Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CT Folk statewide: Ani DiFranco Tonight at The Ridgefield Playhouse

Come see Ani DiFranco with special guest Gabby Moreno tonight at The Ridgefield Playhouse

8pm (203) 438-5795   Tickets: $55 Orchestra/ $45 Mezzanine

Part of The Doyle Coffin Architecture Singer/Songwriter Series

Ani DiFranco has written hundreds of songs, played thousands of shows, captured the imaginations of legions of followers, and jammed with folkies, orchestras, rappers, rock and roll hall-of-famers, jazz musicians, poets, pop superstars, storytellers and a martial arts legend. She's "fixed up a few old buildings" and minimized her carbon footprint before it was trendy – from installing a geothermal heating and cooling system in the renovated church that her label calls home to using organic inks on all the t- shirts she sells. But nothing she's done in her 18- year career has garnered more attention than a business decision. Since Ani bucked the major label system in the early- `90s, opting to release her music on her own terms, the self-described Little Folksinger has been the subject of all kinds of hyperbole. She's been called "fiercely independent" (Rolling Stone), "inspirational" (All Music Guide), "the ultimate do-it-yourself songwriter" (The New York Times), etc. As the cracks in the music industry get larger and more big-name artists follow Ani's lead – Radiohead, Madonna and Nine Inch Nails among them – maybe people will just start calling her "smart." As important as Righteous Babe Records is to the singer/songwriter/guitarist, she's more than happy to trust like-minded people with the business and revel in the complete artistic freedom it provides. On her new album, Red Letter Year, she takes more advantage of this freedom than ever before. Conceived, sculpted and refined over the course of two years – a lifetime compared to a typical Ani recording session – the album is an impeccably crafted, multi- layered sonic achievement. Says DiFranco about the album: "When I listen to my new record, I hear a very relaxed me, which I think has been absent in a lot of my recorded canon. Now I feel like I'm in a really good place. My partner Mike Napolitano co-produced this record – my guitar and voice have never sounded better, and that's because of him. I've got this great band and crew.

Gaby Moreno - a soulful new songwriter, from Guatemala City, Guatemala. It was there Gaby first learned to speak English by playing and singing along with her favorites- BB King, Robert Johnson and Nina Simone. Gaby moved to Los Angeles, CA where she attended The Musician's Institute and honed her craft. Her unique songwriting (she writes in English and Spanish) won her many new fans. Her effect on listeners can be best summed up by a reviewer from "Independent Artists Company" during her live performance – "Once in a while you come across a new artist who has not only amazing charisma, vocal abilities and raw talent, they have something more. They have "it." You see them perform live and you just stop and sit down with your jaw hitting the floor." Gaby Moreno has a big, melodic sound that appeals to the masses, and her Guatemalan roots will always endear her to her South American fans

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Writing Study Ties Autism To Motor-Skill Problems

I found the following story on the NPR iPhone App:

Writing Study Ties Autism To Motor-Skill Problems
by Jon Hamilton

NPR - November 11, 2009

Many children with autism not only struggle with social skills and communication, they also have great difficulty with handwriting, according to a new study in the journal Neurology.

Researchers compared 14 typical children with 14 diagnosed with mild autism — and found that the children with autism had much more difficulty forming letters.

"It was really striking," says Amy Bastian, a neuroscientist who directs the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

What Parents Already Knew

The finding offers scientific evidence of something parents have been saying for years, says Barbara Wagner, whose son Austin, 14, was one of the children on the autism spectrum who took part in the study.

Wagner says Austin's struggle with handwriting began when he got to first grade.

"He would have nights when it took three hours to do homework," she says. Austin is bright and understood the assignments, Wagner says. What was hard for him was the act of writing.

"He doesn't actually write like you or I would write," Wagner says. "He draws his letters. It was almost painful to watch."

And Wagner says things got even worse when he had to do written exercises in class. All the other students would be done, while he was still writing.

Things got better for Austin when he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and his school allowed him to answer questions verbally, or type on a keyboard.

Motor Skills Linked To Communication

The handwriting issue on its own is a major impediment for many children with autism, Bastian says. But it's also indicative of a much larger problem with motor skills, she says. Many have trouble holding a fork, buttoning a shirt, or tying their shoelaces.

And these problems with motor skills may carry over into social interactions, Bastian says.

"These are the kids that are going to get picked last for kickball," she says. "These are the kids who are clumsy, who already have difficulty relating to other kids. And the motor component probably makes things worse."

Bastian says a lack of motor skills can also make it harder to communicate through subtle gestures and facial expressions. And people who can't make these gestures and expressions themselves often have trouble understanding what they mean when other people use them. The inability to read faces and gestures is a hallmark of autism.

Other researchers say motor skills may offer a way to help spot children with autism as early as the first few months of life.

A study of babies who were later diagnosed as autistic were late reaching milestones such as sitting up, standing on their own and walking, says Dr. Sarah Spence, a pediatric neurologist at the National Institute of Mental Health who helped conduct the study.

Spence says writing and all of these other skills rely on a process called motor planning, in which the brain gets itself geared up to carry out an action such as walking or talking.

So it's possible that some nonverbal children with autism actually want to speak, but lack the motor planning capacity. Copyright 2009 National Public Radio

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

NYTimes: How to Market Your Business With Facebook

From The New York Times:

SMALL-BUSINESS GUIDE: How to Market Your Business With Facebook

The social network is also a place to find new customers and discover a treasure trove of demographic data.

Get The New York Times on your iPhone for free by visiting

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