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All content copyright 2009 by Holly Gleason. Web design by Lauren Carelli.

December 2012

Post Xmas Jollies, Merry Very New Year Edition

Golf World, Heart’’s “Stairway,” Kerouac, Hillbilly Tea, Quiet, (Not) Resolutions

Satsuma Oranges


If clementines are the tiny citrus treat, the slighty larger Satsumas are sweeter, juicier & somehow more substantial. Sold with the twig still attached, they capture the imagination as they deliver vitamin C from the source!

Miles Davis/Edith Piaf Commemoratives   (US/French issue)

Each of these iconoclasts marked the other’s culture profoundly. Piaf, the torch chanteuse of great sorrow, became a more sophisticated kind of blues, while jazz pioneer Mikes Davis explored landscapes unthought of. “La Vie En Rose” and “Je Ne Regrette Rien” were angst in a broken soprano, while Birth of the Cool, Sketches of Spain and Kind of Blue were archetypal meditations on melody, harmony and time.


BONUS: Beyond the Perf is a service of the US Postal Service to explain the history, meaning and artwork behind America’s stamps. Fascinating and informative, it is a well-source of knowledge.

Baby Love – Rebecca Walker


A third wave feminist writer/activist – and daughter of Rebecca Walker (The Color Purple) – Walker had plenty of reasons to be skeptical of parenthood, concerned about losing her independence even as she yearned to have a child of her own. The subtitle says it all: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence. With clarity, a fair amount of honest soul-baring and a good deal of personal excavation, she unravels her own reticence and offers insight into a generation taught to be anything but what society has conditioned women to embrace – and offers a great deal of humanity in the process.


Sleep


The greatest luxury of all! To unplug, sink down and surrender to the quiet, calming darkness that is the depths of REM. Here is where the body rejuvenates, the subconscious mind sorts the day and the spirit heals. In a world of rush-rush, go-go, there is nothing more decadent than a nap when needed, sinking into the sheets early or sleeping well-past the dawn.

Peppermint Eater’s Digest Tea Traditional Medicinals

A strongly flavored peppermint tea that seems to settle the stomach and almost go to work on breaking down the richest foods, calming the spiciest dishes and soothing acid as it bubbles. Leave it to the folks at Traditional Medicinals – the same people who created Throat Coat Tea, which singers swear by, and Breathe Easy, a Godsend for the lungy and congested – to solve our gastric distress with one steaming cup of pleasure.


“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is all you need.”  Mae West 
Practical is important, but not at the expense of experiencing this wild ride, the joy, laughter, love, even heartbreak. Give, commit, taste, feel, find the essence. Now!


Sing The Delta – Iris Dement


Built around Iris DeMent’s churchy bar-room piano playing and demi-vibrato, Sing the Delta is a survey course in Southern musical idiomatics that’s truculent in the best sense. With Richard Bennett’s tangy guitar tones, DeMent’s to the core lyricism and a sense of confidence that spans the phases of a woman’s life, this is a survey course in the land of cotton, writ timeless and vintage all at once. Flourished romanticism, deep grief and feisty send-offs are DeMent’s stock in trade, and they’re all well-developed and intricately detailed across this dozen songs.

Zencast


Podcasts that range from 30 minutes to an hour, exploring various facets of Buddhist thought, meditation and general concepts of compassion, dignity, mindfulness and inner-calm. You can listen on an iPhone, a Kindle or your computer – via the iTunes store or their website: . Instant tranquility, all you have to do is listen…


“Nashville” ABC, Wednesday 10 EST/9 CST

Oscar-winner Callie Khouri teamed with noted documentarian RJ Curtis (“The War Room,” “September Issue”) to create a prime-time soap/drama that pulls the curtain back on some of the real issues facing Nashville’s creative mainstream. Yes, there’s the art versus commerce, sex versus age and ambition versus decency prongs; but with TBone Burnett overseeing the music, there’s more going on here than just ego, sluttiness and betrayal. Smart, real and capturing local hotspots, this is an escape worth delving into.

BONUS: Every week at, the “Nashville Insider” column tackles an aspect of the episode as filtered through a prism of music biz reality. A nice check on the balance between what sells soap flakes and what actually is.

Falling Whistles

They sell whistles. Not because you need to blow them, except in the name of peace in the Congo. You see there, they make children stand as sentries during atrocities – and they are often so traumatized, they are unable to deal with life on any normal level. By buying a whistle, you empower the folks at Falling Whistles to make a difference, to protect the innocent and hopefully spread peace in a nation torn apart.

Be a whistleblower for peace in the Congo.

Golf World

Once a week, the state of the sport of golf. All the tournaments, innovations, changes and turning points, well written and without the eye of selling equipment or some hyped up swing shifter. If you want to know what happened, get inside the week’s action with good insight, skip the other magazines; this is all you need.

Wool socks

Nothing is warmer, nothing lasts longer. Not sexy, yet absolutely gets the job done. As the winter chill sets in, this is the only way to go!

Buddy + Jim – Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale


As Americana’s resident musical root source and host (respectively), Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale became unlikely icons in an organic hipster oeuvre that celebrates Appalachian, blues and hillbilly musics at their most essential.  Buddy & Jim is more revelalicious than staunch revivalism, strolls, noirbilly, surging country and Zombies-esque hoedowns would suggest. Free-for-all fun—& then some!

Album

Angel’s Envy

Pure Kentucky bourbon aged in Port wine barrels, this is devastating good sipping stuff. Caramel on top, sweet as it opens, Angel’s Envy is the bourbon equivalent of going to heaven, as the relaxation settles and the mind eases – and your tastebuds sigh from the subtle flavor and mellow warmth that envelopes you.

“Silver Linings Playbook”


Mental illness in films is either psychotically sociopathic or aw shucks quirky. In reality, it is complicated, confusing and both seemingly within one’s grasp and always elusive. This current Oscar contender takes a more realistic view as it follows: trailer

Two Georges Boyton Beach, FL.

This is the kind of place Jimmy Buffett doesn’t write about, but would’ve hung out back before he was a franchise, Florida was still backwater and seedy and the Keys were there own state of mind. Right on the intercoastal waterway and known for it’s Conch fritters and chowders, the Two Georges is now into its second half century of being what once made Florida great: kicked back, down home and enjoying the passage of time.

“Stairway To Heaven,” Heart Kennedy Center Honors

Ann and Nancy Wilson grew up singing Led Zeppelin before Heart became a franchise on the sisters’ hybrid folk/hard rock hybrid. On this night, in our nation’s capitol, they paid homage to a band that blazed their trail – and Ann Wilson showed the power of a true rock chanteuse as she navigated the song that launched a billion sweaty slow dances, only to degenerate into a seething rock stew. 


Brilliantly staged, with a choir, strings, sky-capturing backdrop and a children’s choir in John Bonham-invoking bowler hats, this is the best of what music on tv can be: reverent, emotional, evocative, it sears the power of a classic song into even the most wallflower’s psyche without force, only watching.

Watch

Thyme


Slightly earthy, slightly pungent, thyme imbues your food a flavor that spans the ages: ancient Greeks, modern French, even the bland Brits recognized the healing properties of the spice that works on the respiratory system as well as providing a peppery twinge to dishes. Unique unto itself, it adds a dimension of taste that makes chicken, sauces, soups seem so much more intriguing.

Papures des Maharajas Hermes


An opulent pattern from the house of Hermes, Papures des Maharajas is scattered with myriad color natural pearls. French for “Jewels of the Maharajas,” the silk shimmers with various palettes, while the earth-toned and hot pink/green varietal cashmere shawls are the stuff couture accoutrement dreams are made of.

Little League Strike Umpire Commercial Google

He stands there, behind homeplate, clearly wrong for the job and detached as the out-of-place often are. The tension at the Little Game is palpable. The pitch comes, the pause hangs heavier than it should. A voice asks, “What is the strike zone?”
The answer comes, the call is made. Google reinforces its go-to- infosource viability.

Dark Chocolate Frango Mints Macys

Wickedly creamy, devastatingly slow melting, the Frango is the mint-infused chocolate originated by Chicago’s premiere department store Marshall Fields. Since bought by Macy’s, the Frango mint endures – and rendered in dark chocolate, it is an even more refreshing and mysterious bit of clean, cool chocolatey goodness.

I Have No Wings – Alex Bevan


Cleveland’s folkie singer/songwriter delves deep for 12 songs that consider mortality, the fragility of commitment, the realm of coping when you’re more aware than you knew you could be. Hardcore finger-picking on well-traveled acoustic guitars offer a level of musicianship easily missed, as Bevan movies from talking blues socio-econo-political commentary “Gas Can” to the tragic post-Chardon, Ohio school shooting ballad “Tired Pilgrims” and the road as source of insight “To Make It There.”
A local treasure, with value even if you don’t call Ohio home.

Vitamin D

Golden orbs of goo, they don’t look like much and go down easy. But inside those little balls of whatever is the answer to the sun-deprived months. With sunscreen, even the most outdoor-bound are coming up sadly deficient in sadness-fighting and calcium-supporting Vitamin D. Easily resolved, 1000 mgs a day can make all the difference between the winter blahs and being chipper as you were born to be.

“Butter” Pay Per View


Coen Brothers special, this Jennifer Garner vehicle tackles the competitive world of butter carving. Yes, butter carving! Small town personalities of extreme quirkiness battle for the title of county champ after Garner’s husband is urged to step down after 15 years of domination – and Garner feels the family’s identity evaporating in that fate. Cheating, high concepts, sex in a non-“Last Tango in Paris,” but no less tawdry reality, foster children and Alicia Silverstone as a decidedly Caucasian adult all add up to a sweet, odd film in the “Raising Arizona” milieu.

Pyrat Lipstick Chanel


A deep matte red that is strong on blue undertones, Pyrat is high fashion, long-lasting and makes a statement that is retro without being overt. If elevated elegance and a certain bravado is desired, this is the shade.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking Susan Cain


A miracle book in our Cult of Personality culture that examines why the extroverted seem “right,” are revered and never examined closer. Cain, whose work appears in Time, The New York Times, Oprah and Psychology Today, writes a narrative that is well-researched, but draws the reader into a world that questions much of what’s accepted, offers perspective and even celebrates the power of those who choose to work from introspection. Einstein, Anais Nin, Ghandi, Rosa Parks: all game changers.


Divided into Four Parts, Quiet defines the issue, offers help and acceptance for the Introvert in the Type A Jungle, presents alternative cultures and creates meaningful insight over 268 pages (plus extensive end notes). Whether you are one, have to deal with one and or have no idea what this anti-Dale Carnegie/Tony Robbins being looks like, it’s a quality exploration of a world mostly unnoticed.

Cold As &%#* gloves Urban Outfitters

A sweet Nordic pattern in light blue and pale rose mask the diabolical secret of these dear little gloves. In a school-worthy cursive, there on the hands are the words “Cold As F&%$.” Ratcheting up the subversion: if you pull your sweater or jacket sleeves down over the wrist, only “Cold As…” shows. Heh! Heh! Heh!

Align

‘Tis the season for antibiotics, and all the havoc those modern medical wonders can wreak. When your system tilts, the natural flora gets wiped out, Align is a miracle in a capsule. Turbo-amounts of probiotics are pumped into your system, returning your digestive system back to its normal chemical balance. Phew!

Picasso + the Mysteries of Life: Deconstructing La Vie Cleveland Museum of Att

Pablo Picasso’s La Vie is considered the tour de force of the Spanish abstractionist’s famed Blue Period. In collaboration with Barcelona Museu Picasso, scientific studies have been undertaken to understand the artist’s techniques, as well as various cultural and socio/political realities of the time. Delve into one of the Museum’s key works, and reckon with some of life’s greatest truths in the process.


(Not) Resolutions


We all know we need to be healthier, sleep more, drop 5/10/20 pounds. We should stop smoking/drinking/goofing off. There are all those don’ts that stack up like cord wood waiting on a fire. But what if… just this once… we start the New Year off with a positive, rather than a negative?


It’s not what we won’t, but rather will do. Read the paper, or more books. Smile when we look in the mirror, talk to one new person a day. Something simple, something easy, something that enriches us and the world around us.

What if?

Locked Down – Dr John


Working with the Black Keys Dan Auerbach, Louisiana gris-gris man Mac Rebennack gets an update on his funky piano/swamp sound. Guttural vocals, slithering guitars and songs that are overt and ellipitcal, this is a modern take on swamp phunk. A long way from what’s expected, but just as satisfying as what you know.

Locked Down

Florabotanica Balenciaga


With its black and white striped stopper, Balenciaga’s latest scent looks utterly unlike any other high end perfume on the market. A clean bottle with a unique decoration, Florabotanica is both a powdery floral and a green-leaning scent that has a bit of amber and exotic notes underneath. Varying from wearer to wearer fairly profoundly, if it likes you, its linger is bewitching in extreme.

10 Course Prix Fixe 16 @ Trump Tower Chicago, IL


It is beyond ridiculous, there 16 floors above Chicago in a clean room with impossibly high ceilings. Before the games begin, there are spiced roast chestnuts and a small mince meat hand pie, then tiny portions to present the flavors, allow the imagination to embrace and never quite fill you up. Wagyu beef on a stone, drizzled in a silken Bernaise, a woody warm-up of Beluga lentils and small mushrooms prepared in a herb broth, beets strewn with micro-pea shoots, a merengue on a bed of shredded apples that cracks to pour out a molten blood orange gelee… and so it goes, with pink lemonade sorbet dusted with shredded coconut and pop rocks, emmentaler melted on a grill, then scooped over a perfectly cooked pair of small potatoes and one tiny oval onion, two deserts and a carnival of housemade candies, served in part on a ferris wheel, rotating with burnt marshmallows on chocolate, three flavors or truffles, butterfingers, baby ruths and salty caramels.

It was exquisite, not beyond overly filling and perhaps the best meal I’ve ever eaten in this country…

Same Sun Here – Silas House, Neela Vaswani


A series of letters between a pair of 13 year olds living in the same country, but worlds apart. She is an immigrant Indian living cramped in the Bronx with her family, struggling to make it work; he is an Appalachian jock who secretly reads books and explores introspection. Neither has a computer, both have outsized curiosities about the world around them.

What emerges – from a book culled from letters written back and forth between the two New York Times’ best-sellers – is a fairly accurate exploratory cycle of friendship emerging at an awkward age, a document of life in very different places and the universality of young people finding their way to adulthood from the fringe. Technically YA, it is a charming read, one that explores the human condition, no matter your age.

Instant Salted Caramel Chai Tea Latte   Trader Joe’s

Slightly sweet, a little salty, a bit spicy, a dash of creaminess: Trader Joe’s has crafted the ultimate variation on the Chai Latte. Just add not water, and the milky, spiced tea treat emerges from a few scoopfuls of golden powder. Easy to serve, easier to drink!

Bean Boots LL Bean


The classic rubber bottom, leather upper impenetrable boot never goes out of style! Nor will the all-weather classic allow your feet to become damp, cold or sloggy. Built to last, these are shoes that go anywhere, maintain your dry, warm footing and look vaguely British in their two-tone over the ankle version.

“We Bought A Zoo” DVD

Cameron Crowe’s sweet film about a single father trying to give his children something to invest in finds an ill-equipped Matt Damon buying a down on its luck zoo to engage his daughter. Along with the zoo comes Scarlett Johansen as a keeper who knows as much about people as animals and a sweet spot for the father who can’t quite get out of his own way. Against all odds, they battle to make the zoo work – and that is the beauty of how Crowe draws his stories from real life. A treasure for the most cynical, here they may remember their faith in impossible dreams.

anodyne (adj, noun)


Not likely to offend or create tension, deliberately so. As a noun, it’s a pain-killing drug or medicine. Either way, it is a word that suggests copaceticness at its highest form. Drop it in a conversation, see how impressed your fellow talkers are!

Crystal City – Chelsea Crowell


Evocative noir roots music, Chelsea Crowell cringes when she sings of love’s betrayals, gets haughty when she throws down a gauntlet and isn’t afraid to be quirky without overplaying it. Subdued sonics and a voice that melts like slow, dusky butter over her tales of loss, her moments where the song structures open up and the images frame difficult emotions.

Annie Leibowitz Jan 17-June 9 Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL


Eschewing many of the obvious iconic images of photographer Annie Leibowitz’s celebrated career shooting for Rolling Stone, Vogue and Vanity Fair, curator Charles Stainback opted for images that delved into the subject’s essence, pictures that captured the kineticism that can only be found when the shooter genuinely connects, and especially understands the person being photographed.


From the stunning black and white “American Soldiers and Mary, Queen of the Negritos, Clark Air Base, The Philippines,” shot in 1968, to an equally stunning portrait of Baryshnikov and Mark Morris and a snapshot of conceptual self-portraitist Cindy Sherman, these images stare into you with such presence, the viewer is seen as well.

The subtlety of her work is explored; though yes, celebrity portraits – ranging from Warhol to Brad Pitt, R2D2 to Tom Cruise – are certainly part of the deal.

www.norton.org

Electric tea kettle

It is a simple thing: a tea kettle that reaches its peak and stops. Unlike stoves, where the kettle can boil through its water and burn up, an electric kettle will never turn to char because you got stuck on the phone. And now, even the temperature can be adjusted to the proper level of heat to maximize the flavor and steep of freshly ground coffee or loose green, white and herbal tea blends.

“I admire those who take risks and fail. 
    “That’s the true definition of the word ‘Style’.” –

Style isn’t about following fashion, but defining one’s own ethos. It is by exploring, experimenting, seeking one’s delight that true style emerges – and in that search to be unique, there will be missteps. To designer Mizrahi, it is the willingness to fall short, fall apart or fall on an utter fail that marks a truly committed seeker of style. It is not for the faint of heart, only those committed to delving into the realm of what they truly want to be.

The Comedy Issue Vanity Fair

With a crazy all-star cover featuring Paul Rudd Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Mann and Megan Fox, VF’s powers that be take on stand-up, episodic and film comedians and comediennes for a survey issue of funny that’s as illuminating as it is amusing. With James Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Kristen Whig, Ben Stiller and Jimmy Fallon representing the new kids, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Jim Carey, Will Farrell, Albert Brooks and Martin Short as the face of established humor, the pieces are varied and takes diverse.  A profile of Mike Nichols and Elaine May opens the door on the nearly forgotten past, while the making of “The Blues Brothers” explores the mayhem behind the scenes of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi’s noir/music comedy and an oral history of “Freaks & Geeks” is an in-depth take on the show that inspired slavish devotion among its fans. And that’s just the tip of Vanity Fair’s January 2013!

Beta Hydroxy Pads Trish McEvoy


Even with sensitive skin, these lightly textured circles soaked in skin-evening acid are gentle enough to not cause irritation. Used regularly, they remove/dissolve rough skin, mellow out discoloration and flarings and help the dermis retaim moisture. Not quite a miracle, but seriously helpful to stressed, aging and sun-damaged skin.

Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter


At Nashville’s Parnassus Books, co-owned by Ann Patchett and populated by clerks who love reading in a holy, but enlivened way, when someone recommends, I listen. And so Jess Walters’ tale, spanning the South Coast of Italy in 1962, a dying movie star and young hotelier to a half century later, movie lots, intrigue, producers, Richard Burton, the attendant characters of those kinds of lives and the way love never extinguished can drive people on impossible quests. Here, the hotelier, seeking the woman long gone.

Walter writes exquisitely, turns scenes like pass keys in unseen locks, sweeps the reader up and puts them “there.” But don’t trust me. Noted novelist Richard Russo says, “Why mince words? Beautiful Ruins is an absolute masterpiece.” Indeed.

Hillbilly Tea 120 S. 1st Street, Louisville, KY

Tucked in a brick building across from a White Castle, Hillbilly Tea is the best of both both worlds; white trash trailer cookin’ and high end local ingredients. With a collection of thematically named teas (& tea-infused vodkas), grown-up cocktails made of organic vodkas and small batch bourbons, the food could almost ne incidental. But it’s not…

Hen soup, slow cooked short ribs, pork’n’pone (corn pone, that is), corn-friend tofu, insane cauliflower soup, smoked catfish, spicy cheese-spread, a low country boil and an antipasti platter of chow chow, candied nuts, green popcorn, bean fritters and assorted sweets makes this high dining that’s long on naughty and high on pleasure. Brunch is even better… Local bacon, sausage, to die for Johnny Cakes, all kinda eggs, biscuits’n’gravy, it’s a constant, but changing kaleidoscope of yummy!

“Love is all.”—Jack Kerouac 
It is.

Really. Leave it to the king of the beat writers to lean up life’s purpose.

Thankful & Thoughtful – Bettye LeVette

Soul diva Bettye LeVette has lived hard, but sings harder. On her latest, she reinvents Bob Dylan (“Everything Is Broken”), Gnarls Barkley (“Crazy”), the Black Keys (“I’m Not The One”), Patty Griffin (“Time Will Do The Talking”) and Neil Young (“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”) with a world-weary aplomb that adds layers of ennui and resignation the writers didn’t know existed. In that, the Motor City never quite expands the realm of pop music with a knowing and a resignation that makes that which is youthful and tormented into something far older and thrown down. Very adult, absolutely riveting.

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