Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dick Van Dyke, 89 Dances In New Music Video

Dick Van Dyke is absolutely timeless!
And, now nearly 90, he's remarkably slim, fit and agile.
Don't believe us? Check out the new music video above featuring the single Never Had To Go from the bluegrass/swing band The Dustbowl Revival. When Van Dyke heard the song, he volunteered to be in the video.
In the video, Van Dyke hams it up for the camera in an attempt to get his wife to dance with him. When asked about the source of his youthfulness is, Van Dyke  answers, "My young wife, she puts me in the fridge."

The Scourge Of Cancer: Why No Cure Yet? Why?

Inasmuch as Vice President Biden's son, Beau is the latest to be lost to an insidious disease, I thought I'd share some sentiments on the disease and why it makes me so angry.

The following is adapted from something that I wrote for the Philadelphia Daily News some time ago.

I was angry then. And I'm even angrier now:

Cancer makes me angry. Very angry.

It made me angry nearly 50 years ago when my godfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and died. They told me then that I wouldn’t have to worry about cancer when I grew up. “It’s okay,” they said. “It will be cured by then.” They lied.
They always say they are close to a cure for cancer. But everyday we hear of more people being diagnosed with cancer. And everyday we seem to hear about more types of cancer then we ever heard of before.

Yes, cancer makes me angry.
It made me angry when my father was diagnosed with cancer; and later, my mother as well.
My father looked me in the eye and told me he would beat it in the end. And he did. Luckily, he didn’t die of cancer. But the removal of most of one lung seemed to leave his breathing capacity so diminished that I’m sure the cancer chopped extra years off his life.

My mother was not so lucky. The cancer had already metastasized by the time they discovered it. The doctor gave us the bad news as we stood in a hospital hallway. “It has already spread,” he said. He talked about my mother as if she wasn’t even there. He mentioned the word “palliative.” Then, he was on his way. But my mother was there and she heard what he said. She simply chose not to dwell on it and lived her remaining time best as she could.

Cancer makes me angry. 
Maybe it’s a guy thing. But the injustice of cancer makes me want to beat the guts out of somebody.

I was angry when I heard that Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer returned and then she later died of the disease.. Hadn’t she suffered enough? And I was just as angry when the same thing happened to former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. What did either one of them do to deserve such a fate? Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Steve Jobs. Nothing seems to stop cancer -- not the top doctors and not the best care that all the money in the world can buy. Nothing.

In fact, my brother-in-law died just weeks after he was diagnosed. And he had no warning. None. One day he was short of breath. He grew weak. And before we knew it, he was gone.

So, don't tell me about cancer's "warning signs" because I'm not necessarily buying it. 

I hate it when people say of someone: “He lost his battle with cancer.” Some people don't even have a chance to fight.

And, none of us gets out of here alive. So, no one loses a battle with cancer. No one. 

Instead, the rest of us lose. We lose that person’s special talent; their unique contribution; their smile, their friendship, their love. And with each recurrence, with each new bad news bulletin, with each additional death we lose hope as well.

We don’t want to admit it. We fight bravely on. But fear stalks us and hope continues to die.

If you Google the word “cancer” you will come up with more than a quarter of a billion hits. There are so many cancer theories, cancer funds, cancer marches, cancer hospitals, cancer centers and cancer studies that the enormity of the army amassed to fight cancer gives one pause. Still, there is no cancer cure.

Cancer makes me angry. 

And I have no intention of letting go of my anger. 

Because cancer is too persistent, too insidious, too pervasive. 
Which makes me suspicious as well. 
Sometimes I even allow myself to believe that there is some sort of vested interest in not curing cancer if only because cancer treatment has become a lucrative, worldwide industry.

So count me as one of the angry ones – and throw in a dose of hard-learned skepticism as well.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dan Cirucci Blog: May's Five Biggest Stories!


France, US, Germany, Russia Top Blog Visits

Pageviews by Countries - Week of 5/24

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom
Wow! Thank you for more than 4,000 Pageviews this week!

Dan Cirucci Blog - Week's Top Five Posts

For the week beginning 5/24:

At 72, McCartney Finally Cuts Grass!

Hey, get this: Beatles legend Paul McCartney is cutting grass. Yep, he's having nothing to do with weed, either.

He's announced that he has given up marijuana after many years of indulgence. The new, more mature McCartney says he now prefers wine or "a nice margarita."

The Beatle mastermind told a British tabloid he doesn't want to set a bad example for his children and grandchildren by using marijuana. He explained his decision as "a parent thing."

Christie: Texas Should Get Fed Aid For Floods

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie yesterday during his Jersey Shore Tour.

Fiorina: Government 'Crushing' Americans' Potential

This morning in Delaware, as reported by Delaware Online and the News Journal:
Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina told a packed audience that a huge, complex and sometimes corrupt government was "crushing the potential" of Americans.
"That is not hyperbole," she said. "That is fact."
When democracy becomes so big and powerful, and so costly and complex, Fiorina said, only the big, powerful, wealthy and well-connected can handle it.
"The small and the powerless get crushed," she said.
Click here to read more from this excellent report.

Schieffer: 'Most Info Of The You Get Is Wrong'

The veteran news legend is retiring from a journalism career of more than half a century. As a young newspaper reporter, Bob went to Vietnam to cover the war. He worked at the Fort Worth Star Telegram on the day president Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas. He brought Lee Harvey Oswald's mother to the police station. Since starting at CBS News in 1969, he has covered the Pentagon, State Department, Capitol Hill, and the White House and anchored the "CBS Evening News."

Obamanomics: WORST Economy On Record!

"President Barack Obama has presided over the lowest average first-quarter GDP growth of any president who has served since 1947, which is the earliest year for which the Bureau of Economic Analysis has calculated quarterly GDP growth.

"In all first quarters since 1947, the real annual rate of growth of GDP has averaged 4.0 percent.

"In the seven first quarters during Obama’s presidency, it has declined by an average of -0.43 percent. And if you leave out the first quarter of 2009 and look only at the first quarters of the six years since the recession ended, it has averaged only 0.4 percent."

-From CNS News
Click here to read more now!

Christie: Storms Aren't Democrat Or Republican

Governor Chris Christie yesterday on his "Jersey shore tour."

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lib Bias Be Damned, Full Speed Ahead!

Great column from the inimitable Christine Flowers in today's Philadelphia Daily News. Here's an excerpt:
The glee with which a Bill Maher or a Jon Stewart will latch onto something Sarah Palin might have said or Mike Huckabee might have done (and boy did he blow it big time with his defense of child-molesting Josh Duggar) is proof positive that the liberal media is filled with rabid dogs waiting to feast on "red" meat. When that meat is offered up as an easy sacrifice, you have to wonder if it's even worth defending conservative principles.
But of course it is, and of course it's important to do so with intelligence and laser-like focus.

Hillary Explains Her Major Accomplishment

WHAT did she say?

Video: Tonight Show Features 'Something Rotten"

The cast of Something Rotten performed "God I Hate Shakespeare" and "Hard to be the Bard" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon! The Tony-nominated, new Broadway musical, Something Rotten is currently playing at the St. James Theatre.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Christie Nixes Common Core; Plans New Standards

Governor Christie Calls for Higher Standards That Come Directly From New Jersey Teachers, Parents, Communities
Reinforces Need for Student Testing and Continuing Teach Evaluations  Through TeachNJ

·      Governor Christie makes clear that Common Core is not working on the ground and in our classrooms. As Washington has increased its control over our student’s education, our children have fallen further and further behind their peers around the world.

Gov Christie: “It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it’s simply not working.  It has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents.  And has brought distance between our teachers and the communities where they work. Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones. And when we aren’t getting the job done for our children, we need to do something different.”

·        Governor Christie is tasking DOE Commissioner Hespe to assemble a group of parents, teachers and educators to be the driving force behind developing new and stronger education standards for consideration. 

o   Gov Christie: “I have heard far too many people – teachers and parents from across the state – that the Common Core standards were not developed by New Jersey educators and parents.  As a result, the buy in from both communities has not been what we need for maximum achievements.  I agree. It is time to have standards that are even higher and come directly from our communities.  And, in my view, this new era can be even greater by adopting new standards right here in New Jersey – not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River.”

New Jersey College and Career Readiness Standards: This group will conduct a point-by-point review of previous state standards and may recommend a new set of higher, New Jersey-based standards for our children – to be completed by the end of 2015. 

That review will answer and develop recommendations around the following criteria:

·        Do the current standards reflect New Jersey’s real and distinct needs?
·        Do they measure up to previous New Jersey standards?
·        Do they reflect the expectations of New Jersey’s colleges and employers?
·        Will they close the persistent and profound achievement gap?

Governor Christie also renews his call for student testing and the importance of continuing New Jersey’s teacher evaluation initiative through the bipartisan Teach NJ Tenure reform statute:

Gov Christie: “This will in no way affect our efforts to continue effective testing and measurement of our students through the PARCC test.  We must continue to review and improve that test based on results, not fear or speculation.  I will not permit New Jersey to risk losing vital federal education funds because some would prefer to let the perfect get in the way of the good.  We must test our children because federal law requires it and because it is the only way to objectively judge our progress.  Bringing educational standards home to New Jersey does nothing to change those obligations.
“We also must continue with our teacher evaluation initiative through our Teach NJ Tenure reform statute.  On this we will be unyielding.  No one should stand for anything less than an excellent teacher in every classroom – not parents, other teachers, administrators or our students.  Accountability in every classroom must be one of the pillars of our New Jersey based higher standards.”

BACKGROUND: For Nearly A Year, Governor Christie Has Spoken Publicly About Listening To The Concerns Of Educators And Parents Alike And Reevaluating The Implementation Of Common CoreToday’s Announcement Is A Next Step In That Process:

·        In July 2014, Governor Christie Established A Study Commission to Review the Effectiveness of All K-12 Student Assessments Including Common Core

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: “This Administration is committed to the educational success of every child, no matter the zip code. Since 2010 we’ve enacted a series of measures that implement rigorous standards, develop excellent educators, and use high quality student assessments to gauge the progress of student learning and the effectiveness of classroom instruction. Establishing this commission is just another step in ensuring we’re providing the best quality education possible to our students.” (Press Release, 7/14/14)

·        The NJ Department Of Education Acting Commissioner Explained That The Review Commission Will Help To Better Understand All Of The Assessments NJ Students Are Taking

ACTING COMMISSIONER DAVID HESPE: “We want to understand all the assessments that our children are taking. We want to know: Are they all necessary and can we do it better? I think the answer is yes.” (Hannan Adely, “Christie delays use of student test scores in teacher evaluations,” The Record, 7/14/14)

·        In July 2014, Governor Christie Said His Administration Is Working To Address “Legitimate Concerns” From Parents Regarding Common Core

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: “[On Common Core]… But parents and teachers have legitimate concerns about this and I’m going to try to address those concerns in a thoughtful way and not in a way that just reacts and then we got to re-react with another law.” (Town Hall, 7/1/14)

·        In November 2014, Governor Christie Shared “Real Concerns About Common Core And How It’s Being Rolled Out”

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: “I have some real concerns about Common Core and how it’s being rolled out and that’s why I put a commission together to study it. I’m not an educational expert…So we put together a group of educators to review the Common Core stuff that has already been put in place and was put in place by the Corzine administration and they’re going to come back to me with recommendations by the end of the year I think as to what we need to do, so we’ve got a group working and looking at that now. Now PARCC and the testing regimen does not necessarily have to be connected to Common Core and we need a better testing regime to really know where our students are in terms of their achievement because if we don’t know that then we don’t know how to deal with each individual kid and try to make them better, so I think there’s separation between the two, but I have some concerns about Common Core.” (Ask the Governor, 11/6/14)
Since Taking Office, Governor Christie Has Made Education Reform And Accountability At Every Level Of Public Education A Top Priority To Ensure Every Child Has Access To A Quality Education:

·         Working With Teachers To Bring Performance-Based Pay To Newark Schools.  For the first time in New Jersey history, teachers in Newark will earn raises and be eligible for additional bonuses based on annual performance evaluations that include measuring student progress. This new contract will enable Newark to retain and reward the best teachers and improve the quality of education for their students:

·         Historic Bipartisan Changes To The Nation’s Oldest Tenure Law.  Marking the first extensive reform of New Jersey’s tenure law in over 100 years, Governor Christie signed into law the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act, a sweeping, bipartisan overhaul of the oldest tenure law in the nation. The legislation:

o    Transforms the existing tenure system to provide powerful tools to identify effective and ineffective teachers;
o    Strengthens the supports available to help all teachers improve their craft;
o    For the first time, ties the acquisition, maintenance, and loss of tenure to a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom;
o    Dramatically reduces the time and cost it takes to remove educators who are repeatedly ineffective in improving student outcomes.

The law was the result of nearly two years of consistent and vocal advocacy for real education reform by Governor Christie and good faith, bipartisan cooperation with members of the legislature, education reform advocates, and stakeholder groups.

·         Focusing On The Lowest Performing Schools.  The Christie Administration has undertaken bold reform to turn around the state's persistently failing schools. As one of the first states in the country to receive flexibility from No Child Left Behind, the Department of Education is recognizing high performing “Reward” schools and shifting significant resources and support to “Priority” and “Focus” schools, those schools that are the lowest performing in the state or that have significant achievement gaps. The Department is providing the day-to-day support of dozens of expert educators through Regional Achievement Centers to help these schools improve.

o    Priority Schools: A Priority school is a school that has been identified as among the lowest-performing schools in the state over the past three years. There are 75 Priority Schools. Priority schools in this category have an overall three-year proficiency rate of 31.6% or lower.
o    Focus Schools: A Focus School is a school that has room for improvement in areas that are specific to the school. As part of the process, Focus Schools will receive targeted and tailored solutions to meet the school’s unique needs. There are 183 Focus schools. After 2 years of RAC interventions, 20 focus schools have improved enough to meet the “exit criteria” and will no longer have the focus school designation.

·         Taking The Lead to Turn Around Failing Camden Schools.  In March 2013, continuing to act on his firm commitment to ensure that every New Jersey child has access to a high-quality education, Governor Christie took decisive, bipartisan action in Camden schools to fix a broken system and end the persistent failure to deliver results for the city’s children. With the support of leadership in the City of Camden, education advocates across New Jersey, and members of both parties, the Christie Administration took over the management of the Camden School District.

The REAL Problem Facing Our Schools?

Sylvia (The Dog) Is Coming To Broadway!

Broadway is bound to be barking! Producers are pleased to announce that A.R. GURNEY’S SYLVIA, a modern romantic comedy about a marriage and a dog, will have its first Broadway bow-ow-ow this Fall, beginning previews Friday, September 25, 2015, at a Shubert theatre to be announced.

SYLVIA will star two-time Tony nominee ANNALEIGH ASHFORD (You Can’t Take It With You (2015 Tony Nomination), Kinky Boots, Hair) as Sylvia, Tony Award winner JULIE WHITE (Airline Highway (2015 Tony Nomination), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, The Little Dog Laughed) as Kate, and Drama Desk Award winner ROBERT SELLA (Stuff Happens, Sleepy Hollow, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Tom/Phyllis/Leslie, with additional casting to be announced. Rehearsals will begin August 31.

Tony Award-winner DANIEL SULLIVAN (Proof, Merchant of Venice, Glengarry Glen Ross) will direct, and the creative team will include scenic design by DAVID ROCKWELL (2015 Tony nominee for You Can’t Take It With You and On the Twentieth Century), costume design by ANN ROTH, and lighting design by JAPHY WEIDEMAN (2015 Tony Nominee for The Visit and Airline Highway). Casting by Telsey + Company/William Cantler, CSA.


Has your pet changed your life? Have you ever wondered what she’s thinking when she stares up at you and tilts her head? Could she have the secret to understanding the world at large and your place in it? Or is she just more interested in how your shoe tastes? The world of a middle-aged New York couple is turned topsy-turvy when the husband brings home an exceptionally engaging canine running loose in Central Park in the hilarious and heartwarming comedy, SYLVIA. This wonderful look into the complexities of love and commitment asks what it truly means to be devoted to your partner…and how do you choose between the love of your life and man’s best friend?

SYLVIA is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Daryl Roth.


SYLVIA was first produced in 1995 at the Manhattan Theatre Club, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, where it received Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Actress in a Play (Parker), and Outstanding Costume Design, and ran for 167 performances. It has since played countless times, leaving its mark all over the world -- here’s what critics have had to say about the piece:

“A.R. Gurney, the chronicler of sophisticated upper-middle-class angst, author of plays like “The Dining Room” and “Love Letters,” is a man gifted with uncommon insight into human motivations and frailties. So when he turns his gift to the analysis of what a dog might really be thinking and really want, it should not be surprising that the results are so rich. “SYLVIA” is delicious and dizzy, full of theatrical intelligence and writerly skill…for anyone who has ever owned a dog, loved a dog or wished the dog would take a long weekend….” -The New York Times

“SYLVIA is one of the most involving, beautiful, funny, touching and profound plays I have ever seen. No one who has ever loved a dog will quibble with my first four adjectives…” -New York Daily News

“Who knows what inspired A.R. Gurney to write a play about a talking dog who sees a mild-mannered man through his mid-life crisis? Whatever the inspiration, SYLVIA itself is enchanting and compassionate.” -Variety

Paula Jones Video: Don't Bring Clintons Back

When America's Movie Stars Loved America . . .

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Broadway's Brill Building Has A Magical Allure!

On one of our recent strolls along Broadway as we were preparing a story for our new blog Dan On Broadway, we once again walked past the legendary Brill Building. Only this time, we stopped and peeked inside.

The Brill Building (built 1931 as the Alan E. Lefcourt Building and designed by Victor Bark Jr.) is an office building located at 1619 Broadway on 49th Street in the Theater District, just north of Times Square. 

It is famous for housing music industry offices and studios where some of the most popular American music tunes were written. The building is 11 stories and has approximately 175,000 square feet of rentable area. The "Brill" name comes from a haberdasher who once operated a store at street level and subsequently bought the building. The Brill Building was purchased by 1619 Broadway Realty LLC in June 2013 and is now undergoing a significant renovation. No problem, however. The current management was all to happy to have us take a look around and snap some photos.

The Brill Building's name has been widely adopted as a shorthand term for a broad and influential stream of American mainstream popular song (strongly influenced by Latin music, Traditional black gospel and rhythm and blues) which enjoyed great commercial success in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Many significant American and international publishing companies, music agencies and recording labels were based in New York, and although these ventures were naturally spread across many locations, the Brill Building was regarded as probably the most prestigious address in New York for music business professionals.

By 1962 the Brill Building contained 165 music businesses. A musician could find a publisher and printer, cut a demo, promote the record and cut a deal with radio promoters, all within this one building. The creative culture of the independent music companies in the Brill Building and the nearby 1650 Broadway came to define the influential "Brill Building Sound" and the style of popular songwriting and recording created by its writers and producers.

Carole King described the atmosphere at the "Brill Building" publishing houses of the period:
Every day we squeezed into our respective cubby holes with just enough room for a piano, a bench, and maybe a chair for the lyricist if you were lucky. You'd sit there and write and you could hear someone in the next cubby hole composing a song exactly like yours. The pressure in the Brill Building was really terrific—because Donny (Kirshner) would play one songwriter against another. He'd say: "We need a new smash hit"—and we'd all go back and write a song and the next day we'd each audition for Bobby Vee's producer.
—Quoted in The Sociology of Rock by Simon Frith.
Among the hundreds of hits written in The Brill Building are "Yakety Yak" (Leiber-Stoller), "Save the Last Dance for Me" (Pomus-Shuman), "The Look of Love" (Bacharach-David), "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (Sedaka-Greenfield), "Devil in Disguise" (Giant-Baum-Kaye), "The Loco-Motion" (Goffin-King), "Supernatural Thing" (Fyre-Guthrie), "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" (Mann-Weil), and "River Deep, Mountain High" (Spector-Greenwich-Barry).

The Brill Building's new owners say that is "is now transforming into a state-of-the-art office complex for today’s media, fashion, tech, music and entertainment companies. A new 49th Street entrance will offer tenants privacy and security, with all the convenience of Times Square." 

The future of this legendary building looks bright, indeed!

Next time you're in the neighborhood, stop by. 

Interior building photos copyright 2015 by Dan Cirucci.

Coming Next Week To Philly Free Library

Charles Murray | By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission 
Monday, June 1, 2015 at 7:30 PM; buy tickets online>>   
Paleoconservative political scientist, author, and pundit Charles Murray rose to prominence with Losing Ground, his controversial 1984 dissection of the ambitious U.S. social programs of the 1960s and 70s. His many other books, including The Bell Curve, Real Education, and Coming Apart, tackle topics such as socioeconomics, race and intelligence, and welfare reform. The W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, he has contributed articles to The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, among other publications. In By the People, Murray argues that Americans must take back their individual freedom from a bloated and monolithic federal government.  
Vivian Gornick | The Odd Woman and the City 
Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 7:30 PM; FREE
No tickets or reservations required. For more info: 215-567-4341 
Praised for synthesizing ambitious political ideology with intimately acute interior life, critic, journalist, and essayist Vivian Gornick is the author of eleven books, including a biography of Emma Goldman and the essay collection The Men in My Life. From 1969 to 1997 her columns in The Village Voice heralded the politics of the feminist movement, and she has since contributed articles to the New York TimesThe Nation, and The Atlantic Monthly, among other periodicals. A bookend to the landmark 1987 memoir Fierce AttachmentsThe Odd Woman and the City is a narrative collage of Gornick's meditations on friendship, urbanism, and literature.   
HW Brands | Reagan: The Life 
Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 7:30 PM; FREE
No tickets or reservations required. For more info: 215-567-4341 
New York Times bestselling author HW Brands was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Franklin Roosevelt, The First American and Traitor to His Class, respectively. Ranging in topic from Aaron Burr and Andrew Jackson to the Vietnam War and Bill Gates, his more than two dozen other books "weave together keen political history with anecdote and marvelous sense of place" (The Boston Globe). He currently chairs the history department at the University of Texas at Austin. In his new biography of Ronald Reagan, Brands provides fresh perspective on the importance of the 40th President's unlikely ascension and consequential legacy.    
Free Library Author Events
Andy Kahan, Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Director, Author Events
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Jason Freeman, Program Assistant

phone: 215-567-4341
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Author Events are held in the Montgomery Auditorium at the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street, unless noted. Events generally consist of a talk by the author and a Q & A period with the audience followed by a book signing. Books are sold on-site. Seating begins 45 minutes prior to event start times. No tickets or reservations are required for Free Author Events. 

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