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There are maybe three things in the world cuter than watching three-year-old ballerinas twirl around. I mean, I can't think of them at the moment but I'm sure there are some. But like any 21st Century, Non-Toddlers-and-Tiaras mother, I've found myself wondering whether my kid's super-low-key toddler ballet classes at the Y are encouraging something secretly nefarious, baby "Black Swan"-style. The idea was just to do something physical and imaginative and dreamy and fun. (And, from the daughter's perspective, something involving tutus.)
Then this great video for the song "Man on Fire," by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, comes along: a celebration of creative movement of all stripes. Inner city double-dutch champions? Check. Suburban cheerleaders? Check. Um, the New York City ballet? Check. This video feels less like a performance and more like peeking in on a dance class. And in this world, dance is about bodies moving, about feeling music, about having fun. In this world, dancing is for everyone. And even the ballerinas look like they're having fun. Phew.
A 12-Day Flamenco-Dancing Vacation from Life
Goldie Hawn Dances to Her Own Beat
An unforeseen consequence of becoming an adult (it occurred to me the other day while rocking out at the library sing-along) is that you must regularly act a fool. You HAVE to. And I'm not just talking about parents who find themselves running around as if lobotomized, belting out nursery rhymes into the faces of their fussy children in public. I'm talking about anyone who's ever had to present a possibly-genius-possibly-ludicrous idea in a meeting, give a toast at a wedding, or try out the colorful-skinny-jeans trend. Don't tell those preteens nervously giggling in a self-conscious huddle, but in adulthood, as it happens, you just have to give in and not worry about looking silly sometimes.
Which leads me to this video of Jimmy Fallon, Carly Rae Jepsen, and The Roots performing the song "Call Me Maybe," while playing classroom instruments. (It adds to my enjoyment of this that I have no idea of the context. To me, this appeared in my twitter feed as just some grownups stuffed into a room and rocking out.) No offense to third graders everywhere, but who knew kazoos, bongos, recorders, tamborines, triangles, and rainbow xylophones could sound so catchy? I can't stop watching this jangly, poppy, moment of pure fun. Who needs self-consciousness? We don't have time to try to play it cool. We're grownups. So grab a piano whistle...
The "Call Me Maybe" Cover That Started a Meme
Kwela Dance Video > Coffee
Mr. Rogers Remix
Passionate Gotye Lip Dub
The Most Fun Family Band
What do you do when people ask you what to do when visiting your town? Do you provide an itinerary of favorite views? A list of the best places to eat? Suggestions based on smell? ("Here's where the chocolate factory is, but stay away from the fish market!") Does it ever occur to you to send them to the places that sound the best? I admit, I'd never thought of this until I saw Nicola Hume's great concept Listen Here. Check it out:
a concept like Nicola Hume's to get people to think this way about their hometowns at all.
(via Laughing Squid)
Time-Capsule Vacation in Your Own Hometown
The Allure of Traveling Solo
My husband once told me that he pictured my mind as a frazzled guy with a butterfly net, constantly running around and trying to swoop things up into it. It's true. Sadly these are not butterflies of Profound Big Thoughts. It's more like -- fwoosh -- there goes a Thing I've Got To Do butterfly. Flit flit -- that's a Thing I Forgot To Do butterfly. Oh, and look -- the rare Thing I Read Somewhere Once or Heard on NPR and Partially Remember butterfly. And look who's back! Email I Meant to Send butterfly!
But Mr. Rogers, eternal font of tender wisdom, has ambitions for the crowded butterfly pavilion between my ears. See also: this sweet "Garden of Your Mind" video, remixing everyone's favorite neighbor. "You can grow anything in the garden of your mind," Mr. Rogers says. I mean, auto-tune-sings. A garden is good. A garden is ordered, cared-for, a safe and productive place for growth. Here you can still have the butterflies, but they serve an actual purpose. After all, we're always telling our children to be creative, to think big thoughts, to be kind to themselves and others -- but how many of us grown-ups remember to follow that same advice? As always, Mr. Rogers recalls all that is innocent and good. And now, you can dance to him.
Jim Henson's Surreal Meditation on Time
And I extra-love any efforts to prove this unprovable thing, such as the Victorian precursor to shows like "Ghost Hunters," AKA, spirit photography. These deeply strange, obviously (to our modern, Photoshop-weary eyes) faked photographs of wispy spectres were the spiritualism-obsessed Victorians' proof that ghosts loitered around the living, trying to chat with us. What an appealing, if spooky, idea! How, like the Fox Mulder of yore, I want to believe!
Whether you believe in spirits or not, the Vintage Spirit Photography pool on Flickr is an engaging way to fill your eyeballs for a time. One thing is certain: these images -- a shadowy child posing pertly on a woman's shoulder; a translucent ex-girlfriend frowning over a proposal -- are 100% verifiable proof that we have always wanted to connect to another realm, to believe that there is, in fact, some there out there.
A Must-Read Novel About Spiritualism
How to be Attuned to Spiritual Information
The Difference Between a Psychic and a Medium
To be honest, I still find it unsettling to learn that landmarks and places that seem as permanent as California have the ability to up and leave us. And, like that wise fifth-grader I once knew, I like to take into account impending disappearances when planning my travel. Like so many aspiring adventurers, I've had trips to the Alps, the Galapagos Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef planned since I first cracked open a National Geographic Magazine. I just always figured, you know, later. When I'm old. Really old.
Then I saw this somewhat chilling infographic from Earth Xplorer: 10 Places to go Before They're Gone. Some of the most exciting travel destinations in the world are disappearing, some of them shockingly quickly. We might only have 25 years to visit the Congo Basin, 5 years for that bucket-list-worthy trip to the Taj Mahal. So check out this infographic, and map out some life travels accordingly. Here's a hint: visiting the cousins in California can wait.
Pick the Perfect Vacation Destination
10 Marvels of the World
Catherine Shefski was one such perfectionist-procrastinator. An accomplished pianist, she realized that amidst teaching piano and living her life, she was overlooking her own piano playing. So she decided to start recording one piece of music every week, calling her project Go Play. The results are lovely bits of music (what is it about solo piano that always sounds so haunting, so perfectly happy-sad?) -- and to this (admittedly very untrained) ear, they sound, well, perfect. Shefski chronicles the process on her blog, where she's noted how nervous it makes her to post these songs, which are sometimes, surprise, just not as perfect as she wants. As she writes in one post, "It took a lot of will power this morning not to do 'just one more' recording of this Scarlatti Sonata... My goal was to finally learn this piece, since I’ve loved it for years. It’s not difficult by any means, but I’m never totally satisfied with the opening ornaments ...But there it is. I did it. It’s the best it is right now. And I’m putting it out there. I’m letting it go." The way Shefksi writes about playing piano makes me believe I love playing piano too, even though I've never mastered much beyond Chopsticks on a toy keyboard. But she loves what she does. And now, with this project, she is actually doing it.
You hear that, procrastinator-perfectionists? Put it out there. Let it go. And play.
Face Your Perfectionist
How to Reach Your Dreams
In one of the more absurd episodes of my often-absurd existence, I found myself locked in the famous Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris, alone, at dusk. I know. Who knew it closed? Such is the life of 20-year-old monolingual American backpacker with her head up her, uh, in the clouds. I'd been so busy communing with the spirits of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and the other heroes-of-a-20-year-old-American-backpacker-type, that I'd forgotten to check the time. And there I was, on the wrong side of the (lovely) gate, freaking the #$^* out. Despite the great story material, I decided I really would rather not spend the night, and ran like one of those modern, fast zombies toward the Crematorium (I know, I know) where a jovial groundskeeper in a diesel-powered gold cart picked me up and giggled Frenchily as he drove me back to the land of the living on the other side of the gate, from whence I dispatched to my youth hostel for a night of incredulous hyperventilating.
But what if being locked in a cemetary -- as it happens, Pére Lachaise itself -- were a kind of whimsical, enchanted romp? What if you could commune with those many eminent spirits in, you know, a fun way? Here is a short film that is beautiful, dreamy, and - bonus! - helps me to come to terms with my traumatic experience. Leave it to the French.
A Real-Life Ghost Hunter
Sky Therapy in Video Form
So, yes, things are pretty awesome. We get to be alive. We get to live in structures designed for living. Most of us even get to pick out stuff we like to surround ourselves with. We get to go do things. There are such things as free days at museums, libraries full of books, parks anyone can enjoy, machines that give you a big shiny sticker for a quarter. AWESOME!
But in case you are having one of those blah-days, or one of those blah-months, or blah-lives, when it's for some reason difficult to remember that things are indeed awesome, there is 1000 Awesome Things. Well, there was anyway. The blog, which has been counting down from 1,000 (Broccoflower) since 2008, has recently reached #1. Luckily there is a book version, and another book version, and yet another book version on the way. I did say we all needed these reminders, didn't I?
But of all the awesome things Neil Pasricha has reminded us to be in awe of, be sure to check out #2: Remembering how lucky we are to be here right now. He breaks it down: "You are the most modern, brightest spark of years and years and years of survivors who all had to meet each other in order to eventually make you. Your nineteenth century Grandma met your nineteenth century Grandpa down at the candle-making shoppe. She liked his muttonchops and he thought she looked cute churning butter." Awesome. He breaks it down even further: "On this planet Earth, the only one in the giant dark blackness where anything can live, we ended up being humans. Congratulations, us!" Seriously, awesome. Have you ever watched a slug slugging around a garden? They don't even get to drink coffee!
And what follows is the best reminder of all, the reminder we should all remember at least once a day: "You only get a hundred years to enjoy it." And that's if you're really super lucky! I don't know if it's because I read this right after having a (silent, inner) temper tantrum about having A/C window units installed before the super left town or what, but this post brought tears to my eyes. My goodness, how true it is! How awesome is all of this? So go ahead, read the whole post for Pasricha's funny, wry breakdown of everything that is awesome about existence. And hurry! As he puts it, "You'll never be as young as you are right now."
See the World With Fresh Eyes
Finding True Happiness
So you've got to love this concept a group of Portuguese architects, Ana Luisa Soares, Filipe Magalhães, and André Vergueiro came up with for the awesomely-named Rooftops, Why Not? contest: putting public schools on top of New York City skyscrapers. As they put it, "What if suddenly the education would become the highest (and most visible) value of a society?" The resulting imagery is dreamy and futuristic, and evokes the question: How else can our urban spaces be reimagined? And: what do our structures say about what we value in life? And: how cute and raucous would the "School Elevator" be?
Be sure to visit the Cargo Collective site for more gorgeous images of architectural inspiration.
The Invention That Makes Everyone Smile
Saving the Hair of Cancer Patients
Oprah's Search for New Ideas