Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SPOTLIGHT: Healthy Humor!

A hospital stay is often no laughing matter, but health professionals say a little humor goes a long way in the healing process. This week, the spotlight shines on eleven year-old Anthony Grippo, who says he actually enjoyed staying in the hospital when he was founr years old. Grippo gives much of the credit to theresident clowns who kept his mind off the pain. Grippo, a studentat Children's World Academy in LaSalle, Quebec, now enjoys helping other kids get a healthy dose of humor too. That's why he rallied his whole school to raise money to give to the Dr. Clown program. Two school walk-a-thon projects have led to thosands of dollars benefitting kids at Montreal Children's Hospital. This "Spotlight" segment airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday at 8:30pm on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

SPOTLIGHT: The Monkey Bible

I speak with author Mark Laxer about religion, science, and the origin of the human race. Laxer spent years researching scientific topics to accurately portray what scientists think about evolution. He also has reached out to the religious community to explore the mystical origins of human beings. Laxer says his goal is to bridge the gap between scientists and followers of religion so that people in both communities will feel compelled to work together to solve the problems facing our world and the creatures that live in it, including us! His novel The Monkey Bible presents a fictional story with scientific facts, and offers potential solutions to the problems that plague our world.

Monday, September 13, 2010

SPOTLIGHT: Kate Messner, author

As the weather cools, the air feels crisp, and the leaves change color, Kate Messner and I sit down for a chat about her book The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Her book paints an evocative picture of autumn, while relating the story of a seventh grader who struggles to finish a science project of collecting and naming leaves from twenty-five different kinds of trees. The award-winning writer from Plattsburgh finds much inspiration in her own life, and in the lives and adventures of the students she teaches as a middle school English instructor. Kate and I talk about the revision process, choosing a good title, target audience concerns, and how her students both learn from her experiences and help her out. "Spotlight" airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Monday, September 6, 2010

SPOTLIGHT on the Boobie Sisters

The Boobie Sisters take center stage on Mountain Lake Journal Extra. Seriously! Far from being an X-rated burlesque act, these women promote a healthy attitude through the healing power of humor. The Boobie Sisters, with their funny name and humorous songs, actually sing about some pretty serious issues. Their performances tackle breast exams, cancer treatments, dealing with family issues and changing bodies. "Spotlight" airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This week, Mountain Lake Journal Extra devotes a half hour to "Spotlight." "Spotlight," produced and hosted by Paul Larson, illuminates our diverse community with stories about the arts, education, technology and health care.

PLATTSBURGH STUDENTS: Thirty-five students from Plattsburgh schools take center stage to sing with violinist Andre Rieu and his orchestra at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

BETH WADLEIGH: Her therapy dog Pepper can helps raise confidence and reading skills in students. Pepper's life with Wadleigh is a happy chapter filled with books, kids, and lots of attention, after his life began under sadder circumstances. For more information about Therapy Dogs of Vermont, the website is www.thearpydogs.org

HEIDE MESSING: Women in contemporary society populate the sculptural world of artist Heide Messing. Using stone and bronze, the Montreal-area sculptor celebrates women as business professionals, mothers, romantics,and free spirits. Her work ranges from very small pieces to monumental outdoor displays. The internationally acclaimed artist has exhibited in
many countries, but draws most of her inspiration from close to home. She often bundles her women and children up to brave the Canadian winter. Paul Larson shows us how the medium of stone drives Messing to create, and how she uses art as therapy to work through some serious
family issues. For more information, go to www.heidemessingmcdonald.com

Sunday, August 1, 2010

SPOTLIGHT this week

It was fun interviewing Victor Micallef and Clifton Murray of the Canadian Tenors. They take their music seriously, but not themselves. You may learn about how the group was formed, how two pop voices blend with two operatic voices, and a little about what to expect when the Tenors perform in Montreal this December. "Spotlight" is a feature of Mountain Lake Journal Extra, and this segment premieres Thursday at 8:30pm. Repeat times include Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 6am and 10:30am on Mountain Lake PBS.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heide Messing

SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK: Women populate sculptor Heide Messing's world, women and children. The Montreal-area artist documents the many roles of women in contemporary society, including business professionals, mothers, romantics and free spirits. Messing also delights in childhood, showing kids at play and in awe of the world that surrounds them. Messing sculpts in both bronze and stone. You may see her monumental pieces in outdoor settings near Montreal, and she displays her smaller works in galleries and exhibitions in the Canada, the U.S., Japan and Europe. Although she enjoys attending art shows featuring her work throughout the world, the inspiration for her art originates closer to home. Her sculptures often depict people bundled up, ready to brave the chill of a Canadian winter. Her mother/daughter sculptures allow her to work through some painful issues found in her own family life. "Spotlight" airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra this Thursday at 8pm on Mountain Lake PBS. Repeats include Friday at 6m and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 6am and 10:30am.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Plattsburgh Students Take Center Stage

SPOTLIGHT: A month ago, 35 choral students from Plattsburgh, New York never dreamed they would sing at a major concert venue before an audience of 10 thousand people, but Mountain Lake PBS helped make this unlikely scenario a reality. The adventure began when Andre Rieu, nationally renowned violinist and orchestra conductor, needed 35 local kids to back up one of his singers during a concert at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Mountain Lake PBS called Plattsburgh choral directors, who chose 35 talented kids to appear in the show. The students had three weeks to rehearse, and were thrilled to receive a standing ovation. More surprises awaited them the night of their performance. You can experience the elation with them during an in-depth "Spotlight" segment this week. The piece also features my third exclusive interview with Andre Rieu.
Watch "Spotlight" on Mountain Lake Journal Extra. Airdates: Thursday at 8:30pm, Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 6am and 10:30am on Mountain Lake PBS.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Summer of Walter Hacks

Vermont dairy farmer George Woodard discusses his first movie The Summer of Walter Hacks with me on "Spotlight" this week. His film impressed audiences earlier this week at the Lake Placid Film Forum. It tells the story of young Walter Hacks, an eleven year-old who must behave and work as a responsible man after tragedy strikes his family, all while keeping his cowboy fantasy world alive. "Spotlight" airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra this Thursday at 8pm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Canadian Tenors

We welcomed two of the Canadian Tenors into our studio this week for a live interview during our pledge broadcast of The Canadian Tenors: Live in Toronto. I also interviewed them for an upcoming segment on Mountain Lake Journal Extra.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Photobooth Art!

SPOTLIGHT this week: At one time or another, most of us have closed the curtain in a photobooth to have our picture taken. Americans have used photobooths since the mid 1920s. In those days, most people did not own a camera, so the photobooth provided an inexpensive alternative to visiting a professional photographer. Now a photo collector in Vermont is lending some of her treasures to the Fleming Museum in Burlington. Artist and collectorNakki Goranin has gathered more than three thousand photobooth images from flea markets, yard sales and auctions. The photos range from silly to sad, and showcase a wide variety of American attitudes, fashion trends, and relationships.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tiffany Glass

SPOTLIGHT this week: The Tiffany glass exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts began as a project to showcase eighteen Tiffany windows recently acquired by the museum. The institution inherited these treasures when it purchased the church next door. The church will eventually become part of the Canadian Art Pavillion, and will house the restored Tiffany windows in its music hall. In the meantime, Canadians and travelers have the rare opportunity to view these marvelous works of leaded glass up close, much closer than one could see them high up in the church environment. The "Tiffany Glass, A Passion for Color "exhibition grew to include Tiffany works housed in France, Russia and the U.S. For me, the highlight was the extrememly rare sight of two works hung side by side: A Toulouse Lautrec watercolor hosed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, hanging next to the Tiffany window based on the watercolor, housed in Paris. That window usually does not cross the ocean, and seeing the two together becomes an art "event." The exhibition lasts until May 2 of this year. "Spotlight" airs on Mountain Lake Journal Extra Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. It repeats on Friday at 6am and 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Therapy Dog

SPOTLIGHT this week: Therapy dogs have become welcome visitors in hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. Now educators have opened schools to the dogs as well, saying dogs can enhance the learning process. I interviewed Bath Wadleigh, a volunteer with Therapy Dogs of Vermont. Her pet Pepper makes a great listener for good books. The Dalmatian has a spotty past, but his life has recently improved thanks to all the affection he gets from his new owner and the students at Holland Elementary School in Holland, Vermont. I was curious how reading to a dog could actually benefit students. I asked teachers about the educational rationale for therapy dogs in school, and got opinions from 3rd and 4th grade students as well. See the story this week on "Spotlight," a segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra. The program airs Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. Repeat broadcasts: Friday at 6am & 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Glass Menagerie

"The Glass Menagerie" at the Laura Pels Theatre is a heartbreaking but humorous revival of the Tennessee Williams play. What impressed me first was the theatre staff themselves. They seemed genuinely concerned about the quality of their patrons' viewing experience. I was generally happy with my seat in the front row, off to the side, but because a stage prop sat right in front of me and would have obstructed my view of some brief moments of the play, an usher reseated me to the front row center section. Seeing the dream-like Tennessee Williams drama unfold right in front of me held me spellbound. Before arriving at the theatre, I had been slightly disappointed to learn the setting of the play had been changed from the small St. Louis apartment of the characters, to a hotel room where the character Tom sits at a typewriter, creating the play in front of the audience. Now, having seen the production, I'd call this change of venue a brilliant move that gives the play yet another rich layer of meaning, linking the writer Tom to Mr. Williams, the playwright himself, whose first name really is Thomas. Although a fictional story, Williams had based the characters on people in his own family, and this production plays like a melancholy biography of the author. I'm not a theatre critic, but I will say the performances both inspired laughter and moved me to tears. I had the feeling I was witnessing something truly special. After the show, during a question and answer session with the audience, someone stood up and said she'd seen the original production on Broadway. She said although that had been a magical experience for her, what the actors did in this staging at least equaled the impact of the Broadway show sixty-five years ago. Actress Judith Ivey as Amanda, the faded southern belle mother, is giving what some critics call "the performance of a lifetime." She said afterward she knew that character and based her eccentricities and humor on many of her close family members. She added she'd always wanted to play Amanda on stage, and now she's "old enough to do it." Patch Darragh says a research trip to Tennessee Williams' old haunts in St. Louis and New Orleans informed his portrayal. That's dedication. He even based his southern accent on Williams' own speech patterns after studying them from a documentary. I enjoyed his brotherly rapport with sister Laura, played by Keira Keeley, which made the ending all the more devastating. The play lasts nearly three hours, but I never felt restless during it, only entranced. Photos © 2010 Joan Marcus

Monday, March 29, 2010

Animal Illustration

SPOTLIGHT this week: Author and illustrator Sheri Amsel has kissed a bear and snuggled up to a skunk! She says she writes books to open kids' eyes to a world of wonders right in their own neighborhood. Amsel has written many popular books about the Adirondack Park, including A Wetland Walk, Adirondack Alphabet, and Adirondack Nature Guide. She has a master's degree in anatomy and biomedical illustration, and the knowledge she has about animals helps her create highly detailed illustrations for the books she writes. See our interview this week on "Spotlight," a segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra. The program airs Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. Repeat broadcasts: Friday at 6am & 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Visiting Educators

Today I spoke to some visiting educators.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ghosts of Clinton County

SPOTLIGHT: I shine the spotlight this week on the darker corners of Clinton County, with a bone-chilling interview with TV and radio personality Gordie Little. He came to our studios to talk about his book Ghosts of Clinton County. Little has had a fascination with ghosts since he was a child.

"I was afraid of the dark, petrified of the dark," he told me during our interview. "My parents tried to tell me there were no threatening things that went bump in the night, but I begged to differ."

Little got over his fear and soon embraced all things paranormal. He has spent his life collecting ghost stories from his friends and acquaintances in Clinton County, New York. Now he has published a book of the spookiest anecdotes. I am a skeptic myself, but I must admit one of his stories sent a chill down my spine during the interview.

As an admirer of the arts, my favorite story of his involves a piano teacher who would serenade her family on moonlit nights, after she'd passed away. People who live in Clinton County should recognize many of the locales in Little's stories.

See our interview this week on "Spotlight," a segment of Mountain Lake Journal Extra. The program airs Thursday night at 8:30 on Mountain Lake PBS. Repeat broadcasts: Friday at 6am & 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 10:30am.