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

June 2010

Hipster Puppies, Black Keys, Foxy, Purple Cow & Faci

Let Us Remember/Memorial Day Edition

Yummy List on Facebook. Twitter

    In this modern age of social media, what should/would/could be more of a universal rallying point than a list dedicated to things that make your life richer, fuller, sweeter, more Technicolor, more meaningful? And so, the Yummy List has a Facebook component - where several times a day, entries are made, music or movie clips posted - to keep the List vital, fluid and right now.
    Not the long form, collective reality of Yummy, mind you. Individual, quick hit entries. Blasts of Yummy for various spectrums, moments, thrills, things. If you’re on Facebook, type in The Yummy List and become a Fan or Like it. If you’re not on Facebook, but you Twitter, follow TheYummyList - because the Facebook entries get fed to the ones who can’t keep their Tweet to themselves.
    And know: the long form Yummy List is going nowhere. This is a little extra sumpin sumpin between.

The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius   Nancy Andreasen

    It’s official: creatives are not just high strung because they can’t cope with the rest of us! Hyper-sensitivity makes their brains release far more chemicals, cling to sensory experiences in ways most of us do not even recognize. Consequently, they’re having a 4 alarm chemical bath over something that to the non-creative type (and they are “creative” based on how their brains respond to stimuli) barely notices.
    The gift: their art, solutions, ability to see what most can’t. The curse - beyond not being understood and marginalized by those who don’t suffer the sensations - is a metaphoric car almost too fast to drive and a lifetime of feeling less than wonderful. Until now. The Creative Brain demystifies the wiring and reality of the truly creative (versus the vain who’re sure their ideas are visionary even though they’re mostly mundane) and offers up coping mechanisms, exercises to help the brain cope and ways of facing the world that offer self-acceptance as a gateway to better interface with oneself and everybody else.
    Fascinating both for the science of it - and the insight into how to be more compassionate towards people who truly are different than the rest of society.

A single event can awake within us a stranger totally unknown to us.

To live is to be slowly born.
  —Antoine de St Exupery
    No matter how much you know, there is so much you don’t. The more you pay attention, the more questions arise. The deeper you go, the further you want to delve. And so it is with ourselves. If we stay willing, there is always a surprise about who we are to be had.
    Don’t cling to the way you do things. Don’t react, but respond. Be in the moment. Make your life an evolution, not a slow, plodding trek devoid of growth, magic and the opportunity to unfold and embrace so many new things along the way.

“Exit Through The Gift Shop”

    Banksy, one of the most provocative graffiti artists of modern times, turns the camera on the French shopkeeper making a documentary about street art - which has been deemed by all involved, “the world’s first street art disaster movie.” Fiercely anonymous - in part to avoid persecution for his highly charged, often political tagging, Banksy’s genius has appeared on the Palestine Segregation Wall in the West Bank, buildings in post-Katrina New Orleans, London and beyond, “Exit” seamlessly merges truth, conjured fiction, documentary and suspended reality for a singular bit of combustion embracing guerilla art, actual freedom of expression and life on the edge.
    Debuting to acclaim at the Sundance Festival, “Exit Through The Gift Shop” opens in smart movie theatres around America starting now. Seek it out. Be inspired. Color your world with truth.

Goodbye, Babylon       6 CD set       Dust-To-Digital

    Tracing the roots of Southern gospel - with Blind Willie Johnson, the Louvin Brothers, Mahalia Jackson, the Carter Family, Rev. Gary Davis (who also wrote “Cocaine”), the Chuck Wagon Gang,  Hank Williams & the Drifting Cowboys, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Flatt & Scruggs w the Stoney Mountain Boys - this is raw stuff, meant to be a core sample of the soul, not slicked up recordings. And the spirit moves hard through these impeccably restored recordings from this small Georgia label.
    Grouped as “Introduction,” “Deliverance Will Come,” “Judgement,” “Salvation” and “Goodbye, Babylon,” the sleeper here is the succinctly-titled final disc “Sermons.” To hear old time preachers throwing down for their floc in the name of the Lord and rebuking Satank is to have your humanity set on fire and the doubt in you to quale.
    Raves from Rosanne Cash drove me to make the investment. A small label doing it for love and history, the package in its wooden box with raw cotton alongside the cardboard sleeves for the CDs makes you remember the power of “physical” releases.
www.dust-digital.com
White dresses, white jeans
    Ahhhh, Memorial Day. Now the faux pas of wearing white has been rendered null. Nothing is as fresh, as clean, as easy - or as chic - as sliding into a little white cotton dress, or a pair of white jeans. Instant brightness, no worries about what might clash. Pull it on and go.
    Jackie Kennedy knew this long before the rest of us mere mortals.

Miss Trish of Capri for Target Sandals       Target

    They’re back! The pricey line found at Jeffrey of Atlanta and other nosebleed priced retailers has once again brought forth a line of wildly affordable summer sandals for Target. From high whimsy (lime patent flip-flops with a hot pink enameled flower in the middle) to quirky practical (saddle brown back-strap sandals with a metal lizard serving as the over-foot strap) and outright chic (little black sandals with the top of foot being enameled black coral), this gives everyone the chance to have a little WOW! to their summer footwear.

Exile on Main Street reissue WITH bonus tracks

    At their most debauched and for the creative germination, locked in Keith Richards’ basement in the South of France, Exile on Main Street is a squalid desperate affair that bristles with the short-circuiting nervousness that makes great rock & roll nerve-wracking. The Stones are masters of their game; they are also lost in the excess inherent to rock stars - and from that collision, songs like “Torn & Frayed,” “Ventilator Blues,” “Shine A Light” and “Soul Survivor” as well as the Richards quintessential “Happy” and the achingly hillbilly “Sweet Virgina” crawl from the wreckage slightly jagged but utterly rocking.
    Jagger’s swagger - mostly added at Los Angeles’ Olympic Studios - was at its peak. Charlie Watts, rock’s most under-rated drummer - let his frustration drive the controlled intensity of his parts. Mick Taylor brought a technical flair to temper Richards chunka-chunka downstroking. The perfect storm of train wreck, this rages against the (British tax) machine and wants to push rock to where it could go without losing the deep blues, country, island and other beats.
    The bonus tracks, especially “Plundered My Soul” and “Pass The Wine (Sophia Lorens)” are as good as anything on the 2-record set. About the whole work, not the singles - and what a whole it is. Legendary for more than the conditions of recording; listen to the remastered versions and prepare to see barbed wire turn to electric razor wire.

Firefox

    The Explorer kept locking up, wouldn’t play nice with YouTube. Awful, awful stuff.
    My friend the tech guru rolled his eyes, downloaded Firefox - nothing new, just not something for the luddite like me. Lo, and behold! All the music video spelunking I can handle - and all the open windows I can manage to create. Faster, too.

Best In Show: Dogs In Art   June 4   6:30   LECTURE Cleveland Museum of Art

    The Audrey Jones Beck Curator of European Art at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts brings her expertise to the CMA for a spirited talk about the role of man’s best friend throughout the course of Western art for one night only! Not only have the pups and hounds been a consistent theme, but their depictions have embraced the highest artistic standards: a fact easily missed in considering the more classic thematics.
    For dog lovers, for art lovers or for children as an on-ramp into the deeper notions of art, Dr. Bowron’s lecture will appeal to many and enchant all.

Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer       Kiehl’s

    A little blue bullet of semi-solid herbal/floral cooling gel. Quickly minimizes puffiness, brightens dark circles and gives delicate skin around the eyes deep, penetrating hydration. That it cools and feels so refreshing is a major bonus! Throw it in your computer case & kiss eye strain good-bye!

Purple Pig       Chicago, IL

    Start with the Pork Fried Almonds w Rosemary & Garlic. Maybe the Squash + Goat Cheese Arancini w Sage Pesto or the Salt Roasted Beets w Whipped Goat Cheese + Pistachio Vinaigrette. If you start there, you know that charcuterie, smears, small plates and delicious proteiny entrees are going to make you see pyramids. They just are. Starve yourself for three days, know you’re going to gorge - and enjoy the marvelous mouthfuls of everything at this Chicago Miracle Mile Mediterrean/Spanish delight from the father/son team of
    Also take note: the Wagyu Sirlon Tip w Marrow Vinaigrette and Pork Blade Steak with Nduja + Honey are entries to die for. The cheese course is dairified porn. Even something as basic as butternut squash raviolis in brown butter w sage and ricotta salata is mind-searing. To top it off: vicious nasty deserts like the Butterscotch budino with a hint of sea salt, the ricotta & chocolate chip filled fried brioche and handmade olive oil or gianduja ice cream.

Joan Rivers Always Knew She Was Funny       Jonathan Ven Meter, New York Magazine

    She has always been there: the acerbic female who sees how it is and says what everyone else is thinking, or more likely suppressing. Joan Rivers, the skewering suburban female who wasn’t afraid to toss vitrol, was Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” permanent guest host, denizen of the big rooms in Vegas,  and later Red Carpet host/commentarian, QVC jewelry hawker, survivor, author and now entertainment institution.
    In and out of favor. Breakthrough, broken down. Rivers is the subject of an unguarded documentary being released in June; but this profile measures the price of fame, the commitment and demands of seeing a career through valleys, the aches, disappointments and hollow moments of a certain kind of life. Perhaps as much as the film - which is earning raves - Jonathan Van Meter’s piece captures a humanity beyond the acid tongue, the whip-quick intellect and razor-sharp insight. Pathos, killer writing and the woman only someone who’d been writing about her for 20 years could capture.
http://nymag.com/movies/features/66181/

American Tea Room           Beverly Hills, CA.

    Two blocks off storied Rodeo Drive, this red, white & blue outpost for things tea is a wonderous refuge. A knowledgeable staff can walk neophytes and committed tea drinkers through a variety of green, white and black teas, as well as several tisanes… making sense and recommendations out of minimal variations.
    Vanilla Mint Pu Er, reputedly a longevity tea and insanely fresh tasting,  a white tea with roses La Vie en Rose Blanc, a green tea with lavender Lavender Sencha, classics like Earl Grey made with high quality green sencha leaves or oolong mixed with schizandra berries in Formosa Plum and the purely herbal lavender, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemongrass, peppermint, spearmint tisane that is Provence.
    Ancient Moonlight is harvested from 1000 year old Chinese tea trees and picked just once in the spring, while the Japanese River of Heaven has notes of violet, lilac and blood oranges wafting through its delicate brew.
www.americantearoom.com

The Ghost That Walks       Karen Elson

    Atmospheric and organic. Retro, haunted, yet hip in a way that reaches back for something so living its uber-now. Elson’s voice, a slicing bit of soprano that is earthy, but still somehow shimmers, is much like a loon’s cry across a still pond. If Cowboy Junkies had more verve… if the Allison Krauss/Robert Plant collaboration has more insistence… if too many Americana acts “brought” strong sonics and a burning passion, they would approach The Ghost That Walks.
    Evocatively Appalachian in places, starkly blues-fused, the collection of songs weaves moods, meanders through guitar tones and clouds of organ in a way that holds, beckons, remains long after the record’s finished. “A Thief At My Door” is pure wistful, while the creeping “The Truth Is In The Dirt” and title track evoke the classic “Long Black Veil” in chilling ways. Produced by Jack White, it is that vintage execution channeled through rock’s aggression - and on “Cruel Summer,” there’s a reeling, neo-stumbling quality that moderns up “Jolene” with unabashed confessional surrender.

“East Bound & Down”      Season ONE: DVD   Season TWO: HBO Imminently

    A pop-up fly Major League sensation slides all the way back to temp gym teacher in his hometown fueled by a regimen of cocaine, broads and hubris. How Kenny “F%*$ing” Powers copes, the crazy antics, the white trash smackdowns and realizations take clichés to an extreme one can only laugh about. The girl he loved - and left for the big time - is still hot, and engaged to the “ponce”ish principle, his brother married a professed Christian who expects a little more from the down’n'out baseballer than the fumes of who he was; the skank who Powers seeks solace in is a dim-witted and Zaltrex-gobbling hottie who loves to party.

Paladar       Eton Square, Beachwood, Ohio

    Caribbean/Cuban-based cuisine, which is - honestly - to die for. Ropa Vieja - a wickedly slow burn shredded beef dish with jicama slaw, warm Chicken Empanadas with Chihuahua cheese and a cilantro garlic pesto are drool-inducing, along with three kinds of ceviche, bbq shrimp or short rib taquitos are just a few of the starters on a menu that includes crisp, creative starters and soul-sticking protein entrees including chicken mole, rum-glazed pork shoulder and fresh seafood in myriad presentations along with spinach with golden raisins, sweet plantains, smoky ancho bacon black beans and cheese grits.
    Desserts are pure tantrus for sugar lovers, be it the churros with thick goey dipping sauces, dulce de leche cheesecake or tres leches-inspired chocolate cake. And for the big kids: flights of exotic rums to taste and savor, subtle cocktails that open on your tastebuds, multple mojitos, caiprinhas and margaritas and more tropical beers than you could imagine. Festive, forward, adult. Mmmmmmmm…

Lap Desk w light       Frontgate.com

    How many times do you have just a couple things to do on your laptop? A few pages to read? A quick note to jot off? To turn on the light, to wake up someone else, all that jarring blaze… no more! With Frontgate’s ergonomically correct lap desk with it’s own gooseneck lamp - which can be pointed right at the project - you have personal office space without getting out of bed, off the couch or disturbing anyone. And right now, the wrist supporting, laptop resting portability jewel is on sale. Buy it, add 4 AA batteries and work in comfort anywhere.

Magnolia Trees

    The leaves so dark, almost black green, thick, smooth, shiny. The embodiment of verdance, they can fill out a flower arrangement or surround a platter in a way that attests to the richness of nature.
    Then there are the flowers. Those giant white petals opening into halo after halo around a center that’s almost a hive or sun center. Seemingly weightless, those magnolia blossoms drift, beckoninfly - yet have a heft that most flowering shrubs and trees never manifest. Floating in a bowl of water, a single bloom says everything necessary about the beauty and gracefulness of flowers.

All My Friends Are Here       Arif Mardin & guests

    Lush, almost excessively so, it suits the legendary Turkish arranger, producer and music man who invited many of his favorite vocalists for this collection of songs that represent the best of his writing, his ability to craft sonic tableau, his talent for finding the nuances performance in the extremes of emotion.
    What a cast! Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, Willie Nelson, Dusty Springfield, Dr. John, Dianne Reeves, Danny O’Keefe, the Bee Gees, Norah Jones and Aretha Franklin are among the guests; the latter declaring, “Amazing is an understatement. He was brilliant.” An architect for much of the Atlantic sound, his was a conjunction of soul, jazz, rock, pop and the blues But nowhere is his heart more vibrant than on the piano piece “Wistful,” equal parts Bill Evans, last call and happily ever after. As a career rallying point, this is genius; as a good-bye, it is - simply - breathtaking.

http://hipsterpuppies.tumblr.com/

    Cute pictures of people’s dogs—especially puppies—gone too hip for their own dignity. But funnier than the headgear, the grand scarves, the Kanye flip-up shades are the captions that disembowel everything the hipper-than-us hold holy. If there’s ever been a moment when the poseurness is just too much for your digestive track, or you need an instant disengagement from whatever is making you want to shoot yourself, Hipster Puppies is the antidote to smug self-importance in a single click!

Foxy: My Life in Three Acts       Pam Grier

    Cleopatra Jones and Coffy were feminist icons in blaxploitation, the lowest budget sub genre of 70s cinema. Tough, smart, gorgeous and streetwise, Grier was a woman who could handle the action, pull the trigger and always look sexy doing it. She cashed every check Gloria Steinem was writing, and did it from a ghetto/streetlife zone that would prove bedrock for Rick James’ Bustin’ Out of L-7.
    Obviously her turn as Jackie Brown in Quentin Tarantino’s movie of the same name solidified her place and reputation in current pop culture, but roles like “Fort Apache The Bronx” marked her early as a solid talent. That she had romances with Kareem Abdul Jabar,  Richard Pryor and Freddie Prinze, Jr, as well being part of John Lennon and Harry Nilsson’s legendary “night on the town in LA” during Lennon’s “lost year,” gives her an inside track, but what’s moving and especially empowering is understanding how her childhood gave her the strength, the conviction and the work ethic to keep pushing through. To read this is a pop culture thriller, to truly pay attention is to be inspired to take hold of your life.

Voice Dialogue Process

    Developed by Hal and Sidra Stone, this personal discovery process allows us to identify aspects of our personality, delve into them and understand not just where these aspects came from, but how they’ve supported us, while recognizing the limitation their continued dominance may be placing on our lives. Just as importantly, a shadow or counter self emerges, the one that has been suppressed by the dominant aspect - and that when cognitively embraced can give us wider, more aware options about how we react, respond and execute our life, work and relationships.
    By basic conversation with a facilitator, issues and aspects are identified. The persona plumbed for motivation, perspective and action - and clarity as to why, how and what this aspect means. From that, the embodied self can consider their default positions and reasons and move to a different alternative. Simple. Clear cut. Revelatory. Amazing in what comes to the surface.
    In Northern Ohio, Iudita Harlan Koslen is a practitioner. iudita@mac,com

Miss Perfectly Pink Polish       Lancome

    The single greatest hot pink nail polish - Pacific Coast Highway by Bobbie Brown - has been out of production for over 5 years. Bright, but not glaring; blue-based without leaning fuschia; strong enough to declare pink rather than wanly suggesting revved up ballerina shoes. As the last bottle nursed for half a decade in my refrigerator’s egg storage compartment is almost gone, Lancome saves the day!
    Not quite an exact match, this is vibrant without being electric. Dense and opaque without looking like strawberry barium. Perhaps a bit more towards the red, but not garish. Perfect for Lilly Pulitzer, rockabilly or punk pink & black clothing, not to mention high couture color-fests where the more brazen the tone, the happier the designer. THIS is a breakthrough for people who live for true PINK nails!!!

Cucumber Cilantro Margarita   Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Las Vegas

    This is the kiss of the first harvest. Nothing could be fresher, lighter or less sticky icky sweet tart than this variation on this clichéd tequila standard. Starting with Reposado tequila which has had English cucumbers and cilantro steeped in it, fresh lime juice and agave is added, then the mixture is chilled and strained into a rocks glass.
    The more adventurous rim with chili powder and rock salt. The rest drink their’s plain. Either way, it’s a green variation on vegetable juice with a definite kick.

Cotton Tote       Dash & Albert Handwoven Rugs

    Leather handles that more than fit over the shoulders (and then some), these made from carpet totes are tough enough to sling a personal computer and heaven knows what else without falling apart. Colorful enough to match mood, wardrobe or camouflaging needs. Perfect for a day at the beach, a weekend on the road, a busy day of a lot of different stuff, you can go conservative, candy colored, reggae or seaworthy motifs. Handwoven, varying sized stripes and names that will capture your imagination and inject a little adventure into even the most mundane circuit ride.

The Gospel According To Chanel       Karen Karbo

    Not just a force of nature, but a fierce object of self-invention, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was a fashion icon, as well as a women who flew in the face of convention, redefined what chic could and should be. She ed a renegade existence of loving whom she chose when she wanted. Amd she sense of style remains beyond fashion even today.
    This is her wisdom, philosophy, reality and playbook.

Chelsea Crowell

    Yes, she is the progeny AND grand progeny of music royalty, but more than just talent-enriched blood, Chelsea Crowell has a patchwork wistfulness that is vintage cocktail, Appalachian/Latina noir acoustica that is as modern as it is old-timey. Stark yet enlivened by the power of the emotions she drapes so meltingly over melodies - it’s so many white shirts billowing on a clothes line. Chelsea Crowell muses on heartache, love and the ripples and tides of life unfurling.
    There’s the galloping “Never Be a Bigger,” the listless acceptance of “I Want My Seven Years Back,” the tiny dancer dry-vocaled “The Run,” the jaunty historical Confederacy sass of “Where The Hell Is Robert E Lee?” or the aching tale of “Eddie Brown.” No shortage of tremolo guitars, startling images, as well as plenty of room for the nuances to rise and each instrument to have space to breathe and resonate.

Snuggle Socks           Life Is Good

    Fluffy, comfy over-the-ankle socks that are the merge of a lamb and a cloud. Soft, but spongy enough to make you feel like there’s something between you and the ground, Life Is Good Snuggle Socks are an instant winter warm-up that are as pillowy and toasty as you could ever hope to find - and when you put them on, it’s like having a hug for your paws. Required for any plane trip over 45 minutes!

Folly           Tobi Tobin Designs, Sunset Plaza Terr, W Hollywood, CA

    The essence of ruby red grapefruit has never been so vivid, so juicy, so intense without that infernal burning acid smell. This isn’t cloying kiddie citrus, but something big and robust - that tempers down with green notes, white flower traces and hints of musk and moss. To enliven the senses, Folly is as well named as it well scented.
    A mixture of palm, coconut and soy oil, nothing burns cleaner or truer - three wicks in an elegant black container to elevate anywhere the candle is placed. And the concentration of oils allows the scents to linger long after the fire is gone.

Brothers       Black Keys

    The Apex of Indie-Hipeousie, the Black Keys could be so easy to hate for their lean, bumpy records and a falsetto lead singer that channels Prince at his earliest. Except the beats are narcotic, the song figures twine around your legs and propel you into the music in ways that shake off everything that has strangled you without knowing.  They make the room work for them… squiggly parts that’re part pigtail, part old school “what was that?”
    “Next Girl” is menacing in a “Shaft”-evoking way, while “Howlin’ for You” is all T-Rex gone indie-pop, “Never Gonna Give You Up” gets steeped in a wash of “Sara Smile” and the lifi Doors meet the choochoo rhythms of “The Only One” are smile-inducing.
    With a handful of blues, some ragtag Polaroids of musical influences and the will to finger paints with an odd sort of discipline and time signatures makes the Black Keys the kind of only the hip might know band that could translate to something much more. Be cool now, before it’s too late.

Chihuly       Frist Center for the Arts/Cheekwood, Nashville, TN

    To make glass flowers, sea growth, murano templates take on new life, seem more Wonderland than what Lewis Carroll conjured, it takes a master and a dreamer and a visionary who’s not afraid to go to the least likely mediums of all. Dale Chihiuly, whose made the lobby of Las Vegas’ Belagio Hotel such a magical place, is the subject of two very different, but utterly complementary shows in Nashville.
    Cheekwood Botanical Gardens has several works mounted on their grounds, including a 30 foot lemon yellow tower, a garden of flowers in the reflecting pool and a 15 foot Sun on their front lawn. Cheekwood Nights - every Thursday and Friday through Oct 31 - to create yet another context for it.
    The Frist exhibition is a more comprehensive study of 9 of the most prominent themes that the Washington State born artisan has explored - and defined. Because in Dale Chihuly’s hands, this is not about blowing glass, shapes or color, but something far bolder and more breath-taking The documentary “Chihuly in the Hot Shop” runs continually, and for fans of light, the way it absorbs and refracts, this is a siren’s cry as well as a whole lot of happy on a cloudy day.

Sending cards

    It takes a few moments. Find the card - be it the picture, the sentiment or the mood - and jot off a quick note, something clever, compassionate or grateful. Hopefully have a stamp that says something about who you are or what you love. Seal, address and drop it in the postbox.
    A day or two later, someone has hand-attested proof another person thought enough of them to make an effort… a shared message that says something about the overlap in their lives. It is such a small thing; you’d be shocked what it can me to the person opening that small piece of mail.

St Michael

    He is considered the saint of protection, the one to keep you from harm. On the most technical plane, the man also called Michael the Arc Angel commands God’s Army - and is viewed as the patron saint of all fighting men: soldiers, marines, flyers, sailors. My preferred notion is that he is the patron saint of chivalry - but that seems to be more a work for St Jude and his impossible causes - but he is absolutely the one to fly to when feeling threatened, in danger or need of protection.
    He is pictured killing a dragon. What else needs to be said?

Neil Young Twisted Road Solo Acoustic       On Tour NOW

    He is the hardest man in pop music to pin down - and his infamous singularity has been vexing to many, yet made the faithful that much so. Neil Young’s muse goes where it will, and he follows in complete faith. This current trek sees the man who at 23 had already penned a fistful of songs for the ages debuting 5-to-7 new songs, so this is the future as well as the past that’s calling.
    If you are a fan, believe in the white center of creativity at its molten stage, get thee to a Twisted Road Show. Something special, deeply intimate, well worth the trek into the night - especially at a time when ploughing what was is the tired currency so many 70s/80s acts seem content to trade in.

Gel Eye Liner               Ivy Gel Liner, Bobbi Brown

    “Have you had work done?” I asked my friend, the high-powered publishing domo. She laughed. “Never,” came the response, and she whipped out a lube of - eek! - liquid eye-liner. For those of us not brave enough to cop the full Cleopatra - for fear of the drama OR the difficulty of application, gel liner splits the difference and nets out with the same increased definition, same more awake results/
    Bobbi Brown has Ivy, a deep dark green that brings out the best in any eye color - and isn’t as harsh as black, as basic as brown or as expected as navy. If you wanna look slept, seductive or in my case over the last several months “:human,” Ivy Gel Liner! Oh, yeah…

“Pirate Radio”      In Room Movie Selections

    Sometimes you have to color outside the lines. In the very prim United Kingdom, rock & roll in the 60s was absolutely the antithesis of everything the mannered citizens stood for, so when the authorities shut the rock & roll radio down, the powers behind the music took to the high seas - and ignited a cultural brush-fire amongst the rebels, the curious and anyone looking to rebel against the weight of expectations and the raw euphoria music can provide.
    Philip Seymour Thomas polishes his Lester Bangs to new shine as the pragmatic d.j., while the rest of the cast act as odd or as smug as they choose. Given their Brits, the eccentricities make wonderful backdrops for a young boy coming of age in a world without rules, only the ship walla to contain them. Amongst the romp, though, big questions get asked, and high stakes are placed - removing the throw-away and heightening the drama, especially since this actually happened.

Mnemonic   (na-MON-ick)  (noun OR adjective)

    Think of it as the cosmic juggler. As a noun, it is a thing - maybe a saying or an association - to ground or remind you of something, often more complicated or obscure. As an adjective, it’s pertaining to something that reminds you; I personally like being “mnemonically inclined.” Just one of those WTF words you can toss in like a handful of basil in your salad that is so correct, so basic, yet so exotic (and it sounds fantastic!), it makes everything you’re saying that much more interesting by associative.

B Spot: Burgers Brat Brew   Eton Square, Orange, Ohio

    Michael Symon is a superstar because of The Food Channel, but fans of his first Tremont area Lola have known his ability to look at the obvious and ignite it into something so much more intense, flavorful and imaginative will cheer B, his latest culinary spin-the-bottle. With all his attention to quality ingredients, he’s taken the greasy spoon burger joint, up the ingredients and went to extremes with the toppings: cheese steak with grilled onions?  Fried salami, coppa, hot peppers, provolone’n'shasha hot sauce? fried egg, bacon, pickled red onions, cheddar and mayo? or even fried bologna, coleslaw, whip sauce and American cheese?
    That is what makes Symon a genius. He looks at American classics, then he straps jet-packs on the possibilities and warps them into a full flavor immersion. Also partial to Brats, variations on fried bologna, a few vegetarian options and yes the ubiquitous chicken sandwich, he has all the sides you’d expect - and a Parmesan fondue w homemade chips. Ahhh, a place where rosemary and seal salt co-exists with Cheese Wuz! Whattsan fondue w homemade chips. Ahhh, a place where rosemary and seal salt co-exists with Cheese Wuz! Whatta Country!
    And the shakes - especially banana chocolate marshmallow - are fine deserts, with or without a proof content addition.

“Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”

    An imported film delivered with all the grace and reasonable budget that subtitles can hold - and in that nakedness, certain things emerge: the power of the light to cast or contrast emotions, the ability to use the common to heighten brutality and coldness, the ability to put any one in the theater into the action and also a transparency of the actors that makes every doubt ripples, resentment hiss, every discovery glisten from the smallest places.
    This is a mystery of highest orders, stories curled around stories, characters stoic or numb, unlikely possible antagonists and a girl who sizzles every time the camera lands on her. A genius, the object of unspoken abuse, the coiled snake that won’t but strike but destroy you… and she is, in many, ways, the joy to it all.
    Violent in places, but in the old school Clint Eastwood, not sexualized Tarantino way, ratchets up the quest to vindicate the wrongs, resolve the abuses. It is fuel for what’s coming, an added layer to avenge. And just when you think it’s over, over and over again, another door opens, another plotline must be resolved. As genius as the book was, this is a time-stopping film that stir you in ways that almost make you more present about your life.

Burger Up       Nashville, TN

    A locally grown, sustainable food restaurant is always a good idea, but one that trades in burgers, fries and onion rings in Nashville, Tennessee is the work of saints and angels. Just opened, the hamburger - also, lamb, veggie and chicken burgers - are all locally raised and processed, hormone free and they deliver the subtle flavor of what meat actually tastes like. Served on kitchen made buns, the toppings range from “classic” to the more adventuresome Woodstock (Benton bacon, cabot white cheddar, jack daniels/maple ketchup), Ramsey (house made pimento cheese, house made pickles, red onion) or Lamb (wilted arugula, peppermint Dijon, boursin cheese).
    The care that goes into the ingredients and what happens from there says everything about what’s on your plate. Genius tomato basil soup, yazoo beer battered cremini mushrooms, seared scallops in foie gras, salads ranging from iceberg wedge to roasted beet and a baby spinach with warm Benton bacon balsamic vinaigrette and a fried local goat cheese croquette. The only thing - beyond the hip industrial feel of the room - that’s better than their bar offerings is the smore tiramiso with homemade marshmallow fluff. Seriously.

I’m New Here       Gil-Scott Heron

    The man who gave us “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and the eco-anthem “We Almost Detroit” had not released a record for 16 years. He has hard-lived, done time, stayed clear and isn’t afraid to speak the truth - be it about addiction, corporate greed or aging - and that’s what makes I’m New Here so transfixing. Producer Richard Russell has figured out how to bring all the modern aspects of production to play without losing the tautness that made Heron’s records so commanding.
    What remains are poems, almost meditations - starting with “On Coming From A Broken Home” to the spoken verse, sung chorus of the title track and a hell-bent take on Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil” and a poured over the piano take on Bobby Blue Bland’s “I’ll Take Care of You” that is tenderness in the rawest spot. The how, the what, the resolve… It is a song cycle, phases and stages, chapter and verse of a junkies life and the will to live - and it ends as it begins, “On Coming From A Broken Home, Pt 2.”

Tupac Shakur: The Life & Times of an American Icon         Tayannah Lee McQuillar + Fred L Johnso

    Tupac Shakur was a poet, a street texture who knew the life but had a gift that let him tell it in a way so elegant, the truths most ignored rose to the top. He was the voice of the ghetto - and if not a crusader, certainly a conscience. Torn between the activism reality he was raised in, the abandonment inherent to being pore, the yearning to belong and be nurtured of the sensitive, Tupac found it all in rap stardom - and as his fame grew, so did his options, his tastes for pleasure and his will to create.
    What makes this book stand out is the authors’ ability to always ground the action to the state of black America in the moment. Not in a he-is-them way, but more as a sense of the tableau against which Pac’s life played out and the realm in which his heros flag flew. Well-written, not lionizing, not necessarily new information, but well organized. Anyone who’s curious about this voice for his people, this is an excellent place to begin.

Pratesi Sheets

    Even as the sale, these are the sort of luxury most of us can justify one time only. Even then… But should you… well, the only reason not to have sheets like this is because you’ve never sunk into a bed freshly made with the softest linens ever encountered. A cloud might be more welcoming, more ethereal, but perhaps not.
    Properly laundered, they will last a lifetime. In a world where one third of our lives are spent in bed, why not? Especially knowing they only grow softer over time - and more delicious.

Salt & Pepper 67% Dark Chocolate           Olive & Sinclair

    This is not creamy stuff, but doesn’t default into waxy. Instead it turns to paste beneath your teeth, slowly melting from the heat of your tongue - and revealing the mysteries that make dark chocolate so intriguing. There is the bitterness, yes, that sense of dark wood and no light, that richness that does anything but overwhelm. It is perfectly rendered - if not delivered in common candy consumptive state.
    With salt for juxtaposition and pepper to ignite what is already amazing, Olive and Sinclair is worth seeking out. Dark chocolate in what feels like an album perfect state - in plain brown paper, ready to be unwrapped and considered as much as savored.

Wicker furniture

    Old school, especially, has a sturdiness that makes its sunshiney all things springtime feel seem enduring enough for year ‘round.  A recently unearthed set of 9 matching pieces - most likely from the late 40s - has turned my living room into a Florida room that is sunny and formal in a way that is far more welcoming and comfortable. Retro floral on off-white, it embodies cozy summer home.

www.jennibick.com

    All things for elegant writing - including hand-bound books, pens, journals, photo corners, papers, stationary and even frames - can be found online from this Martha’s Vineyard landmark. Carrying Epica Italian Leather, Frienze, Molly West, Paolo Cadelli, Rag & Bone Bindery, Retro 51 Pens, Semikolon and Graphic Image among their many lines, this is couture writing tools in cyberspace - ready when you are at just a click of the “return.”

Katherine Hepburn Commemorative   US Postal Service

    The publicity still from “Woman of the Year,” this image of Katherine Hepburn is glamorous without trying, strong without being tough and womanly without being prissy. To be smart, beautiful and beyond convention is what made Hepburn (especially with frequent costar/paramour Spencer Tracy) such an icon of American womanhood. Free-spirited, quick-witted, truth-speaking and always… always a woman of great dignity and resolve.

The Open Road           John Hiatt

    John Hiatt has been channeling real life of regular people since the one of the siblings shrieks, “I hope your hamster burns in Hell” at the dinner table in “Your Dad Did” in the breakthrough Bring The Family A watershed for the quirky roots-soul songwriter who’d been considered a genius who couldn’t get traction on his string of Geffen CDs that had given Rosanne Cash “Pink Bedroom,” Rodney Crowell “She Loves The Jerk” and several artists passes at the title track to his Riding with The King. But when the dark edge fled, that was when Hiatt’s ironic poignance took root in a most singular way.
    With The Open Road, he returns what his does best: a more populist take on the same kinds of banged up romantic losers, misfits and dreamers who’ve given Tom Waits urban tableau’s the kind of cheap holy card and clenched rosary redemption. The voice is gravel, the gravy soul-steeped, deep blues, bitta country, lotta Appalachia without ever getting precious. This is a record about moving, from, towards, seeking, losing, finding, recognizing - and in all these stories, the characters are specific enough you’d pour’em a cup of coffee,  watch’em if they seemed to loiter. It’s the details and the steam and the promise that it all turns out maybe a little dented, but ultimately sweeter for it.

“Slow down. Calm Down. Don’t Worry. Don’t Hurry. Trust The Process.”        Alexandra Stoddard

    Breathe. That really is the key. Everything else is a waste. Surrender: your heart, your mind, your racing everything. The answer will be there… It is coming… Trust it, and it will trust you back. Believe and your faith will be rewarded.
    Two days recently in the studio with an amazing singer and a guitar. He was sure he couldn’t, didn’t understand the why, was sure it wouldn’t come together. “Trust the creativity” was the mantra. Trust the creativity - and let it come. Young artist had a breakthrough that showed him everything about what his music was meant to be.
    Trust. Trust the Process.

Blue Cheese Vinagrette       LaMartinique

    Old school blue cheese salad dressing, that isn’t thick and gloppy, seeming more like funky wallpaper paste than a piquant punctuation for salads, vegetables crisp or steamed or tuna fish. This is vinegar and cotton-seed oil (which doesn’t weigh the mixture down) based, lots of real blue cheese and not much else. In the refrigerator section of the grocery store, and its fresh flavor is worth the hunt.

“Stranger Than Fiction”        DVD

“Stranger Than Fiction”        DVD
    Will Ferrell plays a monotone IRS agent with a life of pure tedium - until the voice of a narrator starts commenting on his every move. A therapist suggests he seek a literature expert - in the form of Dustin Hoffman, a proff with a vacillating level of interest in his plight. Meanwhile the writer - Emma Thompson - is sent a crisp assistant - played by Queen Latifah at her calmest and most in control - to shepherd the novelist through her writers block.
    Somewhere in the plotlines, Ferrell’s life takes many turns to the better. Until he realizes the author will ultimately do him in. To find the writer, to plead his case, to try to change the course of fiction all but written… and as Hoffman explains, “this is her masterpiece”… the film’s urgency kicks in. It is life-affirming, mind-bending, jubilant, straight on and the kind of DVD friends will thank you for recommending.

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