Sunday, August 21, 2016

If We Were Having Coffee - (Vol. 7 Music as a Time Machine)

If we were meeting up for drinks this Sunday evening, I'd suggest we go to this place I know that's located a little northeast of the city, along the banks of the Ohio River.  This place has a nice, outdoor area with tables and chairs and offers a good view of the river.  The weather this evening is supposed to be milder and much more pleasant than it has been for weeks.  This would give us a chance to catch up properly over drinks and enjoy the beautiful evening.

After settling in at table by the edge of the deck, we'd turn our chairs so we're both facing the river.  The sun would be setting in the west and the light would dance along the surface of the water.  "Usually, the Ohio River isn't very pretty to look at," I'd say, "but there's something truly magnificent about the way it looks as the sun sets."  I'd take a sip of my mojito, savoring the slight tartness and ask how you've been.  It's been a while since we've chatted, two weeks if I'm remembering correctly.  I'd take another sip of my mojito and listen as you filled me in as to what's been going on in your world lately.

After a while, you'd ask, "What have you been up to lately, Ericka?"  

I'd look over at you and say that I've been acclimating ever so slowly to being a working professional again after having the summer off.  The transition from summer Ericka to Mrs. B, speech pathologist, is always challenging.  "The worst of it," I'd say, "is getting my butt in bed by 10 and then getting my butt out of bed when WHAM! starts singing 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' at 5:30 in the morning."  You'd laugh, nearly spewing your drink and ask, "What?"  I'd grin and then look over at you.  I'd let out a brief chuckle and say, "Yeah, I changed my alarm over the summer to 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' because I thought I though it was an appropriate wake up song."  Truth is, I'm not sure how I feel about being jolted awake each morning to "Jitterbug.  (boom, boom, boom) Jitterbug. (boom, boom, boom)."  The jury's still out on whether I'll keep it or not.

The fact that the Olympics have been on since I went back to work hasn't helped my attempts at getting back on a sleep schedule at all.   It also doesn't help that I usually get my second wind around 9 and simultaneously find myself in a lively and competitive game of Dice with Buddies.  Come 10 o'clock, I don't want to stop.  "At least tonight is the last night of the Olympics,  so I won't be enticed to stay up until 11:00 o'clock anymore watching events."  I'd sigh and then continue, "As for the Dice with Buddies thing, I think I'm just screwed."  You'd laugh and call me a nut.  I'd smile and say, "Yeah, probably so."

I'd then share with you about what I did Friday night.  I left work at 3 and drove to Ashland, KY.  "C, my best friend of nearly 30 years, and I went to see .38 Special. They performed at the historic Paramount Theatre."  I know what would be going through your head - .38 Special?  That old group from the 1970s and 80s?  "Yes, that's them," I'd say with a smile, anticipating your unspoken question.  I'd then add, "Yeah, I'm kinda surprised they're still performing and still alive  myself."

As C and I ate dinner before the concert, we figured out that, including that evening, we've seen them together at least three times, maybe four, over the span of twenty-some odd years.  "The first time we saw them was in 1995 when they performed at the regatta in Huntington."  It was the first summer in which both of us and most of our friends stayed  in town over the summer instead of going home.  "We had a ball that summer, we really did."

C called me back in the spring and said, "E, come down in August and go see .38 Special with me."  Never turning down an opportunity to see my best friend, I said, "Absolutely."  Even though C lives about 30 miles away from Ashland, we got a hotel room for the night and made it into a much needed mini girl's getaway.

You'd ask how the concert was.  I'd say that .38 Special sounded really good despite their age and that they sounded very much like their recorded songs, which is a performance quality that I find impressive.  I'd take another sip of my mojito, noticing that I had almost drank it all.  I'd silently contemplate having another, for I love a good mojito. 

I'd then say that as C and I made our way out of the theater, a man walked past us and we overheard him say to his companion, "That made me feel like I was 18 again..."  C and I just looked at each other and grinned, silently agreeing with the man's sentiment.  "It was very much like we'd stepped into a time machine and were transported back to 1995," I'd say.  "For two hours, especially when they played 'If I'd Been the One' and 'Back Where You Belong,' I felt as if C and I were no longer 40-somethings.  We weren't working professionals with mortgages and car payments.  C wasn't a mother and neither of us were wives.  Instead, during those two precious hours, we were simply two college kids without a care in the world enjoying some music and each other's company."

Gazing out at the river as the last of the day's light surrendered to the encroaching darkness, I'd say, "I'm always amazed by the power of music and how it can temporarily transport you to a completely different time and place.  It really is an amazing and wondrous gift, isn't it?  We might not be able to be as young as we once were, but our ears can trick us into feeling like we are, if only for a little while."

Thank you for joining me for my latest installment of IWWHC.  

Are there any songs that mentally transport you to a different place or time?  If so, please share.  I love audience participation.  

Linking up with Diana @ Part Time Monster 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Five (Vol. 3)

1) Seeing the contemporary jazz trumpeter, Chris Botti, perform on Sunday.

2) The behind the scenes story of the Singaporean swimmer, Joseph Schooling, who beat Michael Phelps in the 100 meter butterfly.  It was a poignant moment since Schooling was a fan of Phelps when he was a boy.

3) I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing older Olympics participate in the Olympics.  

Kerri Walsh Jennings, who is playing in her 5th olympics at the age of 38. Via
Oksana Chusovitina, the 41 year old gymnast from Uzbekistan.  Rio was her seventh olympics games. Via
Anthony Ervin, who won two gold medals at the age of 35.  Via

4) This article about female weightlifter Sarah Robles, who is debunking the stereotype of what female athletes should look like.


5) This tweet featuring my favorite bloke from Thunder from Down Under.

6) Bonus - Audible is currently having a 2 for 1 sale (on selected titles) that runs through August 22.

Have a wonderful weekend!  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reading Habits

Are you a data or graph geek?  In my profession, I deal with data ALL. THE. TIME.  And, to be honest, sometimes I get sick of number crunching and analyzing student performance.  Numbers, percentages, blah! But, there is a part of me that secretly enjoys stats.  I look at my blog stats periodically and I admit that I have looked at my stats on Goodreads on more than one occasion.  

Inspired by Erin @ TexErin-in-Sydneyland's post, which was inspired by Emma @ Ever Emma's post, I decided to, as Erin put it, steal borrow the idea and examine the books I've read/listened to so far this year to determine my reading habits.

I'm not surprised by this at all, for I've never really been a nonfiction fan.  I'm pleased, however, by the number of nonfiction books that I've read so far this year.  Yay, me!  This is definitely me reading outside of my comfort zone and expanding my literary horizons.

Again, there is no surprise for me.  I am, after all, a self proclaimed audiobook aficionado.

I found this graph very interesting.  I've suspected that I'm quite tough when handing out coveted 5 Star Ratings and this graph supports my suspicion.  I somewhat expected my 1 and 2 Star Ratings to be higher, but then I realized that I often abandon those books early and they get delegated to the DNF category, which I did not include in this graph. The two books that received a 1 and 2 Star Rating from me are books that I read for a book challenge.  I can honestly say, had I not been participating in that book challenge, that I would have abandoned both of them.


I'm not surprised by any of this data, for I've been purposely reading various genres throughout the year.  The fact that I've read/listened to 7 autobiographical/memoirs is a bit surprising, though, for I've never read or listened to that many in this short amount of time before.

A Little Over the Midpoint of 2016 "Best Of"Awards

Best Memoir - As You Wish by Cary Elwes 

Best Mystery/Thriller - Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Most Unexpected, But Pleasant Surprise - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Best in Contemporary Fiction - The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Most Thought Provoking - Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Favorite Character - Joe the psychopath in Hidden Bodies by Carolyn Kepnes

Best "New to Me" Author - Taylor Jenkins Reid

What do you think about my reading habits?  If you were to create graphs representing your reading habits, do you think there would be any surprises?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

I created these pie graphs for free at Meta Chart.  I was playing around with the settings and that's why the first two are 3D.  By the time I figured out that I liked the normal flat graph better, I didn't feel like going back and recreating the first two.  Live and learn... :)

Linking up with:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Grand - Wordless Wednesday (Vol. 8)

The Grand Canyon is carven deep by the master hand; 
it is the gulf of silence, widened in the desert; 
it is all time inscribing the naked rock; 
it is the book of earth. 
- Donald C. Peattie

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Robin Williams - Remembering a Genius (From the Archives)

Today marks the second anniversary of the untimely death of actor and comedian Robin Williams.  

Once an entertainer passes, I don't typically give his/her death much thought other than an occasional, "Man, what a shame." when I encounter a piece of the entertainer's work after the fact (movie, song, etc.). However, I still think a lot about Robin Williams.  My thoughts have not been so much on the tragic nature of his passing or of the legacy of works he left behind. Instead, I've found myself thinking of and possibly mourning, too, the unrealized, potential works that were still inside Robin, performances that the world will never know.

In honor and in memoriam of the late Robin Williams, here are my 10 personal favorite performances of the talented actor and comedic genius that left the world all too soon.

Dr. Malcolm Sayer, Awakenings (1990)

Even thought Robert DeNiro truly stole the show with his portrayal of a catatonic man who survived an outbreak of encephalitis lethargica early in the twentieth century, I truly enjoyed Robin’s supporting character role as the doctor who discovered the benefits of the drug L-Dopa.

John Keating, Dead Poet's Society (1989)

This is a movie that I somehow missed seeing in the 20th century.  I was well into my 30s before I watched it.  I can easily see how this movie became somewhat a cult classic for my generation.  I consider this movie to be the first in which he fully demonstrated the versatility of his acting skills.

Mork, Mork & Mindy (1978-82)

My first exposure to Robin Williams was during his guest appearances as the alien Mork on the show Happy Days.  Mork's appearance became so popular with viewers that a spin-off show was created.  Although I didn't watch Mork & Mindy as regularly as I did Happy Days, I did watch it some.  I loved hearing him say, "Nanu, Nanu!"

Ramon and Lovelace, Happy Feet (2006)

Robin Williams supplied the voices for not only one, but two of the penguins in this popular computer animation.

Teddy Roosevelt, Night at the Museum (2006)

Prior to seeing this film, I never would have considered Robin Williams for the role of Teddy Roosevelt.  But, he nailed.  In fact, he owned it.  Now, it's quite difficult for me to think of Teddy Roosevelt and not see Robin's  version of him.

Shawn Maguire, Good Will Hunting (1997)

This is the movie that solidified Robin's dramatic acting abilities in my mind and it also earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.  He portrayed a therapist who helped a brilliant, but deeply troubled young man overcome the obstacles of his past.  Good Will Hunting, in my opinion, best illustrated the depth of Robin's talent.

Armand Goldman, The Bird Cage (1996)

When two talented, comedic forces join up in the same movie, I can easily see where it might be hard for those personalities not to clash.  In The Bird Cage, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane play a gay couple in South Beach, FL.  I think both their performances were awesome and that their acting styles complimented each other.

Genie, Aladdin (1992)

I once read that Robin Williams ad-libbed much of the lines of Aladdin's sidekick, Genie. How hilarious it is to hear Robin letting loose and keeping it G rated (even to this day - 24 years after its release)!

Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

It's pretty much impossible for me to say the title of this movie without hearing the way Robin Williams shouted it in the film in my head.  This movie remains one of my favorites to this day.

Daniel Hillard/Euphegenia Doubtfire, Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

And last, but certainly not least, my personal Robin Williams favorite, Mrs. Doubtfire.  I am glad that the appeal of this movie has not faded in the 23 years since its release.  I always enjoy hearing my students recite lines from this movie (apparently it continues to air on family-oriented TV stations). This is just a small example of how Robin's legacy lives on and how he will continue to be remembered.

Do you have a favorite Robin Williams movie?  If so, please feel free to share. Thanks for stopping by.

Via Pinterest

Linking up with:

*Periodically, I unearth old blog entries from my first year of blogging that didn't receive many views in order to give them new life.  Any blog entry that is being given a second shot will feature "From the Archives" after the title. This entry was originally published on August 11, 2015.  It has been edited for grammatical errors and updated in terms of dates and such.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nagasaki Reflections (From the Archives)

Yesterday marked the 71st anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese city of Nagasaki, an act that, along with the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, led to the unconditional surrender of Japan, which brought an end to World War II.

In American history, the bombing of Nagasaki is often overshadowed by the bombing of Hiroshima.  I, like most high school students, learned that two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in August of 1945.  The only one I really remembered, however, prior to 2008, was Hiroshima.  

I'm assuming that Hiroshima made the more lasting impression on me for several reasons.  The first is that the book Hiroshima by John Hersey was a required reading for that class.  The second, and probably most significant reason, is that the Hiroshima bombing was the first ever atomic bombing (after the initial test) and usually the first of anything gets precedence in our collective memory.  The detonation of the uranium based "Little Boy," as it was known, unveiled mass destruction the likes the world had never known before. Hiroshima was a game changer in terms of war.

As I alluded earlier, I failed to remember the bombing of Nagasaki prior to 2008. (To clarify, I didn't forget that there was a second bombing, I just never committed the name of the city to memory as I did Hiroshima.)  In 2008, I had the unique opportunity to visit Nagasaki while chaperoning a People to People Student Ambassador delegation.  During that visit, I gained a profound appreciation for the Japanese city that was never a primary target for the atomic bombing, but rather just a Plan B.  (The target for the second bombing was the city of Kokura.  Due to poor visibility, the plan to bomb Kokura was scrapped and Nagasaki, a secondary target, was bombed instead.)

While in Nagasaki, we visited the Nagasaki Peace Park, which is located near the hypocenter of the explosion.  (A hypocenter is similar to ground zero.) 

The park features many memorials and gardens but is dominated by the massive Peace Statue.  It is said that the statue's right arm points upward as a warning of nuclear weapons.  The horizontally extended left arm is meant to symbolize peace.  The statue's closed eyes symbolize prayers for the bombing victims. 

Also within the Peace Park is a smaller area called the Hypocenter Park.  This is the area directly beneath the hypocenter, where the bomb exploded 500 meters above.  It features a tall black column in the center surrounded by concentric, ground level circles that radiate outward like ripples. 

Physically being there evoked a solemn response in all of us, even in the typically bubbly and talkative teenagers.  As I noted in my journal,

"It was an eerie place, a place that causes one to whisper, much like Ground Zero in New York City.  There must be something innate with us all that senses when a place is hallowed ground, for we adults did not have to remind the students how to act or to keep their voice levels low.  They just automatically did it; many of them didn't speak at all."
Our delegation also visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, which I admit, I was quite nervous about touring.  Even though I had nothing to do with the bombing of Nagasaki, I wasn't even alive during WWII, I still felt as if it might be a sensitive area for many Japanese given that so much death and destruction resulted from the two bombs that my country dropped on them.  (For the record, I believe the United States did what it had to in order to end the war that the Japanese brought to us in 1941.) History, despite its facts, is still sometimes subject to perspective.  I was apprehensive on how the events of WWII, especially the atomic bombings, would be portrayed in this museum.  I was very concerned that the students and I might be on the receiving end of  some ill feelings as we toured the museum's exhibits.  I mean, it was pretty obvious we were Americans and it wasn't like we could blend in; we truly stuck out like sore thumbs.

Despite my concerns, I was pleasantly surprised on how well the events leading up to that fateful day were depicted.  There were many before and after photographs of the city as well photographs of the city's reconstruction.  Artifacts that survived the heat and force of the explosion were also on display: coins that melted together, a glass bottle that melted into the concrete, ceramic roofing tiles that bubbled, and a clock that remains forever frozen at 11:02 (the precise time of the explosion).  It was a very somber experience, especially seeing the effects that the bombing had on the inhabitants of Nagasaki, but one that I found very eye opening and educational.  It was a sad reminder that war, regardless of who the winner is, is never pretty.  

Despite my initial reservations and nervousness, I was very relieved at how well we were treated and accepted by the Japanese visitors who were also visiting the museum.  This experience was one of many during my two week visit to Japan.  Overall, I found the people of Japan to be the most gracious and respectful of all the different cultures of the world that I have encountered in my travels.  They made a profound impression on me. 

I applaud the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, for it has taken great responsibility for educating its visitors and in trying to ensure that the horrors its city experienced is never again repeated.  There is a section in the museum that encourages each visitor to think about war and the immediate and lasting effects of nuclear weapons.  Above all, the museum encourages peace.

Strands of origami paper cranes, in quantities of 1000, that have been left as offerings of peace by individuals or groups.

A collage made of paper cranes.

I take great comfort in knowing that the bomb that decimated the city of Nagasaki seventy-one years ago is, to date, the last atomic bomb that's ever been detonated.  Hopefully, it will remain that way.

As always, thank you for stopping by.  I wish you health, happiness, and peace.

*The Washington Post featured a great illustrated history last year of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings if you are interested.  Click here to view.

Linking up with:

P.S.  I was nominated by Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me to participate in the 3 Quotes Per Day in 3 Days Challenge.  I am participating in this challenge with a caveat*.  I'm only going to post quotes; I'm not going to formally nominate anyone to do it next (the official challenge says I'm supposed to nominate 3 people every day to do the same).  If you would like to participate, consider yourself nominated.  If you don't, no worries!

*Periodically, I unearth old blog entries from my first year of blogging that didn't receive many views in order to give them new life.  Any blog entry that is being given a second shot will feature "From the Archives" after the title. This entry was originally published on August 9, 2015.  It has been edited for grammatical errors and updated in terms of dates and such for accuracy.
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