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

January 2004

January 2004: Holidays-On-Ice-And-Over-And-Out Edition

“Mona Lisa Smile”

As strong a dissector of female archetypes and conflicts as anything out 
there. Set at Wellesley during the 1953/54 school year, Julia Roberts plays an independent-minded art history professor who’s unconventional methods 
challenge the proper young ladies and create havoc amongst the status quotidians. Tackling the stereotypes and compromises inherent in each, it asks sweeping questions about the price women paid - and in many instances still do—in accepting their fate or desire.
   Not the least of which, by the way, is Roberts, who recognizes intention 
versus reality doesn’t always square the way you’d like… and comes to the 
truth that seeking one’s fate can mean not only coloring outside the lines, but 
stepping out of the way of expectation. As liberating as anything you’ll see as 
well.

Mighty Marshmallows from Colts Chocolates

Perhaps the most obscene thing I encountered all season. Jumbo 
marshmallows dipped in dark chocolate—each taking anywhere from 3-5 bites to consume, each bite deepening the sensation of richness and sweetness and a strange kind of sensuality that says “smores” from the outside in.
   They suggest putting them in hot cocoa, but I never got that far. Two 
every night for almost a week gave Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” a run for its 
money on the expansion of meaning sweepstakes. To make contact with this higher power:
   Colts Chocolates, 808 Overton Street, Nashville, TN 37203 615-251-0188.

Kid Rock

The language and subject matter may not be for the faint-hearted. But as 
the true heir apparent of the Southern rock mantle, this guy’s got it. 
Invoking Bad Company—right down to a redux of their “Feel Like Making Love,” which may make you want a shower for purely hygienic reasons—this is the swagger and bravado that made Skynyrd famous. His “Jackson, Mississippi” alone proves the value of the genre… and when he’s not grabbing his crotch lyrically, he brings the dignity of this often maligned oeuvre to a slow boil.

The Unthinkable

Those things you were just sure you weren’t brave enough… strong enough… clever enough to do. Then you close your eyes, let out your breath and let it happen. Releasing myself from a friendship that is nothing but toxic 
(regardless of what we called it), forgiving someone who did something so devastating because there’s no point in hanging onto that whether they continue in the relationship or not, finding the reason to shift from fear-based to faith-based. 
   The unthinkable accepted—consciously or unconsciously (though I seem 
to need to think my way through it!)—is the ground zero of empowerment. It 
feels a little funny in the beginning, like walking in high heels at first, but 
I’m betting it only gets better with time and practice.

Had Enough?—James Carville

The liberal’s favorite pundit/spin doctor bites back. As someone who 
represents the best of the intellectual humanists, he provides a step-by-step 
makeover of the mindset that’s undermined the Democratic party. Written with his always full-impact, frontal assault verbal punch, Had Enough? tackles the victim, diffused/defused mindset that keeps our focus on anything but the prize—and helps refute the obvious without descending into the kind of rhetoric that gets picked apart.

Lavender essential oil

You can dab it on as you’re running out the door to bring the eau de 
relax with you—and it does work. Or you can sprinkle it on your pillows before going to bed, and find yourself descending deeper and deeper into a dark purple tunnel that is more-than-sleep. For me, it’s an almost return-to-the-womb reality that is beyond rest—and on those mornings when I’ve done this the night before, I feel almost unrattle-able.

“There’s no passion in perfection.”
—Rosanne Cash

Uttered once in an interview, the most concise articulation of the 
conflict between what we’re brokered and what we want ever uttered. She was addressing the reality of pure creation, but it applies to the way we live our lives. If we spend all our time worrying about being perfect—and how many of my friends have I heard utter, bemoan and be overwhelmed by this unreasonable expectation—how will there be any energy (let alone time) left over for what really matters? 
   Because in the end, what would you rather: Passion? Perfection?
   Exactly. 
   And what better way to look at a new year? Indeed

The Titans Victory over the Ravens

The evil Ravens—as a Cleveland girl who watched the bad owner steal 
the city’s team in the name of a new stadium—finally got theirs. Though not 
without taking 5 out of 5 of the last games and 6 of the last 7. If you want 
mojo, here you go… and the fact that I know this proves that peace within our 
time might actually be possible.

www.howstuffworks.com

Wanna know? No, really… if you wanna know how it works, functions, is put together, this is your one-stop-shopping headquarters. Turned onto it by a 
friend—and any time something doesn’t make sense, up into cyberspace I go… and I usually come back down with the understanding I was seeking. Pretty, no really cool explanations.

Texas Hold’Em

All the rage on the Bravo Network’s “Celebrity Poker,”,as celebrities go 
three rounds in the name of the flop, the turn and finally the river… This is 
as much about how you bluff as it is about the cards on the table. And if 
you’ve got a bunch of friends who like to laugh and have more than nominal powers of concentration (hey, I’m in the music business…), this is a killer way to while away an evening. Low impact, high stakes (if you like that sort of thing) and the potential for living room showmanship of the first order.

Wherever You Go There You Are—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Having just attended a lecture about mindfulness, which is a way to open 
up every moment to its absolute maximum potential, this book gently eases you into the application of such. There are some very simple steps to follow for the practice of—as the subtitle explains—mindfulness meditation in 
everyday life; and if you open yourself up to the prospects, you’ll be shocked at how much more intense, satisfying and beautiful something as simple as eating a dried cherry can be.

Drew Barrymore interview, Elle (January)

As a girl who about hit bottom as a footnote and punchline, Barrymore’s 
power of positive attitude and unfettered exuberance are captured here to their best light. With a new year dawning, we’re all looking for ways to revamp, recommit and reinvent—this is a pretty great place to start… cause frame of mind is as, if not more, important than the rest of it.
   Having not only become a young woman who can “open” a film, but a 
producer who’s company creates profitable films, Barrymore proves that Fitzgerald could be wrong—second acts are more a matter of state of mind than state of the 15 minutes running out.

Carrot Cake with Melted Cream Chesse Icing, J. Alexanders

The cake is fluffy—with thick little threads of carrots and plump 
raisins. But the icing… Mon Dieu! The icing! Truly melted cream cheese all over the top of a low-to-the-ground slab of carrot cake, the essence of buttery 
bittersweet richness. If you want something light, yet over the top, this is about as good as it gets.
   Bring a friend, though, because the portion is beyond abundant.

Monogrammed Baby Blankets

The ultimate bratty gift… only you don’t give them to people with babies, 
you give them to grown-ups who will cherish the whimsical colors and big bold letter. Something small enough to curl up on the couch with—or to take 
with you to whatever drafty quarters you may be forced to haunt. Kathie Orrico sent me one for my birthday—hot pink polarfleece with a Kelly green “H”—and it’s almost turned me into a female Linus, as I drag it from t.v. to upstairs to friends’ houses to watch tv. Then again, I tend to run a little cold, 
so I’m gonna plead “cheerful self-defense.”

Gratitude Notebooks

Something small. Maybe even just one of those little flip-over teeny 
spiral notebooks. But if you’ve got a place to write down everything that makes you happy, makes you smile, makes you glad to be alive or even just to recognize the richness of the human experience, you’ll be shocked at how your worldview shifts. Shocked. It takes a nano-second. Whip it out, flip it open, jot—and you’re back onto the next thing. Pretty spectacular, and a wondrous focus-adjuster.

Bob Dylan Live 1966, Bob Dylan Live 1975

The first is the Royal Albert Hall Concert, the second the infamous 
Rolling Thunder Revue. Both capture one of America’s seminal poets in prime form—raw as a moment, honest as it gets. On the first two-disc set so many of the songs that established his second “electric” and deeply romantic wave: “She Belongs To Me,” “Desolation Row,” “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down,” “Just Like A Woman” and the Edie Sedgewick-inspired “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat,” while the second double CD package includes a seminal “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Sara,” the reportage of “Hurricane,” revisits of more lived-in takes on “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” “I Shall Be Released” and a deeply moving “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”

The Shivas Irons Society www.shivas.com

Fans of Michael Murphy’s mystical visualization quest on the links (links 
being a golf course that is bound by salt water for you purists) now have a 
place to rally around the Esalen founder’s classic Golf In The Kingdom. More 
than a book, Shivas Irons and Seamus McDuff embodied a way of walking through the world—and created a mindset that brings Eastern thought to the ultimate sport of self-mastery: golf.
   In addition to a discussion forum, there are interviews with Murphy, 
explorations of the philosophy, other like-minded books and some pretty killer golf trips that one can sign up for. If you’re one of the ones who recognizes that golf is more a sport of the 4” course between your ears than the power-swing a lot of the golf magazines try to foist on unsuspecting hostages of the game, this is a place to free your mind so your arc can follow.

Minton Sparks, 12th & Porter, Nashville, TN Jan 14, 9 p.m.

Aside from being the anniversary of one of the worst marriages in history 
(my parents’), it is the date spoken word artist Minton Sparks will bring her 
dried leaves against a cracked window delivery of Southern females railing 
against their world to one of 6-1-5’s hippest rooms. If Lily Tomlin can bring 
kooks and Whoopi Goldberg extremes to the realm of insight, Sparks wimmenfolk offer such touching, acrid character sketches of deep cultural, sexual and societal biases that the insight hits before the recognition of the compassion wears off. Listen and learn.

Razor

A new men’s magazine that is a little lighter on the skimpy cheesecake 
photos—though there are still starlets in less clothes than they’d wear to 
church—but also some challenging reportage. Their “Curse of Scientology” 
cover-teased piece has prompted a run on the newsstand copies from loyalists of that organization—making this a whole other kind of provocative.
   www.razormagazine.com takes you there online. Subscriptions are available for $12.00 at Razor, PO Box 420051, Palm Coast, Florida, 32142-7376. Not as lofty as Esquire or GQ, not as numbing as Maxim, this splits the difference for Y-chromosonals looking for editorial aimed at them that can be left around the house.

The Creative Habit—Twila Tharp

The first denizen of modern dance that I was aware of, real time Twila 
Tharp just won a Tony for her choreography of “Movin’ Out,” a play without 
dialogue based on the songs of Billy Joel. A dedicated student of motion and the body, Tharp blazed a trail of modern physical expression in the ‘60s and ‘70s—making her the heir apparent to modern dance’s uber-mother Martha Graham—and this book unlocks the mysteries and especially the processes of discovery.
   To Tharp, it’s about the how as much (or more) than the spark. And if you 
can apply yourself, you can consciously dig deep and then deeper. It was the 
Christmas present for every creative I adore and believe in—whether they’re 
poets stretched taut across melodies, writers of modern mainstream honky tonk classics or people who live lives of grace beyond the normal strictures.

Throwing Your Own Parties

If you wanna make it no-stress, no-mess, know it’s just what you want—
throw it yourself. Your friends will thank you for it. You won’t have to worry 
about what they’re cooking up. And you can remember whatever major event 
however seems most appropriate.
   Having just celebrated a rather significant birthday, I had a quiet 
dinner with several people who’ve been an important part of my life for various and sundry reasons. Surrounded by that kind of love, those sorts of milestones and connections was both humbling and breath-taking… red wine was drunk, stories told, moments savored. 
   And just as importantly, all those beloved people not only shared a 
serious moment, but they left with the best gift I can think of: knowing how 
treasured they are. When in doubt, do it yourself, that way the gifts can go both ways.

“Punk’s Earnest New Mission,” The New York Times, Arts & Leisure 4 Jan. 04

The always entrancing MIchael Azerrad, who was one of the frontliners on 
the grunge that moved a generation through Nirvana, turns his always gentle 
insight to punk right now. What he finds amidst the aggression that always 
symbolizes the most primal form of basic rock is a will for today’s emergent acts to reach out to their fans as a reinforcing element.
   Good Charlotte’s “Hold On” is the most emblematic—with a video clip 
that’s all over MTV showing survivors of their loved one’s suicides—but 
Blink-182, Sum 41 and even Smashmouth are reaching out a steadying hand to the young, suggesting as bad as it is… hopelessness is common to us all, but you can punch through it. If this is the soundtrack of today’s Holden Caulfields, the answers defy Catcher In The Rye realities, and The New York Times not only fronts it in the section, they devote an entire page to it inside. 
   With a new Viet Nam on our hands, an economy that spin doctors explain 
because the obvious isn’t what they want us to believe, increasing levels of 
toxicity in our food, here IS some good news: the music that seems so 
impenetrable to us grown-ups is sowing hope to a sector of the future that most needs it. Can i get an “Amen”?

L’Oreal Exfotonic

Sure, you can buy way more expensive exfoliators to remove the dead skin 
this time of year undoubtedly creates. But why pay department stores upwards of 20 or 30 bucks, when for $6.99, you can slather on this greeny, bluey gooey stuff with the microbeads and find yourself miraculously clean and shiny and feeling brand new? I don’t know, either, but with a limey/citrusy smell, it perks you up, cleans you up and sets you up for another great day . . . even if conscious is a generous term for the state you hit the shower in.
Drugstore beauty… what could be better?

Parallele “45” Cote du Rhones

Fairly inexpensive. Utterly earthly. Very French. With goat cheese, 
baguettes, toasted walnuts and too much conversation about the philosophies to which the attendant subscribe, this is the way to have one of those noir evenings without getting too extreme.

Paul Robinett Aromatherapy Candles

70 scents to choose from, each invoking some feeling or state of mind. 
All hand poured, and judging by the two I received as a Christmas gift, none of that residual unnatural smell that comes from compounding cheap oils as part of what’s being burned. The cucumber—which promotes clarity—and rain—which invokes tranquility—engage the senses without overwhelming, but the options range from leather (lust) to banana nut bread (endearing), rosemary (rapture) to mulled wine (comfort) to red currant (pleasure).
   They’re $12 each. With 4, shipping is free. How’s that for quick, easy 
and atmosphere shifting? Indeed. www.paulrobinett.com or (614)-221-7005. And know that by buying a candle, you’re also supporting a real live visual artist in the process.

Vintage Purses

Dorian, my fabulous new central nervous system, gave me a silver sequined and baubled envelope style clutch with tickets from a ta-ta formal more than 20 years ago inside for Christmas. I picked up a black faux-something purse that looks like the Miu Miu bag of the season at the darling Nola True in Chagrin Falls, Ohio where someone had wrapped the handles in grosgrain ribbon. And then there’s the bakelite and needlepoint elongated knitting style evening bag that just smacks of cigarette filters and bottomless conversations. Each bag is a source of stories, real or imagined. Seeking them out is a reason to delve back while looking forward.