What do Billy Joel, William Hogarth, and Valentino have in common?

Billy Joel Shankbone NYC 2009
Billy Joel at opening night of the 2009 season at the Metropolitan Opera

William Martin Joel more popularly known as Billy Joel is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. He released his first hit song “Piano Man” in 1973, featuring the now classic piano lick and riff. Since then, he went on to become the third best-selling solo artist in the United States. He had 33 Top 40 hits in the US during the 1970s and through the 1990s. He is also a six-time Grammy Award winner.

Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2013, Joel received the Kennedy Center Honors, the country’s highest honor for influencing American culture through the arts.

William Hogarth - Self-Portrait - Google Art Project

William Hogarth was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. He was born on 10 November 1697 and died on 26 October 1764. He is known as the father of satirical caricatures and moral paintings, a genre which would later develop into cartoons. He gained popularity for his morality paintings. His determination and sturdy middle-class values made him one of the most innovative artists of his generation.

Valentino Liz Hurley Cannes
Valentino with Liz Hurley at the Cannes Film Festival, 2007

Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, more popularly as Valentino, is an Italian fashion designer and founder of the Valentino SpA brand and clothing company.

On 6 July 2006, French president Jacques Chirac awarded Valentino the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. On 24 January 2008, the City of Paris presented him with the Medal of the City of Paris for his services to fashion in the city where he was educated. On 7 September 2011, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology presented him with the sixth annual Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion.

A popular American singer-songwriter, an English painter, and an Italian fashion designer. What do these three prominent personalities have in common?

Hint: a sociable and gentle canine breed is involved.

Continue reading “What do Billy Joel, William Hogarth, and Valentino have in common?”


What Do Winston Churchill, Ellen Ripley, and Dr. Tsai Ing-wen Have in Common?

Sir Winston Churchill - 19086236948

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was a British statesman, army officer, and writer. He served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. During his first term as Prime Minister, he rallied the British people during World War II, and led his country from the brink of defeat to victory.

Ellen Louise Ripley is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Alien film series. The role was played by American actress Sigourney Weaver. Ripley is often considered one of the most significant female protagonists in all of cinema. She is a prominent figure in popular culture as well.

President of Taiwan (elected 2016) Tsai Ing-wen with her two cats, Think Think and Ah Tsai. The president used these images as part of her election campaign.

Dr. Tsai Ing-wen is the current President of Taiwan. The former law professor was elected President on 16 January 2016. She is the first woman to officially govern a Chinese-speaking nation since Empress Wu Zetian in the eighth Century.

So what do these three prominent personalities have in common?

Hint: a certain kind of feline is involved.

Continue reading “What Do Winston Churchill, Ellen Ripley, and Dr. Tsai Ing-wen Have in Common?”

Selective Mutism in Fiction

Selective Mutism in Fiction


October is Selective Mutism Awareness month.

It is encouraging to note that Selective Mutism is gaining awareness as evidenced by the increasing number of Selective Mutism books being published. However, it is also disheartening to see that myths commonly associated with SM continue to persist. For example, this Goodreads list of books is supposed to have characters suffering from SM. However, most of the characters acquired their SM identity from some traumatic event. This just reinforces the surreal myth that SM is caused by physical or emotional trauma. This is unfortunate, as several studies have consistently shown that no such link exists between SM and trauma.

Until such myths are erased from public consciousness, efforts must continue to promote Selective Mutism Awareness. As such, blog posts such this, this, and this should be commended and encouraged.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of books that feature characters with Selective Mutism. These books accurately depict the SM condition.

UPDATE: D.J. Sharry, the author of  Persona Medusa: A Tale of Selective Mutism & Social Anxiety has verified on Goodreads that his book is autobiographical and not fiction. Nevertheless, it is still included in this list for record purposes, with this note attached to provide clarification. A separate list for biographical works shall be posted at a later date. Please stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here’s the list of memoirs of people with Selective Mutism.

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Top Ten Pet Halloween Costumes for 2017


This Halloween, cats might dress up as pirates, and dogs might dress up as Star Wars characters, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

Pirate and Star Wars character costumes were among the top Halloween costumes for pets according to a survey of 7,013 consumers. Of those celebrating Halloween this year, 16% will dress pets in costumes, as reported by the NRF survey.

This year, ten percent of pet lovers will dress their loyal companion in a pumpkin costume, while 7 percent will dress their cat or dog as a hot dog.

Here are the top ten most popular pet costumes:

Continue reading “Top Ten Pet Halloween Costumes for 2017”