Fire Fight Australia: A “Live Aid-Style” Concert Benefiting Brushfire Disaster Relief

In 1985, the music world offered their talents for the Live Aid super-concert charity to support South African famine relief. The rock band, Queen, was one of the highlights from the Live Aid performances and conversely, the event was a highlight of their stardom.

  Sources claim the Land Down Under has experienced the worst brushfire season on record. Originating in the southeast region of New South Wales back in November 2019, the fires have swept across all six Australian states. Roughly 25.5 million acres have been destroyed, devastating over two-thousand homes and an estimation of one billion animals. To give some perspective, that amount of acreage is comparable to the size of South Korea! The eastern Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria account for eighty-four percent of the devastation. Due to the smoke, the capitol city of Sydney (on the Australian east coast of the New South Wales state) recorded the worst pollution it’s ever seen on January 1st, with an air quality index twenty-three times higher than what is considered hazardous. This so much and so problematic that the smoke crept into birthing rooms, stopped MRI machines from working, and triggered respiratory distress in an elderly woman, leading to her death. The pollutant air quality has even affected New Zeland, which is over 1,200 off Australia’s east coast. Their skies, clouds, and glaciers have been uncharacteristically discolored. The smoke haze has even canceled tour operations. With Australia in the midst of summertime and the normal peak of their fire season around late January or early February, their disasters could only continue and worsen.

Over thirty-five years after Live Aid, the music world does it again with Fire Fight Australia, a charity concert for Australia’s brushfire relief efforts taking place Sunday, February 16th. In fact, its even been touted as a “Live Aid-style concert”! And again, Queen (+ Adam Lambert) will take the stage at ANZ Stadium for the event, which comes the day after a show on their Rhapsody Tour. They will be joined by Alice Cooper, Olivia Newton-John, k.d. lang, and many other worldwide and local music icons, some of which have yet to be announced. All proceeds will benefit Australia’s rural and regional fire services, the RSPCA Bushfire appeal, the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery and other organizations.

Concert tickets went on sale January 13th and have unfortunately sold out as of this writing. The Australian-based vendor Ticketek is the only authorized dealer, meaning that tickets purchased from anywhere else are not guaranteed to be valid and offer access to be event. As of the end of January, broadcasts of the event have been announced through Australia’s Channel Seven, Foxtel, and the 7Plus streaming service.

Fire Fight Australia concert promo; image courtesy of Google

Live Aid was an ambitious endeavor for its time, lasting around sixteen hours between two major venues set between majorly different time zones –three venues and zones if you count Oz for Africa held in Australia the day before for that matter. Satellite broadcasting was still fairly new in 1985. Nonetheless around sixty music acts reached over a billion viewers in 110 countries and raised one hundred and fifty million pounds. Thirty-five years later, an international broadcast or live stream of some kind should be no problem. Around twenty-one acts and counting are already confirmed on the Fire Fight Australia bill, and ultimately we have the power of the internet which stars everywhere have used to react or respond to the crisis, sharing heartbreak or urging support on social media. One most significant posts was from Airbourne, an Australian rock band, who tweeted:

“Rockers worldwide – if you haven’t heard yet, Australia is literally burning – the smoke can be seen from space and has even turned the white snow caps over in New Zealand black.

“Too many Aussies have lost their loved ones – they’ve lost homes and livelihoods, and over half a billion animals have met their fate in these devastating fires. 

“Firefighters – a lot of whom are volunteers – and all emergency personnel, including the large number of vets, are going way beyond the call to duty and we thank them with all of our hearts. Australia can’t survive without their staunch, courageous and never-say-die commitment to stopping these fires.

“Any help from you will be greatly appreciated and will go a long way – even just one pound, one euro, one dollar or one peso can help. Every little bit helps rockers – Australia is burning.”

Others have harnessed star power, influence, and/or their own wealth, like Sir Elton John at a recent concert drew attention to the bushfire devastation and pledged one-million dollars for relief efforts. Metallica donated $750,000 and Pink has pledged $50,000. New Jersey deathcore band, Fit for an Autopsy, and Blink-182 have geared merchandise sales towards fundraising. As news of the brushfire disasters have gone global in the last month or so, the calls to action and responses alone, ahead of the concert event itself at that, are what really have been “Live Aid-style”.  

What can you do? Below are links to a few organizations taking donations or to merchandise sales supporting relief efforts or to other information about the disasters or charity efforts. This list just came together from this article’s source material and a little additional research and is by no means comprehensive, but ideally its a starting point for someone interested in lending a hand or knowing more.

https://firefightaustralia.com/#donate -Donates to the Australian Red Cross

https://firefightaustralia.com/product/tshirt/– Purchase an official Fire Fight concert t-shirt; proceeds supporting key organizations providing vital rescue, relief and recovery and rehabilitation

https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade – Donates to the New South Whales rural fire service

https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa#donate-cash – Donates to Country Fire Authority; based in the state of Victoria

https://cfsfoundation.org.au/donate – Donates to Country Fire Service Foundation; supports volunteer firefighters

https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund – Donates to WIRES Wildlife Rescue

https://blink-182-uk.myshopify.com/collections/australia-bushfire-appeal – Purchase a Blink-182 brushfire appeal shirt; supports the Australia Zoo (note: shipping is international, but the price is in British pounds)

https://www.facebook.com/pg/FitForAnAutopsyOfficial/shop/?ref=page_internal – Purchase a select Fit for an Autopsy shirt in their Australian wildfire benefit sale; supports World Wildlife Fund Australia

Sound Relief Australia– If you want to try another opportunity for an Australian charity concert, Sound Relief Australia has been a regular event since 2009. Details are still in the works, but said to take place in late February or early March

#australianbushfiredisaster #australiaburning – use these hashtags (or closely related ones) on Twitter or Instagram to share your support or find the most current media on the incident

 

Toast Pop Travels: Blue Moon Café

Shepherdstown, West Virginia is the oldest town in the state, but a blended atmosphere of home-grown, country, and contemporary combine with its antiquity to make it a wonderful place! There is just as much of a unique atmosphere at its Blue Moon Café. Much of the dining area is furnished outside among a shady green oasis that even includes a fountain. The menu is an affordable variety of sandwiches, salads, soups, wraps, pizza, and a little crab. They have many vegan and vegetarian options, along with several alcoholic beverages. Blue Moon is locally sourced, meaning many of their products were grown or made right in the region. Local entertainment can even be found here at their open mic nights.

Blue Moon Café gets my “Toast Pop Approval” for its support of local agriculture, food quality, meal price, and unique dining experience outdoors! Its well-worth the walk from anywhere in the heart of town.

Plan your visit to Shepherdstown and the Blue Moon Café!

Blue Moon Café homepage: http://bluemooncafeshepherdstown.com/dining/

View the menu, get directions, and get to know their local sources

Blue Moon Café Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bluemoonwv/timeline

Get updates on specials and performances

Shepherdstown Visitors Center: http://shepherdstown.info/

Learn the history, find out about local events, plan a stay, and more!

Toast Pop Travels: Topsail Turtle Project

Vacationing tourists aren’t the only ones looking for a good place to stay near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Topsail Island is the choice nesting ground for several kinds of sea turtles, and along with them is the Topsail Turtle Project, a private, nonprofit, and volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining the sea turtle’s well-being. Their mission to the marine life is to conserve and protect them here and abroad; rescue and rehabilitate the injured; and inform and educate the community about the their plight and threat of extinction. The heart of the organization is the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City. For no more than five dollars a visitor, you can experience a guided tour of the facility and see the turtles in their care. 

The project’s web pages alone boast information on successful recoveries, releases, and information on nesting along Topsail beaches. So, you’re bound to be part of something new in your visit and even your support through donations.

My family vacationed on Topsail Island this summer, and I really liked being there! It has a small-town vibe: quiet and comfortable. Some beach access is exclusive to visitors and residents of certain residential complexes, and there are some choice local restaurants and even ice cream parlors. The turtle hospital and turtle project are the heart of this community, so I give it all a big “Toast Pop Approval”!

Plan your trip to Topsail Island and the Sea Turtle Rescue Center!

homepage for the rescue center: https://www.seaturtlehospital.org/

Find hours of operation, make a donation, and see what’s going  on.

The hospital Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/seaturtlehospital/timeline

See exclusive photos of the Topsail Turtle Project at work, and try out the area guide app.

Topsail Island homepage: http://www.topsailbeach.org/
Arrange to stay right on the island, and find other things to do.

Toast Pop Travels: Hinton and the Chestnut Revival

Get the “wild and wonderful” experiences of West Virginia in the most authentic ways possible by paying a visit to Hinton, West Virginia! Hinton is a small town tucked away in the eastern hills of the Mountain State and has a rooted successful lineage in being a former railroad town. Hinton is about twenty-eight miles from Beckley, but close to its history with museums dedicated to the railroad industry and the Civil War. Hinton is also not far from state parks Pipestem and Bluestone and the New River Gorge. No place could be any closer to natural beauty and history than Hinton.

There is perhaps no other place in Hinton that can make you feel more comfortable in the mountains than the Chestnut Revival: a homey, bed-and-breakfast and coffee shop on Summers Street. Reviews on TripAdvisor.com rank Chestnut Revival only second to The Market on Courthouse Square, but critics have ranked it the best for its cozy atmosphere, food quality, and friendly service. And this place is definitely a “ToastPop approved” attraction as both editors have been there and loved it! It is everything a coffee shop should be and more! One can easily relax and enjoy themselves in their dining area while consuming home-cooked tea, coffee, and other delicious treats! Most Friday nights are open mic nights featuring local talent and there is fun to be had on most holidays. There is no place like home, but Hinton and the Chestnut Revival could most certainly be your home away from home while you experience all the “wild and wonderful” West Virginia has to offer!

Plan your visit to Hinton and the Chestnut Revival!

Find business hours, book a stay, find local attractions

Chestnut Revival Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chestnut-Revival/107441515982616?id=107441515982616&sk=photos_stream

Chestnut Revival menu: http://www.chestnutrevival.com/menu.html

They serve breakfast and lunch all day, and offer healthy and organic options 

The city of Hinton website: http://hintonwva.com/

Get information on the history, local life, and events 

Toast Pop Travels: Hyman’s Seafood Company


In the heart of the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina is a wonderful staple business that has stood for over a century. What began as a wholesale center in 1890 has become Hyman’s Seafood restaurant and Aaron’s Deli; a city landmark, a critically acclaimed eatery, and a very popular dining spot! Critics regard Hyman’s for quality food and service all for great prices and many famous faces have dined there at some point, as you will see by the dozens of gallery-style portraits and even on little plaques on the dining tables. It might get a little crowded, but it is not the least bit uncomfortable and worth the wait. Its popularity contributes to the restaurant’s lively atmosphere.  There is something for everyone at the cost of twenty dollars at most for a dinner meal. The complimentary boiled peanuts and hush puppies are some of the best! Usually families with children are even presented with coupons for complimentary dessert redeemable at the general store on the way out, and you can take some of your Hyman’s experience with you when you purchase from their array of souvenirs! Beyond the hype, a trip to Hymans can be a great personal tradition. It’s a family owned business spanning about five generations after all. My own family often vacations in Charleston, and our experiences are not complete if we don’t go to Hymans. Southern cuisine and hospitality couldn’t be a better value anywhere else!

Plan your visit to Hymans!


Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/HymansSeafood
Menu: http://www.hymanseafood.com/files/file/Hymans_Seafood_Menu.pdf

Mobile app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hymans/id494362469?mt=8
Free for Apple devices. Access their menu, find recipes, get in on the daily deals, and more!  

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Pride and Prejudice Meets the Present

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Logo

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This is the line that begins the timeless Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice. Most literary critics would think of this line as a reflection (or a satire) upon relational values of Jane Austen’s time and place in history, but to the average reader, it sets the premise of the love story it is today known to be. However you read Jane Austen, this year celebrates two hundred years of existence for Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps it’s a truth universally acknowledged now that a lot has changed in society since Austen wrote it. Being so far removed from Austen’s time in this day and age certainly puts a damper on fully understanding this beloved classic, but The Lizzie Bennet Diaries brings it all to the twenty-first century.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries portrays the Austen classic in a very contemporary way, and still remains true to the tale. It is a one hundred episode blog series on Youtube that is hosted by the headstrong, independent Lizzie Bennet. In each short episode she unfolds a dramatic scene from Pride and Prejudice with her intelligent best friend, Charlotte Wu; her perfect sister, Jane; their wild-child sister, Lydia; their restless, southern-bell mother and aloof father; the rich and sweet Dr. Bing Li, and many other characters from the novel. Whether you’re a fan of Jane Austen, or you’re trying to understand what’s going on in Pride and Prejudice, it is fun, enjoyable, and easy for anyone to follow. The modern aspect is a big help in understanding the plot and dated references.

Though rich, single men may not always be seeking marriage these days; nor might unusual women be anxious to snatch them up, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries bridges the two century time span to enlighten and entertain students and lovers of classic literature. All the modern aspects of the series, like the web-blogging medium, the colorful characters, and the pop culture craving for drama, are tuned to reflect the classic novel, which makes great entertainment for the literary enthusiast, a wonderful supplement or resource for studying Pride and Prejudice. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries introduces the classic to modern times.

Tutoring is SmarThinking

 

Tutoring is a smart idea if you’re struggling at a particular subject in school. The personal interaction and guidance of a teacher or more competent student can make study and homework sessions very productive. A tutoring service that’s available anytime and anyplace is SmarThinking. It’s used by many colleges and universities, particularly to provide academic assistance when and where they can’t.  This “virtual teaching assistant” is easy to use and caters to every subject. SmarThinking gives many options for interaction: you can immediately contact a tutor with drop-in tutoring, or schedule to meet one at a later date, or submit a question offline. (They try to answer within 24 hours) You can even get writing help for any subject or a resume and cover letter. The service is prompt and personable, and the program even saves your activity so you can refer to it again later. Having difficulty in a class? Smart students take advantage of tutoring, and its SmarThinking to use a good service online. You might get me as your tutor if you leave an essay! 

Cute Cats–Cool Gift Ideas for Cat-Lovers

Da Vinci was most certainly right when he said that the smallest feline is a masterpiece! I mean, who wouldn’t stop and stare in googley-eyed awe at the sight of a kitten? Likewise, cats are a popular subject for online entertainment. From YouTube to blogs, nearly everyone everywhere is showcasing or parodizing the cat’s personality and antics in some form or fashion. More popular and successful works have been published, publicized, and franchised—which is convenient if you’re stuck trying to find a gift for someone who adores cats. There are a few cute and cool cats on the internet that I know which also have some of their own merchandise! Their comic craftsmanship and charming nature will make them the gifts you’re looking for to give to that cat-loving friend or family member!

Simon’s Cat—Simon’s Cat is a delightful cartoon phenomenon from YouTube! Hand-drawn frame-by-frame, this feline is aesthetically simplistic, but lives the hilarious and crazy life all cats lead!  Just recently produced for Simon’s Cat are a brand-new cartoon book, an animated short, and even a few iPhone apps!

Pusheen the Cat—Pusheen the cat is a cute, plushy GIF character that lives on Tumblr! In addition to being a blog-able statement, Pusheen is quite a fashion statement too as she is on a number of apparel and accessories.

Gemma Correll—Gemma Correll is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist. Her artistic interests are a wider range beyond just cute pets and her style, especially those of her cat cartoons, is satirical and sketch-like. Her cats can be found on several of her nick-knacks and in her book “A Cat’s Life”.

Naturally, felines are beautiful and graceful creatures. Artistically, they are even more ingenious as a statement on their dispositions is expressed for entertainment! Any feline-fan will appreciate a gift with any of these internet sensations this holiday season! They’re each a masterpiece in their own right, and totally the cat’s meow!

Sounds of Summer

Lawnmowers, hot days, swimming pools

Baseball games, cookouts, time off school

Vacations, beaches, roller coasters

Fireworks, bonfires, marshmallow roasters

T-shirts, shorts, sunglasses, flip-flops

Ice cream, sodas, frozen ice pops

Long days, cool nights, fireflies

Skateboards, scooters, bike rides

Sunburn, sunscreen, suntan

Sprinklers, fountains, ocean waves, sand

Spring Set Free

Winter besieged nature, like a country at war

Captivated by cold, from outward to the very core.

But springtime brings hope to barren ground and branches

For life will be as it was before.

When the ice thaws, when the chill subsides

Springtime warmth welcomes new life.

Snow-laden branches are weary no more

When the strength of the new season is rife.

Grass can grow green with the light of the sun

Now free from the shackles of frost.

The budding flowers now emerging are young

Their life of exuding beauty has now begun.

Refreshing rain soaks into the ground

Quenching a desperate thirst.

Sweet sips submerge, but will not drown

A meadow of life that will soon abound.

Springtime sets free what winter once contained

Bleak turns beauty, white turns color

Wind and ice, turns sun and rain.

Springtime brings freedom, and gives life again!