Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle Dandy

For Independence Day, I watched the 1942 musical “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” starring James Cagney, Joan Leslie, and Walter Huston. Cagney plays George M. Cohan, the famous vaudeville composer, writer, and entertainer. He was known as “The Man who Owned Broadway” and wrote many popular songs that are still known today. During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented Cohan with a Congressional Gold Medal for his contributions to America.

Songs by George M. Cohan:

Yankee Doodle Boy

(watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/EKeYS1P9j1c )

You’re a Grand Old Flag

(watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/lxyt1Vt5ejY )

Happy Fourth of July! Happy Birthday, America!

 

Dawn Pisturino

7/4/2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Top Ten Leprechaun Complaints

meanleprechaun

 

10. They find a certain cereal to be neither magical nor delicious.

9.    Even with the seat down, they keep falling into the toilet.

8.    Santa’s elves are always stealing their women.

7.    It’s hard to hold your whiskey when you’re built like a 4-year-old.

6.    After you’ve heard “Top O’ the Mornin'” a few thousand times, you’d settle for just a plain old “Hello.”

5.    Pots o’ gold aren’t worth all that much after taxes.

4.    It’s not easy to outrun a riding mower.

3.    Every time they wash their outfits, the entire load of laundry turns green.

2.    YOU try being cute and whimsical 24/7.

AND THE NUMBER ONE LEPRECHAUN COMPLAINT IS  . . .

  1. Let’s just say they’ve got the smallest “shillelaghs” you’ve ever seen!

 

HAPPY ST.PATRICK’S DAY!

 

 

 

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Sammy’s Sleigh Ride

Mouse and Santa's sleigh

by Dawn Pisturino

One winter night, Sammy Mouse ran away from home. He wanted to go to the North Pole and see Santa Claus. So he put his clothes in a suitcase, bundled up in his heavy winter coat, left a note for his parents, and sneaked out of the house.

Sammy peered into the darkness, shivering with cold. Up above, millions of stars looked down at him. Sammy trudged through the snow, guided by the light of the full moon.

Sammy thought about all the wonderful things he would do for Santa Claus: help the elves make toys, feed the reindeer, and pack Santa’s sleigh.

When Santa Claus was ready to leave, Sammy would jump into the sleigh and sit beside him on the seat. Santa would laugh, “ho-ho-ho,” and Sammy would laugh, too. Then, up in the air they would go. Sammy would look down at all the little houses below.

When Santa’s reindeer landed on a snowy rooftop, Sammy would help Santa climb out of the sleigh. He would help Santa lift his big bag of toys and watch him slide down the chimney. Then, off they would go again!

Sammy walked a long time through the snow. When the sun began to shine, Sammy could walk no more. He curled up under a log and fell asleep.

When he woke up, Sammy’s stomach growled with hunger. He nibbled on a piece of cheese and hurried on his way. He wanted to get to Santa’s house before nightfall. Tonight was Christmas Eve.

But the longer he walked, the more tired Sammy felt. Everywhere he looked, he saw trees and snow. Where was Santa’s house? Where was the North Pole?

As night fell, Sammy began to get scared. Christmas was almost here, and he had not yet reached Santa’s house or the elves’ workshop or even the North Pole!

Sammy sat down in the snow and cried. He was wet and cold and hungry. He was tired, and his feet hurt. Worst of all, Sammy was lost!

Overhead, the stars seemed to be laughing at him. The man in the moon wore a big, shiny grin. Suddenly, Sammy heard bells jingling. Up in the sky, he saw Santa’s sleigh and eight reindeer flying past the moon. Sammy’s heart sank. Now, he would miss Christmas.

But wait, here was Santa’s sleigh coming right toward him! Sammy could hardly believe his eyes when the sleigh landed in the snow.

“Jump in, Sammy,” Santa said, smiling brightly.

Sammy jumped eagerly into the sleigh next to Santa. “Where are we going?” he asked.

“We’re going to take you home,” Santa answered.

The reindeer began to run across the snow faster and faster until suddenly, they were flying up into the sky!

Up, up, up they went. Sammy looked down. The trees in the forest looked like frosty toothpicks. The moon and stars grew bigger and brighter.

“Ho-ho-ho!” Santa laughed, his belly shaking.

“Ho-ho-ho!” Sammy laughed.

Before he knew it, Sammy was home. He helped Santa fill the stockings and put special gifts under the Christmas tree. He made sure he didn’t see what Santa had brought him.

When Santa was ready to slide up the chimney, Sammy said, “Oh, thank you, Santa!”

Santa laughed and shook Sammy’s paw. “You’re welcome, my little friend. Merry Christmas!”

In a flash, Santa was gone. But Sammy could hear reindeer hooves on the roof, and he never forgot the sound of the bells jingling on Santa’s sleigh.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dawn Pisturino

copyright 2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Using Photoshop to Create an Original Halloween Card

I decided to design my own Halloween card this year, get it printed up, and mail it out.

DSCN0885

I started out with this black and white photo of my daughter. I was intrigued by the highlights in her hair and thought I could do some sort of Bride of Frankenstein thing. I was having trouble with the hair, so I decided to try something else.

Green Ariel

I removed scars and blemishes and colorized the face and hair.

Then I merged the result with my own black background. And, voila!

WICKED ARIEL

A Wicked Halloween!

(click photos to enlarge)

The inside of the card reads: Have a Wicked Halloween! Steve & Dawn

I got the cards printed up on Snapfish. The price included printed envelopes.

HAVE A WICKED HALLOWEEN!

Copyright 2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Concert for the Dead

Concert for the Dead image

Story by Dawn Pisturino

Artwork by Job van Gelder

Ariel knelt before the marble niche holding the remains of her dead older brother and placed a bouquet of roses in the stone vase. Six months had passed since the horrible night a drunk driver had taken Jonathan’s life. She would never forget.

“Coach Willis still talks about you, Jonathan,” Ariel said, tracing the carved letters of his name with trembling fingers. “Nobody’s beaten your track record. You were the best. You always will be.”

She pulled some sheet music from her backpack. “The opera club is doing Purcell this year. I got the lead role. I’m so excited!” She began to sing:

“When I am laid, am laid in earth, may my wrongs create

No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;

Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate . . .”*

The haunting elegy echoed through the halls of the Great Mausoleum, bringing tears to Ariel’s eyes. As the last melancholy note faded away, the mausoleum doors slammed shut. The lights flickered and dimmed.

Icy panic clawed at Ariel’s chest. She could hardly breathe. Then a long, agonizing scream tore from her throat.

She ran to the entrance and pushed against the heavy metal doors. Locked.  She searched for an intercom or emergency button. Nothing.

“Let me out!” she cried, pounding on the door. “It’s not closing time!”

Voices whispered all around her.

“No!” she howled, throwing her weight against the unyielding door.

The whispers grew louder. “We’ll let you out when the concert is over.”

 “W-what c-concert?” Ariel stammered, searching the empty air.

“The Concert for the Dead.”

And then she saw them, gliding down the dark corridors, the eerie inhabitants of this condominium for the dead.

They crowded into the main hall, hundreds of them, the ghastly and the beautiful.

Men dressed in military uniforms soaked with blood, arms ripped away, legs shredded at the knees, and heads split open, eyeballs dangling from their sockets.

Women gowned in rustling silk, faded and torn, ringlets framing faces eaten away by worms. Pale young mothers with tragic eyes, carrying shriveled up babies in their arms.

Dead children glared at Ariel with menacing faces, their transparent fingers clutching moth-eaten ragdolls and time-worn teddy bears.

An orchestra appeared. Skeletons with shreds of rotting flesh hanging from their bones. The conductor raised his baton, and the slow, plaintive strains of a violin filled the air. He

turned and looked at Ariel with one putrid eye, motioning her to begin.

I know this song. I can do it. Shaking with fear, she dug her fingernails into her palms and began to sing:

“None but the lonely heart can know my sadness

Alone and parted far from joy and gladness . . .”**

She sang until the sun disappeared and the stained glass windows lost their color. She sang until the moon ran its course and the stars began to fade. Finally, her throat too parched and raw to continue, she pleaded:

“The concert’s over. Please let me go.”

Hushed whispers rippled through the audience. Then a lone figure broke through the crowd.

“Jonathan!” Ariel cried, grateful to see a familiar face.

Smiling, he extended his arms to her. “We don’t want you to leave,” Jonathan said, drawing her close. “We want you to sing for us forever and ever and ever . . .”

Cold waxy fingers tightened around her throat. In the background, the orchestra played a quiet requiem.

* * *

When the groundskeeper found Ariel’s body the next morning, he noticed two peculiar things. Her throat was purple with finger marks, and her hair had turned completely white.

Copyright 2011-2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

This story is dedicated to my daughter, lyric soprano Ariel Pisturino

Published in the November 2011 issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree. Read it here.

Published on Brooklyn Voice, February 2012. Read it here.

 

Concert for the Dead ill-Troberg

Artwork by Asheka Troberg

 

*“Dido’s Lament,” from Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell

**“None but the Lonely Heart,” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and J.W. Goethe

 Happy Halloween!

 

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A Special Christmas Gift from My Daughter

For Christmas, my daughter took my poem, “Butterfly, Butterfly,” and had it set to music by composer and film maker Barry Gremillion. Then they recorded it for me. I cannot tell you how touched I was by this loving gesture. Thanks, Ariel and Barry!

CD cover: click photo to enlarge

Butterfly CD cover

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E. Scott Levin’s Black Friday Commercial

E Scott Levin baritoneOur friend, E. Scott Levin, was in a Wal-Mart Black Friday Commercial. You might have seen him on TV!

Watch the video here:  http://ispot.tv/a/759A

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Mayflower Descendants

John HowlandThose of us descended from Leonard Spencer and Grace Hambleton are “Mayflower Descendants” through Grace’s mother, Alma Jane Stiles. Alma was a direct descendant of John Howland, a Mayflower passenger and the thirteenth signer of the Mayflower Compact.

During the voyage from England, John narrowly escaped death when he fell overboard during a terrible storm. He grabbed onto a rope that was floating in the water and was pulled to safety.

Just think — if John Howland had drowned, none of his descendants would be here today!

John came to the New World as an indentured servant to John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony. When Governor Carver died, John Howland became a freeman. He acquired lands, married, and served the colony as selectman, assistant and deputy governor, surveyor of highways, and as a member of the fur committee.  He is still remembered as a founder of Plymouth Colony.

Famous descendants of John Howland include Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush; actors Alec Baldwin, Humphrey Bogart, and Christopher Lloyd; Governor Sarah Palin; writer Ralph Waldo Emerson; Mormon founder Joseph Smith; and Dr. Benjamin Spock — all our distant cousins.

HAVE A BLESSED AND PROSPEROUS THANKSGIVING!

Steve, Dawn, and Ariel Pisturino

Copyright 2013 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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My Salem Roots

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WITCH HOUSE — SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS

(click to enlarge)

I’ve always felt a strong pull towards Salem, Massachusetts, but I didn’t understand why until I began researching my family history. As it turns out, my 12th great-grandfather was Reverend Samuel Skelton, the first Pastor of the Puritan First Church of Salem. The church, established as part of the Anglican Church, later split off and became the Second Independent Congregational Church in New England. This split enabled the Pilgrims and Puritans to unite as one colony — the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Reverend Skelton died in 1634, so he missed the Salem Witch Trials. His daughter Mary and her husband, Nathaniel Felton, spoke out against the trials and signed petitions of innocence in favor of John Proctor, George Jacobs, and Rebecca Nurse. In spite of their efforts, nineteen people hanged, unjustly convicted of witchcraft. I think of these people every Halloween and admire the courage they showed in the face of such intense hysteria.

CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

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SALEM WITCH TRIALS (HAWTHORNE)

First Church of Salem marker

 PURITAN FIRST CHURCH OF SALEM MARKER

FirstChurchSalemchurch_photo_postcard_350

PURITAN FIRST CHURCH OF SALEM – NOW A UNITARIAN CHURCH

John Proctor Petition

PETITION TO FREE JOHN PROCTOR

Rebecca Nurse Petition

PETITION TO FREE REBECCA NURSE

Text copyright 2013 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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A great man who has inspired countless numbers of people around the world to work towards justice and humanity for all.

Author Thelma Cunningham

Martin Luther King’s Birthday

Americans honor the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday celebrated on the third Monday of each January.

The holiday was established to serve as a time for Americans to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a political organizer and advocate of nonviolent protest, King was pivotal in persuading his fellow Americans to end the legal segregation that prevailed throughout the South, and in gaining support for the civil rights legislation that established the legal framework for racial equality in the United States. Dr. King created a powerful and enduring legacy for all Americans by calling upon our Nation to ensure equal justice under law and uphold our founding ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people.

Since his assassination in 1968, memorial services have marked his…

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