One recently added resource that you may have missed is Qello Concerts. Qello is your ticket to the front row to thousands of concerts and music documentaries available to stream in your home. Here’s a list of suggested concerts to get you started with Qello.
Despite the recent snow (sigh) it really is Spring, a season that brings out all sorts of newly created flora and fauna. Spring also reminds everything that went into hibernation it’s time to wake up! While it isn’t really news to anyone, this year -being inside at home so much- I realized this includes house spiders! ugh. I’m working very hard to embrace the challenge of living peaceably with these multi-legged, fast-moving arthropods. (It would help a lot if they would stop running across the ceiling or hiding in the bathroom…¯\_(ツ)_/¯) So, what have you learned about your house this Spring?
As I give my new spider frens plenty of space, I’m also attempting to grow an avocado tree from a seed! I’m mid-week two and no roots yet but we’re in the early stages… oh, the hope! In-between refilling the water and moving Ava Cado to the warmest spots around the kitchen I’m enjoying some upbeat songs on Freegal, the Library’s new ad-free music service -all you need is your Rocky River library card and pin number to start streaming music! Check out the different genres and why not try making your own playlist – enjoy!
Be kind to yourself today!
We recently introduced a new music streaming service available with your RRPL card called Freegal. Freegal gives you access to 3 HOURS OF FREE STREAMING MUSIC A DAY! Don’t know where to begin with Freegal? Check out a few of these playlists:
I hope these playlists help you discover the vast catalog available to you in Freegal with your library card.
One of the small ways I’ve found some joy lately is to overindulge in catchy old jams. Thanks to Hoopla, I’ve been able to load up my phone and take the party anywhere in my house or yard. Check out some artists and albums I’ve had in the rotation:
You’ll need your Clevnet library card information to initially create a Hoopla account. You can sign up for an instant digital Clevnet card here. We have also started staffing the library phone line Monday-Friday 11 am-2pm so give us a call if you have any questions.
What songs have been bringing you joy? Let me know in the comments.
Check out this selection of nonfiction books for your enjoyment coming this spring!
3/03: Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong With the Fit52 Life by Carrie Underwood – The Platinum award-winning music artist outlines common-sense approaches to health and fitness that can be incorporated into a busy schedule, sharing personal meal plans, recipes and weekly workout programs for long-term results.
3/03: Pearls of Wisdom: Little Pieces of Advice That Go a Long Way by Barbara Bush – Collects the best advice that First Lady Barbara Bush offered her family, staff and close friends. Full of Barbara Bush’s trademark wit and thoughtfulness, Pearls of Wisdom is a poignant reflection on life, love, family, and the world by one of America’s most iconic and beloved public figures.
3/03: Eat for Life: The Breakthrough Nutrient-rich Program for Longevity, Disease Reversal, and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman – Add years to your life and life to your years with #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Joel Fuhrman no-nonsense, results-driven nutrition plan that will help you look and feel your best inside and out.
3/03: Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937-May 1942 by Richard B. Frank – The Vietnam veteran and award-winning historian draws on rich archival research and recently discovered evidence in a revelatory account of the onset of the Asia-Pacific War. By the author of Guadalcanal. Illustrations.
3/17: The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton – John Bolton served as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump for 519 days. A seasoned public servant who had previously worked for Presidents Reagan, Bush #41, and Bush #43, Bolton brought to the administration thirty years of experience in international issues and a reputation for tough, blunt talk. In his memoir, he offers a substantive and factual account of his time in the room where it happened.
3/24: Kilo: Inside the Deadliest Cocaine Cartels—from the Jungles to the Streets by Toby Muse – With unprecedented access to Colombia’s cocaine cartels, a journalist offers a thrilling account of the journey of one kilo of cocaine, from the farmers who produce it to the killers who protect it, to the drug barons and their lovers made fabulously wealthy by it.
3/24: Had I Known: Collected Essays by Barbara Ehrenreich – A selection of the best-selling writer and political activist’s most provocative signature writings includes her groundbreaking undercover investigations, op-ed pieces, essays and reviews, including the award-winning “Welcome to Cancerland.”
3/31: More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys – The 15-time Grammy Award-winning music artist traces her journey from self-censorship to full expression, describing her complicated relationship with her father, the people-pleasing nature that characterized her early career and her struggles with gender expectations.
We’ve hit that back to school season and the suffocating heat has worn off. That isn’t going to stop us from embracing the perfect weather for afternoon picnics, or combing the shores of Lake Erie for beach glass. Here are the tunes that are helping us make the most of this prime forecast.
There is a quote from the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, from a poem called “The Choice,” which I have never really understood. Here it is:
The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life, or of the work
Why do we have to choose? I was thinking about this quote, because recently Netflix has announced that they will be releasing a new documentary about that most protean and enigmatic of artists, the pseudonymously named and pretty much always astonishing Bob Dylan. What was I thinking about? I was remembering various times in my life when, listening to Dylan in my car, driving somewhere, I would compare various tracks from different Dylan albums, if only to instantiate in myself a kind of marveling cognitive dissonance. In other words, I liked the shock of encountering an artist who didn’t sit still, who was rather scandalously and bravely growing: as an artist, of course, but also, in many ways (to my mind) as a person. Because, when you really thought about it, (and here is where the Yeats quote comes in), how could one compose such variegated and beautiful songs, if they were not emerging from the conditions of a particular life – a life that made room for the songwriting to happen in the first place?
As I thought about Dylan, I reflected on other artists and thinkers who, it seemed to me, had never really settled – who, by some strange alchemical need, urgency, prompting, were constantly producing works that built in tacit or not-so-tacit ways on the previous work – but who also found ways to fearlessly branch out, to break out of the confines of their earlier suppositions, norms, conventions, assumptions, standards, and to therefore transcend (but also include) what came before in their own work.
The American literary critic Harold Bloom is a great example of this form of striving, and he also has a new book out (feel free to click on the image below to put a hold on a copy). I have been a devoted follower of Bloom’s career since I read, in the early 2000s, his rather confidently titled, How to Read and Why. I can’t say exactly what it was about that book that led me to a lifelong addiction to the Bloomian voice, except that I can say with certainty that his passion for literature was so encompassingly large, so supremely infectious, so utterly and undeniably alive with fetching thought and feeling, that I became irreparably hooked. And to reflect on his career is, in many ways, to come across another phenomenon, a la Dylan, whereby a human being, absorbing and breathing out the vast tradition from which they came, (Dylan’s Chronicles is a great place to start to learn about his own influences; Bloom is endlessly alluding to his forebears, which include the 18th century literary critic and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, and the 19th century poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson), create from that tradition something fearlessly “revisionary,” to use a Bloomian term, i.e. they re-vision, they re-see, what came before them, and they then, from this creative interpretation, this vision, this feeling, produce something powerfully compelling. If you merely glance at Bloom’s bibliography on Wikipedia, you can see a rather staggeringly deep arc in his work, from the Romantic poets, to the study of what poetic influence means, to Kabbalah and Sigmund Freud, to religious criticism (his meditations on Mormonism and Joseph Smith are utterly fascinating), to the Western Canon and Shakespeare (!), and onwards and outwards, towards and into meditations on Christianity, the God of the Hebrew Bible, various Shakespearean characters, the King James Bible, and into his now present work, which comes from a man in his late eighties who has refused to stagnate or stop developing spiritually in any way.
What can artists like Dylan and Bloom teach us, artists that can be easily found at most public libraries, including our very own Rocky River Public Library? They show us, I think, that Yeats might have been too eager to assume that the life and the work are easily separable categories, mutually exclusive dimensions of existence where you have to sacrifice one for the other. Bloom has taught at Yale University for more than sixty years, and Dylan has played live shows on what he calls a “Never Ending Tour” since 1988. These two artists are, in a very large sense, role models for the rest of us. The synergy of their lives and works form ballasts on which we can stand and look out and really think about what it means to lead a good and meaningful life. Their superb examples, which cannot exactly be imitated, but can be learned from and incorporated into one’s own life, marshal forth endless opportunities for reflection on how and why we not only imbibe thought and art, but also attempt, in our own idiosyncratic ways, to become artists of life ourselves.
Was just listening to Danielle de Niese singing arias written by Handel, the composer of one of my favorite works, Water Music. I can understand the accolades she has received in the classical world. And in addition to the music, I enjoyed the lyrics as well – some were so dramatic! Not surprising for operas, I suppose… anyway, here are a couple:
“Da tempeste” (Giulio Cesare in Egitto – Act III, Scene 6; lyrics – Nicola Francesco Haym)
If a ship, buffeted by storms,
then reaches safe harbor,
it no longer knows what to wish for.
Thus the heart that finds solace
after enduring pain and despair
brings joy once more to the soul.
“Tornami a vagheggiar” (Alcina – Act I, Scene 14; lyrics – anon.)
Look with love on me again,
you alone will
this faithful soul adore,
my sweet beloved.
I have given you my heart,
my love will be constant;
never shall I be cruel to you
my beloved hope.
May your Friday reach operatic heights!