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

February 2008

February 2008: Post-Oscar, No Spring Thaw

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Cashmere Socks

They are soft… almost like having your feet wrapped in silky furred kittens. They are warm… and on a cold night, they keep so much body heat in, you can wear tiny little jimmies if you’re so inclined. They are luxurious… and don’t take up very much space.A little silly in some ways. A little tricky to care for. Yet when you wanna be cozy, wanna feel nurtured and toasty, pulling a pair of cashmere socks on and curling up under a blanket is all you need. With winter coming to a close, there are sales to be had… and Dreft to wash’em with.

Return of Blazing Pastels

They are vibrant. Dazzling. Bright Kelly green. Incandescent fuschia. Brilliant lemon. Electric blue. Even an almost glowing tangerine. They are everywhere, these tones that almost quiver with the energy of their intensity: accessories, dresses, kaftans, t-shirts, Capri pants. Instant joy, sizzling rapture, exuberance en totallmente.

“Semi Pro”

Will Farrell returns with another sports spoof film in the same ilk as his NASCAR nation skewering “Talladega Nights” and figure skating mockery “Blades of Glory.” With “Semi-Pro,” it is the secondary American Basketball Association that gets the satire treatment as Farrell’s Jackie Moon - the owner/coach/player of the Flint, Michigan Suns - tries to lift his team for the pending absorption of part of the league into the NBA.

Joined by Woody Harrelson, Andre 2000 and a host of wacky disco apocalypsians, “Semi Pro” is funky, funny and long on the extended caricatures that made the extremism of the Studio 54 exported to the hinterlands era so singular. Excessive, insane with lotsa girls in hot pants and boys with their hair in afros, this is one crazy salad of a sports send-up. Once again, a reason to laugh out loud.

Bullion

Those magic little cubes we all know: golden for chicken, brown for beef. Add hot water in a tea cup, instant soup. It is nutritious, not too taxing on your system, tastier than you remember. During this oh-so-terrifying-flu season, there is much to be said for the take for granted pantry standby.

Infusion D’Iris, Prada

It starts floral - with a bit of tangerine on top. But then it slowly dies down, the treacly flower smell recedes leaving you with that light essence of iris blooms concentrated and reinforced with incense and pungent cedar. It is a mystery, a fetching scent that suggests eroticism, but doesn’t play overly musky. Mmmm…

Detours, Sheryl Crow

You can debate her sex life, celebrate her looks and fashion choices or you can marvel at her saavy musicianship. There’s no chip or stridency to Crow’s rocking… and as a songwriter who veers from canny to comedic, her sense of humor keeps her from the realm of brooding, dour girl singer. For her best album in a while, she tackles break-ups (“Now That You’re Gone), breast cancer (“Make It Go Away”), the Iraq war (“God Bless This Mess,” “Gasline”) and her adopted son (“Lulabye for Wyatt”).

Sunny might be selling Detours short, but it is the kind of record that knows lightness doesn’t equal frivolous - and the notion of rock music delivering hooks you can live to is a revolutionary idea whose time has come. Chiming guitasr set the tone… Certainly “Peace Be Upon Us” and “Love Is All There Is” let her downy voice offer something beyond the cacophony of daily living, and for those of us trying to get from Point A to Point B and maintain our better angels, songs like these maintain the elevation.

“There is no end. There is no begining. There is only the infinite passion of life” Frederico Fellin

When you pause and think about it, the arbitrary stop and starting points are just that. This is a continuum. There is constant energy moving through all of us. Infuse that energy with passion and you’ll find that life and your appreciation of it expands to its greatest potential.

Scarf as Demi-Jacket

Fold in half. Knot the outside corners that are lying on top of each other. Slide arms through the opening those two knots create. Let fall, almost weightless, across your shoulder. You are now equal parts butterfly and geisha. Enjoy the quick fix, high chic shawl substitute; smile knowingly.

Recognizing What People Don’t Know

You can talk and squawk and bother. You can fuss, cajole and hector. Sometimes, though, the greatest gift in an engagement is recognizing what other people don’t know. Once you suss out the gap, then you can decide whether it’s a lack of exposure or the inability to grasp what’s going on. Once you know, then you can stop wasting time on the futile or shift the conversation to bring the others up to speed.

Recognizing what people don’t know is to offer knowledge, sanity and a serenity to any proceedings. Like teaching a pig to sing, some things are beyond others’ capabilities, and it is only kind not to force the hand or the issue on someone who just can’t quite get there from here. Better a quiet moment then a gridlock intellectual wrestling match of concepts that will never clarify.

Eclipse Over the Ocean

The slow progress of the Earth’s shadow swallows the moon — and as it does, the heaven’s nightlight dims to a reddish chocolate brown. But the waves somehow toss brighter white lights heavenward and a cloud of birds dazzles like so many swooping mirrors under the nightsky.

It is a time almost without atmosphere - as the eclipse takes hold of the night. Never quite dropping us into complete darkness, yet reminding us how large a body this earth truly is. To feel the energy pause, to see those mad birds flapping and flying en masse is to know how much greater the forces beyond humanity can be.

http://www.space.com/
http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx

Carine Roitfeld

The editor of French Vogue is part Charlotte Gainsborough, part Keith Richards and part fashion iconoclast. But in that Roitfeld creates an androgyne beauty that is electric with sex, direct in its walk through the world and willing to be unto itself. Though, because of her muse/affiliation with Tom Ford, the kohl-eyed, lipstick-devoid woman with the extra long bangs has been shaping a sense of style for over a decade and a half.

Menswear, stilettos, clean lines: it is a look that bristles with erotic charge, yet is wearable in the extreme. And as the visionaire for the most cutting edge of the Vogue franchises, Roitfeld takes a rogues approach to how style is covered. Stories drive her photo narratives, and notions. It is about the clothes and the women wearing them - rather than packaging pictures for comsumers to covet, then buy. This isn’t the big come-on, but art meets clothing, beauty exists in shifting context and always the eye is tantalized, challenged, enlivened. Not for the mass, perhaps, but absolutely for those putting their fashion forward.

Black On Black Shake Hamburger Heaven

Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate syrup. Cold milk. Extra thick. Extra rich. Extra extra chocolate.It doesn’t get any better…

www.burgerheaven.com

Crane’s Paper Gets Modern

For years, they were the standard in American stationary. Crane’s paper with an engraved monogram is the first serious correspondence cards, envelopes and paper most people buy. And forever and then some, Crane’s was the conservative choice for people looking to put pen to paper.

All that has changed. Bold colors, printed liners, myriad styles of monograms and other embellishments. They can be engraved or merely printed, but whichever way you go - and that could include the hottest pink, the palest celadon, a natural pulp or a deep indigo - these are cutting edge executions of one of communication’s greatest pleasures: hand-tendered correspondence in paper that makes the luxury seem even more so.

“Lap Dogs Dance” Michael Stanley (from the upcoming Little Victories)

The never quite rocker from Cleveland, Ohio turns in one of his most burning performances, taking on the double talk, the promises made with no notion of execution and the interests served being the one’s who have the most. It is a grown up knowing growl that rides low over the hissing guitar part, the tension collides with the disgust and disdain of someone who knows what’s going down

Lacerating solos, a beat that threatens to topple the hypocracy, Stanley swings hard and connects with the center of the unspoken reality that undermines the working class. It’s a bitter snear that colors his performance, and yet, that derision serves the ultimate truth well.

Floral Stiletto Heel Pumps and Mules Prada

Resin cast and beautifully detailed, the good people at Prada have once again created the season’s must have high heel. Stilettos that are carved roses descend 4 inches from the heel of regular and open toe pumps, as well as mules.

From the front, just classically sculpted dress shoes - delivered with a thick silk body. But from the side and the back, the whimsy of the heel makes this a stealth smile for anyone who appreciates a Salvador Dali-esque expansion of the expected. In red, black and white, these shoes will be talked about for seasons to come and treasured as a fashion iconic for years.

Diablo Cody Wins An Oscar

The former stripper with the tattoos, asymmetrical haircut and strategically placed tattoos shows the Hollywood men’s club that dialogue so tight you can bounce a quarter on it can render an indie film about a spunky alt-teen who gets pregnant from one random liason and decides to give birth, then give up the baby can pass $100,000,000 at the box office and just keep going.

With a strong sense of character development, a long hand on the warmth and decency of characters who would mostly be crammed into the cracks of most people’s vision, “Juno” emerged as not just a surprise hit, but a life-affirming reality check that offers goodness with its wry commentary on Yuppies, selfishness and the way love expands the more we embrace it.

Emu Eggs

They are unusually large, and a deep muddy black, but flecked with a dark turquoise. They are cool in your hand, slightly bumpy from the flecks and yet perfectly curved. They sit in the produce cooler in Whole Foods… and whether you would eat one or not, they give both a sense of what dinosaur eggs must’ve been like and remind us about the universality of the most common things.

CREEM: America’s Only Rock & Roll Magazine, Robert Matheu & Brian J. Bower

It was snarky, edgy, quick to embrace punk and skewer bloated arena rock. To read Creem was to be one of the cool kids, the kind who could slag off the pomposity of vainglory that drove so many rock acts - and the artists clamored for their embrace.

As a kid growing up in the Midwest, it was the outlaw rock & roll read. As a music critic coming into my own, I got to contribute during the final days… writing the Robert Cray cover piece that is prominently placed on the dust jacket. So viciously alive, so utterly real, so absolutely willing to take the piss out of the people who refused to truly rock for the right reasons, it gave me a passion for reckless rock music that abides today.

To read rock writing that tears at the flesh of its very fiber. To laugh at how irreverent it can be when artist and critic are on the same side of the joke, this is a very thin overview, but an artifact that explains some of the take that makes the internet seem juvenile and poorly turned and other music mags positively stuffy.

Traveling Light

Who said you can’t take it with you? Perhaps what they meant is: you probably won’t need it when you get there. Pack light. Pack smart. Carry it on. Save the time of check in - and the wait for baggage to be unloaded. A few colored tshirts, a bathing suit, a slinky dress, a pair of pants, some flip flops and a cashmere sweater and you’re ready for anything. Wear your jeans, a shirt, a second sweater or jacket, the sensible shoes you’ll need for walking… and the world is your’s.

Linen Slipcovers

They are clean. Easily laundered. Instantly slouchily chic. This is the way to dress up the plain and the basic, to be cozy with a crispness that suggests supreme tailoring. Nothing transforms the faded, outdated, pale and tacky with such total aplomb as a linen slipcover — and it means, too, that the furniture doesn’t even need to be sent out for upholstering or steam-cleaning after the fact.

Monet To Dali: Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art Center, Nashville

Perhaps not thought of as one of America’s great cultural centers, yet the Cleveland Museum of Art quietly amassed a staggering collection of Impressionists, Fauves, Pop Art, sculpture and other realms of moderism. Picasso, Degas, Modigliani, O’Keefe, Warhol, Rodin are among the works touring the world while the CMoA undergoes a major renovation. Until June 31, Nashville, Tennessee shall be the lucky home for the traveling collection of works most people who don’t live on Lake Erie only see in books.

Bring Your Own Lei

There is no greater accessory than a lei. Whether fabric or plastic, it is an instant party, a signature floral necklace that evokes warm climes, cool drinks, long nights and lazy days. To have a lei at hand is to be able to evoke a tropical good time in moments - and you’d be surprised how cheery people get when they see you sporting the faux fauna delight. Bring your own lei… get the party started.

Taj Kurtas C. Orrico, Palm Beach, FL or www.corrico.com

Long rough linen tunics. Diaphanous printed and be-stoned tops. Close fitted short sleeve versions. Deeply plunging variants. All are ornately trimmed in sequins, mirrors, silk stitching and borders that shimmer. There are cover-ups that are whisper-thin silk and thick hewn lace - mini dresses for the boldest of the exotic dresses. Whoever you are, conservative, crazy, chic, brazen, Taj has found a way to make Morocco something that can adorn your back. Sexy without giving away too much of anything, they come white-on-white, navy with pink, pale blue and even lighter blue, tropical forests with orange and almost any other combination you could imagine. Forgiving, thrilling, show-stopping.

www.corrico.com

L’Aube Candle Tib

It is green. Lush. With a few flowers tucked into the mix. Verdant. Like a garden after the rain. Not so sweet you choke, but absolutely the notion of nature in full bloom. It takes over a room, washes it with the best of what your yard can be… and on a dreary winter day, sometimes that’s the best news you can have: something that smells like spring’s moist bounty.

Grapefruit

Pink grapefruit isn’t too bitter, but has a nice tartness that starts your day with a snap. Or peel and eat like an orange, getting an antioxidant blast of naturally occurring vitamin C while putting a bit of fresh produce in your diet. Something so common it is easily overlooked - especially since we’re conditioned to reach for oranges as a matter of course. But grapefruit gives you a little zest, a little zing.

Working Man’s Cafe Ray Davies

The man who led the Kinks through “Waterloo Sunset,” “Lola” and “A Dedicated Follower of Fashion” returns with his second solo album — produced by Nashville’s raw roots rocker Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams) — and the ensuing collection is an outsider’s sometimes jaundiced take on America’s (de)evolution over the past three decades. As turgid a writer as ever, there is a brittleness to the title track’s look at the acquisitive American drive making consumerism more important than supporting the local community — and that’s just how he wants it. Bright. Irreverent. But also someone who takes great pride in the quality of their songcraft, this askance viewing of the U.S. as it looks to people from other places is a sobering listen that is musically engaging, lyrically clear and vocally everything you’ve ever loved about the Kinks.

“The Other Boleyn Girl”

Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman play the Boleyn sisters - each finding favor with the most consumptive king in the history of England: Henry VIII. While Anne would become Queen, her sister Mary — who would also sleep with the King — would be a rival for her husband’s affections, and in that weird quadrille, there is tension, sloth, lust, avarice and enough cruelty to make life at court look like anything but what one would aspire to. As period pieces go, especially one basically driven by a monarch’s rapacious appetites literally and sexually, it is a juxtaposition often lost to history. For those days where the Elizabethian is desired, it is worth the trip to the theatre - especially for two young actresses finding their legs as grown women more than mere brainiac teens.

Bone-Up Calcium Supplement

Grow old. Lose calcium. Shed bone density. With the chemically pumped up food, that’s light on nutrition. Hormonally-bolstered beef, you can forget milk that has anything to do with true dairy. So what’s a modern liver to do? Bone Up is a 3x a day, 2 capsules at a time supplement that’s easy to take, and easier to take along. When the stakes are shattered hips and the like when you wanna be an active adult, this is a down payment on the future that you want.

Discretion Fashion

You see them at the mall: young girls with bags sceaming their origin. Chanel. Gucci. Fendi. Vuitton. Garish, though - and using their designer to somehow give the sense that they are all that. The only thing is: those who are, don’t flaunt. Their confidence resides in their position, their sense of how to move through the world. Anyone who truly has it going on is discrete, wearing luxe lines without calling attention to them.In the end, is it about being a billboard? Shoving people’s faces into what you have? Or is it about craftsmanship? fabrication? comfort and ease of wearing? Or merely being a victim to some arbitrary dictates that’s more gaudy than glorious? If you’re flashing, you’ve missed the mark.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Stamp, Issued Feb.21

With a small dear tucked into the frame, the picture of writer Majrorie Kinnan Rawlings has a literal reference to her classic coming of age novel The Yearling. Whether you are a reader or not, the humanity found in the story of the young boy nursing the baby dear reminds us how powerful innocent love and loyalty can be. To remind people the power of story, this is a perfect visual touchstone - and one well worth displaying on your basic correspondence.

Black Tourmaline

Imagine coal before it becomes a diamond. Only not granular, but smooth. Though not smooth the way polished stones are. Black tourmalines evoke strength, cleanse and repel negative energy, make you feel more powerful just by holding it in your hand.

10th Anniversary Collection, Petite Cherie Annick Goutal

It smells of peaches, sweet things, flowers. It was created to reflect Goutal’s love for her daughter; now, 10 years later, they’ve deepened the scent, created even more luxurious products (body crème, bath salts, candles). But what’s even more yummy is the special commemorative bottle, frosted crystal, painted with gold, topped with a special cherub.Every now and then, girly things can be muy luxe. For an all-but-handmade scent, this is an indulgence that is as sweet as it is decadent… and it adds a special little kick in the realm of beauty in the boudoir. After all, it’s not always mystery and musk. This is for that sort of occasion.

“Why Pete Doherty Matters” Nick Duerden Spin, Feb. 2008

What started as a catch-up short feature on the Sid Vicious of the 21st Century slowly turned, diverted, thwarted and morphed into a cover. Is Pete Doherty, the man whose done hard drugs with — seemingly — everyone, especially now-ex-fiancee uberface Kate Moss, the new Keith Richards or is he UK Courtney Love, a talented rock writer whose real gift is the trainwreck disdain for anything about mortality that might reign him in. What emerges from Duerden’s power is a tragic picture of how it all goes wrong: the small gradations of excess, the way the damage accumulates, the slow erosion of anything approaching focus. It’s a journey to why did it ever matter… and it’s told without finger-pointing, judgement or any other sort of moralizing. Not that it’s necessary, but it sets up a scale for the true coast in terms of talent realization and casts a very real sense of the toll beyond the physical destruction.

Bedtime Beats: The Secret To Sleep Various

There is a science to sleep… and music that hits between 60 and 80 beats per minute, that gently soothes your wound-too-tight-mind is a solution that doesn’t require a doctor’s signature. Having had tremendous success with their classical edition, the good people at Rhino Records return with a jazz version that draws the mind into a committed appreciation of what’s happening, fascinating enough to jettison one’s cares and engage the conscious brain in a way that the attention is shifted.

How do you not love a two-cd set subtitled: Tranquil Seductions One Jazz Beat at a Time? Featuring the works of John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Brad Mehldau, Duke Ellington, Earl Klugh, Cyrus Chesnutt, Bob James, George Duke and Joshua Redman. Start it 15 minutes before turning in, be shocked at both the depth, quality and quickness with which you leave consciousness for the rest you so completely need and deserve.

“Beauty does not oppose the revolution.” Che Guevera

With Castro stepping down, the romance of the revolution takes on the aging creekiness of the passage of time. Collective thinking, common good, these are things that can be dismissed as hippie commie pinko notions… But in a world of What Would Jesus Do? it harkens to a humanistic insurrection that is about decency, kindness and the best of sharing abundance with each other.True beauty is not i-me-mine-more-now-gimme. If the revolution is lowering profit margins to increase the quality of how people — especially in this, the richest country in the world — live, then Steve Earle is right: the revolution starts now.

Gazpacho Taboo, Palm Beach

Cold spicy tomato soup with minced bits of vegetables. Crunchy. Yummy. Fresh. Deliciously pungent. Cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, peppers. Whirled to a thickness that makes the liquid almost chewy, and flavors burst from the sharp contrast of vinegar and seasonings. Local, nutritious and absolutely the best gazpacho I’ve ever eaten… and for those more aquatic types, the meaty lumps of crab that can be added take it from first course to entrée in a single move.

www.taboorestaurant.com

Buddha in the Back Seat

My friend Binny is one who fears no quirk, always bringing deep beauty. So, it’s no surprise that she has a 2 _ foot Buddha in the backseat of her Mini. There is something so Zen about the big bellied, ever-peaceful teacher riding guardian spirit, not even shotgun. With Buddha in the backseat, how bad can anything be? Leave it to Binny Jolly to figure that most blissful reality out…

Therapeutic Moisturizing Cream, Walgreens

Just as I was growing suicidal over Walgreens discontinuing their Vitamin E cream, here comes Therapeutic Moisturizing. Not quite as good, yet thick, relatively absorbent and rich, rich, rich, it is a generic life saver that works as hard as far pricier creams. Slather it on thick anywhere dry skin is a problem - knees, elbows, feet, hands. Give it a few moments, or even wrap extremities in saran wrap to max the moistness. The change will startle you, especially for a product that’s under $10 for a huge tub.

50 Years of Helvetica, Museum of Modern Art, New York City (Thru March 31)

Perhaps the most ubiquitous type face of all time, to honor its 50th anniversary, MoMA has assembled posters, signage and other uses of the hallowed type to demonstrate its vast presence in the world in which we live. For most of us busy rushing from here to there and elsewhere, these are the small details that are lost in the transit. But type faces evoke varying emotions, attitudes — and in this clean, neutral and very modern typeface, there is much to consider.

After all the things serifs and sans serifs communicate beyond the words that they form, Helvetica suggests nothing. In that, it offers much room to consider… and that is part of the basis for a fascinating look at the elements letters are actually composed of. An odd, yet fairly interesting way to spend an hour in Manhattan.

XXX Vitamin Water (Acai-Blueberry-Pomegranite) Glaceau

It is more purple than blue, making a coloric anchor to its already porn reference. And yet, XXX Water is so thirst quenching, it’s as if it’s not good for you. Just enough tang to counter the sweetness, enough flavor to keep you drinking. The turbo-antioxidant factor is a bonus. Imagine Kool-Aid squared, perhaps not as artificial tasting, yet certainly one of those techo-flavors that is too pointed to be just water and flavoring.

Prime Union Station Hotel, Nashville, TN

Stained glass windows, a giant fireplace. Deco modern furnishings. A lean American modern menu that uses fewer ingredients to maximize the tastes. With an emphasis — obviously — on various cuts of meat and seafood, there is still a wondrous risotto of the day, intriguing vegetables and a Bibb lettuce salad that is composed more than tossed.

Elegant in its minimalism, do not miss the decadent banana mousse, which reads as much as a cloud as not too rich, but absolutely the essence of the tropical fruit. With a nice sedate cocktail lounge attached, this is a grown-up culinary experience of the first order. To be suble, delicious, enjoying a true meal that is allows people to merge the meal, the conversation, the ambience in a seamless moment, that is the gift Prime makes to Nashville.

www.unionstationhotelnashville.com

Stronger, Carlene Carter

Brash. Sparkling. Pop-hooked and steel-guitar-driven. Carlene Carter returns from a journey through loss (4 deaths in 9 months), hell (her own addictions) and love (recently remarried to actor Joe Breen) - and all of those phases and stages serve to give the cowpunk siren an album that’s as full-tilt as the once Stiff Records’ fringe siren’s sassy Musical Shapes.Whether it’s the exuberant “Bring Love,” the Carter Family-esque “

To Change Your Heart,” the aching Polaroid of letting a slow suicide walk away “Judgement Day” or the elegy for a sister and embrace of her own life “Stronger,” Carter holds nothing back, and in the full-frontal performances shows the mettle that makes her a true crucible of June Carter Cash’s legacy. With “It Takes One To Know Me,” originally written for stepfather Johnny Cash, the dandelion-voiced songstress calls her own fouls, owns the detours and recognizes that not all lives are lived in straight lines.

Conchology

The study of sea shells. A more perfect word does not exist.Though I’m sure certain beach rats will claim it’s a drink or a way of life… Regardless.

http://www.worldwideconchology.com/
http://www.conchology.be/en/home/home.php

“La Vie En Rose”  DVD

Edith Paif. The tragic chanteuse whose corroded, ragged emotionalism made Billie Holiday look like she was phoning it in is the raison d’inspiration for this rendering, starring Academy Award winner Marion Cottilard stars as the woman consumed in the songs. Like a firefly in a jar, it is a perfect capture of a time long gone - both the hungers and the luxuries, the devastation and passion that came to be expressed through song, through a life and especially a life. One of the great tragedies of the 20th century, Piaf’s story is so small, yet extreme — and in that, there is the notion of how far a gift can take us, the stakes we refuse to see, the ones who will take advantage of broken places and a woman’s triumph beyond merely the life she led.

Free People Catalogue

Somewhat exotic, a bit eclectic, absolutely bohemian. Perhaps the J.V. Anthropologie, Free People far more affordable and a lot less studied in their eclecticism… they go to places most of us only dream of, and celebrate the culture when they get there. For the quick cheap cute peasant top, the quirky pants, the slouchy pull-on dress, all you have to do is hit their website; but sign up for the catalogue, it’s a quickie vacation you can take to the office with you.

Walking In The First Snow

It is cold, and the grass crunches beneath your feet. You can make out each crystalline flake, descending almost weightless from above, turning softly as gravity pulls it down. There is a crispness to the air, a sense of being thrillingly alive in the environment.

As the white begins to stack up where it’s cold enough not to melt, the muddy puddles and brown grass are given a purity and a cleanliness that are a fresh start and a world that is wide open and ripe with possibilities. Feeling the rush of the moment, it is a thrill watching your breath escape in a stream of life, demonstrating the force of your being.

Truffies, Palm Beach, Fl.

It is like a peep show for paper. Wildly creative invitations, which can be customized quickly. A strong sense of communication propriety. Pirates, palm trees, princesses, poodles, seemingly 900 kinds of wedding/shower and save the date invitations that are equal parts whimsy and originality.

Whoever you are, Susie and Allan can capture it with note cards, specialty pieces and the pens that match.And if one is seeking a true correspondence trousseau, they can take you from classic to contemporary, unique and beyond. They ask questions, know their stock and understand how to evoke persona with monograms, type styles, lay out and even the color papers and tims. In a world instant e-mail, nothing attracts attention like the written note — and if you’re going to take the time, Truffies makes the effort truly memorable.

The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, MD

Plasticity is the hope for the brain’s ability to adapt, grow, recover. It is a neuroscience that grounds the notion of adaptability of our brain… the way communication is triggered, how it controls our motor functions and the reality that we can re-wire our thought processes to move us towards more desirable realities.

Whether it’s breaking down OCD without the somewhat traumatizing aversion therapy (which heightens the anxiety, but never truly rechannels the circuitry) or coping with ghost pain, this is an amazing book for anyone looking to maximize what their mental capacity can be.In some ways, it is far too complex to explain here. Yet be assured, the writing breaks down the science for ease of understanding and the ability to apply it to whatever area may be your concern. In a world where the medical professionals are more and more put upon, there is much to be said for doing your own research, empowering yourself to support what they do — and this book is a milestone for that.

Chuck Heaton

The end of an era. The kind of sports columnist who injected Cleveland, Ohio’s often losing teams — the Indians, the Browns, the Cavaliers and the Crusaders — with a humanity that made you root for them no matter what the win/loss column showed has passed on. For Heaton, it was about dignity, courage, showing up, giving it your all - and the tiny life lessons that make heroes out of athletes.

Chuck Heaton wrote with sweat, blood, love, passion and occasionally annoyance. He called them like he saw them, and he reminded a city that struggled to believe that it’s what you bring to the plate, who you are at the core that matters. Always one to be generous with the readers, quick to buy a player a beer or some lunch, he brought players and the people who rooted for them together every time his byline appeared in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.