Brain Food: Winter/Spring 2018

Welcome to Brain Food! In this segment I will show up once every month or two to share content I found educational, inspirational, or just flat-out interesting to my curious brain. I won’t be showing you how to cook brains (although I could see how you would think that). Since I don’t want my writing to become an echo chamber of my own thoughts and style, I’ve been assigning myself a lot of reading lately, but after a while I need to learn by listening - so there’s a healthy mix of written and spoken word. You won't find any reviews here, just content with a brief introduction so you know what you're in for. Because this is the Internet Age, I’ve peppered this posts with links to make everything easier for you to access - just look for anything bold and orange

A brief disclaimer, before we jump in: A link in this list doesn’t indicate a whole-hearted endorsement of the persons or organizations behind the content. I’m an adult, and sometimes choose to filter through more grown-up stuff to take in helpful information and techniques. If you’re an adult, hooray for you! Proceed with your own discretion and conscience. If you’re still a kid, check in with your local parental units before clicking through on the links with stars at the end.

Visuals

Martin Parr

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He’s been a street photographer longer than it’s been an official thing. When I was gearing up for a personal project, his name kept appearing under images I would save for reference - I particularly love his use of color and environment (he doesn’t shy away from either). Mr. Parr is also wonderfully no-nonsense, and if you ever watch an interview with him you will see nothing of the aloof artist about him.

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Photo credit to Martin Parr. *  Obviously.

Listened

Stuff You Missed in History Class: Nellie Bly & Stunt Journalism

You know I love stories about a girl with gumption. Nelly Bly was a lady journalist with gumption in spades, and it led her to go undercover to expose misdeeds in a New York insane asylum, among other things.  

Art Curious: Was Vincent Van Gogh Accidentally Murdered? 

In this episode podcast host, curator, and art geek Jennifer Dasal tackles the death of Van Gogh with historical and emotional depth. While it's tempting to look at the more sensational aspects of Vincent's life, she did a fantastic job taking a deeper look at the story. Van Gogh on over and check it out (I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help myself - and yes, I’m aware that it’s technically pronounced “Goff”)!

My Man Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse

If you don’t know about the Overdrive app (and if you know me in person, I’ve probably harangued you about it before), you should download it. You can connect with your local library’s audio and ebook library and have access to countless classics. If you like slightly absurd and delightfully British humor, My Man Jeeves is a good place to start.

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Bright Star Soundtrack

On a whim I went to see this show when it came through town, and it stole my heart! The music is a lovely blend of narrative New York and the bluegrass I grew up hearing under circus tents and in apple orchards, and the content brings out beauty and hope in the difficult situations. *

Watched

Retro Reports from The New York Times: Bite-sized but surprisingly in-depth, these videos take us back to issues we’ve forgotten with the clarity hindsight often lends. This is a perfect example, reviewing that famous ‘old lady sues McDonald’s over hot coffee being hot’ case.

Pie a la Road : Show tunes + Broadway doings have been a significant part of Dohm culture since we were tiny (evenings with Lawrence Welk from one side of grandparents, Andrew Lloyd Webber on the other). Imagine the joy in my nerdy little heart when I discovered the broadway.com vlogs. This series takes you behind the scenes of the touring musical Waitress; you get a slice of real life, show life, road tripping, and everything in between.

Dealing With Rejection: This panel is composed of published authors and a literary agent, and they do not shy away from the facts. As a writer, rejections will fly at you a million miles a minute, and it will hurt your artist’s ego. Then what? Legendary journalist Bob Woodward commented that his trade is more about stamina than anything - these ladies provide information and advice to help you keep moving forward, and find the right audience. *

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Read

Short Stuff (yes, that’s a short joke. I’m 5’2”, I can make those):

What Van Gogh’s Self Portraits Can Teach Us: One of my favorite artists shows up on the list yet again, mixed with philosophy, introspection, and metaphors. What more could a girl ask for in an article?

How Butter Fueled the Protestant Reformation: Seriously. I can’t add anything to this title, just go read it.

The Friday Night Meatball Recipe That Changed My Life: One woman’s perspective on hospitality in a modern era, how to keep it simple and sweet, and building a community by offering good food and better company (I think her idea’s so good, I fully expect to implement in my own establishment).

Long Form:

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon: A followup to his creative manifesto Steal Like an Artist, Kleon packs this small book to the brim practical advice to creatives. The how, what, when, and why of sharing your work can all be found in these pages (along with some pretty darn good blackout poetry). Reading it was part of the reason for me starting up this little segment, and guess where I found it? Overdrive.

Noble’s Book of Writing Blunders (and how to avoid them): This book delves into the mechanics of good writing without straying into the realm of too technical. Using real-world examples and exactly no sentence diagrams, Noble convinced me that the passive voice is a Very Bad crutch, taught me to examine my adverbs and adjectives, and to just give in and use ‘said’ when the occasion calls for it. *

That's all that I have for now, folks! I'd love to hear what's been inspiring you lately - if you have come across something  particularly thought-provoking, send it over to megan@thistleandsun.com . I don't bite, I promise.