homosexuality, music, psychology, YouTube

Phil Donahue inadvertently introduces me to a virtuoso…

Monday, after I had finished my usual chores, I was trying to decide what to do with the afternoon. Suddenly, I remembered the old talk show, Donahue, which aired the whole time I was growing up in the 80s. Hosted by the follicle blessed Phil Donahue, husband of actress, Marlo Thomas, this was a show I heard a lot about in those days, but never watched. It was a precursor to Maury Povich and Geraldo Rivera, and even Oprah Winfrey and her protege, Dr. Phil. But, as I was a child in the early 80s, I wasn’t interested in watching talk shows. I do remember the theme music, though, because I think my mom was a fan, even though Donahue was pretty liberal for those days.

Anyway, I went searching on YouTube, and sure enough, someone had posted episodes of Donahue that dated to the early 80s. The first episode I watched was particularly engrossing, as it aired on November 17, 1982. I was ten years old, and AIDS was becoming the latest public health terror. Prior to that year, AIDS existed, but rank and file Americans didn’t hear about it, because people mainly got it in Africa. On that November 1982 episode of Donahue, there were several fascinating guests. There was, Dr. Dan William, a doctor who was one of the pioneers in treating AIDS. Phillip Lanzaratta, man who had Kaposi’s sarcoma was there to talk about the then rare cancerous lesion he had because of AIDS. And there was also, Larry Kramer, a leader of a gay men’s crisis organization. All three of these guests are now dead, although Larry Kramer died fairly recently– in 2020, I believe.

If you have time and are interested, this is a fascinating episode.

What really struck me about the AIDS episode of Donahue is just how new and terrifying the disease was, and just how little we knew about it. I grew up in the time when kids who were unlucky enough to get HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, were not allowed to go to school. Ryan White was one of my contemporaries; he was six months older than me. Years later, I also read the heartbreaking story of Ariel Glaser, daughter of actor Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky and Hutch) and his late white, Elizabeth Glaser, who started hemorrhaging when she was giving birth in 1981. She was given a blood transfusion that, sadly, was contaminated with the virus. She breastfed Ariel, who contracted the virus that way. Elizabeth didn’t know she had the virus until 1985, when she and Ariel both mysteriously got sick. Ariel died in 1988, and her mother helped found the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Elizabeth, who died in 1994, also had a son with Paul Michael Glaser, Jake. Jake was born with HIV, but has survived into adulthood. Before she died, Elizabeth wrote a book called In the Absence of Angels, which is a great read. I read the paperback version years ago. Maybe I should try to read it again.

Joshua Bell’s dad!

Since I had nothing better to do, I watched the next episode of Donahue that came up on YouTube. That episode, which aired October 14, 1981, had to do with homosexuality. The episode’s title was “Are Gays Born This Way?” I don’t think Lady Gaga was yet born when this show aired. 😉 The guests were Alan Bell, Ph.D. (author of “Sexual Preference”) and Lawrence Hatterer, M.D. (Professor of Psychiatry at Cornell University), each of whom came to their respective conclusions in different ways. I was particularly interested in Dr. Bell’s comments. He was very emphatic about his conclusions. He also reminded me of an old soap opera actor I used to enjoy on Guiding Light, Ron Raines, who played Alan Spaulding in the later years of the show. Interestingly enough, he took over a role that was played by the late Christopher Bernau, who was gay and died in 1988 of a heart attack that was brought on by AIDS. Bernau was only 49 years old when he passed– same age I am now.

Are Gays Born This Way? Yes… but it would take many years before Lady Gaga gave us the news.

I got caught up in the commercials, too, which were very different back then. They were longer, involved actual acting, and often starred people who went on to big fame. For instance, during the Donahue show, the actor Ian Ziering (of the original 90210 fame and a former Guiding Light alum) is in an ad for Scott paper towels. I’m pretty sure I saw Shelley Long, before her film and Cheers days, hawking furniture in another ad.

I looked up Alan Bell, and learned that his son, Joshua, is an incredibly gifted violinist. Much to my shame, I had no idea. He’s a few years older than I am, and very cute. Joshua Bell’s mother, Shirley Bell, worked as a therapist, and his father, Alan Bell, was a highly regarded psychologist at Indiana University. Shirley Bell’s mother was from Minsk, in Belarus, and her father was from Palestine; hence, she was Jewish. Bell was of Scottish descent. No wonder Joshua Bell had such great musical chops. 😉 The story goes that when Joshua was very young, he used rubber bands to make strings across the nine knobs on his dresser. His mother caught him plucking out music he’d heard her playing on the piano. Being a savvy sort of mom, Shirley Bell found her son a violin teacher. Now, Joshua Bell plays a Stradivarius and makes absolutely beautiful music. Seriously, I’m listening to him play as I write this… he really is extraordinary, and he doesn’t just play the classics.

The song I was just listening to… SIGH!!!!
And Joshua Bell playing “live”.

I also learned that Joshua Bell had a touch of his dad in him. Some years ago, he conducted an experiment for the Washington Post, donning a New York Yankees baseball cap and playing 45 minutes for free in the Washington, DC metro station. He earned $32.17 from passersby, not counting the $20 someone who recognized him gave him. Three days prior to his “free” concert in the metro station, Bell earned a whole lot more money playing for paying customers at a concert. Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his article about the experiment.

Fascinating! You just never know who’s busking.

As an aside, I always make a point of giving money to buskers. I know how much goes into learning how to play music, and I appreciate the ambiance they contribute, especially in Europe. There have been a few occasions when I’ve even cried listening to some of the more talented street players. Like, for instance, a certain Polish guitarist Bill and I met last time we visited Florence (in 2013). We will be going back to Florence at the end of this month. I hope I run into Piotr again… and I’m so glad we bought his beautiful CD.

My friend Donna used to work at a classical radio station when she was a teenager. She said she had a huge crush on Joshua Bell back then. I’m ashamed to say that I simply hadn’t heard of him until two days ago, but last night, I bought several of his albums not having heard them before. I am listening to them now, and I’m not sorry I bought them. And to think I have Phil Donahue to thank for this! Who says you can’t learn from TV? Or from YouTube, for that matter?

Speaking of YouTube… about a month ago, some people on RfM who had endured some of my videos told me that I should try singing on camera. I don’t typically do that, because I get very self-conscious about my appearance. Also, I don’t put on makeup or regular clothes unless I’m going out in public, which I don’t do very often these days. But one poster was pretty adamant that I should try it. He also looks forward to seeing me play guitar and sing at the same time on video. I decided to buy a mic stand after that discussion, but only got around to making an on camera video yesterday. No, I’m not quite ready to play and sing at the same time, but yesterday I decided to record my version of an Alison Krauss cover of “Dreaming My Dreams With You”. I got notified by my favorite karaoke track vendor that the recording was available, so I downloaded it… and since yesterday, it was chilly and cloudy and I wanted to stall walking the dogs, I decided to try it on camera. I kind of cringe watching it, but the music turned out nicely, I think.

No makeup, no bra, and in fact, that is one of my nightgowns I am wearing… But it was well-received, anyway. I shocked a few people who knew me in high school, when I didn’t sing.

I don’t know what today will hold. Wednesday isn’t a big household chore day for me, so I’ll probably watch more Donahue. He does seem to be pretty interested in homosexuality… or at least he was in the 80s. But what really blows me away are some of the comments from the audience members. Listening to some of these folks is a reminder of how different society was in the early 80s. It’s a poignant look at what people who weren’t (or aren’t) straight had to deal with in the days before many people started to accept that not everyone is cisgendered. I generally have a lot of compassion for people who are different, but I am especially compassionate towards people who grew up at a time when it was especially difficult to be who they really are without risking huge consequences. And listening to some of the callers and audience members talk about homosexuality really just drives home what a challenge that must have been for so many people. My heart goes out to them.

Well, so ends another blog post. I’m going to practice guitar and maybe walk the dogs… and then I might look for another rabbit hole to fall into. Later, y’all!

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ads, expressions, music, videos, YouTube

A new right wing anthem…

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in my bedroom, halfway zoned out as I listened to Rover’s Makeover on YouTube. Suddenly, there was an ad, which, as usual, came at an inopportune time. I usually skip the ads on YouTube as soon as I can. Most of the ones I get are in German, anyway. But yesterday, I wasn’t able to immediately hit the “skip ads” button, so I actually heard the opening lines of what turned out to be a new “song” by Canadian rapper Tom MacDonald and Adam Calhoun. I was so shocked and appalled by them that I listened to the whole thing. Below is the video that played. It certainly got my attention.

Yikes. Wouldn’t want to bring either of them home for dinner.

At the risk of sounding like a Boomer, I think this song is pretty atrocious. However, as I listened to it, I realized that a lot of people are going to identify with it. I found the song on YouTube and noticed that the comments on it were overwhelmingly positive. There are a lot of very angry people in the United States right now who don’t feel heard or respected. And that’s one of the main reasons why we had to endure four years of Donald Trump as our president.

Now that Trump has been ousted, these newly emboldened folks are doubly pissed off. So people like Tom MacDonald and his ilk make bank by writing songs that rally more anger and hatred, and spread disinformation. I have a feeling this song could be a hit among a lot of fed up people, and it might even inspire violence among those who are “pissed the fuck off” and feel “moved” to do something drastic.

I played this song for Bill this morning. After it was finished, Bill said “Well, the song does make a few valid points.” And that’s true. I can see how some people come to the conclusions made in this artistic endeavor. What concerns me, though, is that the song promotes violence, division, and rage instead of peace, solidarity, kindness, and mutual understanding. It adds fuel to an already burgeoning fire, instead of encouraging cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. We really don’t need more people getting pissed off and taking up arms. I think we need to come together and embrace our better natures, not go off half cocked, looking for more fights. But that’s just my opinion.

I am all for artistic expression, and I’m totally against censorship. That’s why I’m writing about this today, realizing that there will be people who will go listen to the song and determine whether or not they agree with its message. Frankly, even though I am a “white person”, and according to this song, I should be feeling disrespected, ignored, and pissed off about minorities and liberals asking for fair and humane treatment, I was unpleasantly shocked and offended by the “New World Order”. As this was playing, I was literally stunned into silence. And then I felt kind of worried. After reading the comments on YouTube, I realized that this song will speak to and probably inspire people to continue being divisive and hateful.

I feel like this song expresses some ideas that are very twisted. However, even though I think the ideas are twisted, I can sort of see how and why some people have them. It takes time and, often, personal experience and thoughtfulness, for people to change their views. I’ve mentioned before, for instance, that I think it’s unrealistic to expect all people to immediately embrace ideas that, for all of time, were either once considered taboo or were once okay, but aren’t anymore. And it takes time for people to shed prejudices and ignorance. It’s best that they do that on their own accord, rather than feeling like they’ve been forced.

I don’t think that tolerance and “political correctness” are things that can be necessarily ordered or legislated. For instance, we can demand that people stop being racist or sexist by enacting new policies, but secretly, a lot of people will still be sexist and racist. They just won’t be as open about it. I think this song sort of drives home that point. A lot of people still have what some people think of as “disgusting attitudes” that they keep under wraps. The fact that so many people agree with these lyrics and are praising them on YouTube tell me that a disturbing number of people deeply resent progressive ideas and “woke” culture. And those are the people who will embrace someone who will give their feelings a voice. I think Tom MacDonald and Adam Calhoun will probably make a lot of money with this song. But I hope that the money they will make isn’t tainted by the senseless and tragic hurting and killing of innocent people.

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of excessively “woke” culture myself. I don’t like the smug attitudes that some extremely liberal people espouse, as if they are so much more evolved than more conservative people are. And I can understand, completely, the chorus of the song, even if I think the sentiment is rather petulantly expressed. The verses are what really disturb me– along with the conflation of situations that don’t really compare, and are, in my view, poor examples of “injustices”– particularly against white people.

Like, for instance, some people’s “need” to carry weapons everywhere, and comparing the need to have guns, and being a so-called “good guy with a gun”, to putting out a sudden fire with a fire extinguisher instead of calling a fire brigade. So many people have been killed by gun violence, many of whom were perfectly innocently going about their business. I’m sorry. I can’t compare a classroom full of six year olds being gunned down at school, to a sudden fire that requires an immediate response with a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers don’t usually kill people, unless, of course, they’re being used by a right wing thug to bludgeon and kill a cop at an attempted coup. Guns are expressly made to maim and kill people and animals. It’s as simple as that. And these two situations are NOT comparable… but I know that many people will think of them in that way.

Same thing goes for the lyrics comparing a deadbeat dad who doesn’t support his children to a woman who decides to have an abortion. The situations are NOT comparable. Paying child support and being an attentive parent is not the same as putting one’s health and very life on the line to gestate a potential human being. Paying child support does not, for instance, necessarily cause someone to get sick with eclampsia or force them to delay cancer treatment… and the vast majority of parents paying child support made a choice to bring a child into the world. Sometimes people who get pregnant got that way because they were forced to have sex. In very few cases, are males forced to be fathers. They can almost always choose to keep their pants zipped or use a condom, save for a few very rare exceptions.

The verse about blackface being wrong compared to transgender people is just plain offensive and overly simplified. But– I can understand how certain “salt of the earth” types will think it makes perfect sense. I know that a lot of people are upset that they are being asked to deny what they were taught as children– that there are only two sexes and a person is either one or the other. I can understand why that is upsetting to them, but I am repulsed by the hatred and profound ignorance behind how that condition is expressed in this song. Like, they won’t even try to empathize with someone who might be suffering because they can’t identify with the either/or male or female model. I don’t think transgender people are a threat to humanity, and it’s sad that some people are so threatened by those who simply aren’t like them.

Also… as someone who has actually spent time in a formerly communist/Soviet country, it really disturbs me how people who clearly do not have actual experience or even real knowledge of what communism and socialism are try to compare the United States to China. There is no comparison. But these lyrics continue to drive home the fear and ignorance behind so many people’s opinions regarding different government models. Also, a lot of them don’t seem to realize that some of our most celebrated and vaunted government programs are pretty “socialist”. One prime example is the military system, which is very much a government regulated entity. But try to get some career military service people to give up their retirement pensions and “perks”, and there will be a backlash, won’t there? Yet, a lot of them will only vote for Republicans, who are deemed more “military friendly”… as they go to their government owned quarters, shop at the commissary, and get their and their families’ healthcare needs taken care of on military installations, free of charge.

Anyway… I think it’s clear how I feel about “New World Order”. I think it’s a profoundly ignorant song that takes some elements of truth and twists them in lyrics, sets the lyrics to a catchy beat, and will, unfortunately, rile up equally ignorant people who lack perspective and don’t have any regard for anyone besides themselves. I really think it’s a disgusting song. But, as I am all for freedom of expression, I’m not going to call for it to be censored. In fact, by sharing this post, I know I’m simply raising awareness of this song and, perhaps, even promoting it.

Some people will read this post, listen to the song, and determine that they like and agree with it. And when people downvote it because it’s offensive and hateful, they will complain about censorship by the left wing media. Could it be that a lot of us just don’t think that this is the right way? I’d like to hope so… and I hope there are more people wanting to make things better for EVERYONE, instead of selfishly focusing on the perceived hatred, disrespect, and disenfranchisement of white people.

Again, YouTube showed this to me as an AD… I don’t think the song is being censored by YouTube. I saw it twice yesterday without having searched for it. It just popped up as I was watching something I actually wanted to see. I was stunned and offended by the video, and wholeheartedly disagree with its message. And while Tom MacDonald and Adam Calhoun will no doubt make money and win over fans with this, I think this song’s message is just going to make things worse for everyone. What a terrible shame.

Below are the lyrics for those who don’t want to listen to the video:

Here’s the problem with America, the country is broken
’Cause they minds stay closed but they mouths stay open
Get attacked and we blame terrorists, go broke and we blame the price
Blame racists for the racism but only if their skin is white

If we don’t need guns ’cause we can call the police
We don’t need fire extinguishers, call the fireman, please
You didn’t wanna build a wall and now the border is weak
Your favorite actor has a gate that’s like 15 feet

Racism is gay, if you’re offended, that’s retarded
Intolerance is great until you speak and you’re a target
If a white man paints his face black he’s a racist piece of garbage
But you put him in a dress and he’s courageous and he’s gorgeous

All these double standards, man, I’m tired of the noise
Freedom’s an illusion if they censor your voice
Call a dad a deadbeat for neglecting his boys
But a mom kills a baby and you call it pro-choice

[Chorus: Tom MacDonald & Adam Calhoun]
You act like you’re so much better than us
Yeah, we know that
Who told you that you so special?
But you’re a new world order
Your facts ain’t facts without censorin’ us
Yeah, we know that
Good job, you loses your medal
But you’re a new world order

[Verse 2: Adam Calhoun]
Why they hate the flag, they try to burn it to the ground
Don’t do that in front of me, I’ma let off a round (Pow)
Scream loud, burn the city down now
Put it on the news, make ’em all feel proud

Look, make a system where 85% of black people fill the prison
Is it ’cause they black, or they make bad decisions?
I ain’t good at math, but it seems like it’s division
Or is it white privilege?

I believe politicians need to be locked up
Try to take our freedoms, that’s how you get shot up
Got our back against the wall, try to just stop us
More guns, more ammunition, please stock up

Election gets rigged, rights get infringed
Take the syringe, frighten your kids
Show up right where you live
Make me wanna grab a rifle and just go… (*Bang*)

[Chorus: Tom MacDonald & Adam Calhoun]
You act like you’re so much better than us
Yeah, we know that
Who told you that you so special?
But you’re a new world order
Your facts ain’t facts without censorin’ us
Yeah, we know that
Good job, you loses your medal
But you’re a new world order

[Verse 3: Tom MacDonald & Adam Calhoun]
And everyone blames white folks for every little bitty thing
We don’t have no one to blame, we take responsibility
They tell you be a man, then call it toxic masculinity
Then when you act feminine they call it white fragility

I don’t understand, trans-man, with humility
I’m just tryna raise my kid the best of my ability
If I disagree you try to cancel, get rid of me
You can’t, so you can’t be the answer, you killin’ me

And I hate white supremacy just as much as you
But I ain’t feelin’ guilty for somethin’ I didn’t do
The system’s killin’ everyone, it sucks but it’s true
They kill you then they broadcast it and call it the news

Or they’ll brainwash you through social media feeds
And if you disagree, they’ll eat you immediately
Make America China, pretty easy to see
I will always remember the land of the free

[Chorus: Tom MacDonald & Adam Calhoun]
You act like you’re so much better than us
Yeah, we know that
Who told you that you so special?
But you’re a new world order
Your facts ain’t facts without censorin’ us
Yeah, we know that
Good job, you loses your medal
But you’re a new world order

And below is a sampling of the comments on the video…

To that last commenter, I will say that YouTube showed this song to me twice yesterday as an ad. I don’t think it’s being censored.
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education, lessons learned, music

Is teaching activism a “bad” thing?

Brace yourselves, y’all. I have a new topic to discuss today!

I am a proud graduate of Longwood College, now known as Longwood University. It’s a medium sized liberal arts college in the dead center of Virginia. When I was a student there, it was smaller than it is now. In fact, I know I would be shocked by the huge changes to the campus since I attended in the early 90s. Not only has the campus changed significantly, but apparently, so has the curriculum. Longwood is offering what I think are some very exciting and innovative courses.

Longwood is the kind of school where students are nurtured and encouraged to try new things by professors who really care. I graduated from Longwood in 1994, and 28 years later, there are still people there who remember me when I was a student. I also have so many real friends from my years at Longwood. It’s at Longwood that I started developing my gift for music, and was allowed– and even strongly encouraged and recruited– to study music, just because I have a knack for it. The faculty at Longwood is, by and large, first rate. And while it was not my first choice college, it turned out to be an excellent choice for me. My four years at Longwood truly changed my life for the better.

Naturally, because I am such a booster, I follow Longwood on social media. And this morning, I noticed a post about a new and exciting course that is being offered this spring. Longwood now offers a Civitae Core Curriculum, which did not exist during my college years. Back when I was a student, we called the core curriculum “general ed”. But things have clearly changed, and now freshmen can take a course called Citizen 110– Music Identity and Social Change. This class, which is taught by Honors faculty member, Dr. Kevin Schattenkirk-Harbaugh, will explore how music can inspire people to take action. It will look at artists such as Billie Holliday, George Michael, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, and others, to see how music motivates people to take interest and action in the world.

Now… as a music lover who took many music electives at Longwood to supplement my major in English, I know that this class would intrigue me. I haven’t taken a close look at Longwood’s Civitae Core Curriculum, but my guess is that this class is just one choice of several that students can take to fulfill their degree requirements. Based on the class description, I can state with certainty that I would have wanted to take this class myself. It sounds exciting and interesting. And based on the Facebook comments I’ve seen so far, I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who would be interested in taking this course.

Still, there’s a critic in every crowd, and this post was no exception. A woman, who apparently isn’t even a Longwood alum, wrote this:

Activism? This is what parents are paying for?

Another commenter wrote:

The history of activism inspired by music. A unique and interesting examination of how music has inspired some…

And the original commenter responded with:

I get that. But to what purpose? To incite more activism?

I couldn’t help but get the idea that the poster thinks activism is a “bad” thing. And while I usually try not to respond to people on social media, and had already passed my self-imposed one comment per day quota, I felt compelled to leave a response. This is mainly because the person’s comment irked me on many levels, but also because I know I would have LOVED a class like this in the early 1990s:

No. To teach students about how music inspires people to take action. What’s wrong with that? A lot of positive changes have come out of activism. Aside from that, not everyone who takes that course will eventually wind up taking to the streets.

Not all college students are having college paid for by their parents, either. When I went to Longwood, I knew a number of people who were older students and paying for their own education. Or they were in school on scholarship. As legal adults, Longwood students should be trusted to choose electives that interest them. If the course turns out to be inappropriate or unpopular, that will be reflected eventually.

I don’t know this poster at all, but her comment really troubles me. From the implied assumption that all students in college get their tuition paid for by their parents, to the idea that teaching adults about how music inspires action could potentially be damaging, I feel personally affronted by this person’s comment. However, I am not sorry she posted, because her comment did lead me to do some thinking and writing about something besides my current pet topics. I do enjoy reflecting on my time at Longwood, and all of the things I learned there, as well as the many good times I had when I was a student there.

When I was a Longwood student, Virginia was a more conservative state. There was a Confederate statute that stood just off campus. I remember watching many drunken fraternity brothers climbing it at night. While there were some innovative classes offered during that time period, I don’t remember ever seeing a course with such a provocative title on offer at Longwood during my era. I think this new class is a sign that my alma mater is evolving, and I think that’s a really good thing.

Longwood has a long, storied reputation as a school where great teachers are trained. It makes sense to me that new courses with exciting subject matter would be offered. My only hope is that this class allows for constructive discussion from many different perspectives. I hope and expect that the professor who teaches it will allow students to explore the topic from all angles. There will be some students in that class who are conservative, and not politically correct in their opinions. There will also be some students who will take a much more liberal view. I hope that all sides will have a voice, and it won’t be a course in which opinions are taught as fact.

BUT– after my own seven years’ experience as a university student at two different schools, I have found that course quality often has a lot to do with who is doing the teaching. Having spent four years at Longwood, I have every expectation that this class will be taught in a way that encourages reflection and broad thought. It sounds like it will be a treat to take this course. I truly wish I could take it myself, and it’s exciting to me that it’s being offered now. I wish I had a son or daughter I could have sent to Longwood. I have to be contented in seeing some of my old friends’ children deciding to attend college there.

Below is a screenshot of a description of this class:

It sounds great to me!

One of the great things about getting a liberal arts education is having the opportunity to broaden one’s perspectives. When I got to Longwood in 1990, my world view was mostly shaped by spending ten years living in a very rural part of Virginia. Although I had the benefit of living in England and the multicultural D.C. area when I was very young, when I was growing up, I was mostly surrounded by white, southern, Christian, conservative people. My upbringing really showed when I got to Longwood, and in fact, after I graduated, I still had some limited views that could have used some informing.

My mind opened up a lot when I joined the Peace Corps and went to live in Armenia for two years. I still cringe a little bit when I think about how sheltered I was when I was in my 20s, not having been exposed to that much of the world. I remember more than a couple of times when I sounded truly idiotic– perhaps even more so than I might today. 😉

Yes, people can choose to take paths that will broaden them at any stage of life, but it would have been great to have had the chance to start the process when I was in college, rather than after I graduated. College is a time for exploration and evolution in a safe place. I think these kinds of courses are crucial for young adults who are coming of age. And they also spice up the usual basic 101 courses that are typically required for freshmen students.

And– by the way– most college students are legal adults, whether or not mom and dad are paying their tuition. Legal adults should be encouraged to take charge of their education, since they will ultimately be the benefactors of it. I know that some parents who pay college tuition bills think they should have a say in what their dollars are paying for. However, I think that’s something that needs to be handled within individual families, not at the level of parents complaining about curriculum offerings. In other words, if you– mom or dad– don’t like what Junior is taking at college, take it up with Junior. Don’t try to take educational opportunities away from everybody by assuming that you, as a parent, should get a say in what courses the university offers when you’re not even a student there. Granted, this one class might not lead a student to a great job, but it might help a student become a person with a heightened awareness and broadened perspective, which could lead them to places they never dreamed of going.

So… count me among those who are cheering about this class, and others like it, that are now being offered at Longwood University. I see nothing wrong with teaching young people about activism, or how certain things– like great songs– can inspire and motivate people to take action, for better or worse. I don’t think the students who are exposed to this course are necessarily going to grab picket signs and stage protests. Some of them might do that someday, but they would probably be the types of people who would have done that, anyway. Rather, I think this class is going to make students aware that they have the power to effect change if they want to– and it doesn’t necessarily have to be for causes that are liberal, conservative, or whatever. It’s just a look at the ways music can inspire and help foster change– for better or worse. I think it sounds like it’s going to be a very stimulating and fun class, and the students are lucky there’s a professor at Longwood who had the vision to create this course. If it turns out to be a flop, that will become clear soon enough.

We shouldn’t be afraid to expose young people to new ideas or exploration of old ideas. We shouldn’t assume that they’ll go astray simply because we encourage them to reach out and learn more about things that might be controversial or against the establishment. I have great faith in the students at Longwood, and I suspect this class will be very successful. Bravo, Dr. Kevin Schattenkirk-Harbaugh! I look forward to hearing more about this course offering.

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Bill, home, housekeeping tips, music, YouTube

The power of teamwork and learning new skills…

Bill had to work late last night. Originally, he planned to go to work at noon and stay until 9:00pm, which would have been a reasonable work day. But it turned out that things kind of went to shit early in the morning, so he ended up heading to work at 7:30am. He stayed until 9:00pm.

I knew it was going to be a crazy week, and after nineteen years of marriage, I understand the nature of Bill’s work. Sometimes he has to work at odd times. Sometimes he has to work very long hours. I wasn’t even that annoyed yesterday that he had to go in earlier than planned. In fact, I kind of expected it. Bill is a very dedicated employee and he’s extremely empathic. He knew they needed him, so he jumped right in to get the job done.

Last night, I was sitting in our bedroom listening to Katie Joy’s Without A Crystal Ball stream about Josh Duggar’s trial. I don’t even think I was paying a lot of attention to what was being said. I’ve been trying really hard to finish a book, but every time I try to read, I get really drowsy and either fall asleep or have to take a nap. I want to get the book finished, because I’m really looking forward to reviewing it.

At around 8:00pm, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything and felt like having pizza. So I went down to the kitchen and started making dough. I made a full recipe, so there were two crusts. I put one in the freezer. We have a pizza stone that I haven’t personally used much, although I have made pizza lots of times. Nowadays, Bill does most of the cooking. So I watched a video on how to use a pizza peel.

This was a big help! And yes, I was successful.

I used to be a great cook. I was even paid to cook at one time in my life. I am out of practice, though. It’s great to have YouTube around for handy household tips like this. Nineteen years as an overeducated housewife, you’d think I would have learned sooner.

By 9:00pm, I had eaten two slices of the delicious small pizza I made. The crust was infused with raw garlic, and I had topped it with bacon, green peppers, pepperoni, and lots of cheese. I never said I was a healthy eater. I cleaned up the kitchen, noticing that the oven door was brown with disgusting caked on gunk. Ex landlady liked to used the word “encrusted”. Well, in the case of our oven, the term fit. So I Googled how to clean oven doors, since I had great success with my quest in finding out how to clean the glass fireplace doors a couple of weeks ago.

Sure enough, some lovely housewife blogger provided a simple hack for cleaning oven doors. That was my project this morning, scrubbing the hell out of the inside of the oven door. I got most of the gunk off.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Bill got home at 9:21pm. I had two slices of pizza for him on a plate that I wrapped and put in the refrigerator. I also brought up his beer from the Advent calendar. We both have different ones, since Master of Malt is no longer shipping to Germany or the United States. I used to get us really fun liquor filled calendars from them.

He had stopped at the grocery store and picked up some food to cook. He wasn’t expecting that I had already cooked. But now there’s food to cook tonight, because he’s working late again. Since he was so happy that I made pizza, I might get inspired again today. Maybe I’ll even get fancy and make something healthier!

Bill was definitely delighted that there was already something for him to eat, but for some reason, he thought of me anyway and brought this home…

And one other thing I did yesterday that involved teamwork was collaborating with another YouTuber. Some time ago, I stumbled across a guitar player named John. We have similar tastes in music. A few days ago, he ran across a recording I did of Joni Mitchell’s song, “Urge for Going”. He wrote to me and said he loved it, and wanted to know if I would be willing to sing it to his guitar playing so he could add some harmony. He says he’s obsessed with harmony. So he sent me a recording of his guitar part.

This was the video John found and liked. On this one, it’s just me and a background recording.

I made a recording with my vocals and John’s guitar yesterday. It wasn’t without difficulty. For some reason, when I try to record lately, the music sometimes skips, ruining the recording. It happens on SingSnap (a karaoke site) and on Garage Band. After many tries, I managed to get a clean rendition. I added a simple harmony line and sent it to John, who added more harmony and added it to his channel. He says he didn’t do much editing because he was busy with work. But it’s our first collaboration. Maybe we’ll do another at some point and things will get further refined.

Not too bad for a first attempt. I’m still working on learning guitar so I can accompany myself more.

Personally, I wouldn’t have put as much harmony on this. I would have confined it to the chorus, which you can hear that I did. But hell, it’s just for fun. I do enjoy listening to him play. We like a lot of the same artists. And I’m flattered that he wanted to collaborate with me in the first place.

I haven’t been doing much singing lately, mainly because of the issue I have with the music skipping. It’s very frustrating. But maybe today, I’ll spend some time finding a solution for that problem, now that I know it’s not confined to SingSnap, as I thought it was. I’ve also done the dishes and am working on the laundry. As soon as I close this post, I’ll practice guitar, and maybe eventually walk the dogs and wrap some Christmas presents… and maybe even finish that book, so I’ll have a new book review ready. I’ve got a bunch of other books waiting to be read.

It’s good to be busy, especially when Bill has to work late. Makes the time pass… And I’m so grateful to YouTube and fellow bloggers for teaching me handy housekeeping tips that my mom never taught me.

P.S. I get a kick out of Bill’s penchant for sending me military-esque emails. I asked him to bring home some more baking soda, vinegar, aluminum foil, and bar soap. His response was “Okay. Acknowledge all.” I’m surprised he didn’t write “Roger.”, which he’s also been known to do.

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book reviews, celebrities, mental health, music

Repost: Judy Collins shares her thoughts on Cravings…

And here’s a repost that was originally written May 13, 2017. It appears as/is.

I have loved Judy Collins’ beautiful music since I was about 18 years old.  She’s recorded so many beautiful songs over the years and inspired others as well.  Although I knew she’d had trouble with alcohol and eating disorders, I didn’t know the extent of her problems until I picked up her latest book, Cravings: How I Conquered Food.

Published on February 28, 2017, Cravings offers readers insight into what may have caused Judy Collins’ issues with booze and food.  Collins’ theories may also be helpful to other readers.  The book is also about Judy Collins’ life, so if you read it, it helps to also be interested in her life story.  I suspect a lot of younger people may not be fans of Judy Collins’ music, although I think they should be.  I should also mention that this is the first book I’ve read by Judy Collins, so I wasn’t perturbed to read about her life.  Others who have read her earlier memoirs might feel like parts of this book are reruns.

Here Judy sings “Someday Soon” with Stephen Stills, who famously penned “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” in her honor.

Collins writes that when she was growing up, she loved all things made of flour, sugar, wheat, and corn.  She was addicted to sugar and would eat sweet things constantly.  That sugar obsession later turned to unsightly pounds and a neverending compulsion to eat more.  She eventually went on to become bulimic and would binge and purge to the point of developing a vocal cord hemangioma.  It almost destroyed her voice.

And one of my favorite versions. I love the piano player on this. They made a wonderful live album from the Wildflower Festival.

As she got older, Collins took up drinking and smoking.  She became an alcoholic and, for many years, would even drink heavily before and after taking the stage.  Although she indulged in self-destructive behavior, Collins somehow knew that what she was doing was dangerous.  She sought help from doctors, most of whom told her she didn’t have a problem.

Eventually, Collins realized that there was a link between her cravings for sugar, flour, wheat, and corn and her addiction to alcohol.  She eliminated the problem foods from her diet and adopted what looks to me to be a paleo diet.  She says now her weight is stable and she know longer has such intense cravings for unhealthy foods or booze.  She also credits spending time in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and employing the Grey Sheet Diet Plan for helping her to stop the insanity.

“Suite Judy Blue Eyes”

Aside from explaining her secrets to eating and drinking success, Collins writes about her son, Clark Taylor, who sadly died after committing suicide.  Collins herself attempted suicide, although she doesn’t delve too much into her experiences with suicidal ideation.  Before he passed, Clark fathered Judy Collins’ only grandchild, Hollis, who is now herself a mother.  I enjoyed reading about Judy’s family and can tell that she loves them very much.  She writes that not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about and miss her son.

I also enjoyed reading about Collins’ musical training.  Originally, she was trained as a pianist and she studied great and challenging classical works.  I never knew Judy Collins was once being groomed for the classical music world.  As she became a teenager, she was lured into folk music.  She picked up a guitar, learned how to play, and began to sing.  I was astonished to read that she once had a very limited vocal range.  Work with an excellent voice teacher eventually stretched her range to about three octaves, quite respectable for a singer.  I have always liked her voice for its ethereal quality.  I think my own style is kind of like hers.

Anyway… I thought Cravings was well-written and engaging.  It didn’t take forever to finish.  Because I haven’t read Collins’ other books, the material and new for me.  It’s also relevant for me personally on many levels.  I liked that she drew in interesting examples from history to backup her theories about diet, drinking, and health.  I learned something new in those passages.  And, given that Judy was born in 1939 and is still making albums and writing books, I figure she must be doing something right.  I recommend her book to those who are thinking about reading it.

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