Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Morning, Vietnam

"All the wrong people remember Vietnam. I think all the people who remember it should forget it, and all the people who forgot it should remember it".

-Micheal Herr, 1989

When Vietnam is mentioned, many almost automatically think of the famous images that illustrated the war that took place nearly four decades ago. That being said, you can imagine the reaction I receive when I mention to others that I will be visiting Vietnam this winter with a program called the Global Leadership Center.

The reality is that today, Vietnam is very much a country at peace. Full of progressive, modern businesses and beautiful beaches, more and more people are choosing Vietnam as a destination spot not only for it’s rich history, but also for the life and culture the area has to offer. As I will be researching Vietnam for the next eight weeks prior to our visit, and the title of my blog is “Heather Lately”, several posts on interesting Vietnam facts can be expected!

As I mentioned, Vietnam today should not be shadowed by the country’s history. However, one should never forget the struggles many individuals effected by the conflicts still go through. Please check out this video about the May 4, 1970 massacre and take a minute to think about those today who still mourn, both in American and in Vietnam.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Re-Usable Advice...

    I'm back! And after much deliberation, I have decided what type of post I feel is appropriate for this time of year. The end of the school year is often a time to reflect so, naturally, I looked back to the Senior Edition of my school newspaper, printed just about this time last year (hey, I'm a Journalism major...what did you expect?). Inside, I found my senior letter, in which I bestowed on the student body of my high school the wisdom that I felt I had gained over the four years prior to my graduation. Now, although I am no Aristotle, I do believe that it is interesting to see what I was thinking during the "monumental" point in my life when I was being thrown out into the hard, cruel world (or so I thought at the time).

    So, here it is. Maybe inside you will find something relevant to you, whatever point in your life you are at.

    "Roughly 28 classes, 22 teachers, and, what seems like, thousands of AP Literature papers gone by and still, here I sit, listening to the Rolling Stones, biting my nails, and attempting to write this paper, that you are currently reading, the night before it’s due. Although some things will never change, I feel that many things, such as my wisdom, have. That being said, here is some advice I feel is notable.
    Don’t over think the small stuff. It sounds so simple , but many people don’t take this advice. So much time is wasted on petty fights or problems that will mean nothing in the long run, so don’t waste perfectly good moments being mad.
    Put yourself in awkward situations: join a club that none of your friends are in, do something that makes you uncomfortable, go out of your way to talk to someone you don’t know. You can’t truly experience new things unless you step out of your safety zone.
    Enjoy the moment while you’re in it. It’s easy to get caught up in things and stress out while they’re happening, especially senior year. Even when things are crazy, take time to sit back and enjoy the beauty of what’s going on. Breathing doesn’t hurt either.
    Only worry about those who worry about you. Don’t waste your time trying to impress everybody. Your friends and family are the only ones who matter and, chances are, they will love you no matter what you wear, say, or looked like in the fifth grade.
    Leave the past in the past…or it will be impossible to live for today. People will come in and out of your life, but in the end, the ones who make it to your future are the ones who are suppose to be there. Forget the past, but remember what it taught you.
    See one of your favorite bands play live. I know this doesn’t really tie into the other ones but just trust me on this one. Also, camp with your friends.
    Tell your family you love them. Frequently. Appreciate what they do for you and let them know that; you won’t always have that luxury.
    Take Journalism. Biased? Maybe…but for me, it’s been more than a class. It’s been an experience; one that has taught me a lot about myself. It’s something I‘ve become passionate about through being on staff and with a little help from Mr. Covey. So I guess maybe this last bit of advice should be "find something you’re passionate" about and do whatever it takes to pursue your dreams with it. That’s what I plan to do at least."

In need of more inspiration? Check this out.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Big Question: "To blog or not to blog"

(As usual, the un-edited version):

    Essays, speeches, exams, club meetings, a part-time job, a social life; with so much to worry about already as a college student, who in the world has time to blog?
    With blogging becoming a growing phenomenon, “to blog or not to blog” has been the question on many public relations and journalism students' minds.
    Bryan Blaise, Senior Account Executive at Fleishman Hillard International Communications advocates student blogging because it gives individuals “a chance to practice one of the most essential skills you will use day in and day out, while becoming an expert on a specific topic”.
    “Fantastic writers, like prima ballerinas or star quarterbacks, are made, not born,” Blaise said, “A natural talent for writing is only improved through continual practice, and with today’s ease and accessibility to blogs, there’s no reason for a young PR or journalism student not to blog.”
    Aside from improving upon one’s written communication skills, blogging proves to be an indicator to potential employers that a person is participating in new media. Dr. Robert Stewart, the associate director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, believes that the only reason a student should not blog is if they want to risk not having a job.
    “I’ve heard more that one person in the industry say that they’ll ask about blogs when hiring because they automatically assume you blog,” Stewart said, “Employers in the industry want to hire people who are participating and can function in the Web 2.0 world.”
    Although Stewart advocated the obvious benefits of this new art to the incoming journalism school freshmen, less than 30% actually took the advice.
    “Blogging isn’t for everyone. There’s an art, science and dedication required, and many people won’t commit to that,” Blaise said, “The opportunity is there for everyone to blog, but doing so half-heartedly or without purpose or strategy will do more harm than good.”
    M.J. Clark, Communications and Leadership Consultant at M.J. Clark Communications, agrees that “it does you more harm to start a blog if you don’t keep up with it”.
    “Blogging is great if you consistently update it; if you don’t, you’re creating your own negative PR for your own personal brand,” Clark said, “It’s something that really needs to be thought out. If you’re not a blogger and think it’s not something you can keep up with or something you’re passionate about, it does you more harm.”
    Stewart, on the other hand, believes that although there is some risk involved, “there is way more risk in not doing it”.
    “If you have a talent, you do things with it,” Stewart said, “Employers don’t want to hire people who bury their talents.”
    A common fear students have about blogging is that a mistake or a sentence that is not in a potential employer’s style of choice will cause that potential employer to look the other way.
    “College is about getting mistakes out of your system. It’s better to learn lessons as a college student than to have to start trying to learn at a job and making mistakes there,” Stewart said, “Also, no one is expecting blogs to be in AP style. Newspaper bloggers don’t follow AP style and sometimes even write in first person.”
    Blog writing is actually more conversational and more personal, according to Andrew Revkin, a reporter for the New York Times.
    “[Blogging is] a journey towards understanding,” Revkin said, “I don’t know what’s going on; I know some people who have a decent idea, but they could be wrong, too. So why not come along on the ride?”
    Many students argue that they simply have nothing to write about, but the reality is that there are an endless amount of “blog-able” topics.
    “Blogs are a chance to communicate your perspective on just about anything you want,” Blaise said, “I would encourage young professionals to blog about topics or situations relevant to [their] desired career goals.”
    Although Blaise suggests that students steer clear of topics such as “the latest Gossip Girl episode or your newest pair of Manalos”, he does agree that a blog does not have to read like a textbook.
    “Communications can be found in almost anything, so if you’re set on having a fashion or sports blog, consider blogging about the communications activities of companies within that industry*,” Blaise said.
    Another common misconception students have is that they do not know enough about the industry to blog.
    “I have actually learned a lot from students. If you have confidence then you should know that your opinion matters and people in the industry may know a whole lot less than what you know right now about new media,” Clark said, “Students have an insight and need to know that they have a worthy contribution.”
    If not done passionately or with good intent, blogging may prove to be destructive; however, if done with thought, maintaining a blog can offer benefits to students that students of “older media” could have never enjoyed in the past.
    “Every post, Tweet, or wall comment is a testament of your personal brand, and you can not be flippant about what, where, and how you communicate online,” Blaise said, “However, experience in the strategic application of new media is a major asset that new professionals can bring to the table and set themselves up for quick and great success.”

*Bryan Blaise is the author of, where they cover a wide array of people, companies, and issues all through the lens of communications about and to the LGBT community.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Bathroom Chronicles: Volume 1

    Although I've never quite understood why people feel the need to ponder life's bigger questions on the wall of a bathroom stall (I mean, why not start a blog?), and, furthermore, I don't think that I will ever be able to get my head around why people feel the need to comment back on these alleged wall writings (What are they thinking? "Man, I sure showed that guy!"), I've found that these words can actually be quite insightful. Therefore, I will be starting a series of posts called "The Bathroom Chronicles". Now, although these posts will be titled the Bathroom Chronicles, I will take inspiration from anything that I feel fit.
That being said, here's todays inSTALLment (ba-dum-chhh) of wisdom:

    How true. This particular piece of restroom reading material has been popping into my mind quite a bit lately. Maybe, it's my nature, or maybe it's the fact that I am a public relations student, but regardless, there is no doubt that I have a problem saying "no". Although many times this small habit (or curse, perhaps) has lead me to help people out or try new things, every once in a while it leaves me racing from one activity to another without time to stop, think, or even breathe.

    But for what? Sometimes we can get so caught up in being the "go-to" that we don't leave time for ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first person to tell you to help someone or something for a good cause, but you don't always have to be the leader, or the best, or the most involved. Try your hardest, do what you're passionate about, but live a little. Life is happening no matter if you're there to experience it or not. If you're in college, this is only the beginning of the work that is yet to come. Just be. There will always be work to do, and someday, when there isn't, you might not be in the condition to do all of the amazing and exciting things you are capable of now!

    So, stay dependable and hardworking, but don't let it consume you. Lay outside in the sun, go out with friends, sit and do nothing. You're only human after all.

"I'm in a hurry to get things done. I'm rushing, rushing 'till life's no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die but I'm in a hurry and don't know why."

...never underestimate the writing on the stall.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

From the Vault: Adam

(Side note: I wrote this article last year, but thought that it was worth bringing back out. The prompt was something to the effect of: "Describe someone who has greatly impacted your life and why". It had a length-limit on it, otherwise there is no doubt it would be longer. Enjoy!)

    "Adam Sealcott sits at just under four feet tall and weighs approximately 75 pounds. Diagnosed with Myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida, Adam has been paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair his entire life. Those who know Adam, however, do not see a boy in a wheelchair when they look at him; they see a musician, a writer, a comedian, a spelling bee champion, a skateboarder, and a friend. Technically, Adam is handicapped, which means he is supposedly "disadvantaged", but his positive outlook on life and his determination often give him an advantage over those who do not have physical disabilities.
    My friendship with Adam has radically shaped who I am today. Adam has taught me to make the best of what I have; he has taught me that if you do not excel at one thing, do that much better at something else. Adam may not be able to use his legs for football and basketball like his twin brother, but he uses what he has, which is his arms, his voice, and his mind, to play the guitar, sing, and write his own song lyrics. Instead of getting upset about the things he cannot do, Adam focuses on what he can do and what he does well. Adam has helped me be a stronger person when facing challenges, and he has taught me to focus on the positive things in life and in myself. All people shine in their own way; it is simply a matter of finding how to do so."

Adam is currently: pursuing his dreams. What are you doingAdd Image?

Check out more of Adam:

"Song Three" Music Video

Adam's Virb Site

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Mirror Mirror"

     "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", but in today's world, that beholder is often the media. From TrimSpa commercials to air-brushed magazine models, every aspect of propaganda and entertainment unconsciously tells teens and young adults how they should dress, eat, talk, and think. Thanks to certain media sources and other influences, teens everywhere want to be taller, blonder, and skinnier.
        Though men feel the pressures too, woman's magazines have nearly 11 times as many ads and articles relating to weight loss as men's magazines ( According to research done by Boston University, girls as young as nine years old are beginning to experiment with common dieting practices such as exercise and restricting food intake.
        Many times, the "image" of beauty is distorted. Often, the models that teens see highlighted on the front and inside of magazines have gone through computer programs that hide flaws and enhance other features. Research shows that exposure to thin models in air-brushed ads is linked to depression, low self-esteem, and the development of unhealthy eating habits ("Dove Campaign for Real Beauty").
    Teen Magazine reported in 2003 that 35 percent of girls between the ages of six and 12 have been on at least one diet and that at least half to three-fourths of "normal" weight girls truly believe that they are overweight.
    Idolized celebrities spend endless amounts of money to possess the "perfect" body. From hiring personal trainers and personal chefs, to spending time at high class fitness facilities, all celebrity weight-loss methods prove to be expensive ones. Magazines, movie stars, and models all seem to set an unrealistic standard of leaving for the "average" person.
    Although the media's role as a pressure on youth is not a recent one, perception of what is "beautiful" is always changing. For example, in the 1950's, Marilyn Monroe was glorified for her curvy body and hourglass shape, while the next decade brought a new kind of Idol, Twiggy: the 90 pound fashion icon who made "stick thin" the new craze.
    Throughout history, various types of media have dictated the social norms of American culture. In a study titled "The Pervasiveness and Persistence of the Feminine Beauty Ideals in Children's Fairy Tales", 168 of The Brothers Grimm fairy tales were examined. The authors, Grauherholz and Baker-Sperry, explored the extent to which feminine beauty was highlighted in the tales. The study found that 94 percent of all tales acknowledge physical appearance and of that, appearance was mentioned nearly fourteen times per story. 
    Nearly all fairy tales have a beautiful princess or attractive prince against a wicked witch or ugly villain. Through fairy tales, children are taught that "unattractive" people, such as ugly stepsisters, are punished, while "beautiful" individuals are rewarded; this results in children's skewed judgement, based solely on looks, later on in life.
    Another familiar example is Barbie. With her perfect features and disproportionate body, Barbie gives children an unrealistic image to look up to. 
    With the media, celebrities, and even childhood heroes promoting an unrealistic image of beauty, it is often hard for teens to focus on what is important. A friend once said, one should "always concentrate on the positive things about oneself".
    "Someone might have a great smile, or pretty eyes, and those are some of the first things you notice about someone," she said, "it's not all about the body, it's about personality and how you treat other people. 
    When one is happy with the way he or she looks, others see a happy, confident person no matter what shape, size, height, or color. For those who are still simply not happy about the way they looks, the time and energy used to obsess over body image can be displaced elsewhere more positively. Above all else, treating oneself with respect and maintaining a healthy body is the most important thing one can do.  

Want more? Check out some of these sites:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"What PR is...not"

The un-rated (i.e. edited) version:

    Ari Gold: he gets thousand dollar hair cuts while some poor kid holds his phone to his ear, he pays two grand to take his clients to Lakers’ games, he yells at whoever he wants, whenever he wants (usually getting whatever he wants), and he goes through more personal assistants than bottles of Ax body spray. More importantly, Ari, the beloved publicist of Vincent Chase in the HBO series Entourage, lies, cheats, blackmails, spins stories, and, inventively, paints the inaccurate picture that many outside of the field have of the Public Relations business.
    Although students and professionals in the Public Relations field know that fictional characters such as Ari Gold represent the extreme side of a typical stereotype of the business, it is not uncommon for friends, relatives, and the general public to believe otherwise.
    “Public Relations is not just what you see on television. It’s not all about promoting celebrities, and even for those who do, it’s a very small segment,” Professor Michelle Honald said, “Also, it’s not about being an ‘evil genius’; spinning is not a part of PR.”
    Rather than “spinning” problems, which is a mechanism used to react to a problem, Honald believes that Public Relations is about being proactive, or “stopping problems before they start”. Also, contrary to popular belief, honesty is the number one rule in PR.
    “One of the most important ideas in PR is transparency: being clear and not trying to hide things,” Honald said, “This field is not about hiding the bad, it’s about acknowledging problems.”
    Danny Brown, owner of Press Release PR* and founder of the 12for12K Challenge**, agrees that a common misconception about those in this field is that “every PR person is akin to a snake-oil salesman and will say anything to get the dollar”.
    “It's true there are some shillers in the industry, but you get that anywhere,” Brown said, “thankfully there are great people making a difference and ‘cleaning up’ the industry and its perception.”
    Another common myth is that PR is all about the “glitz and the glamour”.
    “[In actuality] there's a lot of ‘boring’ work behind the scenes such as research for press releases, contact info, and legal clearance before a story or pitch can become live,” Brown said.
    Faded ideas such as those that surround the 1800’s “press agentry” also leave “outsiders” in the dark when it comes to what kind of work a PR professional actually does.
    “Most people think that PR is all about publicity when really, there is so much more that goes into it,” Honald said, “PR involves everything from community and internal relations, to event planning and communicating messages.”
    In Public Relations, misconception is the name of the game; those not in PR often confuse the field with others, such as marketing and advertising. Brown agrees that these fields are very similar, but there are some key differences.
    “With advertising, for example, if you pay for an ad to be shown, you're guaranteed that it'll be seen by your target audience; with PR, you're hoping that it'll be seen, but a lot has to do with relevance of story, timing, and media [among other things],” Brown said.
    When it comes to marketing, the difference is found in the publics. Marketing is a “sales and distribution function whose principal publics are the customers, retailers, and distributors” while public relations practice “involves many publics besides the customers” such as the media, employees, community leaders, government regulators, activist groups, and more (Public Relations: The Profession and the Practice, 2004).
   Finally, a fallacy that Brown comes across regularly is that PR will get a business all the sales it needs: that PR is a “magic brush that will get your name in all the major newspapers and TV shows”.
    “PR represents an opportunity to tell your story, but that story needs to be worth telling in the first place, and people need to be receptive to it. Get that combination and then you've got the chance to get some major eyeballs looking at you,” Brown said, “but a lot of it is luck, combined with hard work and knowledge.”
    Oh yeah, and a little bit of honesty, too.

*Press Release PR is a boutique agency offering social media PR and marketing consultancy to both small-to-medium businesses and Fortune 500 clients. For more information visit
**The 12 for 12,000 Challenge is the combination of social media and fund-raising that aims to change the lives of millions worldwide. For more info visit

Friday, February 20, 2009

PR*ofessional: "Non-profits"

    Nonprofits: there are approximately 1.6 million in the United States, the largest, Lutheran Services in America, being a nearly $7 billion dollar network according to Matthew Sinclair of the Nonprofit Times. This, at one point, placed Lutheran Services ahead of American Online and just behind Rubbermaid on the Fortune 300 list*.
    With thousands of charities registered nationally and flourishing rapidly and successfully, how does one organization make itself known among the masses? Public Relations.
    Noticeably different from it’s counterpart, not-for-profit public relations focuses on “fulfilling an educational or charitable mission” rather than focusing on developing services and products that will “make money for its owners, as a way of financially rewarding them for their investment in the company”**.
    Alumni Sarah Irvin of Irvin Public Relations has had the chance to work with several nonprofit clients over the years.
    “Nonprofit is a lot different from for-profit, given the fundraising that has to be done,” Irvin said, “also, nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers, which can get hard because people have such busy schedules theses days”.
    One of Irvin’s nonprofit clients is the Columbus affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, which hosts “Race for the Cure”. Those who do choose to work or volunteer for nonprofit organizations such as this one often have a different goal in mind.
    “People who work and volunteer [for Susan G. Komen for the Cure] are different because they’re so passionate,” Irvin said, “we have a lot of survivors who’ve been at death’s door step and they’re very powered by [the Race] and helping others”.
    Public Relations professionals who are in the nonprofit field do more than simply plan events to make money. Ohio is 4th in the country for mortality due to breast cancer so the Susan G. Komen organization “ works to raise awareness through the year by servicing 23 counties”, according to Irvin.
    “There are so many reasons to get people to care, we just have to find the ways,” Irvin said.
    It is not uncommon in non-profit PR situations to find a “one person department” according to Kelly Nowinsky, Public Relations Manager at COSI, the number one science museum in the country (Parents Magazine).
    Nowinsky handles external communications, which includes strategic communications planning, managing all Institutional Communications, writing press releases and pitching local media, handling social media efforts, writing PR plans for exhibits and films offered by COSI, and assisting the leadership team with media interviews and speeches.
    “Every single day is different, and full of cool new challenges,” Nowinsky said, “Also, the great thing about working with non-profit PR is that you literally get to do every single job; you are exposed to many new things because you are a small department or a one person department.”
    Being single-handedly responsible for one’s own department can prove to have both positive and negative sides.
    “The [other] side is that you are spread very thing and the work has to get done because it’s just you,” Nowinsky said, “but, I highly, highly recommend it”.
    The Chamber Orchestra of Columbus is another nonprofit group that Irvin works with. Irvin deals with researching the audience and figuring out who cares about classical music, organizing programs for children, organizing outreach programs, publicizing events, and finding sponsors and donors.
    “Our main goal right now is to get the younger generation to care about classical music,” Irvin said.
    With most non-profit, the goals and objectives are different and always changing.
    “Non-profit is totally different from public because it’s not a good or service being sold,” Irvin said, “it’s a passion that people have.”

*”The 500 Largest U.S. Corporations,” Fortune, 16 April 2001, p. F11.
**Baskin, Heiman, Lattimore, Toth, & Van Leuven (2004). Public Relations in Nonprofit Organizations. Public Relations: The Profession and the Practice (p322-345). New York, NY.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Hapiness is a Warm Gun..."

    It has recently been brought to my attention that not every breathing human on the face of this earth has seen the movie Across the Universe. This is truly a tragedy. For those of you who have seen it, kudos to you (unless you've only seen it once, in which case, you should probably consider watching it again), but for those of you who haven't, here's my official (ish) take on it...

    "A musical tribute to one of Rock’s most beloved bands, The Beatles, Across the Universe pulls together an interesting mix of song, psychedelic effects, and dance. With war and the struggle for peace in the foreground of the movie’s plot, this twisted musical captures the true spirit of the 60’s era through the use of 34 Beatles compositions.
    Including songs from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, Across the Universe cleverly and creatively plays out the fab four’s greatest hits while all the while stringing together a love story that hits ever note. Through the use of metaphors, director Julie Taymor’s characters use the well-known songs to parallel everything from the Vietnam War and the draft, to a young Asian girl (T.V. Carpio) and her infatuation with someone she can never be with.
   The cast’s lovable characters, including Jude (Jim Sturgess), a Liverpool native who comes to America and falls in love with the sheltered Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood ), make it nearly impossible not to care about the characters and their many situations. Max (Joe Anderson), Lucy’s brother and Jude’s first American friend, goes through as many changes as his prim and proper turned radical sister, leaving the audience anything but bored.

   From crazy, psychedelic scenes such as “I am the Walrus”, complete with appearance by Bono, to heart-wrenching serious acts such as the war tainted “Let it Be” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”, Across the Universe has everything any musical lover, Beatles fanatic, or war buff could ask for in a movie."

A few other reasons I believe you should watch this movie:

-The cast is fresh and fairly unknown. Sure we all knew who Evan Rachel Wood was, but who knew she had those pipes? And thank you Julie Taymor for discovering Jim have completed my life.

-It's the musical-hater's musical. Leave thoughts of The Sound of Music and Chicago out of your head. Besides the random, but totally necessary, bursts of dancing from time to time, the plot is cleverly played out as if no one were singing at all. In other words, the movie does not simply move song to song.

-Dana Fuchs sounds like Janis Joplin and Martin Luther plays eerily like Hendrix.

-The scene Happiness is a Warm Gun. It will change your life, I swear.

-The clever inserts of Beatles' lyrics or references in simple dialogue or in background happenings. Sadie: "Where'd she come from?", Jude: "She came in through the bathroom window". Ba-dum-chi

-Joe Cocker. We needed him back in our lives.

Friday, February 6, 2009

From the Vault: "What's your sign?"

  A picture is worth a thousand words, but for many musical artists, certain pictures are worth so much more. Recognized around the world, band logos let many proudly flaunt their favorite artists without touching the alphabet. More importantly, however, they represent the band and what it stands for through the use of colors, lines, shapes, and a little bit of imagination.
   Most recognize the familiar logos, but many do not know the stories behind the well-known works of art.
   One of the most recognized band symbols of the rock era is the “tongue and lips” logo, representing non-other than the English rock and roll rebels, the Rolling Stones. Designed by John Pasche, this symbol started in the inner sleeve of the band’s album, Sticky Fingers.
   In the words of Pasche, the “concept of the design was to represent the band’s anti-authoritarian attitude, lead singer Mick Jagger’s mouth, and the obvious sexual connotations of the band and their songs (”
   While the 70’s brought an era of increasingly surreal and extreme band artwork, Pink Floyd and it’s design team, Hipgnosis, stuck to the basics when they produced the band’s most-recognized symbol.
   Atom Heart Mother and Meddle, the two albums preceding Dark Side of the Moon, had displayed a cow and an over-sized human ear. For Dark Side, Hipgnosis presented a similarly simple design: a diagram of light passing through a prism, said to offer clues to the spirit of music within.
   Presented with five different designs, the band took less than three minutes to pick the design before going back to work in the studio.
   “The symbol represented both the diversity and cleanliness of the sound of the music,” designer Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis said, “In a more conscious way, it worked for a band with a reputation for their light show (”
   The triangle is a symbol for ambition, which was an important theme to band member, Roger Waters. It was also Waters’ idea to turn the light from the prism into a heartbeat inside of the sleeve, representing the sound that starts the music.
   Unlike the logos of Stones and Floyd, the symbols representing Led Zeppelin did not come about in such a positive manner. After the release of Led Zeppelin II, which included “harder” rock hits such as “Whole Lotta Love”, the band retreated to a cottage in the mountains of Whales, England to find a new formula for their next album. The outcome of this retreat resulted in a nearly all-acoustic album, Led Zeppelin III, which was simultaneously slammed by the press.
   After the album’s negative reviews, lead vocalist Jimmy Page decided that the next album would have no mention of the band’s name. Instead, the album would showcase four symbols, representing and devised by each member of the band to express himself.
   Robert Plant’s symbol is a feather in a circle, found in an old book called “The Sacred Symbols of Mu.” According to Page, “the ancient Mu civilization existed around 15,000 years ago as a part of a lost continent in the Pacific Ocean (en.all”
   “All sorts of philosophies have been based on the feather; it has a very interesting heritage,” Page said, “For instance, it represents courage to many Red Indian tribes. I like people to lay down the truth, that’s what the feather in the circle is all about.”
   Three ovals interlocking a circle represent band member John Paul Jones. It is thought to represent unity and family, as well as a person who is confident and competent because it is near impossible to draw accurately.
   Percussionist John Bonham’s symbol is three interlocking circles. Plant once stated that he always thought Bonham’s symbol represented man, woman, and child: the trilogy. It is also the emblem of the Ballantine Bear.
   The meaning of Page’s multi-dimensional symbol is unknown.
   Originally designed with the purpose of marking the band’s flight cases to easily identify them on tour, the Grateful Dead’s skull logo has become a strong image for the band. The logo was designed in 1969 by artist Bob Thomas, although the symbol was not used until the release of the album Steal Your Face in 1976. The logo was inspired by a 60’s poster displayed in California and balances it’s color in a “yin-yang” style (
   Dave Matthews Band fans easily recognize the band’s energetic, dancing logo, rightfully dubbed the “fire dancer.” The fire dancer logo came about when Matthews was asked to draw what he sees when he looks out at his fans.
   The meaning behind logos and symbols of bands vary as greatly as the music behind the bands. Some logos, such as Prince’s name-replacing symbol, listeners may never understand, while others, such as HIM’s heartagram, representing the balance of good and bad, are clear cut and simple. However one thing is for certain: when a symbol and a band’s name can be interchanged, a milestone has been hit.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Here's to you.."

  Whether a writer admits it or not, he or she loves to go back and look at his or her old papers and newspaper/magazine articles. Not only does it give writers an opportunity to re-live the past, it helps them see how they have personally grown as a writer. After thinking about this today, I had planned on dedicating this blog post to those who have contributed to my growth as a writer (this is where I give a shout out to Miss Clark, Mrs. Hamrick (Perry) and Mr. Covey), but this led me to another thought...
  Over the long, long Christmas break that Ohio University graciously bestows on it's students, I worked as a waitress. One particular evening, Christmas Eve in fact, I held a conversation with my boss that really made me think about things.
  In talking about Christmas movies, the 1946 classic, and my dad's all-time favorite, It's a Wonderful Life came up. 
  "You know, I like to think that my life is a lot like George Bailey's," my boss said. 
  So, after my usual sarcastic comment ("Oh no Dave, you want to jump off of a bridge!?") I asked him why. He proceeded to tell me that he believes that if one day he was in trouble, financially like George Bailey, or any other way, he knows that he has enough good people in his life that would help him out.
  Do you feel that way?
  If not, you'd be surprised. Think of how different your life would be if you plucked out one person, and I mean completely erased him or her from existence. Even if it was that annoying kid who sat behind you in math all four years of high school or a quiet, familiar face on the street or in the halls of your school, college, or workplace, things would be different. Each and every person, place, and event in your life, good or bad, has produced the outcome that is right now.
  Now reverse it.   What if that kid in math worked harder every day because he saw how successful you were doing? Or that quiet observer...she was actually your biggest fan. My boss has unknowingly turned multiple teens' lives around by simply giving them the gift of a job, and I like to think that somewhere in my life I've unknowingly helped somebody just like that. It really puts things in perspective.

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" 

So thanks, to each and every one of you. Without you, where would I be today?