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

February 2010

Valentines
, Mary Karr, Brooks Bros. Pajamas, Camus, Mexican Chocolate, Patty Griffin

“Crazy Heart”


     Jeff Bridges as the brokedown coulda almost mights but sure had enough to know how it should be - and how far he is from the realm of genuine stardom - genius poet/songwriter deserves every Oscar nomination, Golden Globe and “hell, yeah” that he’s getting. The jagged emptiness, the tentative connections and the strange projection of interaction with people who “think they know” (be it the agent in his office, the pick-up bands or the sagging late middle aged fan in a bowling alley), this is terrifyingly spot on for what happens after the glitter fades and there’s no way off the conveyor belt.

     Robert Duvall is at his sagest, while Maggie Gyllenhal offers all the conflict that is knowing some romance - no matter how lonely you are - will ultimately shatter in your hands, especially as a single mother with responsibilities beyond your own self. The notion a trying-to-be-a-journalist single mom can afford the house she lives in is the only suspension of reality here - and T-Bone Burnett, with help from the now-sadly-departed Texan Stephen Bruton turns in his finest soundtrack.

     Debates about Bad Blake’s true self rage - Waylon, Billy Joe Shaver, Hank Thompson, even Bruton - amongst deep music fans, but the  preservation of the tone and truths of Thomas Cobbs’ 1987 of the same name is what’s so compelling. He wrote a lyrical novel with humor in the abyss - and wasn’t afraid to end it the way these stories really end. Harlan Howard said “country music is 3 chords and the truth,” and “Crazy Heart” may simplify, but it remains honest

Fennel Seeds


     They taste slightly licorice, and they are chewy in a way that they don’t just give under your molars. But they sweeten your breath and settle your tummy almost instantly. A pinch worth can serve as an after-dinner mint with actual soothing properties… and that sense of “ahhhhh…” moving through your digestive system makes forgiving yourself for the too much/too spicy so much easier to swallow.

Cherries in the Snow Lipstick           Revlon


     My friend Joel’s wife believes the most soignée evening look of all is two swipes of Revlon’s classic bluish-red generous applied then slightly blotted. As a longstanding fan of the polish, I was compelled to buy in, and saw that the creaminess of the color does in fact bright the face and add a certain sultry lushness to one’s pout. At drugstore prices, no less!

If you’re about love, you’re about love.


     It’s that simple. You work from your heart, with kindness or compassion - or you don’t.

Toussaint St Jean: From the Hut, To the Projects. To the Mansion       Wyclef Jean


     Part mix tape, part rap throwdown, part classic song structure and all crazy quilt back and forth, Toussaint St Jean is a loosely connected 17-track project that follows his Haitian creation hero (who resembles Wyclef in more than a passing way). The concept while not nearly fleshed out offers glue to talk about what’s on his mind, paint pictures and mix it up with guests ranging from Cindy Lauper (“Slumdog Millionaire),” as well as Timbaland, Lil Kim and DJ Drama - whom technically “presents” this chockablock bit of beats, truth and personality.

     Don’t come looking for linear - or some down low Fugees evocation, but as a testament to how farflung Wyclef’s vision, this is an engaging bump’n'ride worth checking out. Put it on, feel your energy swell and your ability to do whatever’s before you open right up. Maybe not a masterwork in terms of realizing a concept, but absolutely a record that moves your soles and soul in funky ways.

www.thesalesshack.com


     Where Palm Beach goes to save. Milly. Tibi. Nanette (LePore). And yes, Lilly!

     This is the insider’s inside sale. Click in, scroll around. 60, 70& off. You don’t have to leave your home, but it’s instant cute, elegant, easy resort wear that makes anyone the PYT of their dreams.
Click, click. Check for your size. Enter your information. The promise of spring break arrives in a plain brown wrapper from the mythic land of the playful and graceful: Palm Beach.

Play It As It Lays       Joan Didion


     Written with brutal clarity, this “vintage” Joan Didion takes on the glitter’s edges and hollow-points with her rapier sense of detail, uncanny take on human emotions - especially the ones unrecognized - and pacing that is all sweep and anticipation. Maria Wyeth is a 31-year old movie star just past shelf-life, trying to make a life in the fade and feel anything - though the forces in her world conspire to cause agony and then desensitization.

     It is rush-rush, feel nothing, do anything to feel something and cope with the price of the choices made and the eventual paralysis that comes with betrayal of one’s humanity. The Jackies (Susan and Collins) wish they could write so smart, so hard, so ripped from the inside - and two decades later, this is still a cautionary boldfaced name tale… Page-turning guilty pleasure escape writ well!

Snowflakes in the Streetlights


     It is so rare in Nashville - and obviously crippling as the airport closes, the roads ice up and almost no one truly understands how to apply their brakes. Yet in the stillness of the night, looking out an upstairs window, it is like fairy dust diamonds twinkling in the ones of light falling from something as ordinary as telephone poles rigged with electricity.

     It is not some genius reality. It is merely a moment of nature, falling weightlessly down. Yet in those chilly seconds, all seems fresh and clean and shiny. It’s as if we can a few of those moments, too.

90 Minute Massage           Lotte @ the 4 Seasons Beverly Hills Spa


     Lotte is a German woman with deep set eyes that see all the way into you and a quiet, flat voice that allows her explore your inner ranges by taking you to another realm of calm. But what makes her extraordinary - and I have had plenty of, and have given way more than my share of, massages - is her ability to not just knead and release muscles, it’s her gift to realign your energy while she does it.

     Beyond muscle and tendon manipulation, gifted masseurs and masseuses find the knots, gnarls and blocks of energy and dissolve those as they press, roll and bear down on your body.  To spend 90 minutes with Lotte is to understand how the kobe beef get that way, and she does it with such a gentle, serene approach, it almost doesn’t even hurt.

Game Change       John Heileman & Mark Halperin


     Subtitled Obama & the Clintons, McCain & Palin, & The Race of a Lifetime, the pair of hardcore journalists - one from New York, the other TIME magazines, dig into one of the most expensive and shape-shifting Presidential campaigns in our history. Not only is the impact of new media and big business considered, but the pair take you into the interpersonal dynamics of how, why and where the behind the scenes went down.

     Like D.A. Pennebaker’s genius documentary “The War Room,” which chronicled the boiler room of President Clinton’s first campaign to victory, this riveting book offers up not just the machinations, but the reasons, the notions and the politics behind the politics of getting elected in the 21st century. Perception is reality; news-badgering works and Nixon’s repetitive (mis)messaging is effective - and media is often complicit in missing the story. To understand how what you see is brokered, the way back room deals go down and what true priorities are, this is as good as it gets.

http://boom1073.northcoastnow.com/listen-live/


     Smart Adult Alternative radio - with enough familiarity to make the new stuff make sense, with enough local flavor to remind you why Cleveland is the rock & roll capitol of the world! This is deep heart, long passion, strong programming. Not afraid to lean into U2 or the Pretenders, willing to play Sara Borges and Amos Lee with enough frequency to make you remember and reaching into the local treasure trove for singer/songwriter/improv master Alex Bevan, heartland rockers the Michael Stanley Band and local legend Joe Walsh and his genius James Gang.

     This rocks as much as it roots. Is smart as much as its gut. Is evocative as much as straightforward - and it reminds you when the radio wasn’t just your friend, but a beacon to all spectrum’s of things you didn’t know (bands, feelings, sounds, reasons). In this brave new day of internet radio, there’s no reason to not have what you want… and this is like the smart JackFM without the ham-fisted posturing, poodle rock and a sense of random.

Bai Hao Silver Needle Tea       Teas, Etc.


     Organic white tea from China’s Fujian province, this is the highest quality antioxidant available. An all-bud tea, it releases a woody tone that settles into something green, yet earthy but without the bitter tang or souring aftertaste that some teas can leave. As immune system bolsterer, there are those who believe drinking tea can help ward off colds and the flu as well as have a strong anti-aging effect.

     A wise friend who is always looking to improve their health turned me on - and told me they’d switched exclusively to this over coffee and other forms of tea. But unlike so many things that are good for you, it tastes light and clean, of the earth without seeming moldy. Just as importantly, the caffeine content is light, present enough to heighten attention without the nervousness often attached to it.

www.teasetc.com

Indigo Seas       123 Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA.


     Like the Ivy Restaurant next door, Indigo Seas is a shop dedicated to charming cottage home-making and an easy-going elegance that marries that aesthetic to disembarking in Capri. Vintage fabrics upholster stellar bits of antique furniture and grace wonderfully overstuffed pillows, while first edition books that matter are stacked everywhere - and the cozy pottery that is the Ivy and the Ivy at the Shore’s signature dinnerware is available by the piece.

     Owner Lynn von Kersting has conjured a gracious way of life that is more homey than Martha Stewart, more welcoming than your best friend and colorful enough to make even the dreariest day seem bright. Whether it’s an 19th century match-striker, a classic lamp with a floral fabric shade or a coffee table book from the 20s, Indigo Seas will surprise you with what lies behind its blue painted door frame. Even just to look, to soak up, to expand your sense of how easy it is, this is a must-stop shop to experience any time you’re in the City of Angels.

A) Enlightenment, B) Endarkment (Hint: There Is No C)    Ray Wylie Hubbard


     Funky in a gruff Texas songwriter way, Hubbard has eschewed anything approaching the polished method of commercial recording for an aural grab that will be everything but give your ears splinters. With its textural arrangements that lean long on roadhouses and rough roads, this is a record celebrating the lives of losers, the lost and bruised hearted in a way that says “redemption is where you take it and how you make it.”

     With all the carnal thrust of Snakefarm, the Delta blues eke through everything, but especially the joyful noise of “Pots & Pans” and “Downhome Blues.” The squalid “Drunken Poet’s Dream” is a dream girl for the busted, while “Loose” sketches a rock & roll manifesto as it paints a glorious portrait of a free spirit casting her life to the moment and the wind. “Whoop & Holler” is sanctified, just as you’d expect of a gritty Texas mystic, a driving chunk of what deliverance feels like. Mmmmm…

Stoneground Organic Vanilla Mexican Chocolate       Taza


     Break off a chunk. Simmer milk. Let it melt. Stir gently. It is that simple. It is also that earthy and rich and thick. In a world of quick fix, too rich for your own good sweets and treats, this is a vanilla tempered chocolate that is brought to its cocoa nature by way of the contrast. Sweet without being cloying, chocolate without the bite. As a late night beverage to supplant tea or coffee, it is a nightcap with definite sleep-inducing potential.

Extra Vielle Jean Marie Farina       Roger & Gallet


     To me, it is the smell of Paris, the completely Belle Epoque Hotel Regina and the sophisticated simplicity of their toiletries, but really this - the signature scent of French perfumer Roger & Gallet is the scent of not just spacious orange groves, but those orange groves bathed in sunlight. There is warmth, there is verdance, there is citrus. It is so subtle, you have to work to recognizing the notes, but it is also so heady, you will find yourself completely intoxicated from the depth. A reasonable indulgence that puts imported luxury within all our grasps.

Us Kids       Patti Smith


     Touchingly written love story about a young woman seeking her creative way in the world and the young man who becomes her soulmate. First as lovers, then as each others unflagging support and inspiration, later as benchmark to check in with. Only this is not “a story,” it is the real life coming of age of punk/poet Patti Smith and controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. - strewn across of a Manhattan where bohemians could struggle but get by, the Chelsea Hotel was a home to everyone from sociological chronicler Harry Smith to Allen Ginsburg to gypsy musicians ranging from Janis Joplin to Johnny Winters.

     Captured in the life Smith lived were encounters with Hendrix, evenings where Kris Kristofferson played Joplin “Me & Bobby McGee,” trips to Woodstock to Bob Neuwirth to see recording sessions with Todd Rundgren, who would become a friend. An affair with playwright Sam Shepard came at the perfect time to salve a flagging sense of purpose, as well their collaborative “Cowboy Mouth,” as well as her own awakening with Lenny Kaye that her poems were meant to be rock and roll.

     Every character of the downtown scene - be it Warhol superstars or CBGB owner Hillel Crystal - to uptown socialites flitter across the pages as Smith emerges her own woman. Having promised Mapplethorpe she would tell their story as he was perishing of AIDS, she delivers with literate references, deep feelings and moments most would miss. Anyone who loves art, music, poetry, history or human connection will thrill to this perfect captured time, place and friendship - not to mention the pictures from their personal collections, which show them as they were as they became.

La Piece Sous Le Bras Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2004

     
An unbelievably musty in the good way French red. Light on the tongue then opening to give you flavors and warmth, suggestions of impossible things and an unraveling to your soul that elevates the notion of a sharing a bottle. On a recent night, a girlfriend and I shared a bottle and spoke of things we’d never considered sharing in a friendship spanning our entire adult lives. And the loosening of the tongue did not come with a sense of revelation, but more the intimacy and faith brought forth by the quality of the Chateauneuf du Pape we were enjoying/

     Sometimes peak experiences do not come backlit and with pomp. Sometimes it’s taking something special and enjoying it right where you are. This is one of those bottles that makes anywhere more - and offers a sense of the moment to whomever you share it with.

Conquer the Cosmos       Bridgett Walther


     Walther is an astrologer who is eerily, uncannily accurate. From Cher to Richie Sambora to Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Nancy Oliver, when the rich and fabulous wanna know, they turn to the tart tongued with the no-nonsense take and a sense of the stars that’s second to none. But while some astrologers sow fear, doubt and doom, Walthers embraces a practical approach as espoused in the subtitle: Use The Power of Astrology To Attract the Man, Money & Happiness You Deserve.

     Beyond a practical sense of what your sign’s character traits are (and they’re there!), there’s suggestions for making the positives work for you and minimizing the damage of the less desirable. She also offers up a sign by sign match up for you and any intended paramour (that trickles over into any deep relationship) and creates context to thrive in spite of the celestial obstacles. A power-to-the-people kind of woman, Walther creates reasons to believe, embrace and actualize what’s between the covers - and in that hilarious tone that is her’s alone, she makes you laugh while giving you the to-the-point download that is all that heaven will allow if you’re paying attention/

     NOTE: Anyone I’ve ever turned onto her Astroabby.com, Elle.com or Brudgettwalther.com scopes has become a slavish devotee. Uncanny at first, unbelievable once the shock wears off, Bridgett Walther knows.

Kosmic Karma       Mellow Mushroom Pizza


     Sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, feta, spinach, fresh tomatoes. If the garden at its peak came to the crust and said, “we are ready, bake us,” you would have the Kosmic Karma. It is the best of what heat can do to basic flavors: deepening them, making them mellower and richer in the process. More than just a throw it all on veggie pizza overload, the Kosmic Karma is like a good caprese salad taken to a different extreme… and given the ingredients, there’s also the illusion that the nutritional value outstrips the junk food nature!

Crows       Allison Moorer


     Emotionally redolent, musically expansive, this is a record to sink into. Torchy voiced Allison Moorer has gone into her own soul, examined her own dounts, memories, hopes and emerged with an album that distills what being present in one’s life truly embodies.  If there is such a thing as a sonic meditative state, this song cycle would you place you in a comforting womb of grace…

     Whether it’s the song-to-song soft look back on her innocence in Alabama “Easy In The Summertime” and lullaby “The Stars & I (Mama’s Song),” the gorgeous lushness of “Abalone Sky” or the dark cloak and resolve of “When You Wake Up Feeling Bad” or honest, but embracing about the cracks “Broken Girl,” this is grown-up music that holds to the better side of any moment.

     There is the notion of staying in the falter (“Still This Side of Gone”), recognition this too will pass (“Like The Rain,” “It’s Gonna Feel Good (When It Stops Hurting),” even stubbornly knowing hope (“Sorrow (Don’t Come Around)”) to add mettle to the mope - and that is all we can ask for. If women are a mystery, this is the tea smart people should steep in. Over and over again.


“A Single Man”


     Collin Firth is perfection as George, a fully grown British professor struggling with what his life means in the wake of the death of his partner, Jim. Against the backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis, “A Single Man” follows George through a single day - including comfort from his beautiful best friend who is also grappling with her own existential crisis and one of his students, who is on the brink of recognizing the truth of who he is and sees in George a sense of who the student might be.

     As with anything from the vision of Tom Ford - the man who reignited Gucci as a James Bondian marriage of sex and hight style - “A Single Man” is thoughtfully composed, written, captured on film. As the story evolves, the imagery retains its classic refinement allowing the cast that also includes Julianne Moore, Ginnifer Goodwin. Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult to deliver nuanced performance that give as much beneath the surface as what is overtly said. A drama of emergence, what is unspoken and unconsidered, this is a wonderful work of personal discovery.

Men’s Flannel Pajamas     Brooks Brothers


     What could be snugglier? Sexy in that juxtapositive way, too. Draw string waist, broad shoulders that don’t constrict. The more you wash’em, the softer they get, Classically tailored, very Audrey or Katherine Hepburn. A whole different twist on a long winter’s night!

Sleep Masks


     Seemingly so Zsa Zsa, yet so effective in sensory depravation, the quality of my sleep improved radically. A kind of velvet darkness permeates the silence and you sink deeper into the world of non-sensory stimulation without effort. Put it on, feel the difference. Join Zsa Zsa if only for sleep quality.

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
      —

     It is cold, wickedly so. Moist enough to penetrate the seeming solidity of one’s bones. And once it’s in, it’s impossible to shake off. Yet in that chill, one’s mind can unfurl visions of beaches and spring’s walks, reasons to thrill and cheer and move on. There is the promise of what’s to come; in that, all sorts of reasons to be pleased, renewed, charged. From there, sunniness is an inside job!

Rose Gold Illuminating Finishing Powder           Stila


     A few swirls over this with big fluffy brush, sweep over cheekbones, along clavicle, across nose and forhead for instant sun-kissed! There is a shimmer. There is a flush. There is joy and burnishes beauty. And because it’s not thick and cakey, it is the embodiment of the natural glow that is euphoria!

The Penguin Show


     Click on the link, then type in your message. Then wait. In this world of instant gratification, there is a lag… where you can consider whatever you typed, what it means and why. And then, suddenly, there’s a whooshing sound as an emperor penguin throws himself belly down on the snow and begins slaloming across a hill, writing your message into the whiteness. Looping and curving and laughing as he goes, around and around and up and down… and then - voila! - there it is: Your message beautifully turned in script. To consider, to enjoy, the take in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emHZ2oj8wDk http://www.star28.net/snow.html

Downtown Church       Patty Griffin


     The organic essence of salvation - captured in a big echoey old church - Griffin’s songs of temporal release and spiritual glory make believers out of the most jaundiced. Mostly traditional gospel with a touch of Hank Williams and a secular tune from Lieber & Stoller (the wickedly juicy “I Smell a Rat,” the perfect matchpoint for church-headin’), these songs foment with passion unleashed - both soul frenzy and mortal desire for more.

     Produced by Buddy Miller and featuring Emmylou Harris, Raul Malo, Jim Lauderdale and gospels Anne and Regina McCary, this is a genuine article of faith rendered through the gossamer touch and mighty fragility that marks Griffith’s fine earthenware voice - for while her voice is a silvery thing, it has never lost is element of the soil. A jubilant, fiery thing, indeed.

Trauma Stewardship   Laura van Dernoot Lipsky with Connie Burk

     The impact of trauma on the person experiencing it comes out in strange, seemingly disconnected ways… but always there are manifestations. What about the people who care for, support or are involved with the sufferer? Is a toll extracted on them? After all, nothing bad happened… The tragedy of trauma, beyond the way the experiencer has been impacted, is the ripples left in its wake. To watch someone suffer, to deal with the irrational reflexive responses, reactions, fears, doubts and unspoken torments is like living in a landmine strewn area - and how one copes requires its own field guide.

     Trauma Stewardship, subtitled An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self while Caring for Others, is a handbook for not just coping, but nurturing the people who are the support for those dealing with jarring horrors. It is not a matter of “it didn’t happen to me…” detachment, just as a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can’t “just get over it.” This book helps the aider see the signs, recognize the opportunities to help themselves and offers insight to make you not just able to help the impaired, but grow through the experience.

     Trauma is not a choice for the person enduring it, nor is it for the people pledged to love, support, protect or nurture. In that reality, knowledge is power - and this somewhat dryly turned book can offer incredible amounts iof sanity, protocol and recognition to what’s going on within them.

Simplest, Fastest Tomato Sauce

     
 An iron skillet, a healthy splash of oil. Low-to-medium heat, sautee a large onion sliced and diced and a couple coarsely minced shallots. Give it 5 to 8 minutes, let them get golden. Wash, peel and chop three/four carrots, three/four stems celery and three/five roma tomatoes.

     Open a can of good quality crushed tomatoes. Pour into pan and stir to combine. Add basil, salt, freshly ground pepper, a splash of red wine. Let combine for a minute and get warm. Add fresh vegetables, two cloves chopped garlic and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Lower heat, cover and keep on lowest possible heat so it thickens some. More wine can be added to thin, tomato paste to thicken. Serve over chicken, pastas or polenta. Hearty, nutritious, easy.

“The Blind Side”


    It is the story of kindness outside the box. Of a woman of privilege opening up her house and family to a kid from under the wrong side of the tracks. In a place like Memphis, no less, where the color line though unspoken is real. It is a hard-won fight, not just turning the boy’s academics around, but restoring his faith that trust isn’t a sucker’s state.

     In a world where many talk of giving and charity, this is action in real form. That as the movie unfolds, Bullock and understatedly warm Tim McGraw as her husband’s motives get called into question in a most callous and corporate way not only speaks to our culture’s built-in suspicion and CYA undermining potential, but it offers strength to anyone who wants to do the right thing when questioned for it. What happens in the end - beyond the reality that this is a true story - is cause to cheer! Sometimes real life is better than a fairy tale; “The Blind Side” proves that out.

CP Shades Returns


     The shapeless, wash’n'rumplewear clothes that were so easy to toss on in the 80s are back. Still chic, still basic colors, still as comfortable as anything you could ever put on your body. Lots of linens and jersey, CP Shades remains the bohemian working girls go-to-clothing… easy to pack, easy to look fresh after a nightmare travel experience, easy to create a minimalist/put together look.

     Whether you’re a few pounds overweight or too thin from stress, you will look just right.

    What could be easier? Better? More liberating?

Lit       Mary Karr

     The unmercifully clear memoirist Mary Karr returns - not with the tale of her grown-ups triggered her attention to detail and youthful rebellion - but the tale of her own descent into alcoholism and its attendant follies. For someone who “has so much going for her,” Karr carefully shows just how it can all go so wrong in a way that imbues compassion for both the subject and the reader.

     It isn’t merely selfishness or a bad gene or dysfunctional family history that ignite this sort of drowning chaos, it is doubt and circumstances and two or three missteps, white lies and the need to believe we are more.  Given her ability to turn phrases like skeleton keys to the rooms most people don’t even know exist, Lit is for an unerring glimpse of someone’s slide down the rabbit hole of self-destruction that illuminates for those not lured and sows you’re not alone recognition for anyone who’s battled through or battling now.

Egyptian Licorice Tea          Natural Medicinals

     Slightly sweet, definitely herbal. It takes a bit like the child’s chewy candy whips and twisted sticks. But the Egyptian licorice tea brews up with a touch of smokiness and a slightly syprupy consistency as it slides over the tongue, warming the back of the throat and offering a spicy bit of settling in the stomach.

Townes Van Zandt cover story          American Songwriter Jan/Feb issue

     Shameless self-promotion. Except going back to read it… once the jumble of interviews and need to honor the intention of the speakers has faded.. it was amazing to see what a shimmering veil the late, great Texas folkie/poet cast over those transfixed by the spare lyricism, lean melodics and electric emotions. Like picking up a live wire, TVZ seared and blazed - and anyone who heard the austerity arrangements and craggy vocals was never the same.

    Given the level of execution as a writer and the busted glass edges of his voice, he is inscrutable for some. This 3500 word examin/exhumation is a way inside that will make the tangle release in a pile of insights, feedback and reasons to believe. Rodney Crowell, Grace Potter, Ray Benson, Israeli David Broza and a young fan named Eli Berlow offer up unseen moments, personal connections and their own take for a mélange that is so human, one can’t help but be engaged.

www.americansongwriter.com

Though buying it on the newsstand means genius pictures -
and supporting the people bringing you this kind of work!

Tonglen          Meditation/Compassion Practice

     A Tibetan Buddhist meditation principle, it levels the world in which we live. When we experience difficulty, it is a way to use our breathing in difficult places to expand the pain or frustration to something so all-encompassing, there is dignity and comfort in our suffering. And that, truly, is the trick of the tonglen practice.

     To inhale and consider the experience you are having… to offer that which you are experiencing up so that your tribulation may be endured for anyone with the afflication that their suffering may gbe lessened. It is selfless, and as you continue to breathe in and take note of the sensation, offering up your discomfort for all in the same state, you will exhale and create the antidote to your condition.

     It is mindful. It is simple. It is something we can do to not just experience, but to release into awareness - and find relief in the knowing and deepening of where we are.

Black Pearl Bar          Vosges

          55% dark artisan chocolate to start. But then lace it with unlikely elements: wasabi mustard, bits of ginger, black sesame seeds. It is exotic and vexing, subtly overwhelming in the combination of such surprising ingredients combined in a base that is so suited to the ginger alone. Vosges - the home of haute chocolat - keeps delving, exploring, experimenting, and they change the game of what even a designer chocolate can evoke.

Liquid Iron w Herbs               Floradix

     Naturally derived with no preservatives or additives, Floradix liquid  offers a jumbo boost of iron, vitamin C and all the B-complex vitamins. Guaranteed for the highest absorption rate, it is pressed and distilled from herbs, fruit, vegetables, ocean kelp, wheat germ, rosehips, yeast and honey. Relatively pleasant tasting, it reinforces ones stamina and system like few other products and ramps up the nutritional stakes while doing it.

     Rundown? Tired? Anemic? One capful a day will do much to replace what’s lacking and give you a jolt of energy that is anything but jarring. Beyond the need for refrigeration once open, there is no easier way to get this much benefit without any of the traditional side effects.

Balm of Gillead          Rickie Lee Jones

     On the heels of Sermon on Exposition Boulevard, Rickie Lee Jones brings it closer to the temporal with an album about the cracks in what we think where real life crawls out. With two songs featuring the late Vic Chesnutt - whose own singular phrasing oddly complements the scat-street delivery that’s always marked marked Jones’ brand of tough viulnerability - especially the heartbreaking country-tinged “Remember Me” and Ben Harper trades saucy lines on “Old Enough.”

     Still more mellow than combustive, this is thinking woman’s music made for anyone ever held in sway by the fairer sex. “Wild Girl” - written about her own daughter, but easily a rumination on a snapshot of who she once was as well - is matched by the quiet “The Moon Is Made of Gold,” which Jones’ father wrote to sing to her. All the quirkinessa dn bent detail remain in a mellowed vibe that chills and warms and draws the listener in.


The Last of the Christmas Presents

     Somehow January ended, and there were still stacks of presents patiently waiting to be mailed. It wasn’t that intentions weren’t good, nor that the recipients weren’t loved. Just life piled up… and even chipping away at the boxing and taping, addressing and waiting in line… the farflung friends and extended family was more than I could handle.

     “Who cares?” said a friend. “Valentines Day is the new Christmas. Love is whenever you open the box. What could be better?” So guilt expunged, the final trip (and attendant relief) to post office prevailed - and the last of the presents found their way to the places they belonged!


Wild at Heart 15th Anniversary Palette     NARS

     They could call it NARS’ Greatest Hits, but instead they go with a freeing moniker and the only makeup you’ll ever need. A range of red lipsticks - and one pink - and a neutral eye template to give you depth, drama and basic polish in one package. Add in the healthy tan Multiple in South Beach and their fresh flush blush Orgasm, and you understand why NARS deep saturation colors are a must have for top shelf make-up artists around the world.

“Love and do what you will.”
          St Augustine

     If you act in and out of love, whatever you do will be right-minded and to be benefit of all. Move through the world as an agent of love, give others that grace—and follow your path. It’ll all fall in line behind it.

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