Monthly Archives: October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here’s one of the pumpkins we carved for my class. One of my students drew the silhouetted cat using a black permanent marker.

I was really surprised to find out that we didn’t need a sharp knife to carve our pumpkins. We used a common butter knife and it worked perfectly, even for such a detailed pumpkin.

It gets a bit messy making Jack-o-lanterns in the classroom, but the kids really enjoy it. Some of them get quite creative with it as well.

This is the first one I’ve seen in a few years that wasn’t the typical face design. She did a great job on it!

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween today!

A Photographic Tour of Pinafore Park

Pinafore Park is one of the jewels of St. Thomas, Ontario.

It is also the focus of today’s Visual Running Tour.

I didn’t know where this trail would lead, how long it was, or how great a run it would be. But sometimes it’s just fun to take off and run into the unknown.

The trail wasn’t the best. There were a lot of tree roots to watch out for. It was only about a kilometer in length as well.

It did, however, bring me to this gorgeous lake. Signs warned that it was a wildlife preserve so I snapped a quick picture and headed back down the trail.

The playground is really impressive. They have a great climbing structure, and a splash pad.

I followed the paved trail along the perimeter of the park to see what else I could find.

This is Pinafore Pond. In the past, it “provided power for an early grist mill” and now serves as a “reintroduction site for the Trumpeter Swan.” (City of St. Thomas website) 

Trumpeter Swan Pictures, Images and Photos

The Trumpeter, the largest of the swans, weighing 12.65 kg (27 lbs) and having a wingspan of 2.43 to 2.74 metres (8-9 ft), was once prevalent in Southern Ontario. Heavy shooting, human encroachment, and restricted habitat have contributed to the decline of this native bird.  However, concentrated efforts are being made to preserve the Trumpeter Swan and its status is greatly improving. (City of St. Thomas website) 

The park has several flower gardens as well.

This looks like it would be a perfect place for a family picnic or a day out with the kids. It’s not the best place in the world to go for a trail run, but I had fun. I hope you enjoyed this visual tour.

More Running Tours

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Tackling NaNoWriMo – Am I Crazy?

I must be crazy. I’m thinking of participating in National Novel Writing Month this year.

The goal is simple – write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

It sounds simple, but that’s 1,700 words a day for each day of the month.

I’m pretty busy with my teaching career, family commitments, and the radio show. Should I even try to complete this daunting task this month?

Why not? 

I’m afraid that I won’t be able to reach that 50,000 word goal. November isn’t the best month for me to tackle such a large project.

But . . .

It could be fun. Having a deadline sometimes motivates me in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t be. There’s a whole community of supportive people that I’ll be able to link up with.

Okay, I’m signing up.

You can find my profile for NaNoWriMo here.

If you are writing as well, please leave a comment or send me a message. It would be nice to share word counts and keep each other motivated.

The blog won’t suffer.

I’m in the process of stockpiling posts right now. I already have four Teaching Tip posts ready to go. I have interviews and podcasts transcripts sitting in my draft folder. I plan on writing a few more posts before November comes around as well.

That way, I won’t have to spend any time writing blog posts. I can concentrate on the novel but still publish new content on Silent Cacophony as well.

I can’t start writing until November 1st and there’s lots of work to be done before then. I’m excited and nervous about this journey.

Wish me luck.


Why Are You Learning?

We have a special treat for you today, a guest post from Hilary Melton-Butcher. She shares all sorts of interesting stories on her amazing blog Positive Letters . . . Inspirational Stories. 

Today, she contributes a guest post for our Teaching Tip Tuesday series, and she addresses our students directly. So please share this with your class. Enjoy!

Has anyone ever asked you why you are learning? The world out there is your oyster ..

Now – do you know what an oyster is? And did you know that the Romans came to Britain for their oysters … the rich man’s food, but by Charles Dickens’ time .. it was the poor man’s food, now once again it is a special sea-food. Perhaps you don’t find oysters in the Great Lakes …

… when I was young I had to remember the names of the lakes using their initial letters … HOMES … then I had to remember the order they appeared OEHMS … not so easy is it.

Charles Dickens wrote in London in the 1800s and one of his stories is a Christmas Carol – have you seen it on television or on film? It has three ghosts in it – the Ghost of Christmas past, the Ghost of Christmas present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (future) … it’s a fun story with a few lessons in it!

But why are you learning? The world is quite a large place, or quite a small place – as many of us have found by using the internet and blogging about life. Some of us want to write, some draw, some craft, some cook … but in each country we do it slightly differently.

Do any of you want to travel? Have any of you travelled? Where to, what would you like to see, what have you seen? Your country is so beautiful that there is so much to see by staying at home and visiting friends, family and places of interest within Canada. I know you have wonderful parks and lots and lots of wide open spaces.

But what about London – where is London? Are you in London … but I’m near London too! Do you know what line goes through my county …. and why my time is earlier than your time – the sun rises over us here in London, before it rises over your London – the sun appears to travel east to west.

The line that starts in London and connects both the northpole and the south pole is known as Greenwich Mean Time – the line of 0 deg longitude. If you look at an atlas or a globe – the lines running north – south are longitude lines, while the lines running east – west, round the earth are latitude lines …. with the equator being 0 deg latitude.

So my co-ordinates in my London are 0deg longitude, and about 51 deg latitude. Can you find out your co-ordinates for your London in Ontario? If you check back in your atlas or on your globe … can you find them – and what are they?

I bet you know the 49th parallel line is the border (for a great deal of the line) between Canada and North America …. while if I crossed the English Channel into France, I would find that the capital Paris is built just about on the 49th parallel.

I expect you can think of some more interesting places to look for … and then you’ll find out more information about all kinds of things … I love being able to ask a question and then actually go and find out about it.

Perhaps some of you know friends who speak French? Or perhaps whose ancestors or families came from England or France – and do you know when they travelled over the Atlantic Ocean? Did they come in a passenger liner, and then travel by road, rail or on the St Lawrence river to reach London, Canada?

The history of towns is so interesting .. and I hope you would like to find out more about your London in Canada – I know I would. You have a big river running through your London – don’t you .. is its name the Thames River? Can you tell me what mine is called?

Your city has a population of about 460,000, while our London is the capital of Great Britain with a population of about seven and three quarter million people! – can you put that into numbers? Has anyone ever been to visit England – and if so do you remember what you saw? Did you visit the Queen … or one of her Palaces?

Would you like to hear more about England and the world? I learnt quite a lot when I was collecting stamps – I had to find out where the country was, and then of course the atlas would show me other countries nearby. The continents too … it was a world alight with many interests, as the stamps will show you.

I think stamp collecting certainly opened my eyes … and even to this day that hobby helps me. I had to see a physiotherapist the other day and her name is “Karunanayake” – to her surprise I was able to say her name

… all because of stamp collecting! … and that is because all those years ago Ceylon (as it was called then – do you know its name today?) elected the first female Prime Minister in the world – her name was Mrs Bandaranaike … can you ‘hear’ the similarities. Mrs Karunayake was very surprised and very pleased that I could address her – we all like having our names properly pronounced.

Names of people too are interesting and often refer to a job or trade that the family used to do in the past … your Mr March for example– his family probably belonged to the army, or perhaps came from a border land in England – a march can mean a border too; or perhaps he was born in March – do you know?

Do you have a Johnson – years ago a small boy would have been the son of John. Or a smith – these children probably came from a blacksmith or ironsmith family. About 70% of Canadians have surnames that are of English, Irish, French or Scottish derivation.

Well that’s that today – is that too much information, too little (unlikely I think!) – would you like to find out more … are there any questions you would like to ask me?

It’s been lovely being able to converse this way via Chase’s blog .. and I hope we can do it again soon … keep your eyes and ears open to learn new things, and remember to ask questions!

I have another friend I blog with .. who is 12 – he has just had his 12th birthday .. and he hasn’t been at all well – but he keeps us very much amused and is always incredibly cheerful. I bet you’re all like Lenny – aren’t you?

Lenny Lee – at Lenny’s World:

Bye for now


Avril Lavigne Rocks London, Ontario!

Avril Lavigne knows how to put on a live show. She has energy and enthusiasm and it is clear that she really loves rocking out.

The crowd definitely was on her side this weekend. The uproar was deafening as she took to the stage at the John Labatt Centre.

She worked through her extensive catalog of hits and had the audience singing along to nearly every song.

We did our best work during “I’m With You,” when the band cut out, Avril lowered her microphone, and we carried the chorus.

It really was electric to hear the crowd singing in unison. Our voices blended together and it one of the best sounds I’d ever heard.

Avril was proud of hearing her song being reflected back to her. She conducted us and smiled as we belted out the lyrics. When we finished, she started the chorus again and then lowered her microphone once more, letting us own the song.

She must have felt the same magic that I did, as she had us sing the chorus one last time, before the band came back in and brought the song to a stunning conclusion.

The show seemed to fly by and before I knew it, before I wanted it to be, it was over. She said, “Goodnight,” waved, and left the stage.

It can’t be over, I thought. She hasn’t even sang “Complicated” yet.

An encore definitely was in store.

Avril came back out on stage with her opening act and best friend Evan Taubenfeld. During his original set earlier in the night, he played one of Avril’s hit songs that they had written together. Now he came back out with his guitar and he and Avril performed one of his latest songs.

It really was a great song and I’m definitely going to pick up the single. The song was called “Best Years of Our Lives.” He also has a new album out entitled “Welcome to the Blacklist Club.”

The two played one more song in this acoustic setting before Avril’s band came back on stage to close out the show with “Complicated.”

It was a great show. I really don’t want to say anything bad about it. I enjoyed every minute . . .

. . . but I was a little disappointed about the lack of a large television screen beside the stage. From my seat, I couldn’t see everything in as much detail as I would have liked.

I haven’t been to a concert lately that hasn’t had a big screen. I thought it was strange that this show didn’t have one.

The picture at the top of this post shows you what my view was like. Of course, I also don’t have that great of a camera. I could see better than it could.

All in all, it was a great show. I yelled my undying love for Canada’s pop-power-punk princess. I hope she heard me. If not, maybe she’ll hear it here from this post.

I love you Avril. Keep rocking out, and keep giving us great music! Thanks!

Guess Where I’m Going Tonight?

That’s right! I’m going to the Avril Lavigne concert.

I can’t wait!

I’ve seen Avril in concert before.

It was 2004 and she was touring to support her second album. I was impressed how she played several different instruments in the show; guitar, piano, and even the drums. The crowd was really hyped and sang along to every song.

I’m really looking forward to the show tonight! You can bet I’ll be singing along and cheering all night.

Read my review of the concert – Avril Rocks London, Ontario! 

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The Manhattans Still Relevant (5 Decades In)

I really enjoyed interviewing The Manhattans and catching their amazing live show earlier this summer. 

I hope you enjoy it as well. Read the transcript from the very start , download the podcast, or just continue reading. 

Today, we conclude our coverage for Silent Cacophony and DOPEfm. 

Chase: “Are any of you involved in side projects or is The Manhattans just about it?”

Charles Hardy (points to Al) “He’s the musical director for The Cotton Club Orchestra.”

Al Pazant: “I’m a trumpet player. We have an orchestra at The Cotton Club in New York City.”

Lee Williams: “The famous Cotton Club, and his brother Eddie Pazant is the music director.”

Chase: “I’m an elementary school teacher and I started playing in band in Grade 7. What’s disturbing now is that many schools don’t have music programs and the ones that do, you have to pay in order to be part of it, so they can maintain the instruments. How do you feel about music high school music programs?”

Charles Hardy (motions to Al) “He’s a teacher.”

Al Pazant: “I taught for 28 years. But it’s definitely a good thing. I think they should have programs starting in elementary schools. There is a lot of talent there that can really be developed. Unfortunately, they’ve cut out a lot of the funding so there is a lot of programs that haven’t been developed and a lot of talent that has not been found. But I definitely think it’s bad that they cut it out.”

Lee Williams: “My daughter is a saxophone player, barotone and alto sax. To keep it up, it’s hard to say, how do we keep the kids in there to be able to do this? How do we get the parents behind it to keep the instruments in schools? How do we talk to the governors about having them bring it back? I think that as long as we keep feeding or children and pushing them, I think sooner or later, it will come back. They will get a budget, some kind of way.”

Al Pazant: “Oh, I hope so.”

Lee Williams: “It’s a tough thing, but it’s a great art.”

Chase: “I think the arts are very important. I’ve been working in some schools that didn’t have choirs. I made sure to start up a  choir in every school I went to. I tried to get them excited about music. And the response was amazing. I think kids need music. I think we all need it. I think too many people are just passive listeners and not active participants in the music. I think it’s great for us to foster that kind of thing in the kids.”

Al Pazant: “I think you can cure so many things. There are so many intangibles. Music calms the savage beast. Music can help keep you at a certain level. It gives you a level head and keeps you down to earth.”

Chase: “It’s such a pleasure talking to you guys. This has been amazing. We’re talking with The Manhattans here at the Canadian National Exhibition. Legendary musicians, who have been doing their thing since the 1960s. It’s been really cool talking to you guys and I’m really looking forward to seeing you on stage tonight.”

Al Pazant: “We really appreciate you having us on. We can guarantee the people that if they come out to a show, they will hear vintage Manhattans. You will hear songs that we are known for, you will hear great ballads, love songs, and songs that you’ll be able to sing to. I hope you come out and enjoy the show.”

Chase: “We should let the audience know that it is easy to find your music. You can find it online, on iTunes. You also have many compilations and Best of Albums, one of which is titled after your number one hit ‘Kiss and Say Goodbye.’ So they should go find your music and if they like what they hear, go support.”

Charles Hardy: “They can go to CD Baby, you can go to our website You can Google The Manhattans and it will go right to that page. The way the technology is now, it’s so easy to find whatever you want to on The Internet.”

Chase: “Are any of you on social media? Can we find you on Twitter? or anything like that?”

Charles Hardy: “I’m on. It’s under my name, Charles Hardy. Type it in, Google it in, or from our website. I email, which is hdance2luvsong1 (at) aol (dot) com, you can go there. There are more ways than one.”

Chase: “Alright, Daddy J and Chase March here closing out our interview with The Manhattans. Daddy J is going to spin some of your songs now, and we’ll be right back. Thanks a lot guys!”

Music Playlist at

The Manhattans Interview Part 2

Let’s continue our interview with legendary R&B group The Manhattans as recorded from the green room of the bandshell at the Canadian National Exhibition earlier this year.

If you missed Part 1, you can go back and read it now, you can download the entire show for free, stream it with the player below, or just continue reading. Thanks for tuning in. 
Chase: “I know certain times I have been in the grocery store or elevator and have heard a song, and thought, ‘I know this!’ And then there’s no rapping on it and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is the original.’ It’s really interesting when you discover that. It’s in honour because we have to respect the past and the great musicianship that we are able to draw from for hip-hop.”
Al Pazant: “But all of that is what keeps us alive.”
Lee Williams: “That’s right.”
Al Pazant: “It keeps the demand there. And that’s a good thing.”
Chase: “Normally everyone we talk to for DOPEfm is an up and coming artist. They usually have day jobs. So I wanted to ask you guys, do you have day jobs or is music it for you guys?”
Lee Williams: “This is what we do now.”
Charles Hardy: “I retired twelve years ago.”
Lee Williams: “I’m retired. This is it. This is all we do.”
Chase: “How often are you playing shows then?”
Al Pazant: “It varies. This is our full-time job. It’s not like we’re punching a card. Sometimes it might be five or six times a month. It might only be twice. It’s just how it goes.”
Lee Williams: “And we do a lot of casinos. That’s where the money is at.”
Charles Hardy: “Where the economy is at right now, it’s not as fruitful as it was back in the 70s and 80s. People will pay to come see you, if it’s not a necessity. There are always priorities, like family, things you have to put into perspective. Coming to a show is all great, but if had to choose from coming to a show or paying your rent, what would you do. So priorities fit in there too. We’re just happy that people still come out to support us, just like they do for The Spinners, The Stylistics, I could just go on with different names.
It’s something to see the masses that come out to support you. And yet, there is not a genre of the radio that they can put us in to. It’s either we’re too old. They call it oldie-but-goodies. Or we’re not with what’s going on with the times. People always want to hear what we did before. It’s a Catch 22.”
Al Pazant: “You don’t want to get categorized as an oldie-but-goodie group. You’ll find an artist who has a recording studio and he’s out there and nearly 80 years old. He’s coming out with a new hit record very soon. And he refuses to let them put him in the oldie-but-goodie category. Tony Bennet, is who I’m speaking of.”
Lee Williams: “So we shouldn’t lay down ourselves. We need to keep the name of The Manhattans. It’s a stature just like the city. When Sonny Bivins was in Jersey and they looked over and saw the Manhattan skyline, they thought, ‘This is a stature,’ and so they took the name. From that, it has blossomed out for many years. Out in to the 70s.”
Charles Hardy: “’Kiss and Say Goodbye’ was in the 80s.”
Lee Williams: “We haven’t stopped, we haven’t laid down, and never will. We go on and on and on.”
Chase: “One of the former lead singers of The Manhattans even did some hip-hop, Gerald Alston. He appeared on a Wu-Tang Clan record in 2007. So you guys continue to put in work, wherever you are. That’s cool!”
Lee Williams: “I’m the lead singer now.”
Chase: “You’ve had a couple of leads over the years.”
Lee Williams: “Oh yeah, yeah. That’s good. He’s a good lead singer. We can’t put him down. With The Manhattans, where we are today, Gerald Alston was there. I was supposed to have been there before but I had my group Lee Williams and The Cymbals. They came and they wanted the sound like I had. They picked Gerald Alston, and he was a great choice.”
Chase: “I think the most recent album you guys put out was in 1994. Manhattan’s Now. So you guys have been active since ’64, put out something in ’94, and now getting ready to put something out in 2011.”
Lee Williams: “That’s right.”
Al Pazant: “Hopefully, yeah. We’re working on it.”
Lee Williams: “We want to be able to come out and surprise the people, the followers we have now. It will be happening.”

Read the conclusion of this interview.

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Read Part 3 of this interview.

Music Playlist at

The Manhattans Interview

Today, we have a special treat for all of you. An interview with legendary R&B group The Manhattans. You can download the podcast for free, stream it with the player below, or just continue reading.

Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March. Daddy J and I are here at the CNE with three members of The Manhattans. We have Al Pazant. He’s the bass vocalist. We have Lee Williams, the lead singer. And we have Charles Hardy, second tenor.

Welcome to the CNE fellows. It’s nice to be able to talk to you. It’s Motown night here at The Ex. What do you think is the appeal of Motown music forty years after its original run?”
Al Pazant: “It’s very popular. In the heyday, people were singing and playing and sending a message that people could relate to. Love songs, ballads. As far as The Manhattans are concerned, we’re known for ballads, for love songs. Every time we perform, the audience sings the songs right with us. We have young people as well as old people coming out to the shows. It’s a good thing.”
Chase: “It’s definitely amazing to see. The first song The Manhattans came out with was in 1964. And here we are in 2011 and The Manhattans are still doing their thing. Not a lot of groups have that kind of longevity. A question I wanted to ask was, quite often when groups change members, they form a new band or get a new name. How hard is it to maintain The Manhattans with different musicians?”
Al Pazant: “Well, I’m not an original member but I’ve been with the group for twenty years. They always try to get people that could portray or sing the songs in a way that the band had always done it before, so we could always carry on a legacy. We’ll always be able to continue.
We’re in the process now of going back to the studio to come out with something new that will attract the attention of the younger generation but still have and maintain the flavour of the original Manhattans.”
Chase: “Wow, that is amazing. Getting back to the studio to make new jams.”
Al Pazant: “Right, we always have to try to keep going.”
Chase: “I was also going to ask, you’re playing the same songs all the time, and for you, for twenty years now, does that get boring. How do you keep that fresh?”
Al Pazant: “The people keep it fresh with you. Once you get out there and start singing, people start singing it with you. And once you see the reaction of the crowd, the music is never dead.”
Charles Hardy: “Every audience is different. Just like Al was saying, you have younger kids coming up that have heard their parents playing our songs, and their parents have played our songs. It’s just trickling down from generation to generation. These younger kids are adapting to the older sound, more so. Even though hip-hop is still there, love songs will never die. They will never, ever die. It’s always gonna be like.
After you be partying, after you dance all night long, you’re going to want to hear a slow song somewhere. Hopefully, it’s one of the Manhattans, ya know? But with the audience, you’ve got such a variety. You keep it fresh that way. The younger ones get used to what is happening right now with us, The Manhattans, and maybe they’ll carry it on down to their children. Just like Al was saying. The legacy will just continue, continue, continue.”
Chase: “Hip-hop makes use of a lot of Motown and R&B samples. They are taking pieces of older songs. How do you guys feel about sampling?”
Lee Williams: “Sampling keeps the songs that happened from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. They are the songs people relate to. They have those moments where they can sit down and make piece with their wives, their loved ones, and so forth. So they play the songs that are there.
I think having samples keeps the songs out there as well. That’s good, as long as we get our business from it. That’s what counts. It’s good that right now, we’re in the studio, getting ready to come out with new songs. It never goes away. The younger kids were conceived while a love song was playing by The Manhattans, ‘Kiss and Say Goodbye’ , ‘Shining Star’ , they are the ones they’re singing. They think it’s a new song.”
Al Pazant: “It’s really true, sampling does help keep the music alive. People hear just a little bit of it in someone else’s song. I can get in the elevator some place and hear ‘Shining Star.’ You go in the grocery store and you hear it. It’s keeping the music alive.”
Daddy J: “I was singing it on the way here.”
Al Pazant: “It’s still alive. It’s still going.”

Read Part 2 of the exclusive interview with The Manhattans.

Music Playlist at

A Blogging Milestone – 100,000 Page Views

Silent Cacophony has hit a milestone. This humble little blog now has over 100,000 page views.


That feels like reason to celebrate.

Bring on the fireworks!

For some reason, my numbers fluctuate each week. This is what traffic looked like over the past week.

I know that I don’t have a superstar blog. But I am pretty happy with what I have built here over the past four years.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me.