We have all had our favorite food or drink items before. Something that, for whatever reason, you really take to and thoroughly enjoy above the sea of fairly similar products. As a child, you can probably recall your favorite candy. I’m sure most of you played it safe and fell in love with a candy that was a major household name, and one that you would never have to worry about not being there. Instead of going out there and taking chances, you took the easy way out. Does it make you proud? Probably not. But at least you haven’t had to deal with heartbreak due to your risk-taking. No, I am not crazy by talking about attaching yourself to a certain kind of candy and comparing it to falling in love. I HAVE loved and lost in the candy world, so I know what I am talking about.

I was 10 years old.

PB Max
Its name was PB Max.

We were in love, goddamnit.

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Silent movies are an under-appreciated era of film history. Many people have a hard time enjoying black and white movies at all, claiming that it seems instantly “more boring,” so asking them to also try to watch something that only has ill-fitting or overwrought music for a soundtrack, and to also read dialogue cards, is an exercise in frustration and futility. People are missing so many good things!

Because I’m such a nice person, I will detail one scene in one comedy movie starring Buster Keaton in order to save you the trouble of enjoying something on your own. Do you know who Buster Keaton is, by the way? He was a slapstick comedy man who wasn’t Charlie Chaplin. That should get you started.

Buster Keaton

Today, we are watching an important scene from the Cameraman, which I confess to never having fully watched. The premise is set up in the first 30 seconds. Buster is at the public pool, intending to have a good time as one generally does at such a place. He goes in to a changing room to change clothes, and another man is also directed into the same room. Comedy ensues.

Feel free to watch along with me. The scene is only four and a half minutes long, but certainly worth it. For those of you who are not able to see it right now, I have provided a chronological timeline of noteworthy events after the link.

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While looking through the 15 bins my mother has in storage in her basement of my childhood things, I found a book from when I was 12 or so. The book is called The Hidden Power of Dreams (by Denise Linn) and is largely about lucid dreaming and using your dreams to help your spiritual journey.

The Hidden Glamour of Dreams

The book has a rudimentary dream dictionary in it. It does say that you should not use it directly to define something in a dream, but that it is more of a guideline for interpretation of the dream as a whole. Even with that huge caveat, it’s a really bad dream dictionary. Some of the interpretations are just definitions of that word, others have as many as four conflicting interpretations. See the following example:

BEE

Busy; industrious.
Social cooperation.
The possibility of hidden sweetness.
Feeling “stung” by some circumstance or remark.

I mean, come on, right? So I’ve decided to describe some of my most common recurring dreams and interpret them with the dictionary in this book, published in 1988, and then the Sneer Campaign way, which is probably more accurate and also exciting. Most of these dreams are actually definitely nightmares.

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Shopping for groceries is one of those annoying tasks you have to do once or twice a week, depending on your habits and needs. Maybe there are some people out there who enjoy the act. Perhaps for them, creating a list for a week, perhaps a carefully planned menu, all of that stuff, perhaps all of that is a pleasure for these people. It might fulfill an instinctual need to hunt and gather. God, who knows. What I DO know is that I am not one of those people. Grocery shopping is a boring old activity that involves many things I despise: making decisions, forethought, crowds, and being out in public.

I believe grocery store managers realize that there are all sorts of customers, and they try to make their stores as pleasant as possible to encourage repeat purchasing experiences. All of the items are arranged systematically, for ease of locating them. The workers are made to be friendly and happy. And they have installed a little sound system in most stores because someone somewhere must have done a study that says that people are more likely to shop happily if they can do so to a mild, inoffensive beat in the background.

I think it is a good idea, all of this playing music in the backgrounds of places. I do enjoy music, and even when they play songs that I would never hear on my own free time, such as, say, any song by Gwen Stefani ever (she and No Doubt in general seem to be a staple of grocery stores everywhere – it causes me to laugh in a way that is unkind), I can still say that I am glad that I am not left to shop in silence. That unwieldy sentence deserves a summary: I would rather listen to crap like Gwen Stefani’s annoying voice than eavesdrop on the often-bewildering drone of fellow shoppers punctuated by the shrill cries of their horrible infants. The songs played are often easily forgettable and mildly pleasant, or at the very least not at all distracting from the shop process. I might notice that Gwen Stefani is imploring me to “don’t speak” for the umpteen billionth time in the Pasta Aisle, but I can still select a pasta suited to my tastes.

grocerystefani1

But this article isn’t REALLY about how much I don’t like that ridiculous singer, no matter how many snarky observations I have on hand, or outright insults if we dare speak of the Hollaback Girl Fiasco. This is about the handful of times when I have been out shopping for food items, and the speakers in the store have played a song that was so noteworthy for its soul-sucking depression, its sheer catchiness, or its just plain old out-of-placedness, that I had to stop shopping until it was over.

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In honor of the 141st Annual Kentucky Derby this Sunday, we are dedicating this post to one of our favorite heroes of all time: Secretariat. (You can find a Secretariat paper doll here.)

Secretariat is the greatest horse who ever lived. What an earnest and determined guy he was! Big Red, as he was sometimes known, was just about the fastest horse in the known universe (or wherever horses are!) and set records in 1973 that still stand today.

St. Secretariat by Amanda Wood

When Secretariat was born in 1970, just after midnight on March 30, nobody knew that little horse would be a household name.  He became so famous beyond the racetrack that he was on the covers of Time and Newsweek. Not bad for an equine athlete! He was given to Penny Chenery after birth as the result of a coin toss agreement between the stud owner and the owner of the gentle mother of Big Red. His name was chosen by the secretary of the stable.

Secretariat raced until he was 3 years old, per his contract. Most racehorses are itty bitty little children, runnin’ in their prime. He retired at age 3 with an acclaim that only 10 other horses can boast, winning the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in the United States.

After his death in 1989, during a necropsy (a normal procedure for a deceased horse), the veterinarian described his heart as a “huge engine.” It was estimated to be 2 ¾ times the size of an average thoroughbred racehorse’s heart. He was put down humanely after being afflicted with an often incurable disease. Unlike most racehorses, whose head, hooves, and heart are buried together, Secretariat was buried whole, an honor befitting the Saint that he is.

Should I really describe the races to you? Of course not. You should watch them, below, with very dramatic music included.

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Books are amazing. You should read a lot of books. Everyone should! If you didn’t know, this week is National Library Week. There are lots of ways to celebrate! We’re sure you can think of some, but here are some pretty obvious suggestions:

  • Go to your local library and check out a book! If you haven’t read in a while, it’s the perfect time to try out a new option or an old favorite. You can always ask a librarian for help, of course!
  • Buy some new books for your own library/collection/bookshelf/pile at a library sale! My library is having theirs this weekend; two years ago I spent $100 on books under $3, so I’m trying not to bring too much money this time. Although, it was nice of the librarian to drive us home.
  • Do you not have a library card yet? Show your love by getting one this week! Usually, all it takes is proof of address, to show that it is indeed your local library, and a short application. Some libraries even let you do it online, but you might as well go in.
  • Come on, just go.

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Sleep doesn’t really come to me easily. I am regularly snubbed by the Sandman, and I have been for many, many years now. I’ve tried a lot of different methods to promote a peaceful slumber, regular sleep patterns, or even just a block of snoozing that winds up being semi-restful. Some things work for a while, but apparently my unconscious mind hates routine as much as my awake mind does, because it eventually gets bored and rejects it. Boo hoo all I want is to sleep!

This is all I ever want!

However, over the past few months, I have discovered the joys of hours-long YouTube videos with ambient sounds! It actually worked for me to drift off while listening to ten hours of rainfall, eleven hours of rushing stream, or twelve hours of ocean sounds. When I realized that hours of moving-water noises might actually mess with my sleeping bladder, I tried nifty things like eight hours of forest and six hours of English countryside and dear lord even eight hours of a cat purring. Those sunny ones were both good for having that midday nap feeling and the cat one somehow begins to massage the center of your brain… I have even dozed happily to twelve hours of ambient engine noise from a Star Trek ship, even though I do not really ever watch that show!

Tibetan bowls, lakes, white noise, the sounds of busy restaurants, and binaural theta waves – there are so many excellent videos on here just to make our lives more restful. Thousands of hours just sitting there, waiting for you to discover and test out. But, there are some that just don’t do it right. The first couple of times were accidental, but I immediately noticed that they affected me as I slept. I’ve gone and tested a few in the name of SCIENCE and I’ve come out a changed person – a more cautious person. I am here to tell you to not do these things. Do not do as I have done.

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Long have we all heard the cry, “Never forget the Alamo!” Or is it, “Remember the Alamo”? One of these things has been echoing out of Texas for our lifetimes, and maybe some lifetimes before ours. But what is it really? What IS the Alamo? I know I could ask wikipedia, but I’m asking you, on this, the anniversary of The Battle of the Alamo! Pop quiz, kidlets.

Amandy Crockett

In the meantime, I’ll tell you what I know for sure.

The Alamo is in Texas, of course. It is a fortress. I’ve been told that it is smaller than you’d think. On March 6, one hundred and seventy-nine years ago, a bunch of American soldiers and living legends got killed by Mexican soldiers. I think the reason Texas considers it a victory is because the Americans held out for an astonishingly long time in the face of such strong adversity. But the Alamo should be remembered for far more important things than that.

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