Summer Rec Lists, Featuring President Barack Obama

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So, technically, President Obama isn’t a guest blogger here, but he has provided (through social media) the first two graphics of both his summer reading list and his playlist. It reminded me of some of the things I’ve been occupying my time with, and wanted to share with readers.

My current reading list includes:

  • Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
  • 18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics by Bruce Goldfarb
  • A Stranger and You WElcomed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B by Jim Knipper, Richard Rohr, James Martin, Greg Boyle, and others
  • Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott

My Top 5 of Recently Read Books:

  1. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  2. wow, no thank you. Essays by Samantha Irby
  3. Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times by Joel Richard Paul
  4. Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and teh Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
  5. His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham

Next in line to Read:

Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times by Michael R. Beschloss

Spotify Curation So Far:

<——————— Newest Link can be found by scrolling down on the sidebar.

All other Spotify links (so far):

Mental Health Monday – Bhangra

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On this last day of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to reiterate that we can use everyday to be aware of our mental health and changes that happen in our lives.

Think about and use the tools that help you on those bad or not-great days. We each have so much to offer to ourselves and to each other. I went back over the /mentalhealthmonday tag and rediscovered tools I hadn’t thought about in months.

One positive thing that I’ve been doing for several weeks is watching the one minute videos of Gurdeep Pandher on Twitter dancing the Bhangra.

Bhangra is an energetic folk dance originating in the Punjab region of the subcontinent of India and Pakistan. Its beginnings are with farmers during the harvest. There is kicking, leaping, and hand movements that all combine to create something that I can’t look away from.

Although I don’t watch everyday I find that when I scroll past his posts, I always stop to watch the dance and listen to the music. I can always find the time to pause for one minute and these videos cause a deep welling of joy from inside. They are truly uplifting. When I do watch them, which is often, they make my day better; they inspire me, they bring my thoughts to contemplation rather than the dispiriting noise that usually finds me online.

In addition to the joy the videos bring, I have watched the seasons of the Yukon, where Gurdeep lives, change from deep frozen winter to spring and grass and blue skies. In the video below, the Takhini River and mountains behind him took my breath away, and was one of the reasons that I decided to share this one with you today.



The following may be triggering to some people so please continue through to the link below with caution.

To read more about the tragedy he mentions in his prayer of the children discovered in Kamloops this week, follow the link.

Inaugural Music

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Beginning today and hopefully continuing throughout the year, I will be curating music playlists. I enjoyed doing the Supernatural one so much last year that I thought it would make an exciting new series.

This month’s curated list is based on President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

It includes artists, songs, and themes from the 2021 Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Enjoy!

Link

Supernatural Lists: Music

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This is the first in a seven part series appearing here on Thursdays. Unavoidable happenings kept this part from publishing last week. The second part will publish tomorrow or over the weekend so it can coincide with the final seven episodes of Supernatural.

Music has been an integral part of Supernatural since the very beginning. When younger brother Sam complained about Dean’s musical choice, he was reminded of the number one rule of road trip music:

Driver picks the music,

Shotgun shuts his cakehole.

And so for fifteen years, we traveled across the country (and twice in foreign lands) with the brothers, listening to their radio or cassette tapes (until finally updating to the 21st century and iPods) while engrossing ourselves in the classic rock of our own childhoods. Their musical tastes also updated (a little) to some modern classics as the boys grew older, and there was even a fun musical episode complete with soundtrack.

I had originally picked out fifteen songs, but I just couldn’t stop, so I went to twenty-five. You can find all the songs wherever you get your music: Amazon, Pandora, Spotify.

Except for the first and the last, they are in no particular order. I did not place them by season or my favorites.

  1. Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas
  2. Space Oddity – David Bowie
  3. We Gotta Get Out of This Place – The Animals
  4. Renegade – Styx
  5. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  6. Back in Black – AC/DC
  7. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  8. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  9. Cold as Ice – Foreigner
  10. Hey Man Nice Shot – Filter
  11. I Shall Not Be Moved – Johnny Cash
  12. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
  13. Cross Road Blues – Robert Johnson
  14. Rock and Roll Never Forgets – Bob Seger
  15. Heat of the Moment – Asia
  16. Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi
  17. House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  18. Can’t Find My Way Home – Blind Faith
  19. Black Water – The Doobie Brothers
  20. O Death – Jen Titus (not on Spotify)
  21. A Well Respected Man – The Kinks
  22. World’s Collide – Louden Swain (not on Spotify)
  23. Simple Man – Lynard Skynard
  24. No One Like You – The Scorpions
  25. Fare Thee Well – Rob Benedict (not on Spotify)

I’ve curated this list (minus the three that weren’t available) for you to listen to on Spotify.

Mental Health Monday, Part 2: Sing of Mary: A Springtime Celebration

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These mental health Mondays have been giving me trouble each week. I’m struggling to find my balance, and each day brings a new horror of deaths and White House incompetence that quite honestly is beyond frustrating; I don’t want to overuse the word, but it is horrifying. It’s beyond anything that we’ve seen in my lifetime. For those of you who saw the New York Times cover commemorating the covid-19 death toll reaching 100,000, you can see and understand it’s devastation.

It’s been a difficult time for those of us already on the edge with our “everyday” mental health issues having to slog through isolation day after day, and then watching on television people doing the exact opposite and wondering what the whole point is. I understand. Some parts of my anxiety have subsided, but some parts of my depression are heightened a bit. Nothing that needs a med check, but enough that it’s noticeable, and it’s hard to center myself.

I would usually find a quiet corner in a Starbucks and write. However, the Starbucks dining rooms are closed, and writing just isn’t there for me. While pre-covid I would sit in the car and have lunch and read or write on my Kindle, I find that eating in the car when the car is respite from the home isolation is not giving me the mental boost that it once did. I don’t know if it will come back post-covid, but for now, I’ve put off that worrying for another time. I’m trying to stay in the present, and the writing…I hope it will come. I will occasionally jot down a few thoughts in a journal, and I’ve been publishing here, but the writing that I long for just isn’t available to me right now. I can’t slow my brain down enough to get through a sentence let alone a paragraph and I may have mentioned my overactive brain has also been keeping me from sleeping properly.

Our family did have a nice weekend. We went to the comic store (curbside) and then got takeout from a chicken place, went to the state park and had a picnic in our car. Despite what I said above about eating in the car, this was actually a lovely time and we had a nice drive to places not too near our home so it was a different view for everyone. The people around us seemed to be following covid protocols so there was no outside stress from counting the maskless faces.

Upon arriving home, I discovered an art and music presentation that I had missed, but luckily through the magic of technology and the internet, I was able to watch the video of it.

The art was by my favorite spiritual artist, Brother Mickey McGrath and I know that when I’m enamored by something I post about it a lot and I will readily admit to being a Bro. Mickey stan. The music was from Meredith Augustin. I’m providing the link below because I think that this presentation, while religious in nature was also very soothing and would be a beneficial mental health exercise for anyone. Brother MIckey’s voice in describing the artwork and Meredith’s singing really just lulled me into a different headspace, and the beauty of it I think transcends and invites non-religious people to enjoy it as well, and spend an hour with it, away from everything else that may be weighing on us right now. I would certainly encourage you to give it a try, at least through the first musical section. If it’s not for you, of course, stop the playback and find your own musical and art encounter.

I had originally planned to draw or doodle in my sketchbook while I watched it, but I was so caught up in the presentation and pulled so far into the pictures that I didn’t do anything but give myself over to it. I can always doodle tomorrow.

Give yourself that time to breathe.

Sing of Mary: A Springtime Celebration in Art, Story, and Song with Brother Mickey McGrath and Meredith Augustin

Something to Smile About (Updated 4/29/20)

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These are fun things I’ve found online from a variety of people, famous and not, offering their talents while we all stay at home and flatten the curve. Please enjoy.

Do What You Can – new song from Jon Bon Jovi. Write and sing the second verse and post on social media with the hashtag: #DoWhatYouCan

Hamilton OBC Reunion on Some Good News

My Free Bingo Cards (Make your own Bingo Cards)

The Broadway Coronavirus Medley – from Zach Timson

Social Distance – a parody by Randy Rainbow – check out his other videos on YouTube

Follow @avantgame on Twitter for a Stay at Home Daily Challenge similar to a scavenger hunt.

Steve Martin Plays the Banjo

Will Smith et al on The Graham Norton Show (2013) This never fails to make me grin from ear to ear. It is the definition of feel good.

Neil Patrick Harris – 2013 Tonys Opening Number

Your Moment of Zen – Hiking, Stream, Woods (Video)

Follow Patrick Stewart on Facebook and he will read a sonnet from Shakespeare daily.

LeVar Burton reads Chivalry by Neil Gaiman

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Plays “Ode to Joy” from their Homes

Daniel Matarazzo on You Tube – he has two Coronavirus Parody songs

Rick Springfield Sings (No) Human Touch

Radio Free Burrito: Wil Wheaton Reads Star Mother (Soundcloud)

Wash Your Hands by Lin-Manuel Miranda

From the NE Ohio Sewer Service: Is it Flushable? Ask them on Twitter and they will answer. As useful as it is fun.

Text the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and they will reply with an SMS message to your phone with a related picture. Text “Send me ____” to 57251. Fill in the blank, and see what they send!

My Dad Looks like the Food Critic in Ratatoille

Andy Slavitt’s Twitter Thread: The Best of Us

30 Days of Nano – Day 13

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Writing Playlist

My Top Fifteen Writing Playlist; what’s yours?

1. Henry V Soundtrack

2. Non-Stop from the Hamilton Soundtrack

3. Wrote My Way Out from the Hamilton Mix Tape

4. White Blank Page – Mumford & Sons

5. Smash (album) – Offspring

6. Capercaillie – Ailein Duinn

7. Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter soundtrack

8. Carry On – fun

9. Blow Me Away – Breaking Benjamin

10. Flogging Molly (any album)

11. English Curse – Frank Turner

12. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day

13. Mr. Brightside – The Killers

14. One Day More – Le Miserable soundtrack

15. Beidh Aonach Amarach – Gaelic Storm

Found/Tonight

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Lin-Manuel has teamed up with Ben Platt and arragner Alex Lacamoire for this beautiful mashup of his The Story of Tonight from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen’s You will be Found to raise money for combatting gun violence. A portion of the proceeds from every sale of this MP3 will go to March for Our Lives.

This is a subject that is close to my heart. My personal connection is minimal – my daughter is the same age as the murdered children at Sandy Hook, and my cousins attended and had graduated from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I believe in gun control, but more importantly and more universally, I believe in not only being safe, but feeling safe.

For the rest of Lin-Manuel’s Hamildrops, new Hamilton mixes dropping each month, go to Hamildrops.

You can buy this MP3 from all major music sellers. I use Amazon. You can also donate separately.