Saturday, February 28, 2015


I've always wanted to meet Curious George. Ever since I was a child.

This (the image in the photo) is me in late February 2015 holding a Curious George doll while attending a magnificent exhibit at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance,​.

I was there in my capacity as staff reporter for the Texas Jewish Post out of Dallas.  I was covering "The Wartime Escape: Margret and H. A. Rey’s Journey from France." This traveling exhibit is based on the eponymous book by author Louise Borden with illustrations by Allan Drummond. (Houghton Mifflin Company, New York).

This special exhibit runs through June 20 at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, located at 211 North Record Street #100.

Believe it or not,  Curious George — the central character in children’s books and animated episodes shown on PBS — almost didn’t come into existence. 

CG's creators, husband-wife team Margret and H.A. Rey, were German-Jews who fled from Paris to America to escape Adolf Hitler's death camps.

I was fortunate enough to invited to the museum in February to attend this exhibit's official debut in the D-FW area.

It was a delight to be able to interview author Louise Borden there. She provided much insight into this harrowing journey. She said it was fraught with "suspenseful twists" and "near misses."

As they fled the Axis, (initially only on bicycles) Margret and H.A. Rey carried with them to America the then-unpublished manuscript for this mischievous, magnificent monkey who eventually would evolve into Curious George. 

A topic of discuss between Borden and I was the 2006 Curious George movie, which contained a very catchy theme song by Jack Johnson titled "Upside Down." 

Louise Borden said she and her grandchildren are all big fans of the song, which you can hear on YouTube at

"I have it on my phone and I have little grandkids andI turn it on all the time," she told me.

As I stated in my story for the Texas Jewish Post (  Jack Johnson's lyrics really say it all when it comes to the wonder and awe inspired by H.A. and Margret Rey's long-lasting literary creation:

"I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs

I don't want this feeling to go away."


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lady Gaga! DUDE! Who KNEW?

By Ben Tinsley
Copyright @2015

I would like to briefly discuss the career of the unflappable Lady Gaga — as filtered through the jaundiced, jaded, eyes of a 48-year-old Texas journalist.

Full disclosure: I am the farthest thing from a pop culture expert that you will ever find. So please — bear with me.
I have to admit, the first time I really noticed the famous Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (otherwise known as Lady Gaga) was when she wore a dress made of — meat I believe? — to one of those forgettable award shows. I am uncertain what year this was.
My basic reaction at the time was: “WHUT? A meat dress? A dress. Made of MEAT? Did she cook the dress and eat it after the show?”
This stunt kind of weirded me out. I admit I was a vegetarian for about a year when I was in my mid-20s. But, being from Texas and loving hamburgers and tacos and steak, I came to the ultimate conclusion that we are all carnivores — and that eating meat is in our nature.
Honestly, I know Lady Gaga wore that dress for a good cause — or at the very least to make a good POINT, but I forget the whys and wherefores.
Anyway, the end result as far as I was concerned was that I was startled into paying much more attention to the lovely Lady Gaga.
I find that as I grow older, I don’t scrutinize pop culture as religiously as once I did. But flashback to the early 90s, and you’d find me breathing in and absorbing anything and everything about it.
I could often be found dancing my ass off in the living room to Heavy D’s “Now that we’ve found Love” or checking my abs in the mirror to see if they were as well defined as Marky Mark’s in his “Good Vibrations” video.
But a meat dress? Hm. Okay.
Lady Gaga was now, officially, on my radar. So, I kept an ear out for her music.
Awhile later, I had a really bad day.
The details are unnecessary, but I was really depressed. The future, to me, looked at the time to be really dreary and horrible.
I remember sitting in a room and hearing a succession of Lady Gaga songs. I found myself adoring them. And, because they cheered me out of a great, great funk, I’ve been kind of an armchair Lady Gaga fan ever since. Even after my hip replacement surgery in 2013 rendered me unable to vigorously dance to them anymore.
I saw Lady Gaga on Saturday Night Live at one point and loved her music and her performances.
But the big “WHUT-THE-WHAT?” surprise came when I was watching the 2015 Oscars on TV the other night.
I was astounded to hear L.G. sing tunes from “The Sound of Music.” As a former member of the Texas Boys Choir as a child, I have actually been professionally trained to sing those songs. I’ve read the sheet music. I pretty much know when they’re being sung correctly or not.
How could she conceal such a magnificent voice all these years? Why do her pop songs offer no indication of the true depth of her talent?
Everyone in my quite conservative Texas household — at least within hearing range — became an instant Lady Gaga fan that night.
Why have we heard no indication of this voice before? Was she just having fun with pop music until she decided to get serious?
Was being “Lady Gaga” — with her publicity stunts and meat dresses and whatnot — the only way she could ascend the Pop Culture ladder?
Let’s briefly assume the aforementioned approach is correct. If so, was it the only avenue available to her to get this once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing the songs Julie Andrews engrained in America’s hearts and minds half a century ago?
And to have to have the validation of Julie Andrews herself immediately after singing those songs? Amazing.
So … some questions are rattling around maniacally in my brain right now:
  1. Now that she’s all classy and stuff, will Lady Gaga, start going by her real name?? Or, perhaps, will she change her stage name to something else — like “Lady Opera” — to reflect this new development in her professional life?
  2. Did Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta become “Lady Gaga” in the first place so that she could have the chance to one day morph into a female Pavarotti? Kind of like when fledgling rock bands start in the Christian rock music scene because its easier to break in? (Do they DO that anymore?)
  3. Will we now see Lady Gaga pull a “Sting” and start performing with classy musicians such as Pavarotti on a regular basis? (With that voice, I bet she could deliver a great Opera!)
  4. Bottom line: Where does Lady Gaga go from here?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Perhaps one day I’ll realize my secret dream of having coffee and Monster drinks with Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta at a Dallas Starbucks and dishing with her about all her show business secrets.
I mean … DANG. What an amazing performance at the 2015 Oscars. What a great surprise!
When he’s not writing columns about completely unrelated matters, veteran journalist Ben Tinsley works as the staff reporter for the Texas Jewish Post. He can be contacted by email at or by cell phone at (702) 524–3773. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at, Google at or on Facebook at