In no particular order with no particular taxonomy. Subjects range from the mundane to the magnificent. All views are strictly my own.
A Cookbook (sort of, but not really)
Rarely does a cookbook stir me like this one (no pun intended). In Memory’s Kitchen: A Legacy From the Women of Terezîn is based on a handwritten cookbook written by undernourished and starving women in a the Czechoslovakian concentration camp of Terezîn—the Nazi’s “model” ghetto on the outside, but on the inside a way station to Auschwitz and other death camps. In the book, Mina Pächter and her friends talked obsessively about food. Pächter compiles the cookbook (and urged others in the camp to contribute) as a legacy for her daughter Anny Stern who was living in Palestine at the time. Sadly, these women did not survive Terezîn. However, the compilation of recipes were smuggled out of the camp prior to Pächter’s death in 1944.
Within the pages of this book are gut-wrenching messages about human suffering. Yet, even more powerful are the messages about defiance and familial and cultural legacy. This is an extraordinary book (and I’m not even Jewish).
Michael Berenbaum, the Director of the U.S. Holocaust Research Institute in Washington, D.C. eloquently writes in the foreward to In Memories Kitchen:
It is a flight of the imagination back to an earlier time when food was available, when women had homes and kitchens and could provide a meal for their children. The fantasy must have been painful for the authors. Recalling recipes was an act of discipline that required them to suppress their current hunger and to think of the ordinary world before the camps—and perhaps to dare to dream of the a world after the camps.
As such, this work—unlike conventional cookbooks—is not to be savored for its culinary offerings but for the insight it gives us in understanding the extraordinary capacity of the human spirit to transcend its surroundings, to defy dehumanization, and to dream of the past and of the future. One can sense a spiritual toughness in the sisterhood forged in these pages. It adds but another fragment to understanding an event that defies comprehension. For the imagination of those of us who were not there—even those of us who know the history so well—still cannot approach the inner courtyard of this hell” (xv-xvi)
It puts everything (including my own lackluster cooking skills) into perspective. Well-served, Mina Pächter.
I Love D-Day
[added February 8, 2016] Not that D-Day. Doris Day. She may have been mocked as a Goody Two-Shoes but don’t let her fresh-as-a-daisy countenance and fashionable exterior fool you: Doris Day is tough, resilient, determined, and multi-talented. These qualities showed through in her films that I grew up watching as a little girl. Her smile was magical (her wardrobe fabulous). My film favorites are her rom coms of the 1960s (“Lover Come Back,” “Pillow Talk,” and “Move Over, Darling“) but she showed some serious acting talent in “Love Me or Leave Me” with James Cagney and musicality in “Pajama Game.” Doris Kappelhoff (her real name) started out as a big band singer (with Les Brown) yet I actually didn’t discover her music until I was a teenager (after I discovered her films). I can see why she has been referred to by many as one of the best lyrical singers on par with Frank Sinatra. Doris has overcome some serious challenges in her lifetime—yet she has always projected gratitude and a sense of purpose beyond show biz. Without apology.
Now at the seasoned age of 92, Doris Day has aged the most gracefully out of any radio-film-TV star or human that I know. She lives in one of my favorite places (Carmel, California) and has devoted her golden years to serious philanthropic efforts. She hasn’t looked back on Hollywood, but has been fully engaged in her various animal charities. Her autobiography is pretty compelling and of the various books out there, I like Garry McGee’s bio of Doris Day titled, Sentimental Journey (on Kindle). DorisDay.com is also retro-chic as it loops her classic songs and offers vintage and recent photos. The site features a recent clip (about 3 minutes) of Doris sending holiday greetings and giving an update on her animal charities to her fans. It is heartwarming. You can also buy her 2016 calendar and her book of paper dolls. Now, that is the cat’s meow. Move over, Betty White.
Crocheting & Knitting Towards Warmer Weather
[added November 25, 2015] I can’t remember when exactly I learned to crochet. I think my older sister taught me when I was around 7 years old. I wasn’t adept at first. But I liked it. And stuck with it. I was much older before I was allowed to work with sharp knitting needles (wise decision). I love both crocheting and knitting, but only in the winter season. For a native Californian living in the northeastern United States, it is highly therapeutic. With each item I create (and then give away), I am psychologically (and technically) closer to warmer weather. I recently realized that I can classify the past four holiday seasons according to a crochet and/or knit trend in my universe:
2012 featured the knitted (and crocheted) scull cap (with round needles).
2013 debuted the wonders of the crocheted scoodie (scarf + hoodie)
2014 brought a retro-chic aura through the crocheted slouch hat
2015 is the knitted/crocheted bulky scarf. Lots of them. For everyone.
I especially appreciate how easy it is to learn new stitches and find new (and free) patterns on YouTube. (Huge learning curve between reading a knitting pattern versus watching an online tutorial). Although most of the projects aren’t the colors or exact styles I would choose, it’s fun to adapt it to my own creative tastes. A type of craft re-mixing, I suppose. There are some excellent craft vlogs out there. One of the consistently best channels (and the most educational) for crocheting is by an Aussie named Clare. Her video instructions are clear and it’s evident she is passionate about crocheting. Her YouTube Channel is BobWilson123 and she also has a page on patreon.com. If you’re a crafter/maker like me, then you are sure to get hooked. Pun intended.
HitRECord on pivot tv
[added June 30, 2015] The National Association for Media Literacy Education awarded HitRECord the 2015 Media Literate Media Award and rightly so. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s creative, collaborative, crowd-sourced program is an inspiration. Just take a look at the first episode and you’ll see why it’s one of the best new shows on one of the best new networks: pivot tv.
All things Tiffany Shlain
[Added June 12, 2014] She had me at Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology. Watch the teaser below and you’ll see why:
That is just one of the many fruits of Tiffany Shlain’s amazing creative yet oh-so-analytical brain.
Shlain is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of The Webby Awards and her San Francisco-based Moxie Institute Film Studio + Lab has had four films premiere at Sundance, won over 70 awards, and her work has been described by the New York Times as “Examining everything from the big bang to Twitter.” Three of their films have been selected by The U.S. State Department to screen at embassies around the world as part of the American Film Showcase. Their AOL Original hit series, The Future Starts Here, was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category New Approaches: Arts, Lifestyle & Culture, and has over 40 million views. Shlain also runs a sister organization to the film studio, a nonprofit called Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change that make free films for schools globally. They just organized the second annual #CharacterDay where they premiered two new films The Adaptable Mind & The Making of a Mensch to over 6700 screenings in 41 countries on Sept 18th. Oh, did I mention she’s also a wife and mother?
Shlain is simply amazing. And mindful. She is known to take a technology shabbat every Saturday to power down and live life to the fullest. (I take my technology sabbath on Sunday).
You can sign up for updates on her new films, projects and (my favorite) her quarterly newsletter of her favorite things.