In the studio: Barbara Kelley

21 06 2016

Barbara Kelley is the new executive director of Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). She was previously deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design bimonthly for the organization. Learn more about HLAA at http://www.hearingloss.org.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Barbara Portraits.jpg





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2014 Recap

6 01 2015

I design and photograph for the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM). Here is a recap of the issues published in 2014. Hearing Loss Magazine is published by the Hearing Loss Association of America.

HLM JanFeb 2014The January/February 2014 issue focused on hearing loss in the workplace, with feature articles such as Career Success After Hearing Loss: Finding and Refining Your Path by David Baldridge; Congratulations, You Have an Interview! What Now? by Mary Clark; The Workplace and the Law by John Waldo; Workplace Behavioral Responses to the Law by David Baldridge; A Midwestern Grocery Store Lends a Hand by Suzanne Roath; You’re NOT Fired! Technologies for Workplace Success by audiologist Brad Ingrao; HLAA Employment Toolkit by Lise Hamlin; Hiring Employees with Hearing Loss—What’s in it for Employers? by Valerie Stafford-Mallis; and Hearing Loss is Big Business by Bettie Borton. HLAA member Chelle George was our Seen & Heard profile. I photographed Chelle at HLAA Convention 2013 in Providence, R.I. Read Chelle’s profile here.

HLM March April 2014The March/April 2014 issue was our Convention sneak preview edition, featuring Nancy Macklin’s Convention feature, The Live Music Capital of the World Awaits You. Also in this issue: author Katherine Bouton’s Tinnitus is Big Business; I Might Not Hear Everything, but I’m Still Listening by S.R. Archer; Hearing Lost, Inspiration Found, a profile of theater artist and acoustic guitarist Randy Rutherford by author John Threlfall; HLAA Fights for Consumer Rights by Lise Hamlin; Grandma Doesn’t Know What We’re Talking About by Joyce Hagerman; and Waiting Rooms—Why Does it Have to Be So Hard? by Dana Mulvany. Convention 2014 was held in Austin, Texas on June 26-29 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel. I met and photographed pianist Nancy Williams at the Convention. She was the September/October 2014 cover feature.

HLM MayJune 2014I photographed the Pawlowski family for our May/June 2014 issue. The main feature was Walk4Hearing: It Takes a Family by Ronnie Adler. Within this section were short essays by Andrea Versenyi (My Mother’s Social Isolation), Leslie Beadle (Walking in Mom’s Shoes), Lydia Riehl (A Father Inspires His Daughter to Study Audiology), and Katherine Pawlowski (Why I Walk). Other features included Just Like Me, a profile of Katherine Pawlowski by Julie Fisher; Austin, Here We Come! by Nancy Macklin; and Are You Computer Savvy? If Not, Join the Club! by Joel Strasser.

(Cover photo, from left: Alex, Katherine, Megan (mom), Nicholas, Sebastian (dad), and Elizabeth. Eight-year-old Katherine is HLAA’s first Walk4Hearing Ambassador.) Learn more about HLAA’s Walk4Hearing here.

HLM JulyAug 2014I photographed artist and portrait painter Timothy Chambers in the Virginia countryside last spring and interviewed him for our July/August issue. Following in his father’s footsteps, Timothy Chambers became a full-time portrait painter. Even a diagnosis of Usher syndrome at age 30 didn’t keep him from pursuing his passion for painting. You can read my interview, Timothy Chambers—Living a Creative Life with Usher Syndrome, here. Learn more about Timothy and see his beautiful work on his website here. He offers painting instruction in the form of plein air field excursions, ArtShops and online teaching with IguanaPaint. Learn more here and here. Also in this issue: Saving Vision for People with Usher Syndrome by Ben Shaberman; A Newborn Baby and a Cure for Hearing Loss—Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Repair by Jim Baumgartner and Linda Baumgartner; Understanding the Fundamentals of the Audiogram … So What? by audiologist Larry Medwetsky; It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that “Bling” by Anna Bella and Suzanne D’Amico; Hearing Aid Coverage Under Medicare—We CAN Do It! by Lise Hamlin; and Unwrapping My Passion Once Again by barefoot skier Karen Putz. HLAA member Molly Corum was our Seen & Heard profile in this issue. I photographed her at HLAA Convention 2011 in Washington, D.C. Read her profile here.

HLM SeptOct 2014HLAA member Barbara Chertok interviewed Nancy Williams, pianist, author and advocate, for the September/October 2014 issue. Nancy Williams is the publisher of Grand Piano Passion, an online magazine. I photographed Nancy at HLAA Convention 2014 in Austin, Texas, this past June. Visit Nancy’s website here. Read Barbara Chertok’s feature, Music to My Earshere. Also in this issue: A Listening Profit by Nancy M. Williams; Audiometric Test Procedures 101 by audiologist Larry Medwetsky; HLAA Public Policy and Advocacy Agenda by Lise Hamlin; Understanding the Terms—Culturally and Audiologically by Barbara Kelley; Accessibility Drama Has a Happy Ending by Paula DeJohn; and Reflections of an Audiologist with Hearing Loss by Mark Ross. HLAA member Meredith Segal was our Seen & Heard profile. I photographed Meredith at the HLAA Convention 2011 in Washington, D.C. Read her profile here

HLM NovDec 2014In the November/December 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, Barbara Kelley profiled Alice Marie (Ahme) Stone, wife of Rocky Stone, who founded HLAA (then known as SHHH, Self Help for the Hard of Hearing) 35 years ago. I photographed Ahme at her home in Bethesda. In Barbara’s article, The “Intrepid” Alice Marie Stone, I learned lots of things I didn’t know about Ahme, Rocky, his career with the CIA and family life on the road. It’s a really fascinating read! Read Barbara’s interview with Ahme Stone here. Also in this issue: Hearing Loss: Working Toward a Solution by Shaina Nishimura; DuPont Displays—A Great Place to Work by Tara C. Stewart; Transitioning from High School to College: Helpful Hints by audiologist Larry Medwetsky; Employment and Hearing Loss: A Case Study by David Gayle and Lise Hamlin; To Thine Own Self Be True by Valerie Stafford-Mallis; Applying for Social Security by Lisa Giorgetti; and At 84, I’m Tuned In by Eli Weil. HLAA member Candace Meinders was our Seen & Heard profile for this issue. Read her profile here.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





The Not So Elusive Josh Vinyard

6 11 2013

Dancer Josh “Elusive” Vinyard is our cover feature for the November/December 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America. After seeing Josh on America’s Got Talent, I told HLM editor Barbara Kelley about him and then got the ball rolling to contact him. I was excited to learn that he lives in Austin, less than a two-hour drive from my family’s house in San Antonio!

Very special thanks to photographer Brian K. Loflin for assisting with the photo shoot of Josh all around Austin, as well as the images he shot for the feature. Brian was my boss many years ago and has long been my photography mentor. Austin is full of very colorful, graffiti-covered walls that made for a perfect backdrop for some of our shots. You can find Brian’s work at www.loflin-images.com. Visit his natural science photography blog, full of informative how-to photography articles, here: http://bkloflin.wordpress.com/.

Thanks also to Josh’s friend, Peter Tsai, for the photographs he contributed to the feature. Visit Peter’s website at http://www.petertsaiphotography.com/blog/. Visit Josh Vinyard’s website here.

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The Not So Elusive Josh Vinyard by Cindy Dyer

One night I was flipping through TV channels and paused at just the right time to meet 22-year-old Josh “Elusive” Vinyard, a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent (Season 7). I don’t usually watch the show, but when I paused, there was Josh—sharing his experience with hearing loss. I watched his performance and was mesmerized by his talent and athleticism. Through a web search, I learned that he lives in Austin, less than a two-hour drive from San Antonio where my family lives, so I could easily interview and photograph him the next time I was in the area. I sent him an email introducing myself and he responded immediately. I spent the entire day with Josh, photographing him and getting to know this very talented young man. (Cover photo by Cindy Dyer)

Josh Cover

Josh is unlike other subjects I have photographed for Hearing Loss Magazine. All of the other people we have featured have faced their hearing loss and availed themselves of the amazing technology. Josh has avoided it, and I don’t think he really knows what it could do for him. His personal choice is to not wear hearing aids, despite his mother’s pressure to do so when he was younger. If he were armed with more knowledge about the products available to athletes, I think he might possibly consider it in the future. What do you think?

Tell me about your hearing loss.
I honestly don’t know many of the details of my hearing loss from when I was younger. I was born with holes in both of my eardrums. I have had four surgeries on my left ear and one on my right ear. Thankfully, having surgery to repair the hole in my right eardrum worked. The next two surgeries were on my left ear. The last surgery was to remove a cholesteatoma. [A cholesteatoma is an abnormal skin growth in the middle ear behind the eardrum. It is usually caused by repeated infection that causes an ingrowth of the skin of the eardrum. Hearing loss, dizziness, and facial muscle paralysis are rare but can result from continued cholesteatoma growth.] You would think I would take the time to learn about it now that I’m older, but it has affected me so much in my younger life and I suppose I just prefer to leave it behind me.

Did you have any issues with your hearing loss when you were younger and in school?
I wish I would have had more help in school. My mother pressured me to wear a hearing aid but I refused. I thought it would further alienate me from other kids and decrease my chances for making any friends. The truth was, I was already a social outcast because I could barely hear since the time I was born.

Growing up, I had a hard time hearing people so I didn’t understand them most of the time. My solution was to stop trying to listen and play in my own imagination. I kept to myself and daydreamed all day long. I essentially committed social suicide without having a clue I was doing it. I gave the appearance of a loner, so kids labeled me as a weirdo and, presto, no friends!

The teachers accused me of not paying attention in class and, presto, angry teachers! Granted, I wasn’t paying attention, but I never understood what they were talking about every time I did try listening. I refused to accept any hearing aids. School is not a fun place when you think the teachers and students are against you. And when you’re young, you blame yourself.

JoshByBrianWere you teased in school because of your hearing loss?
I’m sure I was, but there are no specific times that I can remember. I never talked about my hearing loss when I was younger. I don’t want to say I was hiding it, but I never felt the need to express it with others. It was my personal business.

Had you ever considered wearing a hearing aid? Do you think you’re missing out on things?
I had not considered wearing hearing aids. As I said, I refused when my mother tried to get me to. The reason is because I did not want to be further segregated from the other kids. I don’t have the desire to wear one now because growing up, my hearing loss affected my life (for the better, I think) and I have discovered a lot of ways not to necessarily overcome it, but to handle it. I feel like I would be leaving a part of me behind in a sense. As an athlete, I don’t think I could constantly wear one. When I’m working on a show, movie, or in a competition, I need to hear, but I am performing and moving around a lot.

I’ve seen the video of you breakdancing when you received your high school diploma. Was this spontaneous?
It was a little message that only I understood, but that’s all that mattered. I relied on my dancing to get me through the hard times, including school. That was my way of declaring, “This is what got me through, not you.” It sounds a little cold when I actually say it, but that is how I felt and I wanted to leave that stamp. (Photo of Josh above, left by Brian K. Loflin)

How do you communicate without the help of technology?
I read a lot of body language and facial expressions. This practice always gives me clues to the context of the discussion and then I fill in the gaps of what I did not hear. I love that I have learned to do it this way, though. I probably don’t hear everything but body language gives me an insight to what they really want to say versus what they are actually saying.

Josh Walking WallHow do people react when they learn you have a hearing loss?
The reaction is always the same. “That explains a lot.” But then, at the same time they typically marvel on how well I do despite my hearing loss. (Photo of Josh at right by Cindy Dyer)

How does your hearing loss affect your life now, including dancing?
Nothing that is really different, honestly. I ask people to repeat themselves a lot, and will offer them my explanation if I have to ask them repeatedly. I still rely on other resources for understanding people other than just hearing. My resources include body language, tone of their voice, reading their facial expression, the syllables of each word they use and lastly, the context of the discussion to weave everything together. As for dancing, it teaches me to rely on intuitively feeling the music versus counting beats.

What would you want hearing people to know about your hearing loss in order to be more sensitive and accommodating?
No special treatment needed. Just be understanding of when I ask you to repeat yourself or to speak a little louder. Just don’t try to talk in my bad ear!

If someone were to encourage you to get your hearing evaluated to see if there is any kind of technology that would help you hear better, or understand conversation better, would you give it a try for your day-to-day life outside of dancing?
I would be open to something new. I have this thought that technology won’t help me due to my strenuous physical activities. Would something fall off? Bounce around too much? That is why I have not tried anything. I guess I need more information. (Photo of Josh against the Austin skyline by Peter Tsai)

Josh By Peter 1

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing at age 13. I didn’t think about mastering the skill. I was a disgruntled, self-destructive youth. I just wanted to be good at something. At age 15, I really began to rely on dancing to fulfill me emotionally. I had felt worthless due to my social inadequacies. I remember telling myself, “You’re not good at anything, but this is what you’re best at so just try to be decent at it.”

Needless to say, I was pretty hard on myself. My dancing is the offspring of my pain, but, ironically. It has practically given me everything I have now. Pain plus dancing have made me into who I am today—a person whom I love and believe in.

Does your family support your career choice?
I have an awesome, amazing and loving family, and I love them all so much. I am the youngest and have an older brother and sister. We all enjoy our time together. It’s a rare thing that I have and I am so lucky.

My family had never really supported my dancing and stunts, but they never discouraged it either. When it comes down to it, their attitude helped a lot. People have big dreams and a lot of them fall flat on their face. They thought there was a chance I might fail trying, but they weren’t going to discourage me from trying.

When the America’s Got Talent opportunity arose, it was one of those events where they knew that anything was possible and I could achieve anything. Not that they didn’t think I had a lack of talent to do it, but just because they know how hard the world is. They fully support me now.

What is your training ritual?
I try to practice for a few hours every day. Or at least, at the bare minimum, one hour. Sometimes I will practice for six straight hours, then have a lengthy stretching session, followed by working out, then do some cardiovascular training such as running. It wasn’t until later that I learned the importance of recovery. I might then massage my body with a foam roller followed by an Epsom salt bath. My complete regimen averages about 20-30 hours a week.

I have a background in gymnastics and martial arts that I pull from for working out. Around age 20, I studied anatomy and physiology enough to begin to understand really how working out worked. That’s when I began to design my own workouts and training routines specifically geared toward Bboying.

“Bboying” stands for Break Boy. Breakers originally used this semi-acronym before the term breakdancing was popularly used. Using the Bboying is to use it as a verb, to breakdance. To call someone “Bboy” before their name is an adjective, to define them as a breaker. I do workouts and exercises that I still have not seen other people do.

What are some of the daily habits and disciplines required to become a professional dancer?
You have to work hard and push yourself. The more you sweat, the less you cry when things don’t work out. Dancing is a special field. You can’t just physically exert yourself. You have to exercise tremendous imagination and emotions. One of the hardest things to do is to simply allow yourself to relax, especially after an injury.

A dancer should have had a lot of training in various physical endeavors such as stunt classes, martial arts, etc.

How does martial arts and stunt training help with dancing?
The study of movement is important and the more you know, even if it’s just how cars move, the more you understand about yourself. Therefore, I have training in gymnastics, martial arts, dance, and Parkour. (Parkour, also known as Free Running, was originally developed as a military obstacle training to efficiently and effectively move through your environment. You can see examples of this on YouTube, martial arts, other forms of dance, and just a lot of physical activities in general.)

I do a lot of random things—all physical—that all come together and help form me either directly or indirectly as an athlete and performer.

What was your first paying gig or contest and how did it go?
My first paying gig was when I was 15. I dressed up as Spiderman and pretended to be him for a child’s birthday—doing flips and everything. I made $50 for that. I won my first competition when I was 16. I was still a self-destructive kid, but it was one of those moments that make me say to myself, “I might not be a failure. I just might be worth something.”

Do you have a “day job” or are you focusing solely on making a career out of your passion for dance?
As of now, I am a full-time entertainer for dancing and stunts. Dancing has always been fun and it is my “crutch” and it will probably continue to be. As for a choice of career though, I am pursuing the stunt realm.

Which dancers inspired you when started dancing? Who are your favorite dancers in this genre?
I never really looked up to other dancers when I was learning. In my mid-teens, though, I was heavily inspired by Bboy Physicx. (He is a Bboy from Korea). Later I tried to learn from entertainers of all types. I loved to watch Bboy Cloud. His real name is Daniel Campos but his dance name is Cloud. Michael Jackson, James Brown and others have also influenced my work. Cloud and Physicx will without a doubt always be some of my favorite dancers in this genre.

What is it about Hip-Hop dance that makes it Hip-Hop?
This is where it begins to get weird unless you already understand it. Breaking is a form of dance that incorporates any movement the individual desires to use. The term breaking came about because Bboys would always dance to the breaks of a song. Breaking is a core part of hiphop. Hip-hop’s roots are in the Bronx and its fundamentals were graffiti, DJs, MCs (rappers) and Bboys. It is a raw art form. I say this because there is hardly any money, fame, or materialistic values involved in this art—the people who are a part of it are in it just to express themselves. It’s a creative outlet and it is fun. When you aren’t misguided for the wrong values, all that is left is you. And you feel compelled to express yourself. When I’m not practicing to gain something (money, etc.) I don’t have so many external influences. Everything becomes internalized, then everything emerges, allowing me to fully express myself. It’s a hard thing to express.

What is the best way to learn Hip-Hop dance? How did you learn it?
The best way to learn is by being a part of the Bboy culture. Go to where dancers are practicing, and join them, even if you don’t know anything. I learned breaking through online tutorials, took classes for a couple of months, and attended workshops when they were available. Above all, I practiced with my community and learned a lot from them. I don’t want to say I have made unique moves as my own, but the way I do them are unique.

Do you try to push yourself in new directions with each new piece?
I do try to make my dances more elaborate and indulge in other styles. One of my favorite things about breaking is that it isn’t one-sided. Breaking is everything and anything you can take from it. You can incorporate martial art moves, other styles of dancing—even different exercises like swimming. I saw a guy who acted like he was swimming on the floor and it looked fantastic, so I use them all.

One thing I usually do not do is choreograph. The beauty and all the appreciation I find for Bboying lies within the ability to improvise. Each song is different, giving you different feelings, different tempos. Every venue is different. Every crowd is different. To adapt and be able to connect with them all is poetry in motion to me!

Have you entered a lot of dance competitions?
I have entered a lot of competitions. I entered one in Arizona when I was 18. I flew out, not exactly knowing where I was going to stay, who would be there, how I would get around, or how I would do. My expectations were pretty low and my trip was not planned at all. I just wanted to get past the preliminaries, but I ended up winning it. Talk about a surprise! Then there was the trip I took to Dallas for my 16th birthday. I had just enough money for a one-way bus ticket. I was relying on my ability to win to get the money to get back home. I lost the first round. I borrowed money from everyone to scrape together a bus ticket. Talk about disappointment!

How did you decide to audition for America’s Got Talent (AGT)?
I was extremely reluctant to audition. I didn’t think I would make it past their auditions, but after a good friend pressed me enough to actually try it out, I reluctantly did. I just walked into the building and said “I’m here to audition.” I ended up making it to the quarterfinals. Out of the 75,000 people who auditioned for the show, I was a solo performer among the 48 groups they selected. I was a little surprised, to say the least. First stop was Austin, then Las Vegas, then to Newark, New Jersey.

When you made the first cut, how did you prepare for the next step?
Once I was told I was going to Vegas, I was really surprised. This meant that I passed the audition round. To go beyond Vegas meant I would be among the quarter-finalists. So I basically made it to round three. I just improvised during the auditions, so I figured this time I’ll actually put together something good. I practiced, rehearsed and executed a very well done routine in the Vegas round. Unfortunately, it was edited around and music dubbed over instead of my actual performance.

What was the AGT experience like? Were there any pressures? How did you adjust—or not adjust?
AGT was a horrifying process, but I was able to fall back on my old nature of being able to internalize and keep myself calm. It kept me and my performances protected. I have to say I adapted as well to the pressures as any survivor possibly could. Being on a live national television show is the scariest thing I have ever done, and I’m not sure if it will ever be topped!

What kinds of things did AGT do to accommodate your hearing loss?
Nothing. They actually didn’t even know about my hearing loss until the last round of the show. They were actually upset that I didn’t tell them sooner.

What were the judges like?
The judges were Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel. I never got one-on-one time with any of them so I don’t know what they were really like. They critiqued my performance but didn’t offer me constructive criticism.

Judge Howie Mandel said, “…I have to say, Elusive, that usually I don’t like to combine the story with what’s happening, but your story is phenomenal—the fact that you have a hearing loss, yet music is your life. There’s such a dichotomy between your problem and what you’re doing…that you’re so inspirational. And then I watch your strength and then I watch your dancing and your ability. It just dazzles me.”

How has coming so far in AGT helped your career and visibility of your work?
Honestly, I can’t really make any firm claim that AGT has landed me any work. It is a good credential that assesses my value with clients, but it has not directly helped my career.

What advice do you have for a dancer who wants to become established in the arts? Is it important to have an agent?
I don’t believe it’s as important as people think. If an agency finds you just one audition, then they are beneficial and worth it. But too many people rely on agents. As in a lot of careers, people have to go out, hustle, and be able to find their own work. I have never had representation. My advice to others: Have fun and enjoy it. That’s the only way you’ll actually be able to get good at it.

Were you born in Austin?
I was not born in Austin, but I have lived here since I was two or three years old. I have no memories of before Austin, so I consider myself an Austinite. There is not much work for dancing gigs in Austin as of yet, but Texas just increased their tax incentives for filmmakers so that might bring in more work. I focus on film, corporate and marketing gigs in Austin.

Tell me about your commercials.
You can see most of these projects on my website (www.joshvinyard.com). I choreographed the routines myself. Commercials pay handsomely, not for the actual day rate but for the residuals. I always have a lot of fun making videos and love to experiment and find new ways to interact with the camera, the angles, lighting and how it can all influence and alter the performance.

You recently met some agents in California. How did that go?
I met with a lot of agencies but they all wanted me to live in LA. I decided my desire to work didn’t override my desire to live in LA. I am not currently represented by any agencies.

I saw in your IMDB.com profile that you have been a stuntman in several movies, including an upcoming Spiderman movie. How did that come about?
Earlier this year, I went to Los Angeles to pursue dancing and stunt work. After three weeks, I came back to Austin, heartbroken and absolutely broke. I spent the next few days thinking about giving everything up and wallowing in self-pity.

I then picked myself back up, and told myself, Yes, I can do it and I met stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong less than 24 hours later. He proceeded to put me to work on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for two months as a stunt performer. I can guarantee that if I had kept my same doubtful mindset, it would not have ever happened.

You attended Austin Community College. What did you study?
I was studying for a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. I got halfway there before I dropped out of school to work with Andy Armstrong on the Spider-Man 2 movie, which debuts in 2014. Although I earned enough credit hours for an associate’s degree. It will be some time before I get back to school, though, because I have a career to think about now.

What are some of the current projects you are working on? Future projects?
I am working on film projects, both for dance and stunts. My dream project would be something that incorporates all aspects of entertainment—music, dance, acrobatics, special effects—just everything in general into something extremely dynamic. I have crazy ideas like being completely on fire while doing power moves, and things like that but nothing concrete is planned right now.

I know one thing for sure: It is so critical to always believe in yourself.

HLAA Convention 2014 will be held in Josh’s hometown—Austin, Texas. I think I might be able to convince him to check out the Exhibit Hall and learn about the amazing technology now available to atheletes like him. And who knows? There might be a Josh Vinyard sighting. Just look for the guy dancing off the wall!

Freelance graphic designer and photographer Cindy Dyer serves as designer and photographer for Hearing Loss Magazine. She experienced sudden hearing loss in her right ear in 1993 and had a cholesteatoma removed in same ear in 2003. She wears a hearing aid in her left ear. Cindy can be reached at dyerdesign@aol.com.

Josh’s 2009 graduation from Anderson High School in Austin

America’s Got Talent 2012 Austin Auditions

America’s Got Talent 2012 Quarter-final

Stunt Reel 2013

Fuel Rewards and Shell Gasoline Commercial





Re-post: Celebrate Home Magazine, Fall 2012 issue

24 10 2013

In 2012, Barbara Kelley and I launched Celebrate Home Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle publication. Visit our website at www.celebratehomemagazine.com. We published four issues (fall 2012, winter 2013, spring 2013 and summer 2013). Just in time for fall, I’m reposting our first issue that highlights perfect-for-fall recipes by Barbara Kelley.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

Check it out and celebrate home with us!





From Celebrate Home Magazine, Summer 2013: How to Plan a Photography Exhibit Reception

18 07 2013

In spring 2012, I had my first botanical photography exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality (who is also the editor-in-chief and my partner with Celebrate Home Magazine), did a phenomenal job of catering the reception in mid-April. There wasn‘t a crumb left of anything when the event was over!

Barbara shares her recipes and party tips in “Inspired by the Garden: Garden Muse Tea Reception,” in the summer issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. I am forever grateful to her for all her hard work and very major contributions to that very special day! Special thanks to Hollace Goodman, who served as catering assistant, for her work as well. Special thanks Ed Fagan of Columbia Photography and Margot Juliette Storch for photographing the event for us. I recapped the event on this blog in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-1/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-2/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/more-scenes-from-a-reception-for-garden-muse-a-botanical-portfolio/

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing out the recipes):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on magcloud.com (no markup; at cost + shipping):

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/600404

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

CHM Garden Reception

 





2012: A Visual Recap

21 12 2012

I’ve picked one photo from each month of 2012 to recap the year visually. Now here’s to 2013—hoping it is a year of immense creativity, creating more issues of Celebrate Home Magazine with my publishing partner Barbara Kelley, staying connected to family, nurturing friendships both near and far and old and new, growing my graphic design and photography business in fresh and challenging directions, getting back to painting with my friends (Cam, Dana and Cathy) in our one-painting-a-week resolution, hosting soirees, communing with nature and photographing more flowers and bugs (I can never get enough of that!), updating my garden with quirky and photogenic new plants, hitting the road in search of adventure (and fresh photographs), getting back to my painting (fine art, not walls), shooting more photos (and not just botanical), the wonderful opportunity to teach photography workshops in spring with artist Suzy Olsen at her villa in Tuscany, honing my writing craft, acquiring new skills and learning something new every day.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


KarenInMay

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Hearing Loss Magazine: 2012 Recap

28 11 2012

The last issue in 2012 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes last week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services to HLAA. Here is a recap of the issues published in 2012.

Tina and Tom Hamblin were the cover feature for the January/February 2012 issue. Tina contacted me in fall 2010 after seeing the wedding photos I shot for Todd and Abbie Hlavacek in September 2010. Todd and Abbie are also members of HLAA and Abbie wrote her cover story for the May/June 2008 issue (recapped here). Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

I first met Tina and Tom when they arrived for their engagement photo session at my favorite location to shoot, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA in spring 2011. After we did our portraits around the garden, Tom started doing cartwheels (he’s a gymnastics coach) and I captured him in full motion—making it the first time I’ve ever photographed someone doing anything gymnastic. I captured him in his wedding finery doing some handstands and cartwheels on his wedding day as well! My colleague Ed and I photographed Tina and Tom’s wedding on October 8, 2011 in Kurtz Beach, Maryland.

I asked Tina and Tom if they would write a sort of “his and her” story for the magazine about their respective hearing loss, how they met, and how they support each other. The title of their article, “Taking the plunge,” refers to both the turning point in their friendship and their recent marriage. You can find Tina blog’s here and Tom’s all-things-gymnastic blog here. Their cover story is available in pdf format here: Tom&TinaHamblin Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao focused on the best practices for hearing assessment and hearing aid fitting in Getting it Right the First Time: Best Practices in Hearing Aid Fitting; Gael Hannon showed us a practical look at information that would be helpful to those who have hearing loss in What the Professionals Should Tell Us; Michael Ann Bower discussed what people with hearing loss can do to avoid the misdiagnosis of dementia when hearing loss is the issue in Hearing Loss and Dementia; and Barbara Kelley interviewed young jazz singer Mandy Harvey in Musically Inclined.

The March/April issue featured the host city for the upcoming Convention 2012—Providence, Rhode Island. HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, presented a comprehensive guide to the upcoming convention in this issue.

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao discussed cochlear implants in Plugged in for Sound: Cochlear Implants Today; Scott Bally outlined the Five Most Effective Speechreading Strategies; Renowned audiologist Mark Ross talked about hi HealthInnovations Hearing Aid Dispensing Program; Meredith Low, a pro at planning and making sure that the communication environment is arranged so she can enjoy the party as much as her guests, offered great tips in Welcome! Easy Entertaining for People with Hearing Loss; Pamela Selker Rak shared her experiences with hearing loss in Lost in Translation: How a “Lost and Found” Friendship Opened My Eyes to Hearing Loss; Lise Hamlin focused on HLAA’s efforts in Advocacy: A Few Hot Issues, and HLAA member Netegene Fitzpatrick crafted a special Word Search puzzle for her fellow members to solve.

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, was the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue. In his article, Einhorn wrote about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. You can read excerpts on my blog post here. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard in March 2012. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film.

Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world. It has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. You can learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Also in this issue: Barbara Kelley interviewed Richard Einhorn to learn more about his work and future projects; Therese Walden, president of the American Academy on Audiology, discussed the UnitedHealthcare® hi HealthInnovations hearing device benefit program in Self-Diagnosis, Self-Treatment: The Wave of the Future?; Brad Ingrao wrote about water-resistant hearing aids and cochlear implants in Jump Right In! Water-Resistant Hearing Technology; Lise Hamlin revisited the Americans with Disabilities Act 22 years later in Accessible Design for People with Hearing Loss; and Yoona Ha revealed the special bond with her grandmother in My Six-Million-Dollar Grandmother.

Laurie Pullins was the cover feature for the July/August 2012 issue. Back in February, right before my photography exhibit (Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio) opened at Green Spring Gardens, Laurie sent me a message that she would love to come see it in person (she’s been a big supporter and fan of my work for a few years now) and she was trying to coordinate a time when she could accompany her husband to the Washington, D.C. area on a business trip. It so happens that I had been catching up with her blog, Dance with Sound, and had just suggested to Barbara that we entice Laurie to write for the magazine. I pitched the idea to Laurie and said that if she could come up to see my show anytime in March or April, I could shoot the portraits of her for the feature then. We wanted to keep it a secret from even her closest friends so that she could surprise them; only her husband and children knew about it. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Laurie is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I am thrilled that she has a spotlight in the magazine with beautiful photos and her honest and inspiring writing. See Laurie’s feature on my blog post here or download the pdf here: Laurie Pullins Feature

Also in this issue: Brad Ingrao helps you understand your hearing loss and what you need to hear better in Beyond the Beeps: Needs Assessments and Outcome Measures; Lisa and Des Brownlie shared their experiences of their babies born with hearing loss in Two Children, Two Hearing Losses; Sam Trychin discussed research that has uncovered information about another built-in, inherited type of pain that also has survival value—social pain—in Hearing Loss and Social Pain; Lisa Tseng of hi HealthInnovations shows the company’s model for how to reach those who need hearing help in Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reveaks her personal experiences resulting from the fruits of HLAA’s labor in Newborn Hearing Screening: A Success Story; and Viola LaBounty expresses her improved hearing loss through her poem, Digital Technology: My World Alive.

Melissa Puleo Adams, a former San Diego Chargers cheerleader, was our cover feature for the September/October 2012 issue. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph Melissa when she was visiting her family here in Virginia in May. The title of her feature, Sixth Time’s a Charm, is in reference to her trying out six times to be a Charger Girl cheerleader. She persevered despite the rejections and made it on the sixth try. Her fellow Charger Girls were very supportive of her and her hearing loss. Melissa owns her own web and graphic design firm in California. You can see her web design work hereCover photo © Cindy Dyer  (Read Melissa’s full feature in my blog post here.)

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao provided an in-depth look at three alternative hearing systems in Middle Ear Implants and Bone Conduction Hearing Devices; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, revealed highlights in her Convention 2012 Wrap-up; Susan Clutterbuck wrote about the results of the EARtrak survey and if they reveal whether or not consumers’ opinions are being heard by their hearing health care providers in Improving Health Care—Make Your Voice Heard!; Ronnie Adler shared great stores about how Walk4Hearing Funds are put to good use in local communities in Rewarding Great Ideas—The Benefits of the Walk4Hearing; and Scott J. Bally showed how NVRC is changing lives in the community in NVRC: A Model Community Center Improving Communication.

Marisa Sarto was the cover feature for the November/December 2012 issue. I met Marisa in Providence, R.I. this past June during HLAA Convention 2012. I was going to profile her for our Seen & Heard column but after learning about her photo book project, we decided to make her autobiographical story a main feature for the magazine. I photographed her one afternoon in a park near the hotel. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Marisa’s inspiration for her book-in-progress, Hear Nor There: Images of an Invisible Disability, came from her experiences as a woman growing up with a hearing loss that made her feel self-conscious and set apart from others. The project will be a documentary monograph, showcasing photographs and stories of individuals of varying ages, ethnicities and genders and their challenges of living with a hearing loss. Learn more about the project on her website here and sample images and narratives here. Download and read her feature article here: Marisa Sarto Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, Better Hearing, Better Health, explored the relationship between hearing loss and health-related quality of life; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, showed us why It’s Time to Head West! with her Convention 2013 Sneak Preview; Hayleigh Scott, owner of Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, and Netegene Fitzpatrick proved there isn’t a generation gap among people with hearing loss in their feature, A Unlikely Friendship; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reported good news in Shopping for Phones; long-time HLAA member Vern Thayer explained why he is Lucky that he discovered HLAA in 1983; and HLAA members George Kosovich and Marisa Sarto were both profiled in Seen & Heard.

 





From now until Oct. 31, get your printed copy of our Celebrate Home Magazine at 25% off!

24 10 2012

Magcloud.com is having a 25% off sale from now until October 31! Get the printed copy of the fall 2012 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine for $17.55 (reg. $23.40), plus shipping. The print copy is gorgeous, but you can also view it online free by signing up for a free magcloud.com account. Click on the link below to enjoy 25% off the print version!

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/447668





Celebrate Home Magazine now available on www.issuu.com!

10 10 2012

Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for viewing on http://www.issuu.com! You’ll love the page-turnable interface and downloads are FREE. You can even control the zoom in and out features! Check it out here:

http://issuu.com/celebratehomemag/docs/celebratehomemagfall2012

Help us get those numbers up by downloading your free copy now. Every click helps us grow the magazine, ensuring more issues for you to read in the future. Help us spread the word!





Melanie Poirier: Dish Towel Diva

2 10 2012

Thanks to Melanie Poirier for writing a feature in our inaugural issue of Celebrate Home Magazine! With more than 500 dish towels (and counting!), this avid collector shares her love of this common kitchen object.

Melanie and I spent an entire afternoon setting up her extensive dish towel collection on her back deck for me to photograph for the issue. I came up with the idea of crafting shapes from her towels to reflect the seasons they represent. Her largest collection was of autumn-inspired dish towels, so we crafted a giant quilt.

I asked her if by chance did she had a cherry picker handy, but alas, she did not. Michael set up her Little Giant ladder system and I soon found myself suspended awkwardly over our “quilt” to get the shots! (Lovely Melanie is pictured at left, photographed after our dish towel photo session and I’m below, suspended on the Little Giant)

You can read all about Melanie’s dish towel obsession by clicking the link below to download a pdf designed for two-page spread viewing (best viewing, especially for her feature).

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single-page printing

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages 

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

Below: My favorite assemblage is the flower I crafted from her spring-based dish towel collection.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





And that’s the way we roll…

2 10 2012

Below is Barbara’s friend Lucille’s “Pumpkin Roll” recipe. I can attest to its yumminess, having consumed some before, during and after the photo shoot. P.S. Did you know that cats love cream cheese too?

Want the recipe? Click on either of the links below the photo to download a pdf file of the entire magazine. I’ve included two different pdfs—one is a two-page spread view (best viewed online) and the other is a single-page view (better for printing off the recipes on one page). Bon appétit!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 





A labor of love: Celebrate Home Magazine is born!

2 10 2012

The Fall 2012 Celebrate Home Magazine debuts today on the first day of October with the mantra of “making the ordinary extraordinary.”

Published quarterly, Celebrate Home Magazine focuses on family, food, entertaining, gardening, art, crafts, hobbies, personal expression, hospitality, pets, decorating, communities and neighborhoods.

The time has come for a magazine like this—highlighting ordinary people doing extraordinary things. No matter your budget, your skills or the size of your space, we’ll enthusiastically share experiences of those who nurture the space they call home. Let us inspire you!

I’ve teamed up with the talented and renowned Barbara Kelley, whose editorial expertise has graced Hearing Loss Magazine for more than 20 years. She brings her passion for hospitality and her publishing experience to this brand new publication! We are both passionate about all things home and welcome you to open the door and come on in. We also welcome you to be contributors. This magazine is for you and about you.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 

 

Would you like to be a contributing author or photographer? Please e-mail writing and/or photography samples and links to websites with your work to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

Do you have an original recipe you’d like to share? Please e-mail your recipes to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

We can come to you! Are you having a party or special event at your home or an activity that relates to the subject of home? Contact us to discuss your idea. If it fits the editorial scope of Celebrate Home Magazine, we may photograph your event and write the story.

Do you have a product or service? If you would like to advertise your product, service, or your city/town/region, contact advertising@celebratehomemag.com.

Check it out and celebrate home with us!





Melissa Puleo Adams: Sixth Time’s a Charm

12 09 2012

Melissa Puleo Adams graces the cover of the September/October 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. I met and photographed Melissa for the magazine in May when she was in town visiting her parents, Joe and Lisa. Barbara Kelley, the editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine, interviewed Melissa this summer. (Cover photo © Cindy Dyer)

Sixth Time’s a Charm

by Barbara Kelley

It’s fall and that means one thing to a lot of people in this country—football! True grit on the gridiron not only stirs passion from spectators, it contributes to a multi-billion dollar sports industry in the United States. According to Plunkett Research®, Ltd., sports, with football at the top, is big business. “Combined, the ‘Big 4’ leagues in America, the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB), bring in about $24 billion in revenue during a typical year, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. U.S. sporting equipment sales at retail sporting goods stores are roughly $41 billion yearly, according to U.S. government figures.

A reasonable estimate of the total U.S. sports market would be $400 to $435 billion yearly. However, the sports industry is so complex, including ticket sales, licensed products, sports video games, collectibles, sporting goods, sports-related advertising, endorsement income, stadium naming fees and facilities income, that it’s difficult to put an all-encompassing figure on annual revenue.” (www.plunkettresearch.com)

What About the Cheerleaders?
Yes, cheerleaders are part of this lucrative sports industry. NFL Cheerleading is a professional cheerleading league in the United States. Most of the NFL teams have a cheerleading squad in their franchise. Cheerleaders are a popular attraction that gives a team more coverage/airtime, local support, and increased media image. Think Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders or their rivals, First Ladies of Football, Washington Redskins Cheerleaders.

For the NFL, the Baltimore Colts was the first team in the NFL to have cheerleaders in 1954. These girls were also a part of the historic Baltimore Colts Marching Band. The only NFL teams without cheerleaders are the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The February 2011 meeting of the Packers and Steelers at Super Bowl XLV was the first time a Super Bowl featured no cheerleaders. The Packers do, however, use a collegiate squad from time to time in a limited role to cheer at home games.

Apply Here
I was curious. Besides being able to hear the music and follow the beat, what other qualifications do you need to be an NFL Cheerleader? So, I went online as if I were going to apply to become a “Charger Girl,” the cheerleading squad for NFL’s San Diego Chargers. I got so excited when it said “Be a part of the Hottest Dance Team in the NFL! Charger Girls Audition.” Using my super-sized imagination, I went through the list of requirements to see if, by any slim chance, I could apply.

• You must be at least 18 years old by the date of the preliminary audition. There is no maximum age limit. (Check! Whew, good thing.)

• There are no height or weight requirements. (Check! Oh boy, got lucky again, so far, so good.)

• Team members must have flexible schedules for twice-weekly rehearsals, games and appearances during and prior to the season. (Check! This might be tough but I have some vacation time coming.)

• Team members must attend a mandatory weekend mini-camp. (Check! My husband can hold down the fort.) 

• Team members must have a means of transportation. (Check! I’ll take the family SUV; it’s a little trashed from kids’ cleats, mud, and empty Gatorade bottles, but it’ll work fine.)

Also from the application:

“The Charger Girls uphold a high standard of quality dance performance and community involvement. The Charger organization feels strongly that the cheerleaders should complement the professionalism represented on and off the playing field. During the preliminary audition process, applicants will be judged on dance ability, crowd appeal, showmanship, and individual applications. For finalists, there is an interview process and a final dance audition.”

Highlights of being a Charger Girl:

• Experience the thrill of performing in front of more than 65,000 fans

• Perform at San Diego Chargers home games in Qualcomm Stadium

• Participate in the annual swimsuit calendar photo shoot

• Serve as ambassadors for the Chargers organization as well as the San Diego community

• Bring smiles to underprivileged children

• Have local and national media exposure

• Work with many of the nation’s top choreographers

• Donate time and talent for various charity events

• Make invaluable friendships with fellow teammates

Wow, this was sounding great.

And finally, in big bold letters, the application states:

“IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO MAKE A FULL ONE-YEAR COMMITMENT TO THE SAN DIEGO CHARGER GIRLS THEN YOU SHOULD NOT AUDITION!”

Okay, deal breaker, count me out. But, now I know that auditioning for this job is not for the faint of heart. I watched some of the auditions on the Internet to learn more about what is behind the women who are brave enough to try. You have to be talented, athletic, outgoing and more. One woman, Kei, came all the way from Japan just to try for this coveted role.

But there is one young woman who stands out among them all—Melissa Puleo Adams. She’s a tenacious, spirited girl, who caught the attention of ABC’s Good Morning America and who was interviewed on the program last year. By the way, Melissa happens to have a hearing loss. Now, she has our attention.

Meet Melissa Puleo Adams
Melissa, (29) was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and now lives in Carlsbad, California. She graduated from James Madison University in Virginia in 2004. Her parents, Joe and Lisa, live in the Washington, D.C., metro area and we met her when she was home to visit. When you ask her dad about his daughter, he says, “Her mom and I would say how proud we are of all Melissa has achieved despite her hearing loss. She is smart, compassionate and determined.”

How did she do it when getting the routine right depends on hearing the music and the numbers being called out? She neither had the roar of the crowd nor the loud music to fuel her. Even the football referee’s whistle was too high-pitched for her to hear. Melissa Puleo Adams talks about the people who helped her along the way and her perseverance to making her dream of being a Charger Girl come true. (Photo courtesy of the Charger Girls)

In Melissa’s Words

Your hearing loss… when was it detected and was it treated?
I was five when my hearing loss was detected by my kindergarten teacher. My teacher notified my mother that she noticed I wouldn’t turn around when called at times. My parents took me to an ENT to get my hearing tested and they discovered that I had a hearing loss in both ears. I was fitted with two behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids at age five.

What about school, the classroom, friends?
I was fortunate to have a pleasant grade school experience due largely in part to a great family support system, and a positive attitude. When I was first fitted with BTE hearing aids, I proudly wore my hair up with confidence, showing them off to all my friends and classmates. My friends all thought my hearing aids were ‘so cool’ and wanted to try them on and get a pair of their own.

However, in high school and college I was shy, maybe embarrassed, about my hearing loss. I no longer told my peers about it and kept my hair down to cover my hearing aids. I always thought what guy would want to date a girl who wears hearing aids? I didn’t know anyone else with a hearing loss. This didn’t affect my positive outlook, although I’m sure having a friend to relate to may have helped during my high school years.

In terms of teachers and school, I still continued to tell the teachers on the first day of class that I needed to sit front and center and that if they turned away from me to face the blackboard then I probably wouldn’t understand what they were saying. I did the same in college and talked to the professors after class if I thought I missed something.

Speaking of college, how did you decide on your major when you had so much interest in dancing?
When I first attended James Madison University, I had an undeclared major and had no idea what I wanted to do. As a freshman, I declared Business as a major because it felt like a suitable, broad option. Though I enjoyed my business classes, the artistic/creative side of me felt ignored. I decided on Media Arts and Design with a concentration in Interactive Digital Media. Classes consisted of graphic design, web design, communications, media, broadcasting and copywriting. This was right up my alley because I’ve always been creative. When I was little, I used to write stories and mini-books complete with pictures. I also loved making up plays and making my little brother, Marc, and our friends perform the parts I created for them in front of family and friends.

Did you take dance lessons as a child? There must be a segue to wanting to become a Charger Girl.
My mom put me in tap and ballet class when I was five (same time frame when my hearing loss was detected). I fell in love with it immediately and knew that I wanted dancing to be a part of my life forever. I have always been an avid exerciser but to prepare for the Charger Girl auditions, I took more dance classes on top of my usual cardio and weight-training routine. Taking dance classes not only helped me brush up on my skills, but also helped train my memory for learning choreography.

When did you start thinking about becoming a Charger Girl?
I’ve always had the dream of becoming a professional dancer when I started dance lessons. When I moved to San Diego from Maryland in 2005, I heard of the San Diego Charger Girl auditions. They have a great reputation of being a fantastic group of women and I wanted to be part of it.

What about your audition?
I first tried out for Charger Girls in 2005. The auditions are always held in March or April. My hearing loss made it more difficult for me because the auditions were in a huge auditorium with an echo. Once I got the dance routine started, I would be totally fine, but the main challenge was starting on the right beat. Sometimes I would use my peripheral vision to look at the girl to the right or left of me to see when to start. It is a vigorous audition process. More than 400 girls audition for a spot on a team of 28. There are preliminary tryouts first, after which they make two cuts. You learn choreography and then you must perform for a panel of judges in groups of three. About 60 girls make it to the final rounds which include a one-on-one interview, a group interview, and a final dance audition. You have to prepare a solo dance to showcase to the final judges as well. It is nerve-wracking but the adrenaline that pumps through you gets you through it!

So, what happened next?
I didn’t make it. I tried out again in 2006. I didn’t make it. Again, in 2007. No, again. I tried again the next two years in 2008, 2009. No and no. That’s five tryouts.

After one rejection, most of us would have moved on.
For five years, after rounds of dance auditions and interviews, I had the same experience. All of us sit together holding hands, eyes closed, hoping to hear our audition number called. It’s an intense moment. The first five times my number was not called, it was tough. I had friends who would make the team and it would be a bittersweet moment. I was thrilled for them but I had to go home, year after year, not as a Charger Girl.

Though it was hard not to make it, and especially not to know why you weren’t picked for the team, I knew this was something I could do well if given the chance. I was not giving up on my dream. Well, all I can say is: Hence, if at first (second, third, forth, and fifth in my case) you don’t succeed, try and try again.

And, in 2010, what happened?
My number was called after my sixth audition! It was one of the most memorable moments in my entire life. I waited six years to hear my number called! I’ll never forget that moment.

Is life as a Charger Girl what you expected?
I was a Charger Girl for two NFL seasons, 2010–11 and 2011–12. I had the most incredible experience and can say it was all that I expected and more. Some of the teammates I had will be my friends for life. The director, Lisa Simmons, is an amazing leader and I’m proud to call her a friend of mine.

Now, what about your hearing loss?
My hearing loss was always accommodated. I couldn’t believe the amount of support I had from my teammates and director. At every practice, girls would repeat things that were said to me. For each dance there would be a girl close by me who would give me a signal (tap on the leg, quietly mouth the count—5, 6, 7, 8—or shake her pom) so that I would know when to start the dance. Most times I couldn’t hear the music when I was on the field so this system ensured that I would never be off beat or lose count. That is why I call my teammates friends. They could have easily looked out for themselves first with little regard for me. I will never forget that. (Family photo © Cindy Dyer)

What are you doing now?
I decided not to audition for the San Diego Charger Girls for another season. The two seasons I had were incredibly good to me, but I have other exciting things planned for the future. I am currently self-employed as a marketing manager, event coordinator, and graphic/web designer. I’ve been dubbed the “Get It Done Expert.”

In June I became certified to teach barre3, a mixture of yoga and pilates, using a ballet barre. It’s a fantastic workout that tones your entire body, and the best part is that almost anyone can do it! Being an instructor poses a new challenge with my hearing loss, but as always I’m up for the challenge.

Future plans?
I have a couple of other business ideas in the works I plan to unleash on the world in the future. I can’t share them quite yet. I also want to have a family down the road, but in the meantime, I am enjoying this stage of my life and embracing any opportunities that arise.

Who or what is the most important to you?
My family—without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love being active—hiking, Bikram yoga, hanging out at the beach, taking my dog, Drama, for a walk. (Yes, his name really is Drama, named after the Entourage character, Johnny Drama…it suits him.) I cherish my time with my friends. I’ve learned over time to surround yourself with people who make you happy—life’s too short not to. (Photo © Cindy Dyer)

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Honestly, every day is a challenge. Little things such as listening to the radio in the car with the windows down, using the phone, jumping in the pool, aren’t as easy for me as they are for those with normal hearing. It’s all about your attitude. I just stay positive and cherish all the amazing things that I do have in my life, especially my supportive family and friends.

If someone tells you that you can’t do something…
… it makes me want to do it more!”

To find out more about the Charger Girls, go to http://www.chargers.com/charger-girls/. Melissa Puleo Adams can be reached at melissapuleo@gmail.com.

Barbara Kelley is editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.





The Indomitable Spirit of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Siegel

2 08 2012

Scott J. Bally’s article, The Indomitable Spirit of the Kennedy Center’s Betty Siegel, was featured in the November/December 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I photographed Betty in my studio last fall, and discovered we share a lot of common interests. After our photo session was over, I told her that she and her husband are now on our guest list for future parties! Below is Bally’s article, reprinted with permission from HLAA.

At the heart of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Art’s efforts to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities is Betty Siegel, nationally recognized leader for accessibility to the arts.

Wicked was beyond belief. I had given up on attending anything like a play or musical. It was like being in the fairy tale. I could feel the music—understand the play—and be a part of a magical evening that I had long since given up. Now I see this is just the beginning!”
Suzannah “Bay” Dirickson, HLAA member, Richmond, Virginia

A broad smile of accomplishment widens across Betty Siegel’s face when she considers the Kennedy Center Accessibility Office’s success this past summer when 600 attendees of the HLAA Convention took in a performance of the blockbuster musical Wicked (click here to learn more about Wicked). This standing-room-only Broadway hit which explores the back story of The Wizard of Oz was a perfect fit for convention goers as it addresses and brings new insights into the challenges of being different.

The event attracted the largest number of people with hearing loss ever to attend a performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The challenges for the Center’s Accessibility Office were daunting and patron needs were successfully met with seven captioning screens placed at strategic points throughout the Kennedy Center Opera House and masterfully guided by captioner David Chu, two types of gratis assistive listening technology to select from, a team of specially-selected interpreters, an occasion-specific crafted welcome and orientation letter and a staff of 36 ushers who had undergone sensitivity training to help this contingent have the most complete theater experience possible. Feedback provided to both the Kennedy Center and HLAA pronounced it a resounding success! Betty Siegel, who orchestrated the efforts, called the achievement “absolutely thrilling!”

From the Inside Out
At the heart of the Kennedy Center’s efforts to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities is Betty Siegel, nationally recognized leader for accessibility to the arts. Betty Siegel’s three-person staff has a broad variety of responsibilities as part of the education program.

The Kennedy Center keeps its policy simple and to the point. “The Kennedy Center welcomes persons with disabilities.” Betty thinks it needs no further explanation.” That says it all!” she states emphatically. It also gives her the ability to widen the scope of her office in creative and practical ways that achieve this objective.

Betty looks back to 1989 when she started at the Kennedy Center. She reflected on the Center’s slow emergence from viewing the accessibility staff as the fly in the ointment (“eyes rolled when we walked into a meeting”) to being an integral part of the institutional culture to whom others look for counsel and advice. The overriding attitude at the Kennedy Center is that “accessibility is just something that we do.” And they do it well.

Betty notes that now, without her urging, consideration is given to persons with disabilities in every effort the Center undertakes including staffing and staff training, renovation of the facilities and planning for meeting patron needs. “It just happens,” says Betty with a gleam of personal satisfaction in her eye. The Center has both in-house programs so that the Center’s cultural offerings are accessible to the greater Washington, D.C. community, but also leadership training for institutions both nationally and internationally.

The Kennedy Center’s Accessibility Office has become one of the nation’s primary resources for cultural institutions in the area of disabilities. They are able to provide solutions for technology challenges in theaters, direction for incorporating individuals with hearing loss and other disabilities in the arts, and understanding of the legislation that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities who attend public cultural institutions.

Meeting the Challenges
The greatest challenges for Betty and her colleagues, Jessica Swanson, Andrea Miller, and newcomer, Clinton Bowman, include keeping up with the rapidly-changing technology available to theatergoers as well as the compatibility between group and individual technologies. As the director for Very Special Arts (VSA) and Accessibility, Betty’s responsibilities have broadened as a recent Kennedy Center reorganization has brought the VSA program under Betty’s capable wings. With six new staff members and a whole new program to oversee, Betty seems undaunted at the prospect noting “I thrive on new challenges,” especially those for which she can implement “socially sustainable design.” A group of volunteers provide support to the office.

The challenge here, according to Betty, is that when you meet expectations, the expectations of patrons move to a higher level. “You need to exceed their expectations at every turn. We need to be doing things better and more effectively on every front.” No resting on laurels although pausing to appreciate the Wicked experience is cause for some satisfaction for Betty and her team.

“Building new audiences…and keeping the ones you have” is a dual challenge described by Betty. A significant portion of arts’ audiences are baby boomers. They are all aging. With aging, many individuals will develop some degree of sensory or mobility disability that needs to be addressed so that these individuals are able to continue their access to and enjoyment of the arts.

Networking is a key factor in the success of the Center’s programs. Each year since 2000, the Kennedy Center has hosted its LEAD program, Leadership Exchange in the Arts and Disability. Administrators from cultural institutions across the country discuss institutional cultural arts and disability issues. Their shared common goal is “the desire to create accessible cultural arts programs that are inclusive of people with disabilities and older adults.”

Betty describes useful presentations as well as a vigorous exchange of ideas between venues. The Department of Justice supports the efforts by frequently providing speakers who give updates on legislation related to persons with disabilities as it has become clarified through court cases, and the most recent updates on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Betty noted that ticketing regulations has recently been a topic of particular interest among participants. Other highlights of their annual conference include accessible performances, technology demonstrations, and resource rooms.

The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center is the nation’s busiest performing arts facility and hosts approximately 3,000 performances annually for audiences totaling nearly two million people. This does not include individuals who tour this national monument to see its Edward Durrell Stone designed cutting edge architecture and furnishings gifted from nations around the world without seeing a performance. The Center, now in its 40th season, has already established a reputation for excellence in meeting the needs of persons with disabilities.

Individuals with hearing loss find several accommodations to meet their needs. Assistive listening technology for performances is available at no charge to patrons. There are captioned performances for every play and musical in the Eisenhower Theater and the Opera House, the Center’s largest venues. The other theaters (the Kennedy Center has six, plus the Millennium Stage which provides free performances in the Grand Foyer 365 days a year) will provide captioning when requested with reasonable notice.

Recently a patron at a musical explained, “I don’t think I have much of a hearing loss, but the [Infrared] earphones brought the actors voices past the orchestra so I could actually understand the words.” The Center also offers audio-described performances for those with vision loss and signed performances for people who use sign language.

Cultural and sensitivity training for the more than 500 ushers who work the performances enable the front line “redcoats” to meet the immediate needs of patrons with disabilities and older adults. Each theater also has “accessibility ushers” at every performance whose primary responsibility is to assist patrons with mobility and other accessibility needs.

When asked how many patrons benefit from the Center’s efforts, Betty shakes her head and notes that it is “virtually impossible to tell.” She continues, “Patrons with disabilities do not need to identify themselves to Kennedy Center staff to take advantage of accommodations. Although theater managers report on some services provided such as large-print programs or wheelchair use, many patrons are self-sufficient and slip by unnoticed. Hearing loss is, of course, invisible so we are uncertain as to how many people who are hard of hearing and deaf actually attend captioned or signed performances.”

Cognitive disabilities, mental illnesses or autism and such medical challenges as heart conditions or arthritis, are also difficult to identify. Even statistics on assistive listening device use are not reliable because individuals without hearing loss also might use them. A broad estimate by Betty puts the figure at “easily 25,000 patrons, but it is probably more.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in ten Americans has a mental or physical disability, a figure that supports her assumption.

From Whence She Came
When asked about Betty’s professional background she laughs. She confessed that she started out in costume design…but “without much passion.” Her professional path kept moving her toward working with people. She discovered the joys and challenges of working in the area of disability access to the arts at the Arena Stage, a regional theater venue in Washington, D.C. where she was a theater manager in the early 1980s. She found it rewarding to “make a difference in the lives of theatergoers with disabilities” and helping them to be an integral part of the cultural event, rather than limited spectators.

For the efforts of the Kennedy Center’s Accessibility Office, Betty accepted HLAA’s National Access Award 2011 at the HLAA Convention for their contributions toward making the arts accessible to persons with hearing loss. “Arts should not shy away from the issues [which confront persons with disabilities].” From Betty’s viewpoint, she is immersed in those issues every single day…and loving every minute of it.

Scott J. Bally, Ph.D., M.S.W., CCC-SLP, recently retired from Gallaudet University where he was a full professor in both the speech-language pathology and audiology programs in the department of hearing, speech and language sciences. He has worked in public school, hospital, deaf institute, community clinic and university settings in a career spanning more than 35 years. He has written numerous articles and book chapters on the biopsychosocial effects of hearing loss and has presented to both professional and consumer organizations.

Dr. Bally has also worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where he is head usher at the Opera House and is regularly called on to work with patrons who having hearing loss at captioned performances in the Opera House and the Eisenhower Theaters. He can be reached at sbally@hearingloss.org.

Patron services at the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts through the Accessibility Office:

Captioned performances and events
Assistive listening devices
Sign language interpreted performances and events
Audio-described performances and events
Braille and large-print playbills (other materials upon request)
Online listings of accessible performances
Specially-priced tickets
Accessible tours
Wheelchair accessibility
Transportation and parking accommodations
Courtesy wheelchairs
Curb-to-seat service
Phone and e-mail information services

Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. In the U.S., student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





No Compromise: Richard Einhorn, Composer

14 05 2012

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, wrote the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. In his article, Einhorn writes about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

Learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here and the fascinating details about how Voices of Light came to fruition here. To learn more about Joan of Arc, view his program notes here.

I found it especially moving that Einhorn recorded the church bells ringing in Joan’s birthplace and included them in the production. In his program notes, he writes: Just prior to writing Voices of Light, I traveled to France to visit some of the important Joan of Arc historical sites. I went to Orleans where she won her first battle and also to Rouen, where I was deeply moved by the ruins of the castles where Joan was held and the cross erected at the site of her martyrdom. I also traveled to the little village of Domremy, Joan’s birthplace in the southeast, where her house and church, much restored, still stand. I took along a portable DAT recorder and recorded the sound of the Domremy church bell and later incorporated it into my score. I felt that Joan, who so loved church bells, whose voices seemed to speak to her whenever they were ringing, would appreciate the effort.

Excerpted from his website: 

Einhorn has written opera, orchestral and chamber music, song cycles, film music, and dance scores. Among his many projects is the wildly popular Red Angels for New York City Ballet, set to Einhorn’s music with choreography by Ulysses Dove, which had its television premiere on Live From Lincoln Center (PBS) in May of 2002. His film credits include the Academy Award-winning documentary short, Educating Peter (HBO) and Arthur Penn’s thriller Dead of Winter (MGM), starring Mary Steenbugen; and Fire-Eater directed by Pirjo Honkasalo, for which Einhorn won the Jussi (Finnish Academy Award) for Best Musical Score.

Born in 1952, Richard Einhorn graduated summa cum laude in music from Columbia University. Before turning his attention exclusively to composition, Einhorn worked as a record producer for such artists as Meredith Monk and The New York Philharmonic. His production of the Bach Cello Suites with Yo-Yo Ma won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance.

Recent works include The Spires, The City, The Field, a 9/11 memorial premiered by the Albany Symphony. A Carnival of Miracles, a piece written for Anonymous 4, premiered to a sold-out crowd at New Sounds Live and broadcasted live over WNYC-FM. My Many Colored Days is an orchestral commission from the Minnesota Orchestra. He lives in New York City with his wife Amy Singer and their daughter Miranda.

________________________________________________________________________________

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard for Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM) in March. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film. The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. To get a feel for the combination of this powerful film and Einhorn’s remarkable composition, view the 10-minute video segment below. The film is captioned in both French and English.

Barbara interviewed Richard for a companion piece to his article. This interview is included in its entirety below.


BEHIND THE SCENES: Composer Richard Einhorn and Voices of Light

by Barbara Kelley

Richard Einhorn’s acclaimed Voices of Light has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” Voices of Light is an oratorio set to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world, including two recent performances with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conducting.

Einhorn, who has composed many film scores and concert works, had been interested in writing a large work on a religious subject. In 1988, he finally discovered what he would do. As he wrote in the liner notes for the Sony Classical recording of Voices of Light, “Imagine walking down an ordinary street in an ordinary city on an ordinary day. You turn the corner and suddenly without warning, you find yourself staring at the Taj Mahal. It was with that same sense of utter amazement and wonder that I watched Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time.

“That was back in January 1988. I was idly poking around the film archives of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, looking at short avant-garde films, when I happened across a still from Joan in the silent film catalog. …some 81 minutes later, I walked out of the screening room shattered, having unexpectedly seen one of the most extraordinary works of art that I know.”

The film is lauded as one of the top ten films of all time. Richard’s original score took six years to put together. He says about Voices, “[It] explores the patchwork of emotions and thoughts that get stitched together into the notion of a female hero.”

Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, said, “I don’t think anyone will be able to leave this performance unaffected.” Right: Richard Einhorn rehearses with soloists at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore; from left: Stephen Campbell, Phoenix, AZ; Rachel Grider, Modesto, CA; and Nola Richardson, Sydney, Australia

Another oratorio by Einhorn, The Origin, recently received audience and critical acclaim for its European premiere in Bremen, Germany. Richard also devotes his time to advocacy for people with hearing loss and has been featured in The New York Times and elsewhere. Read The New York Times article about Richard, “A Hearing Aid That Cuts Out All the Clatter,” by John Tierney at http://bit.ly/EinhornNYTimes

A Hearing Loop Installed for Voices of Light Performance
On March 2 this year, Einhorn’s Voices of Light was performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This was a special event because Richard was able to hear his own composition. Thanks to Ampetronic and their U.S. distributor, Fred Palm of AssistiveAudio, Inc., as well as the Meyerhoff, a hearing loop was installed in the concert hall for the weekend performances.

Audience members with hearing loss using cochlear implants or telecoil-equipped hearing aids were able to enjoy the performance by accessing sound transmitted electromagnetically by a hearing loop—a wire that circles the room and is connected to the sound system.

After the performance, Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine, interviewed Richard to learn more about his career.

You were 15 when you began composing. Did you play a musical instrument? I first learned to compose entirely on my own, by experimenting with tape recorders and improvising. I played drums in a rock band when I was a kid, but quickly became interested in writing my own music. I was involved with an avant-garde multimedia ensemble in high school and, as an experiment, wrote a piece for some friends of mine who were modern dancers. The moment I saw my friends dance to my music I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life except compose.

Above: Barbara Kelley, Richard Einhorn and Brenda Battat (Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America) after the performance of Voices of Light at the Meyerhoff 

After a year or so, I realized I needed to study formally and I went to Columbia University where I majored in music, studying ultimately with electronic music pioneer Vladimir Ussachevsky and opera composer Jack Beeson. I graduated in 1975 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, then worked as a record producer for Columbia Masterworks for five years, before pursuing composition full time.

Do you come from a musical family? Nobody in my immediate family is musical. However, my great-aunt Hattie was a concert pianist in the early 20th century. My grandfather was an inventor and worked in East Orange, New Jersey when Thomas Edison was in West Orange. Somewhere in the family, there is correspondence between them! Probably, I got my interest in technology from my grandfather and my musicality from my great-great grandparents.

How did you know you had this aptitude at a young age? I don’t know if I have any aptitude. I have a lot of interest in composing music and I have a lot of ideas. I am also extremely persistent and won’t let go. I work very hard at composing but it’s enjoyable work and I love it. I am thrilled that other people often seem to enjoy it as much as I enjoy composing it.

What inspires you? Sound inspires me the most of all. I live for sound and my primary experience of the world, especially the world of emotions, is through sound, not sight or another sense. I am also inspired by great stories, such as Joan of Arc’s and Charles Darwin’s. I find them both amazing human beings in many different ways.

What projects are you working on now? I have a new piece for Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, a collaboration with the great filmmaker Bill Morrison. It will be an interactive piece called Shooting Gallery, with laser beams, six projectors and an hour of interactive music. I haven’t done anything like it since high school and I’m very excited!

I’m also writing a new piece for dance for two great musicians I’ve worked with quite a bit, violinist Mary Rowell and pianist Judith Gordon. The work will premiere in fall 2013. Further off is a large piece for orchestra and film, again with Bill Morrison. All I can say at the moment about it is that Bill, the conductor, the orchestra, and I are extremely excited about it.

Are there any projects you would like to work on? What is your dream project? I am a dramatic and lyrical composer. I’ve lived many of my dreams. I always wanted to work with Bill Morrison, and already have on the Darwin piece, The Origin. I have always wanted to work on an opera, and it looks like I will. I’ve composed scores for some truly wonderful movies and I’ve worked with some of my favorite musicians—and some of my favorite people.

I feel very lucky to have been able to do so and doubly lucky that my family has fully understood that this is an unusual life, but in many ways a rewarding one for all of us. I want to continue to compose the best music I can for the best musicians I can, for the most exciting projects I can find, and collaborate with artists from other disciplines whom I admire. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and that has made the hard work and long hours it takes to compose all the more worthwhile!

Special thanks to the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for permitting us to take photographs of Richard Einhorn in the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

All photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





More scenes from a reception for Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio

7 05 2012

These lovely photos were shot at my April 15 photography reception at Green Spring Gardens by my friend Karen B.’s eldest daughter, Margot. For the record, Margot and her sister, Hannah, are two of the sweetest, smartest and prettiest young ladies I’ve had the good fortune to watch grow from birth to 20 and 18 years old, respectively. Catering by the Sneeze Guard Heiress, Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality; tablescaping by Karen B. and yours truly. Thanks for the shots, Margot!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Scenes from an exhibit reception, part 3

21 04 2012

These were some images I shot with my Nikon Coolpix before the reception started. Stay tuned in the coming days for recipes and recaps from Barbara Kelley (who wears the hats of editor of the Hearing Loss Magazine that I design, deputy executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), friend, sounding board, cheerleader and caterer extraordinaire) on her Kelley Hospitality blog here. Just some of the appetizers she made for the event: photo #1—mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes and pesto pinwheels, fruit skewers, and open-faced cream cheese tea sandwiches adorned with red and yellow peppers and edible flowers; photo #2—Lemon crinkle cookies garnished with fresh strawberries and blackberries; photo #3—Brownie blooms and bird nest confections (with malted milkball eggs!) and finally, photo #4—Key lime tartlets.

In the last photo, Elizabeth LeBarron (National Chapter and State Coordinator for HLAA) and my friend Karen Wyatt (Karen Wyatt Skin Care) apparently consulted with the same fashion stylist (who had pink and orange on the brain) when they dressed for the reception. Neither had ever met before the reception and were immediately drawn to each other—so much so that Elizabeth borrowed Karen’s necklace to grace her outfit. I made the necklace for Karen and although I didn’t like her color choices at first (she had this exact outfit in mind to wear the necklace with), they kinda grew on me after all!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Scenes from an exhibit reception, part 2

18 04 2012

A reception wouldn’t be complete without food, and with Kelley Hospitality in charge, mine was p-e-r-f-e-c-t! Visit Barbara’s hospitality blog here. Thanks to Ed Fagan of Columbia Photography for all the great photos!





Save the date and mark your calendars for Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio

30 01 2012

My photography exhibit, titled “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will be at the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. It runs February 28-April 29, 2012, so there’s plenty of time to come see it if you’re in the Virginia/D.C. area or are planning to visit this spring.

My reception is Sunday, April 15. So set aside your taxes (if you’re not already done with them at that point!) and come join me at the reception from 1-3 p.m. for some mingling, appetizers and refreshments.

All images will be for sale and 15% of proceeds will go to Green Spring Gardens. I will be preparing a complete gallery of images from the show in late spring. Framed images and matted-only images will be available for purchase after the show as well. Contact me at dyerdesign@aol.com for sizes and pricing.

The website below was done by my friend and fellow graphic designer, Sonya Mendeke. For more info, visit http://smendeke.com/.

For those of you who live too far to attend but would like a sneak preview
of just some of the images in the show, visit my
 “virtual exhibit” at 





Mandy Harvey: Musically Inclined

14 01 2012

Mandy Harvey, a jazz vocalist and songwriter from northern Colorado, was one of the feature articles in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Mandy at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, host to HLAA’s Convention 2010. Mandy was the guest entertainer at Friday night’s Rumble event at the Museum.

Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of HLAA, interviewed Mandy for this issue of the magazine. Learn more about Mandy’s here and listen to her music and buy CDs here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mandy showed an early talent for singing, but also had infrequent periods of hearing loss. At age ten, her family moved to Colorado. Her vocal talent blossomed and she won numerous school awards, notably Top Female Vocalist of 2006 as a high school senior.

After high school, Mandy went to Colorado State University. During her first semester, Mandy noticed she had to move closer to hear recordings. Hearing aids helped at first. Six months later, she had no hearing left. Discouraged, Mandy returned home to take American Sign Language classes and pursue Elementary Education at a local community college.

Once she returned home Mandy decided that she would take a year off from singing, but continued to play the guitar with her father. One day, while searching the Internet, Mandy and her father discovered a song titled Come Home by One Republic. Mandy’s father suggested that she learn the lyrics. Mandy thought this would be impossible but she gave it her best effort, and to her surprise she was able to learn the lyrics. She realized then that she didn’t have to give up singing.

I met Mandy in 2010 in Milwaukee at the HLAA Convention where she sang at one of our events at the Harley-Davidson Museum. HLAA photographer Cindy Dyer photographed her at the Museum before her performance. We were pleased to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions.

Tell me about your hearing loss.
My hearing loss is due to neurological damage and the last it was tested showed it around 110 dB in both ears.

Do you use any type of assistive technology?
I had hearing aids when I was first losing my hearing, which was around winter 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Once my hearing loss progressed to a specific stage hearing aids didn’t help much. Because of the nerve damage, a cochlear implant was not an option for me. At this point I rely mostly on lip reading and American Sign Language.

Talk about your aspirations to become a music teacher.
I went to Colorado State University in the hopes of becoming a vocal jazz teacher. In all honesty I wouldn’t feel right about giving my professional opinion to students wanting to study voice. If I cannot hear them to give advice or to teach 100 percent, I would end up just getting frustrated and feeling as if I was wasting their money. Instead, I have turned my life to performing jazz as well as working in the medical field.

What about your personal life and family?
I currently live in Denver with my hearing service dog, Annie, and my love, Travis. My family is extremely supportive and they have learned some American Sign Language. My sister, Sammi, is fluent in the language now. It helps a lot to be able to communicate with your loved ones. Travis is currently learning the language for me.

Where is your singing career right now?
My singing career is in a beautiful place right now. As things stand I work a regular 8-5, Monday through Friday, job. The weekend is mine for performing. Having the regular job mixed with weekend work relieves the pressure of having to do a bunch of gigs just to be able to pay the bills. Instead I am able to do gigs that inspire me and that bring joy.

I have two albums, Smile and After You’ve Gone, which are both full of jazz standard, though the latter contains some original work by myself and Mark Sloniker. I am currently saving up to make a Christmas album this year.

Tell me something about yourself you would like people to know; something that would surprise people.
That’s a hard question. I used to be fascinated by insects and toads and non-girly things like that. When I was a child I wanted to travel the world and discover amazing finds on archeological digs.

You have a fascination with the 40s. How has this genre influenced you and your music?
I have been fascinated with the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s my entire life. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, and classic jazz. I love everything in those eras from the clothing to the inventions. It truly was a beautiful time in history…seems to have had lots of details that were not as obvious as things are today. Back then, there could be a song about someone’s smile and how it would capture the imagination. I feel music today has lost some of that mystery and has become far too blunt.

What are your favorite songs?
My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch Over Me, Come Fly with Me, Over the Rainbow, and of course, Smile…this list is never ending. I find passion in the music and it makes you feel something different every time you sing them.

What music don’t you care for?
I love most everything but I am not a huge fan of most Rap or R&B. I will admit I do enjoy a few songs here and there but in general they all tend to feel the same.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk, Duke…oh my goodness, my list could go on and on. They are brilliant and the work they have done inspires me every time I think of them.

What one place in the world would you like to visit?
I have always had a dream to live in Scotland. The country has always called my name. My goal is in the next 10 years to have been there for at least three months continuously. If you are there for only a week you cannot understand the culture.

To find some of her recordings, go to YouTube.com and search for Mandy Harvey. You will find several videos, including her rendition of Smile.

Barbara Kelley is deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





Sour cream ghost busting a move…

1 12 2011

I take credit for this (unintentionally humorous) garnishing on Michael’s latest soup creation. Don’t you think the dollop of sour cream looks like a ghost doing the Saturday Night Fever dance? Trust me, it wasn’t planned—I envisioned swirls of the white stuff but my garnishing skills obviously leave a bit to be desired.

Michael made this butternut and acorn squash soup as a starter for our Thanksgiving dinner with our friend Karen down at her  lakehouse. He found the recipe on allrecipes.com. Because the butternut squash he used was so large, he opted to add nearly a teaspoon of cinnamon (the recipe isn’t specific about how much) as well as a little extra onion. The recipe reviews had a common thread; many who tried it said it was way too sweet, which is why Michael opted to not add the brown sugar to his version. It was enough soup to completely fill a crock pot—and it was delicious!

And, are you sitting down? I did some cooking, too. I made my friend Barbara Kelley’s Baked Cranberry–Orange Sauce (check out her posting, the recipe, and my photography on her blog here). I do not profess to be an expert in the kitchen (by a country mile), but when I mixed the cranberries with 2 cups of sugar (really? no liquid to add?), I thought, “hmm…I’m no expert, but that just doesn’t look right without any liquid.” I cut out some of the sugar but followed the other directions that Barbara gave me. It’s obvious (to anyone but me) that the cranberries supply the liquid during the baking process. Clearly, I missed that Good Eats episode with Alton Brown. (Note to self: do not think you will ever be a contender for Chopped). I cut the sugar in half in my version because I knew I would be adding orange marmalade (which is already sickly sweet). It’s still a sweet dish and my dinner companions actually ate a good helping of it (out of pity, perhaps?) My other contribution to the day was crafting the tablescape (truly my favorite thing to do in the kitchen!).

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (Michael opted out on this ingredient due to the reviews)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ground cinnamon to taste (optional)
  • fresh parsley, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the squash halves cut side down in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Scoop the pulp from the skins. Discard skins.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion until tender.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the squash pulp, onion, broth, brown sugar, cream cheese, pepper, and cinnamon until smooth. This may be done in several batches.
  4. Transfer the soup to a pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Garnish with parsley (we had home-grown chives in lieu of parsley), and serve warm.




In the studio: Barbara

7 10 2011

Here’s one more shot from my photo session with Barbara last Friday night.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





In the studio: Barbara

2 10 2011

On my long-term wish list: a huge, light-filled studio with skylights, a wall ‘o backgrounds, furniture settings, racks of clothing, a make-up and styling station and ample room to back up so I can get full-length shots of my subjects. Yes, I do well with despite the small set-up I have in my studio now, but I’m always tripping over something, losing something or constantly shifting piles of stuff from one place to another when I need to spread out to shoot. I work with what I have, but a girl can dream, can’t she? If I lived in Texas near my family, I could probably afford it. In the D.C. area, fugetaboutit!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





In the studio: Barbara

1 10 2011

Just two of my favorite shots from this evening’s photo session. I love using this new (pleather) chair! My friend Karen’s daughters call it my “James Bond girl chair.” We were shooting updated photos for the Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Barbara is the editor-in-chief of the magazine and deputy executive director of the organization. I changed the banner on Barbara’s personal blog, Kelley Hospitality, with an updated photo as well.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Michael Eury, Superhero

6 09 2011

Michael Eury is our cover feature article for the September/October 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Michael approached Barbara Kelley (the editor-in-chief) and me this past spring and proposed writing his story for the magazine and pitched an idea for a conceptual cover. We’re so excited with the results of our collaboration. (Congratulations and accolades to HLAA and their webmaster, Susan Parras, for the recent debut of the beautifully redesigned website here. Of course, I’m kind of partial to the changing “billboard” photos since they’re mine!)

Binder Clips, Booth Curtains, Wire and a Whole Lot of Enthusiasm!
With the help of my trusty sidekicks Michael Schwehr and Ed Fagan, not to mention a very willing model, I think we pulled off the concept brilliantly! Although Michael Eury was prepared with his Clark Kent suit, glasses and superhero demeanor, neither of us remembered to bring the infamous red satin cape. I was also hired to photograph the HLAA Convention, set up a few cover shoots and begin my newest addition to the magazine—a one-page 20+ questions member profile series called “Seen & Heard,” which also debuts in this issue. I knew I had some red satin in my fabric stash, but in the mad rush to get everything ready, it fell off my radar.

So, since necessity is the mother of invention, I dispatched Ed to “borrow” a burgundy convention booth drape to serve as a cape (with the color and texture modified afterward in Photoshop to the requisite glowing red, of course). With the aid of wire and binder clips and Michael and Ed serving as puppeteers, we had our Superhero flying in no time. I also bent a thick wire through Michael’s tie to really show him in action.

We couldn’t have had a better subject—it’s been his childhood dream to be a superhero, and he said we made his dream come true, if only for a couple of hours. His enthusiasm was contagious and his expressions would rival those of Jim Carrey! After viewing a few of the cover shots on my screen, I told him, “you really look like Charlie Sheen in some of these.” Then I added, “before the booze, ladies of the night and W-I-N-N-I-N-G, of course!” We’re so happy with the photos and Michael’s well-written article was the perfect complement. I’ve reprinted his article below, but you can see it in layout form by downloading the pdf file here: MichaelEurySuperhero. All photos © Cindy Dyer

by Michael Eury

I look nothing like Lois Lane, but I was saved by Superman! And today, like DC Comics’ legendary Man of Steel, I am also a superhero, the realization of a lifelong dream. Believe it or not, I have my adult-onset hearing loss to thank for this. But as with any superhero’s story, we must begin with…an origin!

Who He Is and How He Came to Be
I was not rocketed to Earth from a dying planet, nor have I been mutated by radiation (at least not to my knowledge). Instead, I was born in Concord, North Carolina, and grew up during the 1960s, the tumultuous decade when Americans wrestled with the ugliness of real-world crises by ducking for cover inside fantasy realms of bubblegum music, flashy pop-culture heroes, and cornball comedies.

On January 12, 1966, my life was forever changed when, as an impressionable third grader, I watched the first episode of ABC-TV’s Batman. My parents cackled when Adam West as Batman shimmied the “Batusi” on a dance floor, having been drugged by Molly (Jill St. John), the girlfriend of the Riddler (Frank Gorshin). In my young mind I thought my parents were suffering from some type of dementia—couldn’t they see that Batman was in peril? Mom and Dad, Batman’s acting weird because he was slipped a mickey by Molly. There’s nothing funny about this! What’s wrong with you people?!

Batman in 1966 opened a gateway to other superheroes and I became a voracious reader of comic books, learning the lore of Superman, the Justice League of America, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. Ask me to calculate a percentage or name the capital of Kansas and I’d respond with a blank stare, but I could tell you without hesitation that Gingold was the name of the serum consumed by Ralph Dibny to turn him into the Elongated Man, and on the backwards Bizarro World, Bizarros said “goodbye” when they meant “hello.”

I learned to appreciate the “camp” humor of TV’s Batman, but never outgrew my love of superheroes. Throughout adolescence I trekked each week to newsstands and convenience stores, searching for new “funnybooks.” I also wrote and drew my own comic books, crudely penciled on typing paper and hand-lettered in ballpoint ink and shared with fellow students. My comics starred my classmates as superheroes, their superpowers usually based upon a sophomoric nickname or trait.

The kid with a long neck (“Weasel”) became Weaselman, with the power to stretch his neck great distances, and a buddy renowned for hurling spit wads at classroom clocks became Wonder Wad! These and other homegrown superheroes (I couldn’t draw girls, so there were no superheroines) occasionally banded together as the Concord Crusaders.

As graduation approached, in my heart I wanted to study creative writing and art and become a professional comic book writer/artist, but played it safe by opting for Plan B: becoming a band director. Music was my other passion, and I played trombone in every ensemble available. And thus, in fall 1975, I became a music education major at East Carolina University (ECU). Throughout college, however, I continued to read comic books.

Look! Up in the Sky!
I was at ECU in December 1978 when another life-altering superhero experience happened: my first viewing of Superman: The Movie, starring Christopher Reeve, whose likable portrayal of the Last Son of Krypton convinced millions that “You’ll believe a man can fly.” I saw Superman multiple times. Reeve as Superman became my hero.

I graduated from ECU in 1980 and took a job teaching middle and high school band in eastern North Carolina. And I hated it. I had blundered into the wrong career. I taught for only a semester, quitting and returning home. During the early 1980s I worked as a substitute teacher, cable-access TV cameraman and talent, record and video stores clerk, graveyard shift convenience store clerk, singing telegrams messenger, comedy-improv group performer, and freelance writer for small press publications and community newspapers. I was able to leap from one dead-end job to another in a single bound!

My one success during this period of instability was finding the love of my life, Rose. We met in 1984 as co-workers at Monkey Business Singing Telegrams in Charlotte, North Carolina, and had an instant chemistry. After a year and half of dodging our feelings for each other, in January 1986 we could no longer ignore what was intended to be and have since lived happily ever after.

Throughout my mid-twenties, Superman begat movie sequels, and my obsession deepened. I even nurtured fantasies about being Superman! I dreamt of flying to the rescue of those in need. Inspired by the examples of superheroes, I had an innate desire to do good for others but lacked the maturity to cultivate a pragmatic way of realizing that desire.

My Own Private Kryptonite
A hero is generally defined by his archenemy. As I aged into my thirties, a supervillain conspired to topple me. My foe did not operate from a subterranean lair, nor did he hire underlings with henchmen names embroidered on their sweatshirts.

Instead, this insidious mastermind quietly employed covert tactics. He began his assault as an embezzler, secreting away sounds—a consonant here, a high pitch there. He sometimes brandished weapons of mass destruction—otosclerosis, tinnitus, and noise exposure. His attacks, however, were gradual and unannounced, allowing me to make minor lifestyle adjustments along the way. I did not realize—until it was too late!—the havoc he had wreaked. The name of this scoundrel? Hearing loss.

In January 1988 my long-time passion for comic books finally blossomed into a vocation. I took a job as an assistant editor at a small publisher called Comico the Comic Company, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. It was here that I was first bothered by hearing problems, especially in restaurants, where I learned to position myself with my “good ear” facing the table’s conversation.

In the summer of 1989 I landed my dream job: I became an editor at DC Comics, the publisher of Superman and Batman. DC Comics, headquartered in midtown Manhattan, was a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Living in the Big Apple and working for an entertainment empire was an exhilarating experience for this small-town southern boy!

Within eight months I had been promoted to editorial management, working as the assistant to Vice President/Editorial Director Dick Giordano, and seemed to be on the fast track. A few freelancers called me the “heir apparent” of the editorial department, the “guy to get to know.” (An aside about my boss: Dick, coincidentally, was profoundly hard of hearing. We often held private conversations in the elevator so I could speak loudly enough for him to understand me without being overheard by editors loitering outside his office door.)

I began having difficulties processing information. When people would speak to me while I was on the phone, their comments, heard through my “bad ear,” were muffled. DC’s president had a high-pitched, soft voice, and I rarely understood what she said. I began to mishear in editorial meetings, and some colleagues questioned my competence or sobriety. A few editors still stinging from my promotion took advantage of my unsteadiness and bullied me. My self-confidence, along with my hearing, was fading away.

Of course, a true hero would rise above such adversity. I was not heroic in any way. I allowed my progressive hearing loss to crush my spirit, and the bullies and professional stress to make me miserable. Three years after taking my dream job, I resigned from it and slunk back home to be a freelance writer of comic books, a job I could do without having to rely upon my failing hearing.

Trapped in the Phantom Zone
Rose and I spent the summer of 1992 in New Bern, North Carolina, in a house my grandfather had built decades earlier. The house was in disrepair, souring my disposition, and culture shock also waylaid me. I was extremely unhappy and anxious to retreat.

That fall we moved—again!—to Philadelphia, to familiar territory and friends. I was depressed, however, although I usually put on a happy face to friends, keeping most folks at arm’s length. My depression adversely affected my work, and writing assignments withered away. I accepted an editorial position at Dark Horse Comics in the Portland, Oregon, suburb of Milwaukie, and, in August 1993, Rose and I moved from the East to the West Coast.

Once again in an office environment, the pattern from my DC Comics job replayed itself. I was quickly promoted into management, becoming a “group editor” (overseeing an entire line of titles and staff), but fell prey to communication breakdowns. Some editors considered me aloof because I didn’t hang out with them, or rude because I sometimes didn’t answer when they addressed me from a distance or from behind. The day that one of Dark Horse’s executives—a low-talker—mumbled a question that I answered inappropriately, earning a bewildered gape from him; I realized that I could no longer deny my problem.

In spring 1994 I visited an audiologist, had a hearing test, was diagnosed with otosclerosis, and acquired an analog full-shell hearing aid for my right ear. This helped me hear some of the things I had been missing, but did not cure my depression. Actually, I choked on self-pity when I first wore the aid, whining that I was going deaf and would one day be left with nothing but that incessant ringing (tinnitus) in my ears!

I was also having difficulty modulating the volume of my voice. Sometimes I’d speak too loudly, and sometimes, too softly. I remember being at a gathering in a noisy Portland nightclub and greeting an old friend from behind. He didn’t hear me, I was speaking so softly. I repeated myself and it wasn’t until he saw me that he noticed I was there. He called me “the Invisible Man.” While I’d wanted a superpower, invisibility wasn’t it.

On May 27, 1995, my hero, Christopher Reeve, had a horseback-riding accident that left him a quadriplegic, forever banishing him to a wheelchair. Through the support of his family, he “stood tall” as an advocate for people with spinal cord injuries. What an inspiration he was! Reeve truly became a superman.

While I was impressed, I wasn’t prompted to fully address my own disability. In the fall of 1995, I resigned from my staff job and once again retreated into the quiet world of freelance writing. My hearing loss worsened, and so did my attitude. I was also aging out of comics, finding less and less work. I came close to breaking into writing for animation, but that was predicated upon relocating to Los Angeles, a move my wife and I considered ill-advised.

By the late 1990s, I felt that I was a failure and rarely connected with others. I continued to reside in Oregon, more than 3,000 miles away from family and old friends who didn’t have to witness my shortcomings. And I was drowning in despair about my hearing loss. I blamed God for it—hearing is one of our vital senses, and, like air, should always be there, right? At least that was my thinking at the time. At my lowest, I took my Bible—the same Bible I had studied for years, one that was saturated with yellow-highlighted passages—and chucked it into the trash can. I reasoned that God had forsaken me by allowing my hearing to pull a vanishing act, so this was my way of returning the “favor.”

Summoned into Action
In 1999, I took a part-time job as a clerk at a small community-based corporation in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where Rose and I had settled. My hearing worsened. My job involved dealing with the public, and some folks had little patience for someone with a disability. I remember one woman rudely biting my head off after my mishearing of a name.

Still, I began to regain some confidence and became the part-time communications director of this organization. I started wearing two in-the-canal digital hearing aids, which I purchased in 2001 once my single analog was no longer cutting it.

I also inched my way back into publishing, in 2002 producing my first book, the history of a collectible toy. Another book followed the next year. My publisher offered me the opportunity to edit a start-up magazine that would examine comic books and related media of the 1970s and 1980s.

In summer 2003 I became a full-time freelance writer and editor with no shortage of work. Professionally, things were looking up, but I worked from my Fortress of Solitude, limiting my face-to-face contact with others. Hearing loss had become my kryptonite, and I was embarrassed by my condition. I grew my hair long to conceal my hearing aids.

Online I discovered SHHH–Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, the original name of the Hearing Loss Association of America. There was a chapter in Lake Oswego, and one in Portland. I marked their meeting dates in my calendar and swore I’d attend. But when these dates would roll around, I’d find an excuse not to go.

That was my life—not taking ownership of my hearing loss, not learning how to cope with it. I had become a pale imitation of the person I was before I lost my hearing.

And then Superman came to my rescue!

Christopher Reeve died on October 10, 2004, nine years after his debilitating injury. Reeve’s death affected me deeply. I’d never met the man, but it was like I had lost a close friend or brother. Then my grief morphed into something else … a sensation of peace, and of empowerment.

I firmly believe that God used Christopher Reeve as an “angel” to send me a message about dealing with my hearing loss. At that transformational moment, I stopped bellyaching, “Why me?” but instead pondered the question, “What do I do next?”

The answer to my question led me to the next meeting of the Clackamas County, Oregon, SHHH Chapter, which happened to be a hearing resource fair held at the Chapter’s meeting site at the Lake Oswego Senior Center. I learned a great deal about assistive listening devices; was inspired by a speech by David Viers, then the Oregon state president of SHHH (and who soon became my friend); and met other people like me! At the end of the meeting I asked the program director, Ed Larson, if I could join the chapter—I thought I might be too young, since most of the others in the room had gray hair! Not only did he say yes, he recruited me to replace him as program director, since he was moving into a retirement village in a different city. Ed detected a fire within me that I had thought long extinguished.

At the next chapter meeting, Ed introduced me to the group as a “godsend.” I dismissed that remark, but now realize that I was sent there for a higher purpose. I knew absolutely nothing about shaping programs for people with hearing loss—my motivation was initially one individual’s search for information—but having been thrown into the deep end, this time, unlike my previous challenges, I did not quit. The questions I had about hearing loss became program topics, and through curiosity and the help of other SHHH leaders and professionals, I made contacts and booked speakers.

And there I learned a lesson that has since enriched my life: helping people is the path to happiness. As program director, and later president, of that chapter, I was able to console and guide many who felt marginalized by their hearing loss.

Before long I joined the Oregon SHHH (and later, HLAA, post-name change) Board of Trustees and edited the statewide newsletter. After Rose and I decided to return home to North Carolina in September 2007, I became an at-large member of the Board of Trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of North Carolina and the editor of its statewide newsletter. In 2008 I was elected state president, an office I am honored to maintain today.

Below: This Superman take-off, “Super-Antics,” by cartoonist Kerry Callen (kerrycallen.blogspot.com), shows that even a Man of Steel occasionally mishears! SupermanTM DC Comics. Used with permission.

Wanted: More Superheroes!
So how does this make me a superhero? A superhero is someone who does not give up, no matter the odds, and who does what he or she can to help others. Christopher Reeve certainly could have hidden from the spotlight after his accident. The man could not breathe without a respirator, yet he rose above his bodily prison to show us all that you don’t have to be “more powerful than a locomotive” to be a Man of Steel.

My conversion from a self-pitying introvert with hearing loss to a self-confident extrovert with hearing loss opened other doors for me. While I was looking for a community-service project, fate led me to accept a part-time job as executive director of my county’s historical nonprofit organization. I was concerned that my hearing loss might once again work against me, but my wonderful wife encouraged me to move forward.

And I’m so happy I did! My hearing loss has created an occasional hurdle, but I’m now in my fourth year overseeing the preservation of my community’s heritage. From young adults to veterans to senior citizens, I’m routinely showered with gratitude from people who are thrilled that I care about their past. My job has also led me to volunteer with civic organizations such as the Rotary Club, the public library, and my church.

You see, this is my superpower: community service. While I may be painting a portrait of altruism here, I admit that there remains a hint of selfishness behind my motivation: Nothing I’ve ever done before has made me feel so good!

Not long ago, I created for HLA-NC a leadership program called “Invisible No More,” which encourages people with hearing loss to stop hiding their condition. This program has been shared with national leaders and is available on the HLAA website. An important component of “Invisible No More” is the contention that it is the moral imperative of HLAA leaders to help others who have yet to reach our level of confidence or enlightenment.

And so, I invite you to become a superhero, too. Be proud of who you are. Seek guidance and resources to help you communicate and participate in life. Do not give up, no matter how insurmountable the odds may seem. You may not be able to “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” but you will soar to new heights. This, I promise you—and you know Superman would never tell a lie!

Michael Eury wears binaural hearing aids and has been a member of HLAA since 2005. He is the state president of HLA-NC and is a 2011 recipient of the Spirit of HLAA Award. He lives in Concord, North Carolina, with his wife, Rose, who has loyally stood by his side during his journey through life with hearing loss. Contact Michael at euryman@gmail.com and visit HLA-NC’s website at www.nchearingloss.org.

Books by Michael Eury
Michael is the editor of Back Issue, a comics history magazine published eight times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing of Raleigh, North Carolina. Visit their website at www.twomorrows.com. Back Issue premiered in November 2003.

Images of America: Concord (Arcadia Publishing, 2011)
Captain Action: The Original Super-Hero Action Figure: Revised Second Edition
(TwoMorrows, 2009)
The Batcave Companion (with co-writer Michael Kronenberg) (TwoMorrows, 2009)
Adventures of the Mask Omnibus (Dark Horse Comics, 2009)
Comics Gone Ape: The Missing Link to Primates in Comics (TwoMorrows, 2007)
The Krypton Companion (TwoMorrows, 2006)
The Supervillain Book (with co-editor Gina Misiroglu) (Visible Ink, 2006)
The Justice League Companion (TwoMorrows, 2005)
Bugs Bunny: What’s Up, Doc? (contributing writer) (DC Comics, 2005)
Daffy Duck: You’re Despicable! (contributing writer) (DC Comics, 2005)
The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic-Book Icons and Hollywood Heroes (contributing writer) (Visible Ink, 2004)
Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day At a Time (TwoMorrows, 2003)
Captain Action: The Original Super-Hero Action Figure (TwoMorrows, 2002)





I’m published on the radio! (?)

29 07 2011

My friend and classical guitarist, Charles Mokotoff, shared this with me this morning. He is being interviewed, along with violaist Wendy Cheng, on WAMU 88.5 FM’s website, Metro Connection. Both are members of the Association of Adult Musicians With Hearing Loss (AAMHL). There will be a podcast of the interview and performances at 1:00 p.m. EST today. The podcast will available on the Metro Connection website at 2:00 p.m. EST.

From the small world department: I designed and produced a book a few months ago for AAMHL, working with Wendy Cheng and the book’s editor, pianist Cherisse Miller. (My Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara Kelley, referred Wendy to me). The book, Making Music with a Hearing Loss: Strategies and Stories, is available on Amazon here.

You can see more of my photos of Charles, as well as listen to some of his other pieces and order his CD, Autumn Elegy, on his website here. Charles was the cover feature story for the January/February 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Read more about his cover debut here. Charles played for us at our first-ever Tapas Party in November 2009, recapped here.

I shot the photograph below during a recital in November 2009 and blogged about that session here. Charles was interviewed last December by Japan’s Gendai Guitar magazine and a photo I shot of him was included here (so I can say I’m published internationally now!).





HLM Cover Feature: Lynn Rousseau

9 05 2011

The May/June 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), is hot off the press! This month’s “cover girl” is my dear friend and HLAA member Lynn Rousseau. I first met Lynn in October 2008 in Denver, Colorado, when we both received a Focus on People Award from Oticon, a leading hearing aid manufacturer. Barbara Kelley, Deputy Executive Director of HLAA and editor of Hearing Loss Magazine, secretly nominated me for the award. Oticon flew all the winners (and a guest) to Denver for the ceremony, and I wrote about that amazing experience (thanks again, Barbara!) on my blog here.

Lynn and I hit it off instantly and talked for hours that weekend. She was very funny, sweet and a great listener. Last year I told her that she needed to share her life story with the hearing loss community. She has led quite a colorful and creative life, so I knew she would have great photos to illustrate the article. She didn’t fail me with the visuals—she mailed a big bag of newspaper clippings and photos collected from a lifetime of dancing, performing and modeling. It was hard to decide which ones to use first! I had the pleasure of photographing Lynn for the cover when we met up at the 2010 HLAA Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last June. Lynn confessed that while she didn’t think she was a writer, she would do her best to repeat some of the stories she shared with me when we first met. I enlisted the help of my father, Hershel M. Dyer, as editor (thanks, Dad!). He crafted a beautiful article from Lynn’s notes and stream-of-consciousness prose. You can read more of his work on his blog at www.thekingoftexas.wordpress.com.

Lynn’s love of dance and performing garnered her several “15 minutes of fame” moments—in her teens she was just one of three girls chosen to perform every Saturday on the Rick Shaw Show and the Saturday Hop Show in Miami. She performed at legendary Miami Beach hotels and her first television show was with Paul Revere & the Raiders, Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Diamond. She also had a small part on the big screen in Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason, had the opportunity to dance with the June Taylor dancers, and was an extra on the movie, Doc Hollywood, with Michael J. Fox.

In this month’s feature article, she shares both the sad and funny moments in her life concerning hearing loss, introduces us to her incredibly supportive family (husband Joel, three children, and eight grandchildren), and reveals her diagnosis of and subsequent recovery from breast cancer in 2008. On this month’s cover I wrote Lynn Rousseau: Fearless, Persistent, Resilient. Lynn is all those things and I’m thrilled that readers will get to know a little more about her colorful life. My father has always told me that I march to the tune of a different drummer. Lynn most certainly does, too, (sometimes literally!) and I am so proud to call her my friend. To read the entire article, click to download the pdf file here: Lynn Rousseau





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2010 Recap

12 01 2011

The first issue in 2011 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes this week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services. Reflecting back on 2010, I photographed Charles Mokotoff, a classical guitarist and IT specialist from Maryland; Lois Johnson, a former librarian and now the state director of the Texas State Office of the HLAA Chapter in Houston; Jennifer Thorpe, a wife, mother of five, avid blogger and hearing loss advocate from Tennessee; Craig and Lisa Yantiss, and their young son, Anthony, from Virginia; and Lisa Fuller Seward, a missionary back in the states from an assignment in Mali. These cover subjects are in the links below. To view the corresponding pdf links, click on the link, then on the same link again in the next window. The pdf should begin to download and open automatically.

January/February 2010: Classical guitarist Charles Mokotoff was our cover subject in A Life in Music, an interview by HLM editor Barbara Kelley. At age 15 Charles experienced sudden onset of hearing loss in both ears, leaving him with a severe-to-profound loss. Medical intervention was unsuccessful, and he was “given one hearing aid and sent off into the world.” Charles graduated cum laude from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in music, concentrating on classical guitar. He continued on to Ithaca College where he received a master’s degree. He was hired to teach music at Ithaca College and began a career with impressive highlights—one being his Carnegie Hall debut in 1987. In 1992 he set the guitar career aside and began his IT career, leading to his current post at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sixteen years later, he felt the urge to play again and now balances an active life of performing with his job at NIH. On a personal note, he graciously performed at our first annual Tapas Party last November and was an instant hit with our guests! Read my post about Charles’ cover debut here. You can download and read his article by clicking here: Charles Mokotoff HLM Feature. Visit www.charlesmokotoff.com to listen to his music, watch videos, and see a list of upcoming recitals. His CD is available on CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/charlesmokotoff Also in this issue: Hearing Health for Young Musicians—Embracing the Concept Early by Catherine V. Palmer; The Third Year: Personal FM Systems and Adults by Mark Ross; Hearing Loops Conference in Zurich by David G. Myers; Hearing Loss—The Price of War by Stephen O. Frazier; and Ascending from Deafness, by Karen Moulder

March/April 2010: The 2010 HLAA Convention in Milwaukee was the cover focus for this issue. Also in this issue: Hearing with Our Brain: Karen’s Journey Back to the World of Sound by Barbara Liss Chertok; Adam Mednick: Noted Neurologist with Profound Hearing Loss by Manny Strumpf; I Just Got Hearing Aids…Is That All There Is? by Mark Ross; Changing Lives in the Developing World by Paige Stringer; They Can Change a Life—A Message to the Pros by Colin Cantlie and Joe Gordon; and Compound Grief and Hearing Loss by Marc F. Zola

May/June 2010: HLAA member Ettalois (Lois) Johnson graced this month’s cover with her article, A Journey into the World of Hearing Loss. For more than 20 years Lois has suffered from Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance. She was diagnosed at age 38, after having migraines, vertigo and tinnitus. Less than six months later, the hearing in one ear had greatly diminished. Ten years later, the hearing in her “good” ear also had deteriorated to the point that she decided to pursue a cochlear implant. She became actively involved with her local HLAA chapter in Houston and attended her first HLAA convention in 1991. She hasn’t missed an HLAA convention since! Also in this issue: Hurricanes and Hearing Loss: Surviving the Storm by Lise Hamlin; Stigma and Hearing Loss—The Lowdown by Mark Ross; Invisible No More by Michael Eury; Getting Her Life Back—This Could be Your Story by Barbara Kelley; Let’s Hear it from the (Walk4Hearing) Teams: How Alliance Groups Work by Ronnie Adler and Rebecca Lander; and The Color of Quiet by Mary McCallister. Read my post about Lois on my blog here.

July/August 2010: HLAA member Jennifer Thorpe and her family (husband Dicky, son Will, and four daughters—Katie, Rachel, Claire and Ellie) graced this month’s cover. Jen wrote I Am Simply Me, sharing how hearing loss affects the family dynamic. Jennifer lost most of her hearing around age four and now has two cochlear implants. Also in this issue: Hearing Loss is Not Just About Me by Cathy Kooser; Let’s Hear from the Families by Barbara Kelley; Employment and Equal Access: A Success Story by Lise Hamlin; What’s On Your Mind? A Question for the Psychologist by Michael A. Harvey; and My Dad, the Ford Man by Tom Hedstrom. Read my post about Jennifer and her family here.

September/October 2010: This issue focused on children with hearing loss, featuring Craig Yantiss and his son Anthony. Anthony’s mother, Lisa, shared her story with Barbara Kelley in We Thought the Test Was Wrong. Anthony failed the newborn hearing screening twice and was later diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears. He wears a hearing aid and has a cochlear implant. Also in this issue: About Maya: A Daughter Born with Hearing Loss by Robyn Bittner; Moving from Grief to Warrior Mode by Christina Marmor; The Early “Big Bang”—A Guide for Parents from a Parent by Marcia Finisdore; Convention 2010 in Milwaukee…Inspiring! by Nancy Macklin; Cell Phones Age into Hearing Aid Compatibility by Lise Hamlin; Hearing Aid Features: A Closer Look by Mark Ross; and The Boy Who Did a Good Deed by AJ Traub. Read my post about this issue here.

November/December 2010: The final issue of 2010 featured HLAA member Lisa Fuller Seward and her article, A Missionary’s Life, chronicling her adventure with hearing loss through the “Dark Continent.” In 2008 she “went from being a healthy 41-year-old wife and mother, living overseas and loving serving my family and God to being sick, then hospitalized, then deaf—permanently.” After a bout with malaria (very common in the area and not her first experience with it), the new medicine she was on caused her kidney function to elevate. She was then given an antibiotic that was ototoxic (toxic to the hearing system), and because of her kidney problems, it had a catastrophic effect on her cochlea. The dosage she was told to take was four times the amount usually prescribed. She was deaf for six months before pursuing a cochlear implant back in the U.S. Her first implant surgery was in September 2008. She now has two cochlear implants. Also in this issue: We Move Forward When We’re Ready by musician Richard Reed; The Sounds of Music—Strategies for Improving Music Appreciation with a Cochlear Implant by Donna L. Sorkin; Choosing and Using a Cell Phone with Your Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant by Lise Hamlin; Convention 2011—A Capital Experience by Nancy Macklin; The Hearing Healthcare Professional—The Key Factors in Determining Successful Use of a Hearing Aid by Mark Ross; Purchasing a Hearing Aid—A Consumer Checklist; and From Invisible to Invincible by Shifra Shaulson. Check out my post about Lisa here. Download Lisa’s article in pdf format by clicking the link here: LisaFullerSeward.

Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





When Your Child Has a Hearing Loss…

4 09 2010

Hearing loss in children is the focus of the September/October 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. I shot this cover of Craig Yantiss and his son, Anthony, two years ago. HLM Editor Barbara Kelley interviewed Anthony’s mother, Lisa Yantiss, (in photo below, far left) for the cover feature, We Thought the Test Was Wrong! Anthony is now three years old and wears a cochlear implant and a hearing aid.

Also in this issue:
In their story, About Maya: A Daughter Born with Hearing Loss, Robyn and Mike Bittner share the story of their daughter Maya’s hearing loss and the family’s journey from denial to acceptance.

In Moving from Grief to Warrior Mode, Christina Marmor shares how she and husband Chuck dealt with their son Christian‘s hearing loss diagnosis at birth. Christian was implanted at 15 months and is now 3-1/2 years old and thriving.

All photos below © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. 1) Lisa Yantiss with son Anthony; 2) The Marmor family: Christina, Chuck, Christian and Liliana; 3) Christian

A seasoned veteran of hearing loss, Marcia Finisdore provides resources and support in her article, The Early “Big Bang”—A Guide for Parents from a Parent.

Nancy Macklin, HLAA’s Director of Events & Marketing, recaps the 2010 Convention in Milwaukee—complete with loads of photos!

Lise Hamlin, HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, discusses cell phones compatibility in her article, Cell Phones Age into Hearing Aid Capability.

Audiologist and long-time contributor, Mark Ross, shares the latest generation of hearing aids in his article, Hearing Aid Features: A Closer Look.

Author/contributors photos appearing in this issue © Cindy Dyer. From left: Brenda Battat, Executive Director of HLAA; Pete Fackler, HLAA Board President; Lise Hamlin, HLAA Director of Public Policy; Mark Ross, audiologist; and Ronnie Adler, HLAA’s National Walk4Hearing Manager.


And finally, our youngest author to date, AJ Traub (12), interviews Ronnie Adler, HLAA’s National Walk4Hearing Manager. AJ has been actively involved in the Walk4Hearing since 2007. With the help of his Walk4Hearing teams, he has raised over $5,000 for the program!

Curious about the Walk4Hearing? Want to get involved? Learn more about the program on HLAA’s website here, or watch the video below:





Published!

3 08 2010

A few months ago, I mentioned I had a fun shoot assignment for Gallaudet University Press. Today, my Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara, e-mailed me the link to this book cover and asked if this is the one I had shot.

Turns out the photo was being used for the cover of Sara Laufer Batinovich’s book, Sound Sense: Living and Learning with Hearing Loss, to be released in October! I think the cover turned out great—love the clean silhouette treatment of the model. I’ve been published on lots of trade and professional association magazine covers and interiors, but this is my first stock shoot for a book cover.

While I haven’t met Sara in person, I have corresponded with her via e-mail and have done layouts on an article or two that she has written for the magazine. It was cool to find out the photo was to be used on the cover of a book authored by a Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) member and someone I just happen to know! If you’re interested in learning more about Sara’s book, click here.