COVID-19: A New Way of Be-ing

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Today, I am taking time out from hiatus to express my thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world. COVID-19 and its consequential social distancing has changed commerce, communications, entertainment and the way we party. In 2020 A.D., a well-dressed virus has done the cha-cha all over our beloved rituals and humdrum routines, leaving chaos and anxiety in its wake. We are not allowed to even dance with one another in social settings, much less get in someone’​s face to ask for directions. The new normal has arrived and it is virtual, for the most part. Which begs the question; what kind of world do you wish to create? I’d like my future children to have the freedom to dance with others in large groups, if they so desire. It seems that future has been jeopardized by the choices that we, humanity, are making as a collective. Moving too fast with hi-tech lifestyles and spending way less time just sitting with ourselves alone, engaging in honest dialogue with others that is not broken up by sporadic texts sent over a data net like a perverse game of ping-pong.

Turns out, there’s nothing quite like external agency to shake things up and rearrange priorities, especially when people aren’t paying attention to what’s truly important. Clean air and authentic human connections matter more than money. I think this crisis is an opportunity for growth, renewal and letting stuff go whether they be toxic people, fake nails, fake eyelashes, fake attitudes. For those of us who aren’t in danger, we are fortunate to have this luxury of self-isolation to examine who we are and where we want to go while the system resets itself. When it rebounds, if you have done the work on yourself, you may move forward at warp speed, experiencing life in a totally new and incredible way.

My thoughts go out to all those who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether through illness, loss of loved ones, unemployment and emotional distress. You are not alone. Everyone across the planet is being affected by this crisis in some shape or form. I encourage you to reach out for support; help is available and technology has facilitated its dissemination via social media and online communities.

Social distancing is a challenging situation, where days plod by in a seemingly interminable march towards weeks which eventually turn into months. Believe me – we can do this! When it’s over, we should take care to remember and embody all the insights we have gleaned during this period otherwise the next shakedown might unveil a harsher truth; we may never dance again.

Copyright © 2020 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Remembering Genius

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4 years ago on this day, Prince departed our world. His peerless contributions to music and humanity will continue to enrich lives in present and future generations. Discovering gems like this performance made me realize I will spend the rest of my life on an endless treasure hunt when it comes to his artistry. So I take a moment to remember genius and express gratitude for all the joy this remarkable person has brought into existence.

Copyright © 2020 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

AFTER 8…

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8 ball

8 is symbolic of infinity. A closed double loop signifying completion.

8 years for Frankenräver to evolve and embrace what is to come.

After much thought, I have decided to go on hiatus. Other projects require my full attention and focus so that they can grow into ravishingly successful monsters!

I have tons of articles I’d love to throw up. Unfortunately, the luxury of time is not  abundant like before. Besides, I have given all of you so much to digest over 8 years and further into the future. I figure now it’s time to reap tangible benefits from the talents that I have honed through the hard work and sacrifice that it took to maintain Frankenräver.

This blog has brought many blessings into my life. I am so grateful that I could share my gifts with the globe (over 160 countries to date).

Thanks to all of my fellow Ecstaticans for being part of this wonderful journey! I have gained so much insight about my relationship to dance culture. It is my sincere hope that your lives have been enriched through entertainment, whether through music or my engaging articles.

Do check this page every once in a while as I will post updates on my upcoming projects.

Too late I sank the 8 but wait – the game ain’t over! 😉

Stay Tuned,

Frankenräver

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

Party Legend Ab Boles Turns 70

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Ab Boles and Frankenraver at Architectures

Do you remember this guy?

If you’ve partied in Toronto’s underground within the last 20 plus years, chances are you’ve seen Ab Boles. A flamboyant fixture at countless raves, clubs and warehouse parties, Abs is the elder statesman of dance music culture in the Toronto. He recently got some recognition with a front cover on NOW magazine in August. So when I found out he was celebrating his 70th birthday at the ROUND venue in Kensington Market, I had to pay my respects.

Architectures on Thursdays is known for its chill, psytrance vibe and they delivered as usual. Special guest Living~Stone from Montréal ran the decks with accompanying visuals from Nostylejack. 20% of proceeds from ticket sales went towards Rainforest Alliance, a charity supported by Abs. Now that’s what I call conscious partying. At the rate humans are going, future generations might have nothing but a patch of scorched earth to dance on. Abs’ thoughtful gesture sets an example for many of us to follow.

When I first saw Abs, I was a youth at a rave in the 90’s. I thought he looked old enough to be my dad yet he danced like there was no tomorrow.  I got used to seeing him everywhere; at clubs, parties, The Guvernment, Cherry Beach. Everyone that I knew accepted Abs as he was and left him alone. He always seemed to be completely absorbed in a zone but his outfits were fantastic. I realized that past a certain age, most people retire from the club scene but not Abs. In his world, it was perfectly acceptable to party past middle age. This colourful elder demonstrates that when it comes to raving, age ain’t nothing but a number!

Tonight Abs was warm, effusive and basking in his blessings. I told him how happy I was for him and how much it meant seeing him on the dance-floor all these years. Other revellers approached with gifts. I even met his son. It was touching to see the reverence paid to this elder. Abs still looked the same as I remembered him back in the day. Enough of the age-shaming that is so endemic in western culture – Abs, I salute you for aging defiantly and dancing to the beat of your own drum.  May you live to rave much more!   

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Lone Lady’s One Woman Show

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Amidst the noisy clamour of mainstream music are calm ripples of beauty, so quiet that they may slip by unnoticed. But not entirely with those that have ears to hear. Lone Lady (Julie Campbell) from Manchester U.K. is one such artist who commands your attention. “Groove It Out” (off Hinterland, 2015) grabbed my ears during a mundane shopping excursion at a department store. Thanks to Shazam, I was able to identify the track and absorb its lush glory during repeated listening sessions. Reminiscent of mid-80’s acid house with artfully layered synths, a la “Voodoo Ray” and “Theme from S-Express, ” Groove It Out transports you to another era while remaining firmly grounded in this one.

The video was shot in what appears to be a decrepit warehouse (most likely in Manchester) that pays homage to Julie’s roots and the post-industrial environment that helped inspire her music.

Lone Lady is truly a one-woman show. She sings, writes and produces her own music in addition to playing several instruments including cello, keypads, samplers, bass and guitar. I’m all for sisters doing it for themselves (which is never easy in a male-dominated industry). Lone Lady does it in her unique, inimitable way so I encourage you to support her music, explore her albums and spread the word!  http://lonelady.co.uk/

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

Afrofuturism Pt.1: Parliament-Funkadelic

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Afrofuturism is hot. Ever since Black Panther clawed its way to box-office glory with a killer soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, the concept has taken feverish hold on a growing fanbase. In the heady rush to capitalize on this trend, let us take time to appreciate Parliament-Funkadelic, the phenomenally futuristic acid-funk-rock-proto-punk-band with a history so vast that it cannot be contained in a single blogpost. Here is a band teeming with enough inspiration to inspire future generations. As pioneers, these exceptionally talented musicians, showmen and show-women were truly ahead of their time. Some of us are only now catching up to them. Others never will but that’s alright. P-Funk knew exactly who they were playing to.   

For much of my life, I’ve been familiar with smash hits such as Atomic Dog, One Nation Under a Groove and Tear The Roof Off The Sucker. But I knew nothing about P-Funk mythology until I spied Wax Poetics Issue 18 in a record store on Queen St. West in 2006. My interest was piqued by the animated figures of the band on the cover, (Mothership and all!) created by hip-hop sculptor Jean-Yves Blanc so I bought the magazine. It turned out to be an entertaining mix of archival photos, artwork and interviews with various band members and collaborators but most of all, it gave me clear insight into The Funk Mob spirit. Therefore, photos and references in my blogpost have been extrapolated from Wax Poetics Issue 18, a rarity since it is now out-of-print.

What’s truly astonishing about Parliament-Funkadelic is their early inception as doo-wop group The Parliaments, formed in a Plainfield, New Jersey barbershop by a teenaged George Clinton between 1955-6. Presently, Clinton is one of the few surviving members from this nascent period when Motown was king. That means he has experienced 7 decades of music history. In my opinion, this guy fits the definition of a time-traveller.

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The Parliaments l to r: Ray Davis, Calvin Simon, Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, Grady Thomas, George Clinton

Peep this photo of The Parliaments taken in 1966. Now try to reconcile that with the wildly colourful elder statesman of funk we know now. If Sun-Ra was the godfather of musical Afrofuturism then George Clinton is the high-priest. 

Funkadelic, consisting of bassist Billy “Bass” Nelson, lead guitarist Eddie Hazel, drummer Ramon “Tiki” Fulwood, Tawl Ross and keyboardist Bernie Worrell was formed in 1967. They were younger and brought the psychedelic rock influence, whipped into shape by Worrell’s exceptional skills as arranger and composer. Shortly after moving to Detroit, Michigan, the collective became known as Parliament-Funkadelic.

Equally mindblowing is that in the early 70’s, Parliament-Funkadelic briefly relocated to Toronto, Canada. They even played gigs at The Hawk’s Nest which was located at 333 Yonge St. just north of Dundas. On The Robin Seymour show that aired from Windsor in the 60’s, the band used to wild out during their live performance and smoke ganja onstage in a hooka. After glimpsing their appearance on the show in a documentary, I realized that The Parliaments were Black artists that had given birth to punk a decade before it came to prominence by giving their unique interpretation of performance art that was previously thought to be the domain of hippies and privileged White artists. You could say they were…blippies! P-Funk were far-out, freakishly gifted and too funked-up to care what the mainstream thought. They had embarked on the trip of a lifetime and there was no stopping the souped-up funkateers, on course to make their collective mark on music history.   

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The Mothership. Los Angeles Coliseum, 1977

The infamous Mothership from which George Clinton descended as alien Sir Nose D’ Voidoffunk now rests in the Smithsonian Institution. I have heard from a few people who claimed to have attended these concerts say they had never seen anything like it before, nor since. A Black man emerging from a spaceship in an outlandish outfit backed by an ebullient band gussied up as funk-galactics…not since Sun-Ra had Black people been exposed to other possibilities of reconfiguring themselves by creating their own mythology.

Parliament-Funkadelic’s Afrocentric philosophy, visuals and sociopolitical messages gave alternative thinkers delectable nuggets to digest – or barf, according to how much you could tolerate. George Clinton’s collaborations with visionary artists Pedro Bell plus Overton Lloyd who developed the comics for Funkentelechy, laid the groundwork for the band`s cosmological imagery and distinctive parlance in their liner notes and lyrics.

I could spend days speaking of Maggot Brain and what Eddie Hazel‘s searing guitar solo did to my brain cells. Or Bootsy Collins‘ larger than life Starchild persona. Or raving that Alice In My Fantasies is one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded. What’s the point? Just listen and experience greatness for yourself.

There is no question that the P-Funk multiverse consists of deeply intelligent beings, many playing the role of cosmic clowns in order to get their message of psychic liberation across. Parallel dimensions await people of all colours to “free your mind and your ass will follow!” The Mothership is really a metaphor for the vehicular mind freed from mental slavery. A mind set loose from its artificial moorings can traverse throughout the universe, to places many would not believe possible. Parliament-Funkadelic knew this and embraced cosmic philosophy in their branding strategies and outlandish performances.

My sole criticism of Issue 18 is input should have been included from the leading ladies of P-Funk’s empire, like Brides of Funkenstein’s Dawn Silva and Lynn Mabry. They are still touring and I’m sure they have many interesting tales to tell about their experiences as women in a band notorious for their wild antics.

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Pedro Bell`s insightful rendition of P-Funk positions them as galactic beings on a mission to bring funk to the masses

Parliament-Funkadelic knew the masses could only handle small doses of g-(alactic) tonic. So they diluted and spoonfed listeners bit by bit, ensuring to disguise the medicine in polychromatic layers of highbrow silliness, yet retaining the strength of the message in their art. Of course, what they were really creating went over a lot of people’s heads because their stage act and marketing ploys were so outrageous but they didn’t care! Top notch is the donkey taking a dump on the steps of Royal Albert Hall to promote “Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow” in 1971. Apparently, the donkey was telepathically attuned to the band’s desire to overcome institutionalized racism – and made its contribution to the cause. Which in turn caused outrage from the stuffy British establishment while busting down barriers so the band could successfully tour Europe to sold-out crowds.

Through all of the internal squabbles, financial difficulties, drug abuse and inevitable losses, Parliament-Funkadelic succeeded in their mission because they knew it would take at least another 60 years for people to have that aha moment.

Having been recently honoured at the Grammys with a Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2019 and wrapping up a farewell tour for George simultaneously, it’s great to see Parliament-Funkadelic getting industry recognition that ‘s long overdue. Obviously, Afrofuturists can’t rely on the wilfully blind to show us the way because often, by the time they come around, our gifted professors have long flown ship.

Whether you can believe it or not, Parliament-Funkadelic is in fact a front for futuristic entities to show the dispossessed a way out of their personal funk. They found music to be a far more effective method of preaching to the population and they exploited that angle to the hilt. So what we have 62 years later is a living, breathing legacy that is still influencing next-gen musicians tapping into this dynamic, trans-dimensional lifeline. Despite old wounds, love remains among some surviving members, which was evident during their performance at the 2019 Grammys.

Wax Poetics Issue 18 is the definitive guide on the history of Parliament-Funkadelic, albeit in condensed form. It blows the cover off their delirious disguise and exposes them for what they really are and it may even blow your mind as well.

Kudos to Andre Torres, Matt Rogers, Edward Hill, Dante Carfagna and Richard Edson for your outstanding contributions to making Issue 18 a stellar example of music journalism.

Special shout-out to the P-Funk Family past and present: Garry Shider, Belita Woods, Glenn Goins, Jessica Cleaves, Fred Woseley, Frank “Kash” Waddy,  Prakash John, Maceo Parker, Phelps “Catfish” Collins, Ruth Copeland, Lonnie Green and many more too numerous to mention!

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

Prince is Still With Us…kinda sorta

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Today marks 3 years since Prince passed beyond the exosphere. I’m only now getting used to the fact that he’s gone but damn, I still miss him! Besides charitable works, Prince’s greatest legacy is his prodigious musical output. The best part of all is I’m still discovering loads of music and of course, I will spend the rest of my life unearthing his delightful gems until I, too, fly beyond the exosphere.

Personally I think that Prince died young, with still so much to give. His death, like much of his life, remains shrouded in mystery and methinks I smell a rat. But his massive stockpile of music, even if the majority of songs remain unreleased, gives fans many moments to savour in the coming years.

Just a few days ago, I discovered “She’s Always In My Hair” a delightful number from the b-side of the “Raspberry Beret” single. Never once did I hear this amazing track on radio, which illustrates the abundance of underrated tunes just waiting to be discovered. I suspect the mystery woman entwined in Prince’s hair might have been Susannah Melvoin, since, to paraphrase, she’s always in his boat even if he hits the wrong notes! Plus, they were engaged at one point, and he does toy with the idea of marriage in the lyrics. It’s one of Prince’s most playful songs as it lets your imagination ride on a canopy of spiky synths and signature arrangements that highlight his eclectic tastes.

This man touched millions of lives and influenced so many artists with his genius. So please take a moment to remember and appreciate Prince, one of the greatest musicians of our twilight civilization.

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Milli Vanilli: Still Sweet

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Milli Vanilli captured the essence of their time

Few incidents have rocked the music industry like the Milli Vanilli scandal of the 90’s. At the height of their fame, Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus were outed by producer Frank Farian as having lip-synched their way through their hit record and performances. The fallout was huge. Milli Vanilli was stripped of their Grammy for Best New Artist and Arista Records erased their album from its catalog. It was a media circus of astronomical proportions and I was a mildly befuddled spectator, watching from the sidelines. Milli Vanilli’s unmasking yielded lasting personal and financial consequences for the young performers. With time comes perspective and now is a good time to examine this incident with a fresh set of eyes.

Summer of ’89:”Girl You Know It’s True” was burning up the charts and dominating airwaves. However, it was the visual impact of Milli Vanilli’s videos that helped to launch them into the stratosphere. Two extraordinarily handsome, Black men with exotic braids, lithe bodies and chic esthetic danced their way into millions of hearts. I was smitten; Rob and Fab were the epitome of cool. How could I ever forget Rob’s number after being transfixed by those eyes?! It was too much!!! I even went so far as to paint their likenesses with oil pastels on a t-shirt, which I proudly sported. Though there was an odd moment when I thought with a child’s wisdom that Fab’s looks didn’t seem to match his voice, I quickly dismissed that as my imagination. Even the album cover was pretty dope. Milli Vanilli was the new flavour in town and an adoring public couldn’t get enough.

Everyone knows what came afterwards. On the heels of scathing scorn and humiliation, the German-based duo attempted a comeback by singing during live performances. Under new management, they moved to Los Angeles and released an album entitled “Rob and Fab” that did poorly but is collector’s gold today. It seems the wounded ego of the music industry stifled any and all attempts at redemption from Milli Vanilli. The fall from grace was too overwhelming for Robert Pilatus, who sadly succumbed to a drug and alchohol overdose in 1998. The “Back and In Attack” record scheduled for release was shelved, ending the Milli Vanilli era for good. Fabrice soldiers on as a DJ and independent musician, having found the strength to move forward with his life.

Mass deception aside, the memory of Milli Vanilli lingers on like a stubborn aftertaste. Their songs still get airplay and you know what? The music is great! Iconic basslines don’t lie. “Baby Don’t Forget My Number” is one of the best music videos of all time. Rob and Fab had looks, presence, style AND moves. I still enjoy their performances immensely. Those guys had something, a spark that’s missing from a lot of performers these days. They captured the essence of their time and they delivered. Sure they lip-synched their way to the top but now that’s standard practice for ye average pop-star. Watching Milli Vanilli now makes me realize that perhaps they were judged too harshly for their actions. They brought joy and entertainment to millions so they’re not such bad guys, right?

Behind the rise and fall of every empire is a story. Milli Vanilli is a tale of 2 Black youth from Europe lusting after stardom. Enter Frank Farian, a German producer with a shady history of fronting Black music shell acts like 70’s phenomenon Boney M (who didn’t sing most of their songs). The trio forge a Faustian pact that brings Rob and Fab success but at what a cost! The dance-pop duo claimed they were exploited by Farian, yet they decided to go along with the charade from the start. If anything, theirs is a cautionary fable of the pitfalls awaiting those who seek a fast-track to fame. And yet, underneath it all, is heartbreak and resilience. A meteoric rise from poverty and shattered childhood to worldwide acceptance and back again. This is the real story that needs to be told. Fabrice opens up in this interview with VLADTV accessible via http://www.fabmorvan.com –  a must-see! In this era of docudramas, the time is right for us to know more about Rob and Fab. No disrespect to Charles Shaw and the original vocalists, but these 2 will forever remain Milli Vanilli.

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Source: collectors.com

R.I.P. Rob, you are sorely missed!

Props to Fab for surviving  it all

Copyright © 2019 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

30 Years of Straight Up by Paula Abdul

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It seems like just yesterday but 30 years ago on November 22nd 1988,“Straight Up” by Paula Abdul was unleashed to become a massive dance-pop classic. In recent times, Paula is best known for her role as empathetic judge on American Idol. Back in ’89 though, she was tearing up the charts with this funky tune that made her a household name. Everyone sat up and took notice of the short, sassy, exotic-looking dancer who  moved like a sista. In the age of MTV, visuals played a huge part in the commercial success of recording artists. Part of Straight Up’s endearing appeal is the stunning music video shot in black and white by legendary director David Fincher. Paired with Paula Abdul’s energetic choreography and streetwise aesthetics, they created a timeless classic that eventually went straight to no. 1. Even talk-show host Arsenio Hall got a piece of the action as he guest-appeared in the video, helping to raise its profile.

Hard to believe that at the time, Paula’s record label  wanted nothing to do with Straight Up because they thought it wouldn’t go anywhere. But Abdul’s intuition told her the song had potential and she fought to get it recorded. So this was a major personal triumph for her, being a testament to the power of faith and belief in oneself.

Straight Up is hands down a dance-music masterpiece that 30 years on, stands the test of time!

Copyright © 2018 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

The Age of Reason: Frankenräver 7

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Image source: sarahontheroad.com

7 impossible years later, Frankenräver’s still blogging. Sometimes I ask myself why when it’s so easy to quit. After all, there’s sooo much crayzee shit going on out there  maybe people don’t care to even read a 350 word article anymore. Heavens to Murgatroyd! The attention span of an average human is apparently less than that of a goldfish. Just stop and think what that means for a hot second. I smell a humongous cookout looming on the horizon and it ain’t your homefront fishfry.  But anyway, if I captured your attention long enough to read this, dag I’m happy! Coz even though I don’t blog as much as I like to, writing is and always will be my passion. And as long as there are pens, pencils, paper (well, in this case, a laptop and Internet connection) and worthwhile subjects,  I will continue writing. For the dispossessed, unsung, underappreciated aspects of human artistry and about exceptional, well-received and newly discovered artists. Coz that’s life after all.

To kick off my 7th Blogaversary, I chose Prince’s “7.” One of his best songs epitomizing the triumph of good over evil and quite possibly, his battle with Warner Bros. at that time when he was known as Symbol Boy and AFKAP to the unenlightened. I saw him perform this song live in concert at Maple Leaf Gardens after winning tickets and a copy of this album (cassette actually) from a radio contest. A cassette, wow…well that was the 90’s! ! Thanks Prince for the memories and the music. Enjoy your jubilant jam sessions with the angels.

Copyright © 2018 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.