broiled on toast like quail. He never told me his dream, because I did not ask him; but from what I know of Jews I suppose they eat Christian babies – in their sleep. I know they don’t eat them while awake.

Christmas was a bright and breezy Sunday – the atmosphere was clear and could bite without the assistance of a dentist. I went down to this Jew’s store to see how his iniquitous scheme would work out. The scene was unique. There were some Christian bums, left over from the night before, up and down the street, trying to batter their way into the side doors of saloons to get a bracer. Not a drop could they get, though some of them fell by the wayside. They were melancholy and unhappy, and the virtuous virgins and mincing children who passed them on the way to Sunday school drew aside from them in scorn and looked as stolidly miserable as the bums did. They went to church and called themselves “miserable sinners,” and I think they hit this combination about right.

This Jew was a sinner, but I don’t think he was miserable. He was busy in the back part of his store breaking the “Christian Sabbath” that these church people talk about, just like that other Jew, Jesus, broke the Jewish Sabbath – by doing good. In front of the store were two or three hundred children, white, black, yellow and albino – some too little to come by themselves – waiting for Santa Claus to come. At the appointed hour Santa Claus came in his yellow wagon – there was no snow, so he kept his sleigh in Lapland – and forced his way into the store through the excited crowd of youngsters. In the back part of the building he ascended his throne and waited for the little folks to come. A few policemen at the front door, some of them Irish – and every good Protestant knows that an Irish policeman is nearly as bad as a charitable Jew – admitted these little ones, a few at a time, so that there should be no crush and no confusion. These wicked policemen actually smiled and looked happy when they gave those Christian children into the clutches of the ravenous Jew. They were very ungodly police, else so ignorant that they did not know how sinful it was to be happy on the “Christian Sabbath.”

And those poor heathen children – niggers, negroes, mulattoes and white – were happy. Each one presented a card, and Santa gave a present – numbered as the card was. Then the child passed out the side door, with joy in its heart and the present in its arms. Most of them hurried home to tell of their good luck. Some stopped to peep into the bundle. The wicked Jew stood by Santa Claus, and actually gloated over the happiness of these poor creatures, as if a Jew had any right to share the joy of Christian children. His little sister shrunk back into an obscure corner behind the railing of the cashier’s desk and watched the procession of God’s poor, as it passed by, through what looked to me like tears of joy, filming her soft eyes so that their long silken lashes could not hide the gleam. What passed in that little lady’s soul I do not know; there are gray threads in her hair, but never a fibre in the warp and woof of her life that is not sweet and pure and gentle and lovable. For more than twenty years I have known her, and her heart is virgin and her hand is free. No man has ever touched the sanctity of her inner life. But I suspect that even she dared to be happy on this Christmas day while the truly good people were calling themselves “miserable sinners” at church. Alas! so easily corrupted am I, and so seductive the wiles of these wicked Jews, that I am afraid that I, too, was happy when I saw them doing Christ’s work and shaming the churches with their JEWISH CHRISTMAS.

Lauren Mayer: I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

Every now and then, a movie catch phrase comes along that both works perfectly in context, and comes in handy in real life.  “Toto, I’ve a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore,” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” and “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” come to mind (as well as almost every line from “Blazing Saddles,” although most of those can’t be quoted without a detailed explanation and a PG-13 warning).

One of my personal favorites is from “The Princess Bride,” when Inigo Montoya hears his boss say ‘inconceivable’ and comments, “You keep using that word, I do not think that word means what you think it does.”   (I’m the adult child of a former English teacher, meaning I cringe when I see mis-used words and grammatical mistakes, although I agree, “ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put” is a little awkward.)  So I was delighted to see that meme pop up in connection with the latest flap over “Duck Dynasty,” with family patriarch Phil Robertson being quoted in GQ (yeah, rednecks and GQ seem like an odd pairing to me, too!), expressing some colorfully homophobic and outdated racial views.

Of course, the biggest shocker to me was that anyone was shocked – did A&E really expect that a family of Louisiana evangelical duck-hunters would have enlightened views on race relations or gay rights?  (Brings to mind another of my favorite film lines, when Claude Rains is trying to impress the Nazis in Casablanca by saying, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here” right before a dealer says “Your winnings, sir.”)  But in their reactions, A&E and conservative politicians seem trying to outdo each other with cluelessness.

I find Mr. Robertson’s remarks offensive – but I find a lot of things offensive about reality TV, and I’m not so crazy about the whole idea of hunting defenseless little ducks – but I digress.  Mr. Robertson has a right to express his views, as repugnant (or weird – read the actual article!) as they are, and his employers at A&E have a right to hire, fire, and suspend whomever they like.  A&E announced a brief suspension, apparently trying to appease the large gay and black audience for the show (??), but opening up a huge can of worms in the process.  Conservative politicians and peripheral-but-trying-to-stay-in-the-spotlight-characters declared their outrage that the media was censoring a good Christian and depriving him of his fundamental right of free speech.  Ignoring, of course, the fact that no one’s right of free speech was infringed, because the Bill of Rights says nothing about anyone’s right to star on a reality television program.

Jeff Smith: After the Fall

From St. Louis Magazine:

Jeff SmithA few years ago, Missouri state Sen. Jeff Smith was caught lying to the feds about the funding for a certain political-attack mailer and wound up sentenced to a year behind bars. The charismatic young progressive, who has since left prison and politics behind, contributed a chapter to the new book The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis. He tells confessional, instructive stories about what he learned from his mistakes. His chapter begins with a grabber—being strip-searched as he enters the lock-up.

Is the book literally a practical guide for politicians who’ve stumbled, or does it have a broader purpose? To some extent, it’s designed to be a guide, but in a broader way, it’s designed to give anyone who’s going through tough times a lot of ways to handle situations more appropriately, more effectively, in a way that’s healthier. For instance, let’s say you’re a salesman and you’re trying to sell widgets and the company you’re selling to says, “You knock 10 percent off that $1.7 million you just quoted me, and we’ll make it worth your while.” These things are often not so blunt, though. People in everyday life encounter ethical dilemmas in everything they do. The book provides a lot of insight into the mistakes that those of us in the public eye have made that mushroom out of control. Hopefully that can help a lot of people prevent their situations from ever getting to that stage. Most people are not going to be Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner, plastered all over the tabloids, but we all live in a constant state of trying to do the right thing.

The book offers tales of woe from a bunch of former politicians being painfully honest, more so than you usually expect from politicians. We are all pretty vulnerable in that book. We’re getting deep, talking about the lowest moments in our lives, and we’re hoping it transcends people’s typical views of politicians as full of crap and constantly dissembling. There’s not a lot of that in this book.

How did you get involved with the Recovering Politician blog? There are two guys—the former secretary of state of Kentucky and the former treasurer of Kentucky—they started it. My ex-girlfriend had worked in Kentucky, and I met one of these guys. The two of them got together and brainstormed at the time I had just come out of prison, and it came together by happenstance. They asked me to write an essay about my experience, and it went from there.

In a candid column for the Recovering Politician website, you wrote about how the revelation that you’d spent a year in prison got the attention of a group of jaded young people at a party in Brooklyn. Is that a weird feeling, to have a certain street cred by virtue of having served time? Yeah, it’s weird. But you have to try to always let people remember a couple of things—that a lot of people in prison aren’t very much different from them, and that even the ones they think are very different aren’t as different as they think. I try not to let people “go slumming” off my experience. What I’m concerned about is the complete lack of rehabilitation in most prisons and the effect that has.

You’ve had some time, since November 2010, that you’ve been out of prison and the halfway house you went to after prison. Have you gotten some emotional distance from everything? Yes and no. I’ve gotten involved in a lot of activities related to prison issues. Compared to 2011, well, then I wasn’t ready to engage in a lot of stuff like that. But in the last six months, I’ve been spending a lot more time on those issues. I gave a speech at the Cleveland State Prison in Texas to several hundred graduates of one of their programs. The experience of being back inside was emotional. I’m working on a book about my experience in prison and how it’s informed my views on prison policy, and about how we can do a better job leveraging of the untapped talent in our prisons and cut our spending and reduce our recidivist rate.

In 2010, you told SLM’s Jeannette Cooperman that academe “does not even resemble the real world… One of my objectives is to try to explore ways to better connect poli sci with real-world politics.” Now you’re the assistant professor of politics and advocacy at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School in New York. Is that what you’re doing there? Yes. In fact, in the next week or two, I have to turn in my dossier, which is my giant file of everything I’ve done in the past few years, for my job renewal, and the opening of that is a statement of purpose, what you’re trying to do in academia. My goals are to help infuse academia with more of an understanding of real-world politics and to give students a better understanding of how things really work, what people who haven’t been in the game might not know. Conversely, I try to bring some of the social-science discipline and analytical training into the public world.

Click here to read the full piece.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Late Night Snack Review

We can all admit it. Sometimes when it is late at night and we have been tossing and turning in bed and unable to go to sleep, the only thing that really helps is sauntering into the kitchen half-awake and helping ourselves to a satisfying late night snack.

Last night I found myself in that exact situation.

Like most homes we have a fair choice of late night snack choices. There is a cupboard in our kitchen corner where we keep chips, cereal, cookies, and even healthy snacks we are experimenting with that we hadn’t tried before.

Last night I was willing to try something a little different and something healthier than usual so I settled on Fruitables (skinny minis) as it said on the bag. Sounded interesting and even had a unique Apple Bacon flavor described on the label.

I grabbed a handful of these morsels and popped them in my mouth and began chewing. Dry and tasteless was all I could think at first so I didn’t what anyone who do in that situation and figured the solution was to pop more into my mouth until I could get a real taste of this new snack. And I did just that.

jyb_musingsNow I had more than a full mouthful of this fancy sounding snack and decided this was about the blandest and driest and yet chewiest snack I had ever eaten and bagan wondering if it was even made for humans or perhaps I had accidentally confused a bag of puppy treats for our dogs for a late night human snack.

Turns out it was, indeed, the latter and I decided to spit out what I had been chewing on and had a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal instead.

In conclusion, I can recommend Fruitables (skinny minis) Apple Bacon flavored bits for a late night snack by themselves. Too dry and chewy and, frankly, tasteless. I personally don’t see what dogs see in them. However, if you are willing to add milk and, say, some raisins, it may be worth trying. But I recommend, all things being equal, to go with Raisin Bran instead– unless you just can’t stand Raisin Bran and are one of those people who always has to pretend you like things other people have never heard of before.

Matt & Erica Chua: 2013 Photos that Capture the Color

When I saw the Capture the Color photo contest was going on again this year I was excited to dig through the photos from our trip and share a few with you.  Not only did this contest give me an opportunity to reminisce about all the places we’ve been by reliving memories through our photos but I love the theme, it’s so simple, capture the colors Blue, Green, Yellow, White and Red in your photos. I have to admit the deal was sweetened knowing I wouldn’t be competing against some of the travel blogosphere’s most talented photographers: Ken KamineskyAbi King,  Davefrom the Planet D, Christine Gilbert and Daniel Nahabedian, because they are the judges.  You can enter too and have the chance to win £3000, an Arc’teryx voucher or other great prizes.  Without further ado below are my five photos that Capture the Color:


Huyana Potosi, Bolivia (19,974 feet)

As we carefully inched along the snowy trail on the exposed ridge of Huyana Potosi leading us to the summit the sun just started to peek above the horizon.  It was a beautiful sight and a view I will never forget.  Once we reached the summit I looked back on the path we had taken in the dark to reach our goal and realized how precarious of a position we had been in.  As I watched another group of climbers descend I pulled out the camera to capture the trail with the sun highlighting the pristine white snow.  The moment I took this picture I still couldn’t fully comprehend what we had just done to be standing at the top of a mountain overlooking Bolivia.


Banaue Rice Terraces commonly referred to by the Filipinos as “The Eighth Wonder of the World”

The vibrant green rice terraces of Banaue are a source of pride for the local Ifugao people and meticulously cared for.  Many people believe that the terraces were built by ancestors of the Igugao people with minimal equipment, mostly by hand. The terraces are located about 5000 feet above sea level and cover roughly 6000 square miles of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.  The size is difficult to comprehend from the above photo, but you can see how it reduces the people in the photo to mere ants to help give you a perspective of the massive scale.  As I climbed up and down the stairs I loved the sense of being so small and taking in the vast expanse of terraces that stretched out in both directions.


A monk praying at Dambulla Rock Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Sri Lanka

The elaborate paintings and statues that make up the Dambulla Rock Temple in Sri Lanka depict the Lord Buddha and his life. Monks from around the area make the pilgrimage to this holy site to pray and meditate.  The five major caves include a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses and the murals cover an astonishing 2,100 square meters.  I captured this monk praying to one of the many Buddhist statues and then watched in awe as he mindfully and methodically made his way around the cave pausing to pray or pay his respects to specific statues within the cave.  It was a beautiful meditation in motion.  To see more photos from the other four caves at Dambulla check out A Buddhist View of Sri Lanka.


Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE

A visit to the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a must for anyone visiting Abu Dhabi even for a short layover.  The over-the-top opulence is incredible and outshines even the most amazing sights of the world, it is a modern day Taj Mahal and amazing feat of architecture.  This reflection of two of the domes that make up the mosque are reflected in the glass doorways that lead into the prayer hall.  The reflection of the perfect blue sky adds to the allure of this magnificent building.  To see photos of the crystal chandeliers and marble columns in the interior click here.


Market vendor in Mandalay, Myanmar

For any traveler that visits Myanmar the take away seems to be the same, this country has the most wonderful people in the world.  They are friendly, helpful and always have a smile to share.  I love this photo from a market in Mandalay, not only do you get a sense of the warmth of the people in Myanmar but I was able to capture a little slice of the local market culture.  I love markets all over the world, but there was something special about the markets in Myanmar where vendors would invite you to come over and share with you something they are selling or request a picture of themselves, simply so they could see themselves on your digital screen.  I have fond memories of meeting the young lady in this photo and wandering the beautiful and busy markets of Myanmar.


Another highlight of this competition is seeing fellow bloggers photos, below are five travelers that I would love to see highlight their pictures:

  • Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped, they have been making there way through Central and South America and I’m sure have some amazing beach shots!
  • Cassie and Keving from Ever in Transit, they claim to take way to many photos- so, I would love to see what they might dig out of their archives for a capture the color entry.
  • Erica and Shaun from Over Yonderlust, I loved their recent post on the Portland Japanese Garden and would love to see what other photo gems they have up their sleeve.
  • Jodi from Legal Nomads, food is her forte and I’d love to see the colorful dishes she may have captured in her years of traveling
  • Kate from Adventurous Kate, she is currently traveling all around the world with a new camera in tow- I would love to see what images she has captured in the past few months.

Cross-posted from

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: An Updated Version of Me

I am getting a little nervous.

Everything I use each day seems to have a new updated version that needs to be downloaded every six months or so.

I am 50 years old and can’t remember the last time I offered an updated download for myself.

I hope no one js getting suspicious that I may not have one.

I am starting to feel like the driver of a car that has driven 50,000 miles and has forgotten ever to get an oil change– and there are no Valvoline stations in sight.

jyb_musingsI am just going to pretend I have one even though there is nothing really to download. Kind of like a placebo or sugar pill to make us feel better but has no medical use. Just psychological. I think that’s what a lot of these tech updated downloads are anyway.

So…For the latest updated version of me, John Y Brown III, please click here. And use your imagination. While taking a sugar pill.

Saul Kaplan: Dribs and Drabs

Drip, drip, drip.  One comment on a blog post. One re-tweet of a point of view. One new Facebook friend.  You might not even realize while it is happening but over time an audience is developing that is genuinely interested in what you have to say and gives you permission to share it.  Individuals are learning how to share their stories and gaining confidence by participating actively in social networks. Personal networks have become the new marketing channels and marketing has become the art of dribs and drabs.  The problem is that most organizations haven’t figured it out yet.

I believe the marketing model of companies deploying large internal teams of marketing specialists supported by even larger external advertising and public relations firms is dead.   Watching the series Mad Men reminds me of how little the advertising and communications industry has changed from a model that is clearly being disrupted by the new world of social media.

It is exciting to be a participant in the seismic shift away from the old models of mass marketing and communication. The days of the big campaign developed behind closed doors followed by a grand unveiling comprised of orchestrated media placements and road show whistle-stops are behind us.  Now the message is developed and honed every day.  You don’t need an army of specialists to tell you what the message is.  You just need to put your genuine ideas out in public every day where a community of interest can provide you with immediate feedback, help you to improve, and share your ideas with their networks if they like them.

photo-saulNo intermediaries required.  Being genuine is valued above all else.  No need to assign the task of sharing your perspective, idea, or message to a third party.  Share them yourself.

This shift must be driving traditional marketing types and communications firms crazy.   The industry was built on a foundation of “controlling the message” and secret sauce that only the experts possessed to unlock access to big media outlets. Imagine the horror when huge campaigns are ripped apart within 24 hours of release by the viral unknown masses or when an undiscovered talent like Susan Boyle can become an overnight global sensation.

Dribs and drabs sound so inefficient and even dangerous when you grew up in an industrial era when marketing was about controlling the message, leveraging marketing experts, and mass media channels to reach a target market segment.  Marketing and Communications has been a centralized and protected function within most organizations.  God forbid anyone outside of the chosen functions speaks on behalf of or about the company in public or on the web.  Social media has blown traditional marketing up and most organizations I interact with are struggling with how to manage the new world where individuals are empowered communicators with an audience.

Communication is personal and everyone has a role to play.  The world of personal and organizational communication is merging whether we want it to or not.  I have talked to many active participants on social media platforms that are constrained or even blocked from communicating while at work or about work after hours.  This is silly.  Organizations are missing an amazing opportunity to virally share their stories and to tap into the networks of all the organization’s stakeholders.  Organizations need to trust employees, contractors, suppliers, and customers to build and strengthen networks of supporters and fans that are the most important marketing asset today.

Organizations should be focused on turning all stakeholders into active storytellers and passionate supporters.  Accentuate and build on the positive.  Forget trying to hide the negative.  Respond, learn and improve from it.  It is no longer possible to control communications about your organization.  Everyone should be encouraged to communicate openly and large marketing departments should be replaced with listening departments to learn from and leverage what is being shared.

The learning curve to go from industrial era mass marketing to personalized social media marketing is steep but rewarding.  The most important rule is that everyone gets to play.  I mean everyone.  Celebrate the dribs and drabs.

The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show