Month: November 2010

Posted in Music Cross Cultural Comments

My Favorite things – Julie Andrews – The Sound of Music

It was in 1965 that a film was made of The Sound of Music. Here’s Julie Andrews singing what came to be one of the most famous and most loved of songs from American Musicals. The song, written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was originally perfromed on Broadway in 1959.

The post which precedes this one, is John Coltrane’s version. Both are among … my favorite things.  Enjoy.


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My Favorite Things – Coltrane

and this is one of them:


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New York City – A visit to Grand Central Station

New York City

Grand Central Station

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Posted in Newsletters Cross Cultural Comments Les Newsletters Online Language Resources for English Reading

Newsletter: November 18, 2010


This word is so frequent that if you google it (yes, to google is a verb… google … googled … have googled … googling … ) here’s what you’ll find:

success: 247 000 000

But what about the opposite, the antonym, failure? What’s your bet? more? less?

Here’s what I got: 117 000 000 … less than half!

I’m not sure that there are any conclusions to be drawn from this other than … the concept is a pretty popular one!

What’s success then? Is it winning a battle in the larger context of war? And failure … would it be losing?

Neither success nor failure are fixed and stable and forever. Such very relative states they are! There are a number of other very valuable words which describe these … ways of reaching an objective. One of the real, concrete ones might be …

breakthrough (20 100 00): a word which gives us a feeling of accomplishment, of achievement of one of the steps on the way … to success; breakthrough … overcoming an obstacle … or what seemed to be one until we’ve gotten past it. By the way, the opposite might just be … breakdown!

Milestone (25 600 000), a concrete step in progress…like the discovery of antibiotics or an event that measures progress, a specific and identifiable marker on the way to a destination. Perseverance is the road to the next milestone.

Success is like knowledge … We are always looking for where it’s hidden … What’s the secret to success? This is a question Albert Einstein answered. He said something … long before we had access to Google … but it still remains true today:

“Know where to find the information and how to use it – That’s the secret of success” And let’s not concentrate on the antonyms …, at least not today!
Good luck in all your postive endeavors!
Thanks for reading today’s Paris Savannah Connection.

PS. This feels like a real breakthrough …

Newletter November 18, 2010

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A few questions about what interests you on the Paris Savannah Connection…

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Just a question.

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The Paris Savannah Connection Newsletter: November 12, 2010

One of the most beautiful words in English is very difficult to translate into French. That word is Care. Capital C.

To my mind, caring means putting others in the forefront while relinquishing some of our own ego-centric impulses, attitudes and behaviors.

Caring is active generosity. It is respect and consideration and … has such a high cost that only those who have hearts of gold seem to be able to afford it! Because, precisely, it comes from the heart, maybe the soul, with an ounce, or a gram or even less – of reason.

You don’t have to be rich to care. Just human.

Caring is welcoming. It is hospitality of the highest order. It is opening and giving, donating without a tax- deductible receipt. It is Inviting. It is Sharing.

Caring is giving. Not lending. There’s no tangible payback to caring. Even though miraculously, unexpectedly, we’re often paid back in a time of need. And if we aren’t, it doesn’t matter anyway!

How powerful are the words, once pronouned: « I care. » And how insensitive the negative.

Caring is dialogue. It is listening and speaking in return. It is questioning. Not knowing all the answers. It is being attentive to the needs of the other. How extraordinary it is to witness two people fight over how much they have to give to one another! Caring is a private affair.

Caring is devotion. To someone. To a community. To a cause. It’s a human thing … and maybe that’s where the term ‘humanitarian’ – Caring in the public sphere – comes from. Caring is a public affair, too.

The English verb « to take care of » has evolved over the years, decades and centuries. While it retains some of the essence in some uses, it’s meaning has been transformed into others. It now has additional uses, practical impersonal uses – and sometimes even murderous ones, believe it or not! Read Marleen Dowd’s editorial in the IHT if you’re curious about that one!

Hearts talk and actions speak.
Take care,
And take care of those you care for. You won’t regret it. For more, go to … The Paris Savannah Connection! Mark



PS. By the way, the most frequent translations of the noun into French are « soin » and « soins » – not the same thing! And the verb « soigner » can have lots of meanings …!


The PSC Newletter Nov 12, 2010

Listen to it!


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Newsletter November 10, 2010

Backgrounds! What a word! What ideas!

What comes to mind when you hear this word? Do you think in terms of a figurative painting or photograph and see what is “behind” the subject? Do you see the landscape rather than the tree in the … forefront?

Do you see perspectives going back far to the horizon?  Do you see the background? 

Do you see other visuals as in movies … even those you can see on TV!

What’s happening not up close … but the wider picture. What’s behind.  If you’re looking further than what first meets the eye … you’re opening your eyes to the background rather than focusing on what perceive “up front.”

(BTW, Here’s a word about cinemas/theatres in Paris.)

Or do you think of background as your own … background? As in your own culture, home environment? This, too is your background.

Background loves adjectives. Like … academic. What’s your academic background? This, of course, refers to what schools you went to, what degrees you got, the subjects you studied and … those you avoided studying; Your academic background is included but is different from your ‘educational’ background which is a much wider description and can include non-academic learning … millions of skills that can never be taught in schools. Your background is your experience. Your life history.

And of course … professional. What’s your professional background? It’s in … IT (Information technology) or in marketing, or in financial consulting or in law. Or in medicine. Or in anthropology. Or forestry. Or botany. As a pastry chef. Or even … the ever more sophisticated activity of buying and selling … otherwise known under the generic term you see in the newspaper every day: Business.

How would you translate this concept into French, into another language?
C’est l’arrière plan?  Mais aussi c’est l’histoire! Notre histoire. Notre expérience!

Photography and language have a lot in common: They’re both about perceiving the world from up close, from “normal” and from far back. They’re both sources and means of expression.

Relax … and you’ll get the picture. The whole picture.

Thanks for reading today’s Paris Savannah Connection!

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On November 9th, 1989 …


and the wall came tumbling down.

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The tea leaves say …

From The New Yorker … quite a while back, still true.

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