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Quarantine Tools – The Hindu BusinessLine

Posted: April 3, 2020 at 2:49 am

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It is one of those days when you feel youre on top of things. It may well be too early to celebrate but perhaps my Corona Regimen is actually working. And before dark thoughts and the persistent, surreal feeling of being in a bad dystopian novel surface again as I absolutely expect them to, let us share what I desperately hope is the secret behind the rare uplifted spirits.

So, first things first the TV is the enemy. You dont get any real news anyway and Netflix is the death of all discipline and hope. The days and even the nights have to be strictly structured sans the telly or you might find yourself eating crap at 3 in the morning. Ive done it even when there was the office to rush to. But now that were working from home, the danger of 3 am-turning-7 am is far more pronounced. And let us always be alive to the excruciating lethargy/exhaustion/drained feeling post binge-watching, only because it tends to somehow evaporate when one settles down and grabs the remote.

There was a whole series (Gone Girls although I shouldnt tell if anyone here is as hopelessly addicted as I am to Trapped, Shetland, Happy Valley, The Fall and such like) that I was settling before the PM settled for the 8 PM slot. A friend thought she might actually have Covid that evening. As it turned out, it was just a case of having had too much of the good Vodka. Were all going to die, was the text from another. And I was near hysteria over the few dishes that I was having to wash.

This wouldnt do, I thought. All the I-Ching/Zen Buddhism/Jiddu/Alan Watts et al that I have devoured over the year of failed romances and dimming career prospects have to amount to something in these dire times. And so I dusted out the Sisters Susan Brownmiller, Kate Millet and Germaine Greer for strength and inner silence because Jiddu isnt cutting it anymore. I needed real steel and found it in The Madwomans Underclothes (Greer, shes sharp, edgy, gritty and very inspiring). I was going to go through all this and come out better five kilos less, minus all the toxins I consume and inhale and stronger than I was before Covid and 8 pm.

So the TV has been off for three days except to eat dinner with Amma as she watches an old film at night with Meena Kumari in it. Thats as sure a shot at safe-distancing from binge-watching as you can get.

The next part of the Regimen is exercise, yoga in my case but it could be walking around the compound twice a day. At least for an-hour-and-half in the morning as theres no office to go to. The best way to keep it going is to get up, make your bed, wash up and get to it. If you dont do it then and lounge with tea/coffee, it just doesnt get done. Make breakfast, finish bathing, get to office work, make lunch, wash up and then some more work. An evening walk is the more preferred option than making that drink and sitting around. I tend to bathe just before I head for the bed but thats entirely optional. And read before sleeping as opposed to watching TV. Writing this diary in the evening is also another way of staying sane.

If all of this sounds excruciatingly clean and pious, I understand. But the option is to let this extraordinary event overwhelm and exhaust you. Being active, mentally and physically is just a way of staying sane.

At least that is the state that has thankfully persisted for Day 3. Theres no saying where it will be tomorrow.

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Quarantine Tools - The Hindu BusinessLine

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April 3rd, 2020 at 2:49 am

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Worldwise: Sound Therapist Sara Austers Favorite Things – Barron’s

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 8:41 am

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Sound therapist and meditation teacher Sara Auster. Courtesy Sara Auster

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Sound therapist and meditation teacher Sara Auster has worked in mindfulness for more than 10 years, leading yoga and meditation sessions and sound baths. Sound baths are therapeutic experiences that use sound to restore and nurture the mind and bodythink soothing, resonant, and gentle sounds that lull participants into a meditative state.

Auster, 41, is one of the preeminent voices on sound baths as the author of Sound Bath: Meditate, Heal and Connect Through Listening. She has held one-on-one sound baths as well as sessions for groups of as many as 10,000 people in venues such as Madison Square Garden and at events like SXSW and the Sundance Film Festival.

At a time when people are more homebound than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic, Auster is offering free sound baths three times a week on Instagram Live.

As the awareness and desire for sound baths grows, I continue to explore ways to engage with people beyond in-person events and recordings, Auster says. In a time of crisis, my first thought is usually, How can I help? The answer to that question in this particular moment inspired me to start a live virtual offering.

Auster, who is based in New York, says she has been moved by the response from participants who tune in from all over the world, including from Japan, France, Australia, and more. Auster says several corporations have also requested private virtual sound baths to help their teams de-stress.

We are in an unprecedented state of anxiety and unknowns. Ive long seen the effect that sound baths can have on people to calm the mind, release stress, and invite in compassion and connection, she says. Sound is a way to connect with joy and happiness and also pain and suffering, vulnerability, and uncertainty. In getting quiet together, and listening, we forge a connection, no matter where we are.

Auster shared some of the things that make her happy, and what shes doing to cope with the stress of the pandemic.

The perfect meal at home is anything made by my husband, Alex [Falk, who is also a sound therapist]. Hes an amazing chef.

If I were to buy a piece of art, it would be... Dissolve by James Turrell.

The best book Ive read in the last year is... The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.

A passion of mine that few people know about is... collecting vinyl.

The thing that gets me up in the morning is... my work [and] my husband.

A person who inspired me to do what I do is my parents.

If I could have a drink with anybody, anywhere, it would be... I dont drink [but] if I dida scotch with [Zen philosopher and author] Alan Watts.

The one thing Im doing more of to help me get through this difficult time is adding an additional hour to my daily meditation practice.

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Worldwise: Sound Therapist Sara Austers Favorite Things - Barron's

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March 31st, 2020 at 8:41 am

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Rory gets a good read – PGA TOUR/Perform Media

Posted: March 12, 2020 at 10:44 am

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Ballast for the brain

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. P.J. ORourke

To get an idea of what books mean to McIlroy, consider the fourth hole in last years final round. It was a cloudy 59 degrees and nearing 2:30 p.m. ET. He was crushing the driver he would trail only Tommy Fleetwood in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and liked the course better in March than in May, as he could see it better from the tees. TPC Sawgrass had over-seeded and thus created sharper definition between fairways (lighter) and rough (darker).

The fourth is not hard if you hit the fairway, but from the right fairway bunker or the rough, it can be tricky to hit the green, which is guarded by a moat. One stroke behind Jon Rahm entering Sunday, McIlroy had already worked his way into the lead but found the right rough off the tee. Now, with a wedge, he swung and watched in horror as his ball came out left and soft.


It was cold; even though sunrise had been at 7:33 a.m., he had not had much chance to show off the green St. Patricks Day shirt under his blue pullover. Jason Day waited as he took a drop.

There were a lot of places McIlroys mind could have gone. Having been in contention but not won in his previous five TOUR starts, all top-six finishes, he could have thought,Here we go again.

He cant close, he cant play on Sundays, McIlroy said later, describing the noise that had seeped up from the muck. Blah, blah, blah.

Here was a player who could do no wrong as he won the 2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA Championship, and 2014 Open Championship and PGA, but now he apparently could do no right.Here we go again? Yeah, McIlroy could have gone there.

Reading, though, had steeled him.Avoid the big reaction.Thats one of the tenets of one of McIlroys favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, who espouses the stoicism of figures like Marcus Aurelius in The Obstacle is the Way and The Ego is the Enemy.

Not giving in to your emotions, says McIlroy, who in the last year has befriended the author. (They trade the occasional email.) Not being impulsive, being a little bit more rational, taking a step back to think about things logically. Thats what has helped me.

I mean, if you go back to THE PLAYERS, he adds, I went from leading or tied for the lead to a couple behind, but I didnt impulsively go and chase some birdies. I was like, OK, this is fine, weve got a lot of holes left. Theres a lot that can happen, stay patient, and show poise, and all the P words that I like to use. All of that comes from reading and a little bit of inward reflection and figuring out what I need to do to get the best out of myself.

In the end, McIlroy recovered to win the TOURs signature event.

On a wild day in which a half-dozen people had a share of the lead, he accepted his double and turned in 1 over, then made four back-nine birdies to post a 2-under 70 and win by a shot over Jim Furyk. His best shot, he said later, was the 6-iron he hit out of the fairway bunker at the par-4 15th, his ball stopping 14 feet from the pin before he made the putt. His most important shot, though, might have been his gaffe at the fourth, the fulcrum on which his week and perhaps his entire season could have swung one way or the other.

If you dont like to read, you havent found the right book. J.K. Rowling

Tiger reads a lot, says McIlroy, who also has read popular novelists like J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown. But he reads a lot of, like, the medical journal and studies that have been published and stuff like this. Hes a big reader, but I dont know if hes a big reader of books, per se.

Lucas Glover is a reader. He went through a large chunk of the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, and is now onto The Body, by Bill Bryson. Sometimes, Glover talks books with Peter Malnati, also a reader. David Duval had a bookish side even in his prime.

The written word is alive and well. Asked at the Masters last year to name the best book hed read in the previous 12 months, McIlroy was surprisingly expansive.

The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino, thats one that I sort of refer back to every now and again, replied McIlroy. Either of the Ryan Holiday books are pretty good, The Obstacle is the Way or Ego is the Enemy. Just started on Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, so getting into that. Theres four.

He later mentioned a fifth, Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. McIlroy, who has deleted several apps from his phone, wonders what all of our screens are doing to us and tries to go low-to-no-tech during tournament weeks, preferring jigsaw puzzles and, yes, books.

But why? Its not that McIlroy, an only child, staved off loneliness with his books. Nor was he ever obsessed with academia. It was never my forte, he said in a lengthy interview with the Irish Independent. I was good enough to get by, but I never excelled.

Its more accurate to say he was seeking ballast amid the pitching and yawing of life as a public figure. Was he a good person because he was winning golf tournaments? Was he a bad one when he wasnt? Even amid his dazzling early success, he felt slightly unmoored.

One thing I used to do in the past is let what I shot that day influence who I was or my mood, McIlroy said last season, when he also led the TOUR with 14 top-10 finishes and won the Byron Nelson Award for adjusted scoring average (69.057). Its something I worked hard on because who I am as a person isnt who I am as a golfer.

In other words, at 30 he has become acutely aware of the perils of accomplishment. Regarding the Jobs biography, McIlroy was struck by the Apple major domos failures and comebacks and achievements, but also by the rare glimpses into Jobs humanity.

It seems like he was a pretty hard guy to like at the start, and I think thats why I found the book so slow-going, he says now. I was like, I dont know if I like this guy. And then as it goes on and he gets sick and starts to appreciate his family more, you get a sense that hes turned the corner a bit, and there are things he values maybe more than just trying to create another cool product.

If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books. Roald Dahl

At the Ryder Cup in France in 2018, McIlroy came upon another favorite author: Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F---: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, followed by Everything is F-----: A Book About Hope. As the titles suggest (weve, ahem, slightly altered them), his books are equal parts profound and profane. Theyre also very funny.

(European Captain) Thomas Bjorns partner, Grace, gave Mark Mansons (Subtle Art) book to all the wives, McIlroy says. My wife read it before I did and gave it to me and said, I think you should read this. Its really good. Its an important book to me.

The title was part of the initial appeal, and thats because, McIlroy admits, Sometimes I care too much about too many things. But theres more to it than that.

In The Subtle Art, Manson writes about humankinds misery amid a long list of advances (from the Internet to eradication of disease) that one might have thought would have made us happier. One culprit: the idea that we can have it all, and everyone can be a superstar.

The key to a good life, he writes, is caring about only what is true and immediate and important, and not getting caught in what philosopher Alan Watts called the backwards law, the trap of pursuing feeling better/richer/thinner only to reinforce a feeling of dissatisfaction.

The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience, Manson writes. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of ones negative experience is itself a positive experience.

Perhaps this is what McIlroy was thinking of when he told Ewen Murray of The Guardian that the last step for him was mindset, i.e., when you are in contention, not giving a s*&% if you win or not. In other words, a sports psychologist might say, its important to just let it happen.

He talks about how everyone wants to get smarter, more attractive, richer, McIlroy says of Manson, and theyre not going deep enough to ask, Why do I want these things? Whats wrong with who I am right now? Its people thinking that all these things will make them happier at the end of the day. With this book, its getting happiness from the simple things in life.

For instance, he adds, I get to go grocery shopping on the Monday when I get home from a tournament, and that to me is fun. Thats very mundane for most people, but for me its a little perk for having a week off, going to Whole Foods and doing the grocery shopping.

Some of the rules in the books McIlroy reads can be contradictory. While Holiday preaches stoicism, Manson points out in Everything is F----- that its impossible to completely remove emotion, lest one turn into a potato.

McIlroy may have been wrestling with this paradox last summer. Having decided to treat every round the same, he lost a head-to-head battle with then-No. 1 Brooks Koepka at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. (Koepka shot 65 to win, McIlroy 71 to finish T4.)

When they met four weeks later in the final round of the TOUR Championship, McIlroy vowed not to treat the final round as just another day. He would give it special reverence. It worked out nicely as he shot 66 to win, while Koepka slumped to a 72 for a T3 finish.

The lesson: Emotion is bad, except when its good.

When it was over, McIlroy tried to accept his victory the way Holiday would, the way Marcus Aurelius would: without arrogance, just as he should let his setbacks go with indifference. Rory would still be just Rory to the organic apples and the rest of it at Whole Foods, and to his wife, and their library of books at home. All awaited his return as conquering hero or not.

For Rory McIlroy golfer, reader, citizen of the world it was on to the next chapter.

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Rory gets a good read - PGA TOUR/Perform Media

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March 12th, 2020 at 10:44 am

Posted in Alan Watts

Computer generated JFK gives the ‘Darth Plagueis the wise’ speech – Boing Boing

Posted: March 9, 2020 at 7:43 pm

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After having a computer study the speech patterns of an American President famed for his public speaking one naturally has it recite Palpatine?

Alan Watts would be more fun.

Disney is seeking an Admiral for their Galactic Starcruiser, Halcyon. That means theres an open position for general manager of the Star Wars theme hotel at Walt Disney World, Florida. From the Job Summary: Are you ready to command a Galactic Starcruiser, the Halcyon, where you will take passengers on an adventure to a galaxy []

Assembling LEGOs official Star Destroyer kit [Amazon] is no mean feat: it has nearly 4,800 pieces and retails for $700. But Matt Benner, aka TheBrickWiz, went 30,000 better, constructing a collossal Star Wars spaceship to put the fear of Vader into any rebel fool enough to fall into its gravity well. He even made the []

Marijuana legalization sweeps a galaxy far, far away? No! A new series set 200 years before the Jedi let shit fall apart.

For professional or personal purposes, your writing should make you look good. Easier said than done for manyyes, even those of us getting paid to write. Everyone needs an editor, as they say. Why not ensure you always have one, including in your pocket on your smartphone? Nail down your grammar, spelling, style, punctuation, and []

From outlines to lists to freeform scrawl that tumbles and twists its way across a page, everybodys got their own style for taking notes. That style often comes from years of scholastic and professional arenas, refining the process for retaining key information that works best for you. And, as you probably learned from borrowing your []

First off, we wanted to give you one last reminder that were holding on to an iPhone 11, a pair of AirPods and a Belkin wireless charging pad, all with your name on them. Theyre free and theyre just waiting for you to make a move. All youve gotta do is enter the iPhone []

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Computer generated JFK gives the 'Darth Plagueis the wise' speech - Boing Boing

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March 9th, 2020 at 7:43 pm

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Live Concert Review: Starfruit at the Texas Theater – Fort Worth Weekly

Posted: February 3, 2020 at 12:45 pm

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Despite my best efforts which may have included a few edibles I was unprepared for what Dallas-based experimental collective Starfruit delivered during their 40-minute set last Friday at Oak Cliffs Texas Theater (231 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, 214-948-1546). The band dropped Wild West Combat last week on the esteemed Fort Worth label Dreamy Life Records, and the show was ostensibly a celebration of the album release it was also a night that wrung the serotonin out of my brain like a damp towel.

As the show began, a diverse crowd of more than 100 people of all ages and genders filed behind a movie screen into a closely packed but not too crowded area. A psychedelic spectrum of colors bathed the dark space in hues of yellow, blue, and red, while the sound of Boy by Book of Love echoed from wall to wall.

Once the music fell silent, Dallas experimental pop artist Mattie slinked onstage alongside a dancer. Both performers were hidden from view, covered head-to-toe by a pliable, opaque orange fabric beneath which they undulated as the words of Buddhist writer Alan Watts pumped over the sound system. As Matties powerful alto burst from deep inside her chest, she moved through the set, slowly peeling off the cocoon of fabric and emerging with her dancer onto the stage in a moving metaphor of personal growth and self-actualization. The performance was reminiscent of Laurie Anderson blended with the essence of Grace Jones plus a dash of Bjork.

Dallas Llora followed with a set of retro synth-pop that compelled the audience to dance. After two songs, I leaned back and bellowed a revelatory shout of first-album Ministry to a couple of my fellow concertgoers, who nodded approvingly in amusement. This was not a criticism, just that Lloras musical influences seem fairly obvious. Its synth-wave for those who missed it the first time around, and thats not a bad thing. The set provided a lively diversion between the visual explosion of Mattie and the art-punk aesthetic of Starfruit.

When I spoke with Starfruit lead singer and songwriter Ava Boehme a few days prior to the show, they were hopeful that the audience would walk away feeling empowered and affirmed by the experience. Boehme thoughtfully curated everything, from the stage props and color scheme to video montages and the bumper soundtrack. The singer spoke of a desire to create an inclusive, heart-opening, familial atmosphere something that was lacking in their own early experience as some clubs.

The desire to address that void speaks to why Wild West Combat is a critically important release: There are countless trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming young people who desperately need role models. They need to see that their outcomes can be positive. As a member of a marginalized community in the public sphere, Ava represents the promise of acceptance of ones authentic self. It is a heavy burden for anyone, much less an artist, yet Starfruits performance traversed those themes with ease, beginning with a video presentation of typically masculine cowboys being gunned down right before the opening notes of Still a Baby, an anthemic punk-rock battle cry that rails against labeling children as one gender or the other at birth.

The nine members of this iteration of Starfruit included a tightly wound saxophone section, which burst with dissonance before converging into controlled chaos. The audience mirrored the show onstage, emboldened by Boehmes calls to interact with and protect one another, as the throng broke out into several mosh pits that ended with Boehme taking a crowd surfing ride in a moment of pure joy. The highlight of the show was Boehmes acoustic guitar performance of the poignant ballad Big Armed Truck Driver. Boehme sounded more confident and self-assured than on the recorded track. Their voice was confident and sanguine. Afterward, as Boehme was rejoined by the saxophone section and bassist for album-closer (minus hidden track) Song of my Birth, the full ensemble returned to the stage for a rousing finale.

It can be difficult for some cis people to empathize with the identity struggle experienced by members of the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming population. Simply presenting as their authentic selves can place that population in physical danger, a theme that Boehme touched upon several times with a sense of urgency. At one point after encouraging the audience to mosh, Boehme reminded the crowd that Starfruit shows were a place where everyone was protected, contrasting their own experiences at punk shows.

It wasnt a very safe place for people like me, the singer told the audience.

In a text exchange a few days after the event, Boehme told me they were still processing their thoughts, but they also expressed a sense of achievement.

I thought the show was incredible and absolutely accomplished my goal, they said.

Dreamy Life Records and Starfruit should be proud. Theyve given the world a salient, timely piece of art.

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Live Concert Review: Starfruit at the Texas Theater - Fort Worth Weekly

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February 3rd, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

A Trailblazer of Global Consciousness: Ram Dass Led the Way – Psychology Today

Posted: December 31, 2019 at 10:51 am

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Ram Dass

Source: Ram Dass Foundation

When as an undergraduate student in psychology and a fresh-of-the-boat immigrant from India in early 1970s I read Be Here Now, I was gripped by the simplicity and profundity of the authors voice.[1] His thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images and memories seemed old yet new, a Harvard psychologist who had turned on, tuned in, and dropped out to follow an Indian guru in the Himalayas, namely Neem Karoli Baba (Wow!).

Dr. Richard Alpert changed his name, garb and philosophy, and started to preach a yogic way of life. Thus, Baba Ram Dass was born to an American or Western audience.

Little did I know that I would learn about him, again and again, along the path.

Be Here Now

Source: Ram Dass Foundation

Growing up in India, we used to hear of such stories often, and still do, with a sort-of cautionary tale. So and so dropped out of school. Or ran away from home to the Himalayas, or to become a yogi or a renunciate and started following a saffron robed guru, but to learn this in the US was indeed a rarity. May be it is not rare anymore?

Then, as a graduate student I learned Ram Dass was in the same department as Prof. David McClelland, who knew him well and was his mentor. I was intrigued even further. When I met Prof. McClelland briefly in William James Hall, I asked him about Dr. Alpert. David McClelland was rather circumspect, hehad conducted his own research in India on business entrepreneurship, which we discussed at length.

The Ram Dass foundations website connects the history going all the way back to the transcendentalist philosopher Emerson, He met Timothy Leary through David McClelland, who headed the Center for Research in Personality at the Social Relations Department at Harvard, where Alpert and Leary both did research. Together they began the Harvard Psilocybin Project, which included the Good Friday Experiment, assessingthe effect of psilocybin on spiritual experience, and later founded the International Foundation for Internal Freedom (IFIF) to study the religious use of psychedelic drugs.

As a psychologist, Richard Alpert played a pivotal role in the psychedelic movement of the sixties, lecturing on psychedelics at numerous college campuses across the country. A generation turned on, tuned in, and dropped out with psychedelics, providing the inner fuel for a turbulent era of social change, sexual liberation, and political unrest. In 1963, as psychedelics began to have a major influence on the culture, Alpert gained the distinction of being the first professor fired from Harvard in the 20th century. His predecessor in the previous century was Ralph Waldo Emerson.[2]

Thus, Ram Dass, who passed away last week, will continue to stand out as a trailblazerat the intersection of East-West philosophy, who explored the depths of the spiritual inner world, nearing the end of the twentieth century, when hyper-capitalism, militarism, and global inequality gripped our planet.

I reached out to my dear friend, colleague and tribal elder in this field, Phil Goldberg, who has written extensively about the exchange between East andWest and the perennial dialogue. Philip Goldberg has been studying Indias spiritual traditions for more than 50 years, as a practitioner, teacher, and writer. He is the author of numerous books, includingRoadsigns on the Spiritual Path, the award-winningAmerican Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West, andThe Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru. His latest book,Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times: Powerful Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity, and Couragewill be published next August.A spiritual counselor, meditation teacher, and Interfaith Minister, he is a popular public speaker, leader of American Veda Tours, and cohost of the Spirit Matters podcast.[3]

American Veda

Source: Phil Goldberg

DS:In your book American Veda[4], you juxtaposeRam Dass with Deepak Chopra. How does he belong in the same chapter with Deepak Chopra? Dr. Chopra was a great popularizer of yoga, TM, Ayurveda throughthe 1980s and 90s. Ram Dass was truly an experimenter with LSD and other mind-altering substances in the 1960s, pushing the boundaries of American or Western consciousness?

Goldberg: In American Veda I chronicled the major figures who propagated Indian spiritual teachings in the West. In that context, Ram Dass and Deepak Chopra were prominentacharyas,i.e. teachers. They both articulated core teachings of Yoga and Vedanta in ways that appealed to Americans and they reached huge numbers of people. Its true that Ram Dass became famous, or infamous, as a psychedelic researcher and proponent, but that was when he was Dr. Richard Alpert. In the 50 years after he went to India, found his guru, and returned as Ram Dass, he was a principle transmitter of Indian philosophy and yogic practices.

DS: You say in the book he was a perfect crossover between East-West, part Harvard Yard, part Himalayas? Please elaborate.

Goldberg: There are many reasons Ram Dass was able to reach enormous numbers of people. He was smart, funny, authentic, hip, and at the same time older than his main audience of countercultural baby boomers. But he also had great credibility. As a Harvard psychologist, he had scientific and intellectual credentials (and as aformerHarvard professor he had the added credentials of being anti-establishment). In addition, he had been to India and spent a long period of time with an authentic guru.

Most young seekers in that era (late 60s into the 70s) had only dreamt of that. We should note that he was not the only influencer with that kind of East-West credibility. Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley, and others were similarly influential. But Ram Dass took it to another level. He didnt just lecture and write books;he also led satsangs (spiritual gatherings) and pilgrimages, and he functioned in a guru-like capacity, only without the guru trappings and formal discipleship.

DS: What do you think was pushing him to take these risks with his mind, body and spirit? Psychologically and culturally, he came from a very well to do home and family; his father was a founder of Brandeis University, as he said, he was "spit and polish" son of a corporate executive?

Goldberg: By risks you refer to the drug-taking period, I assume. He was a natural seeker of truth in an era when social constraints were being questioned and, in certain circles, abandoned. As a research psychologist he was curious about the nature of the mind and consciousness. Its not hard to imagine him being curious enough about Timothy Learys description of his own psychedelic experiences to want to experiment on himself. To me, a turning point in the story comes when Leary continues advocating his turn on, tune in, drop out message and Alpert becomes Ram Dass and takes the tack that runs through Vedanta and Yoga more than LSD.

DS: Within the history of the East-West exchange, where would you place Ram Dass? His foundations will continue of course, but how will future aspirants memorializehim?

Goldberg: He is unquestionably a major figure in the importation of Eastern spiritual wisdom to the West and the subsequent foothold it has established in the culture, affecting everything from psychology to medicine to religion to individual spirituality. There are now thousands of Americans who teach practices like meditation and physical yoga, or incorporate Eastern ideas into their scholarly work, scientific research, or healthcare practices. Ram Dass was a forerunner of all this. In many ways he set the template for the Western interpreter, adapter, and disseminator.

As for the future, Im reluctant to make predictions, but if history is fair he will be recognized for the vital role he played in changing the world-views and lifestyles of perhaps millions of people, and for helping to usher in a genuine revolution in how we understand and engage the spiritual dimension of life. Im sure his books, videos, and audio recordings will have a long life, and those who loved him will make sure he is properly appreciated.

DS: You said in a recent interview, the lineage of his guru Neem Karoli Baba has had a significant impact on the American culture if we trace it to the tech sector, for example,Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, and others.Please elaborate.

Goldberg: I dont know anything about Zuckerbergs spiritual inclinations or connection to Neem Karoli Baba. As a young seeker in the 1970s, Steve Jobs was influenced by Ram Dass and went to India. Neem Karoli passed before Jobs got to his ashram, however, but India had an impact on Jobs and he was deeply affected by YoganandasAutobiography of a Yogi.

Phil Goldberg

Source: Phil Goldberg

That said, Neem Karoli Baba had a direct influence on a number of people who, in turn, went on to be leading figures in the East-West integration. Most of them were first influenced by Ram Dass as youngsters and followed him to India and Neem Karoli. They include the kirtan wallahs Krishna Das and Jai Uttal; Buddhist teachers Jack Kornfield, Lama Surya Das, and Susan Salzberg; author/psychologist Daniel Goleman; physician/public health leader Larry Brilliant; Mirabai Bush of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and others. In addition, a generation of young devotees who never met Neem Karoli hold him as a guru figure, due largely to the extended influence of Ram Dass and others.

DS: The work on psychedelics is continuing into FDA clinical trials for PTSD and other disorders. Clearly, this is partly due to Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary's work?

Goldberg: On the one hand, yes. Alpert and Leary were trailblazers in research on psychedelics, but they were hardly alone. Stanislov Grof, Oscar Janiger, and others were doing responsible research at the same time, and in some cases before Alpert and Leary. It could be argued, and many have made this case, that the public antics of the Harvard guys especially Leary with his turn on, tune in, drop out mantra was responsible for the long curtailment of research. Government authorities panicked over the counterculture explosion of LSD usage, with the bad trips, the contaminated street drugs, and the whole hippie culture.

I dont know the extent to which Ram Dass was involved in the efforts to gain approval for the wave of research that is now underway, but it took a long time for scientists to get that ball rolling again.

DS:In mainstream psychology is there a direct linkage between Ram Dass and the work on emotional intelligence by Goleman and others?

Goldberg: Yes, you might say there is a direct linkage betweenRam Dass asone of the leading figures in the development and maturation of humanistic psychology and transpersonal or positive psychology back in the 60s and 70s. May be there is also a connection with Goleman and EQ? The psychologist, Daniel Goleman, was influenced by Neem Karoli Baba.

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December 31st, 2019 at 10:51 am

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5 of the Greatest Colorado-Inspired Ski Films – 5280 | The Denver Magazine

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These ski films are among the most iconic Colorado has ever produced.

Theres arguably nowhere ski culture runs deeper than in the Centennial State, and part of the evidence lies in the many films born from Colorados mountains. Though skiing has changed a great deal through the years, we can still thumb through an archive of ski filmsold and newthat herald the sports wild and rowdy legacy.

Many productions by Warren Miller, the late godfather of ski films, featured Colorado athletes and terrain. And his legacy lives on through Boulder-based Warren Miller Entertainment which this year released its latest film,Timeless, featuring both Silverton and Eldora. Beyond that, there are a host of filmmakers here who have helped push the limits of extreme skiing and showcased it in a new light, including Crested Butte-based Matchstick Productions as well as Sweetgrass Productions, which was founded by Colorado College graduates.


As winter settles in and our favorite highway starts backing up, we rounded up a few of our favorite ski films that help us remember why we wake up so darn early to chase powder. These five pictures are timeless, have circulated film festivals, and have helped establish Colorado as an epicenter for all things skiing.

This 1985 production by Warren Miller might be the most iconic ski film ever. With a quintessential 80s soundtrack and steeped in nostalgia, the film is heralded as the origin of radical skiing. Though none of the shredding takes place in Colorado, it features Steamboats legendary director of skiing Billy Kidd (one of the first Americans to win an Olympic medal in alpine skiing) ripping alongside icons like Stein Eriksen, Phil Mahre, and Craig Peterson. The skiers go to Japan, France, New Zealand, and more places to showcase unprecedented skills and push the sport to new heightsliterally.

Its not a list of the greatest ski films without Greg Stumps The Blizzard of Aahhhs. The 1988 classic features a generation of ragtag extreme skiers including Glen Plake, Scot Schmidt, and Matt Hattrup at destinations all over the world. One of the best segments, though, takes place at Telluride where pro Scott Kennett (and his adorable doggo, watch this film for more on that) and local hippy Rasta Stevie explain why the beloved mining town is home to the ultimate mountain, unlike the glitzier resort towns in Colorado. The film served as inspiration for generations of skiers, including the late (and legendary) Shane McConkey, who watched this film at age 18 before moving to Boulder and then launching his professional career.


Sweetgrass Productions elevated the level of cinematography five years ago when Colorado College graduate Nick Waggoner dropped Afterglow, which quite literally set a new standard in the ski industry. With lighting assistance from Philips TV, he was able to illuminate skiers for a night segment that has since been emulated in nearly every other sport. With a narrative that is just as epic as the visuals (mostly shot in Canada and Alaska), this film remains a pinnacle of creativity.

Theres something about an Alan Watts narration that makes a film just a little bit more inspirational. So, when Crested Buttes Matchstick Productions launched their trailer for Days of My Youth in 2014, it shook skiers to their core. The landscapes include big mountain spines, the monotony of living in a city, and a rich collection of scenes from Colorados backcountry, as well as a killer resort segment featuring some insane skiing at Crested Butte.


Follow I-70 past the madness, take a left near Grand Junction, and head south until you hit the stomping grounds of this films namesake character, John Shocklee. The Peter Pan of Silverton is a 54-year-old mountain guide who has achieved peak ski bum status. Its a lifestyle many skiers strive for, or at the very least can identify with: never growing old, skiing every day, and having zero debts. The recipe is the foundation of his fountain of youth and makes for a story worth sharing.

Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone.

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December 20th, 2019 at 6:49 pm

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5 Habits That Will Change Your Life – Thrive Global

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Habits really are a matter of identity, thats why they are so difficult to change. But whats the difference between a good habit and a bad habit?

Well, its quite simple. Good habits bring you the results you want. Bad habits bring you results you dont.

Elon Musk, for example, has a habit of little sleep and being a self-confessed workaholic. But it brings him the the visionary results that he wants. To him, its a good habit. He makes sacrifices that others are unwilling or unable to accept because hes so strongly identified with the kind of person he needs to be in order to achieve his goals.

I believe that success doesnt have to feel like hard work. I believe that there should be no distinction between work and play. Those are the results I want. Thats my identity. And Ive adopted habits that make this a reality.

Theres a price to pay for every habit you form. Which is why you need to be crystal clear on the results you want to achieve. So its important to choose your habits wisely, based on the results you want to achieve. Because whether good or bad, you ARE the cumulative result your habits.

Heres five habits that became a part of my identity through conscious repetition:

HABIT #1: Seek Great Mentors

Show me a successful individual and Ill show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I dont care what you do for a livingif you do it well, Im sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor. Denzel Washington

Make it a priority to get in touch with people you consider great mentors. Join networking groups or take trips where you can learn from people you admire or want to emulate, devour their wisdom and integrate it into your life.

with one of my mentors and friends, Michael Beckwith

Its a common tactic, employed by some of the worlds most successful people. Ive been fortunate enough to spend time with Richard Branson on Necker Island as part of mastermind groups with major entrepreneurs and education reformists so we could all learn from each other.

You have to be conducive to learning. You have to adopt a growth mindset. You have to be okay with not knowing it all, and flexible enough to implement new strategies and approaches. Success, in any walk of life, is not about being wrong or right, its about growing, learning and evolving. You need mentors to do that.

Everything we do at Mindvalley, came about as a direct result of this habit. I use our events to invite and connect with people from all areas of life and every new teacher we partner with on our platform acts as a mentor to me, and Im able to absorb and adapt my existing strategies for life by incorporating the patterns of behavior that resonate with me.

And remember, a mentor doesnt have to be an idol. They can be a cheerleader, a friend or anyone who sees ability or potential in you that you yourself may overlook.

HABIT #2: Look After Your Health

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. Mahatma Gandhi

If you want to perform at optimal levels you need to have your hardware in the best condition. Physical health, for me, is determined by diet, exercise and sleep.


Quite simply, you are what you eat. But Big Agra and massive food corporations are heavily invested in pedalling us a seriously unhealthy and nutritionally empty diet.

A few years ago, I met a man named Eric Edmeades who opened my eyes to the damage of the modern diet to the human body. Since taking his program, WildFit, Ive never been healthier which gives me the platform to do everything else I do.

with Eric Edmeades, founder of WildFit

You dont have to go vegan like Beyonce or Zac Efron, but getting conscious about what you are putting into your body and liberating yourself from addiction with the foods that arent right for you is a habit worth forming.

Start by keeping it simple. Cindy Crawfords secret is a salad and a cup of green tea in her daily diet, apparently.

As well as getting the right fuel into the system, dont forget to hydrate. Were 70% water. Water is needed for all life. Its obvious.


As well as what you put in to your body, its what you do with it on a daily basis that makes the difference. When youre at your physical best you can show up better in the world.

I take my inspiration from Richard Branson who, at the age of 69, put me to shame by swimming 3KM from Necker Island to neighboring Mosquito Island earlier this year. Youd be surprised how many of the successful people I meet devote a serious chunk of their busy schedules to keeping in shape.

On Necker Island with Richard Branson

But you dont need to spend hours swimming across the ocean or sweating it out in the gym. As I said in a recent Forbes article, I spend only 45 minutes a week in exercise, but I am incredibly healthy and scored very well on a lot of different health markers. Thats because the style of exercise I do is scientifically studied and hyper-optimal


Sleep is massively undervalued in our fast-paced modern world. But sleep deprivation studies have shown that sleep is actually more important to survival than food. You can survive up to a month without food, yet the longest anyone has gone without sleep is 11 days. After only three or four nights without sleep, you can start to hallucinate.

Our infamous sleep pods at Mindvalley HQ in Kuala Lumpur

Theres so many entrepreneurs who buy into the myth that less sleep equals getting more done. Arnold Schwarzeneger famously said you dont need 8 hours sleep, just sleep faster, but I couldnt disagree more. Different people have different needs, but you need to find out your sleep requirements and do whats best for your own sleep chronotype.

You can read more about the importance of sleep in my article here on Thrive 4 Legit Reasons Why Employees Should Be Able To Nap On The Job.

HABIT #3: Meditate Everyday We meditate to get good at life, not to get good at meditation. Emily Fletcher

I love the fact that meditation is now mainstream. Ive been meditating since I was fourteen, and its the one habit that I NEVER compromise on. The benefits of meditation to physical and mental wellbeing have been well-documented and acted as a healing tool to help ease stress, anxiety and depression; if youre not doing it already, I suggest jumping on the bandwagon.

Perhaps my proudest contribution to this field is the Six Phase Meditation a method I developed that combines science, visualization and meditation in less than 20 minutes a day ideal for busy people and entrepreneurs who want to do more in the world.

Millions of people now use this method including Hollywood stars, music sensations like the soulful Miguel and professional athletes like NFL Legend Tony Gonzalez and NBA star Reggie Jackson.

Since The Zen Master, Phil Jackson, introduced mindfulness to the Chicago Bulls way back in the 90s, more and more sports teams are introducing meditation as a part of their training regimes. Sports psychologists have long advocated creative visualization techniques but now recognize the multiple benefits of a regular meditation practice.

I think the reason Six Phase became so popular is because it combines multiple transcendent practices gratitude, freedom from negative charges/forgiveness, creative visualization, intentions for the day and the blessing.

HABIT #4: Networking

Your network is your net worth. Porter Gale

Theres a certain amount of truth in the old adage its not what you know, its who you know so make a habit of consciously expanding your network.

Social apps and technology have given a new voice to networking, so this process is easier than ever. You can connect with people through Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and even indirect contacts that you make this way can prove invaluable.

At the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival with Mindvalley authors Jim Kwik and Dr. Shefaliand musician Akon

Even small businesses have the opportunity to reach a global customer base, so if you travel be sure to make a connection with everyone you meet. Make it your business to deliberately know information about everyone in your network and connect people to each other so you become a valued friend and ally.

Its important to provide value to others and you never know where the connections you make may take you.

HABIT #5: Follow Happiness

Happiness Inspires Productivity Shawn Anchor

So many of us choose our work for the monetary reward, either from a longing for status, a desire for material comfort or out of the necessity of putting clothes on our backs and food on the table. But what if we instead tried to choose how we make a living based on ends goals instead of means goals? What if we pursued work that soothes our soul, ignites our passion or makes a lasting contribution to a value we deem important? What if, in lieu of making a swift buck, we joined companies whose ideas we believed in? Lifes too short to spend the majority of your time doing something you dont like, or that has no meaning to you. Theres this strange cultural paradigm that weve created that suggests we sacrifice our time doing things that we dont want to do, in order to make money to do what we DO want to do. Thats crazy. Its as Alan Watts said: Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

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December 20th, 2019 at 6:49 pm

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The 100 Best Albums of the 2010s – slantmagazine

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Theres a popular memeshared most often by Gen Xers and tech-capable boomersthat self-deprecatingly laments the perception that the 1990s were just a few years ago. The absence of a generally recognized way to demarcate the first two decades of the 21st century (aughts? Teens? 10s?) has, perhaps, rendered the decade as a measure of time more arbitrary than ever before, resulting in one nebulous blur. The music of the past 10 years has likewise felt like a streak of shifting genres and seemingly rehashed trends.

Of course, a lack of obvious trendslike synth-pop and hair metal in the 80s, and alternative rock and R&B in the 90sdoesnt mean there werent important milestones in music. Bolstered by albums like Kendrick Lamars To Pimp a Butterfly and Kanye Wests My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, hip-hop continued to rediscover both its conscience and its voice in the 2010s, while artists like Robyn and Katy B proved that even when dance-pop is pushed to the margins, as it was after the EDM explosion of the late aughts, it will always find its groove.

As is often the case with pop music, whose wiles arent often immediately apparent, some of the titles on this list of the greatest albums of the decade took their sweet time taking root. Taylor Swifts 1989, for example, sits at a lofty perch here but failed to garner a mention on our list of the Best Albums of 2014. Others, like DAngelos Black Messiah, were released just days after we published our list that same year. And yet another 2014 album, Bright Light Bright Lights sophomore effort, Life Is Easy, came to our attention a year after its initial release.

Some of the artists with multiple entries on this list, like Kanye West, began the 2010s at their creative and commercial zenith but floundered on both counts by decades end. Others, like Lana Del Rey, started out with great but uncertain promise and ultimately fulfilled it as the decade came to a close. Holdovers from the 90s like Radiohead, PJ Harvey, and Bjrk, as well as artists whose legacies stretch even further back, like the dearly departed David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, released some of their most compelling work to date in the last 10 years, making the task of clearly defining the decade even more of a fools errand. What these 100 albums do have in common is quite simple: They moved us. Sal Cinquemani

At a time when pop music is defined foremost by cynicism, Bright Light Bright Light, n Rod Thomas, offers a refreshingly sincere voice, unafraid to be poignant or vulnerable. Though the melodies on the Welsh singer-songwriters sophomore effort, Life Is Easy, are often uncomplicated, theyre also instantly familiar and accessible. The albums opening synths nod to Angelo Badalamentis score for Twin Peaks, as Thomas paints vivid, cinematic scenes of love lost and imagined, drenched in retro-minded synth-pop reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys and George Michael. The album is littered with tales of disintegrating love (Everything I Ever Wanted, I Wish We Were Leaving, featuring Elton John) but also the wide-eyed optimism of a hopeless romantic (An Open Heart, I Believe). It makes lifeand lovesound easy. Cinquemani

The first of two stellar albums Big Thief released in 2019, U.F.O.F. is less immediate and rhythmic than the subsequent Two Hands. Its all ambience and texture, unfolding like a reverie, with chiming acoustic guitar arpeggios and cooing melodies so natural and easy that they sound like they sprung up from the ground or out of the trees. Singer-songwriter Adrienne Lenkers songs dont so much progress as they circle mesmerizingly around themselves, and the best of themCattails, Century, Fromseize on sing-songy melodic motifs with repetitious snake-like structures that become almost like mantras. Lenker and Buck Meeks guitar work is sparkling throughout, with every pluck and strum sounding sonically optimized. This is an album as difficult to categorize as it is easy to listen to. Jeremy Winograd

Electric found the Pet Shop Boys taking an easy and well-earned career victory lap. This isnt a nostalgia cruise through the sounds of its creators lost youth, but rather a daringly foolhardy effort to communicate with the kids in their own blissed-out lexicon. For this task, Electric brought in the man most perfectly suited to marrying 80s electro-pop classicism with genre-straddling EDM modernism, Stuart Price. More importantly, the duo brought a collection of wry and wonderful earworms that are every bit as huge as Prices canyon-sized sound. A reminder that classic songs dont have to arrive already frozen in amber. Blue Sullivan

Norwegian DJ Hans-Peter Lindstrm and vocalist Christabelles Real Life Is No Cool is a pop-funk odyssey that draws on early Massive Attack, Prince, and especially the space-disco of Giorgio Moroder. The album is, perhaps, Lindstrms most accessible work to date (the single Lovesick appeared in a car commercial and the U.S. version of the album is even more polished than the original Rough Trade incarnation), but despite clear standout tracks and copious pop hooks, its a testament to the strength of Lindstrms singular vision that the album plays best as one whole piece, no small feat considering that it was at least seven years in the making. Cinquemani

A friend recently played me James Blake through his new subwoofer with the dial turned to about 5, an experience that nearly made our heads explode. It served as a reminder of how amazingly rumbly, strange, and unique of an album it is, a fact that may have been forgotten in the nine months since its release. Cloaked in a cloud of mystery, it defies the usual bedroom-recording template, with an expansive sound that ranges from creeping, percussively stripped-down R&B to eerie MIDI-inflected dirges, with textures that provide padding for one of the most uniquely smooth voices to come around in years. Jesse Cataldo

Few artists could record an album as downright adventurous as Syro. It jumps from eerily funky trip-hop (produk 29) to disjointed, robotic acid house (CIRCLONT6A [141.98]) and then concludes with a solo piano piece that wouldnt feel out of place on a recital program alongside Chopin and Satie. But only Aphex Twin could record something this outlandish and appear to be toning down the experimentalism. Syro is a refinement of everything that Aphex Twin has accomplished in his career of genre invention and deconstruction. As a complete work, its enveloping, with moments of virtuosic composition (the prog-rock-on-ecstasy of syro u473t8+e [141.98]) balanced out by larger, propulsive gestures like rave banger 180db_[130]. While the rest of the electronic music world has been trying to catch up, Aphex Twin is finally taking a breath and, in turn, had released his most accessiblethough still profoundly idiosyncraticalbum to date. James Rainis

Tyler, the Creators obvious talent has always been undercut by an insistent immaturity, with callow, prankish antagonism proving a continued obstacle to his artistic development. With Flower Boy, raps resident enfant terrible has finally found a way to channel his hostility, on an album that still retains his inherent unruliness and intensity. Tyler taps into the internal reservoir of insecurity and doubt motivating his anger, expanding his range and revealing new creative layers in the process. Building on the glimmers of tuneful sweetness found on 2015s Cherry Bomb, the album finds existing horrorcore inclinations mixing freely with polished electro jazz, hard-edged psychedelia, and hazy R&B. Surprisingly smooth but still never easily digestible, its diverse palette provides insight into the wide variety of sources influencing a mounting wave of paradigm-fracturing rappers, helping to spearhead the genres fervent push into new modes of expression. Cataldo

As everyone whos caught his sprawling live show already knows, jazz bandleader Kamasi Washingtons maximalism will not be contained, and that, ludicrous as it may sound, even a three-hour label debut broken down into three volumes titled The Plan, The Glorious Tale, and The Historic Repetition and given the title The Epic still ever so faintly suggests the tip of the iceberg that sunk the RMS Titanic. Change of the Guard? That might be an overstatement, but theres something undeniably thrilling about an artist who doesnt seem to dislike a single reference point. Washington, better known as Kendrick Lamars go-to arranger, pulls not a single punch as he draws from big band, fusion, swing, and bebop traditions, pays homage to Malcolm X, Ray Noble, and Claude Debussy, and overlays heavenly choral and string arrangements to send the entire enterprise into orbit. Eric Henderson

As the coolly altered colors of the cover art indicate, Katy Bs On a Mission is euphoric without aggression. Its awash in the newness of discovery, and represents the perfect confluence of elements that all but transcends any single camp. This isnt merely a house album, a pop album, a dubstep album, or an R&B album. Its a bright, cheerfully mainstream-friendly record thats almost completely built from the ingredients of much darker, grimier dance music subcultures in a way that recalls the sunnier moments of Basement Jaxx, or Kathy Diamonds Maurice Fulton-guided retro jaunt through the Loft on Miss Diamond to You. But softer still. On a Mission is a glowstick Alice in Wonderland, a tour of sensations as narrated by an emotionally reserved young girl whose curiouser and curiouser reactions ultimately wind up giving in to the moment, hungry for the next chapter. Henderson

Caution is an apt warning for those about to consume Mariah Careys first album in over four years. While her voice may be a reedy version of what it once was, she makes it abundantly clear on Caution that she isnt to be fucked with in this or any other decade. She wisely relies on the rap-inflected R&B sounds that have been her bread and butter since Butterfly, while bringing in unexpected collaborators like Skrillex and Blood Orange. She also switches up the message: In the aftermath of a highly public breakup, a sense of inevitable heartache hangs over the whole thing, from the delightfully salty lead single GTFO (I aint tryna be rude, but youre lucky I aint kick your ass out last weekend, she quips) to the even more savage A No No, in which she summons her verbally gymnastic falsetto for a Gilligans Island-related diss. The adoption of patois and clearly intentional use of irregardless suggest Mimi (still) has no time for notions of cultural appropriation or grammar, and appearances by Slick Rick and Biggie (via sample) let us know that her heart will always lie in hip-hop. Where it belongs. Paul Schrodt

With the lone exception of Bon Ivers Beth/Rest, no music this year has better captured the glitzy, breezy, unaware charm of 80s air pop better than Destroyers Kaputt. Theres an almost stark obliviousness to the albums caricatural, glossy atmosphere, obtuse lyricism, and plethora of jazzy brass, but therein lies its allure: Dan Bejar exists in his own little bubble, making songs for himself as much as others, and leaving us narrative riddles that perhaps only he can ultimately decipher. Yet as confoundingly esoteric as Kaputt can often be, its still a joy to listen to: Luxurious and blissful and playful in a way that conjures up the psychedelic pop storytelling of Al Stewart. From the bouncy hotel lobby ballad Suicide Demo for Kara Walker and the delicate melancholy of Chinatown to the almost ridiculous, full-on saxophone and vibes explosion that is the title track, Kaputt is the consummate balancing act of the cerebral and the irreverent. Kevin Liedel

With Hurry Up, Were Dreaming, M83 braintrust Anthony Gonzalez reportedly aimed to combine the aesthetics of the decidedly more shoegazey Before the Dawn Heals Us with the all-out, sparkling post-punk of Saturdays=Youth, with synth-pop tracks like Claudia Lewis and Reunion alongside ambient throwbacks like Echoes of Mine. As always, Gonzalez goes grand, aiming for the bright lights and saturated echoes of stadium anthems. One need look no further than the opening blast of Intro for evidence, where Gonzalez masterfully stacks buzzing circularity and distant choir strains with the seagull synths of Kim & Jessie, over which Zola Jesus delivers her muscular vocals. Liedel

In the run-up to the release of her sixth album, Reputation, Taylor Swift was excoriated by fans and foes alike for too often playing the victim. The albums lyrics only serve to bolster that perception: Swift comes off like a frazzled stay-at-home mom scolding her disobedient children on Look What You Made Me Do and This Is Why We Cant Have Nice Things. But its her willingness to portray herself not as a victim, but the villain of her own story that makes Reputation such a fascinatingly thorny glimpse inside the mind of pops reigning princess. Swift has proven herself capable of laughing at herself, thereby defusing the criticisms often levied at her, but with Reputation shes created a larger-than-life caricature of the petty, vindictive snake shes been made out to be. By albums end, Swift assesses her crumbling empire and tattered reputation, discovering redemption in loveonly Reputation isnt so much a rebirth as it is a retreat inward. It marks a shift from the retro-minded pop-rock of 2014s 1989 toward a harder, more urban aesthetic, and Swift wears the stiff, clattering beats of songs like Ready for It? like body armor. Cinquemani

Righteous anger is potent fuel for art, and in a year that desperately beckoned for protest music that could stand up to systematic economic and racial oppression, Killer Mike and El-P drew on just that to create Run the Jewels 2. Its not a political treatise (there are too many absurdist threats and flights of linguistic fancy to qualify), but tracks like the drug-dealers lament Crown and the accusatory Lie, Cheat, Steal hold a mirror up to societys blemishes and implore you to get fucking pissed about it to El-Ps punishing, Bomb Squad-reminiscent production. Decades after It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the sonic revolution is still being fought, with brothers-in-arms Killer Mike and El-P as the new ringleaders. Rainis

DJ Kozes eclectic third effort, Knock Knock, tones down the psychedelic flourishes of 2013s Amygdala for a more accessible album thats inviting and soothing while also, at times, preserving a plaintive sense of yearning. Music on My Teeth opens with a sample of Zen Buddhist philosopher Alan Watts intoning that time is a social institution and not a physical reality. Whether its a Gladys Knight & the Pips sample on Pick Up or a guest spot by an Auto-Tune-drenched Kurt Wagner from Lambchop on Muddy Funster, Koze seamlessly melds eras and genres to fashion shape-shifting sonic textures. He plays to his guests strengths, giving the music the semblance of a mixtape at times, but overall the sound nevertheless remains cohesive. Seamless shifts from trip-hop to R&B to deep house create a multidimensional aesthetic that runs the gamut from retro to futuristic, from analog to digital, all while exuding Kozes mastery of making the uncanny feel oddly familiar. Josh Goller

I hate love in my own language, Jenny Hval says on the title track of her seventh album, a spoken-word exchange between herself and Lasse Marhaug about the notion of reproduction and its impact on humanity. Although Hval has admitted to feeling some anxiety about dealing with love as a theme when shes spent so much of her career focusing on anything but, on The Practice of Love she explores the concept with closely observed specificity. Over propulsive, trance-influenced musical backdrops that lend a disarming sheen to its raw lyrics, Hval analyses the presenceand lackof love in nature (Lions feat Vivian Wang), in pregnancy and childlessness (Accident), and in communion with the dead (Six Red Cannas). Her lyrical style, equal parts allusive and up-front, makes for an exposing, raw album, as disquieting as it is dazzling. Anna Richmond

The collaboration of producer Doc McKinney and singer Abel Tesfaye, House of Balloons is entirely without precedent in R&B. The gothic production aesthetic is influenced as much by industrial, trip-hop, and downtempo as it is by urban radio, while Tesfayes tortured falsetto conveys both vulnerability and predatory intent. Its a lurid exercise in subterranean world-building, its depictions of dependency and desperation soundtracked by some of the catchiest, sexiest R&B jams youll never hear in the club. Matthew Cole

True to their name, Wild Beasts builds on and fully inhabits an undomesticated musical world far removed from the familiar grounds of their indie peers. The bands experimentation in flaky, embellished baroque pop is ultimately a reward for its loyal audience: The weirder they get, the better Wild Beasts become. For those who stuck with them through Two Dancers, Smother is another masterful step in that surreal journey, albeit a quiet, sensuous one. Largely shouldered by the bands two lead vocalists (a libertine cooer in Hayden Thorpe and the earthier, huskier Tom Fleming), Smother is both alluring and purposeful, not to mention full of beautiful surprises. What other group could achieve something like Invisible, an undisguised hat tip to the kind of soft, safe ballads one would expect from Phil Collins circa 1985, and still manage to infuse it with their own brand of unpredictable artistry? Liedel

The knock against Stephin Merritt and companys latest long-sit is the lack of company in the equation: Where 1999s 69 Love Songs varied its three-CD sprawl with rotating vocalists, Merritts sad-sack monotone is all we get for five discs on 50 Song Memoir. But, then, per the title, this is Stephins story: The songs each correspond to a year in the prickly 50-year-old songwriters life, and it wouldnt really make sense for anyone else to tell it. Merritt the aesthete understands this, and so he indulges in songs that wouldnt really make sense for anyone else to sing: Its hard to imagine A Cat Called Dionysus being such a laugh riot without his deadpan pivot from He hated me to I loved him, and only Merritt could find musicality amid the drolly listed maladies on Weird Diseases. What 50 Song Memoir has in common with 69 Love Songs is that its one of the Magnetic Fieldss most consistent albums. Merritts lyrical concepts hold together as albums better than his aesthetic onesand duration only helps the charm of his offbeat writing to sink in. Sam C. Mac

With her punk-yelp drawl, Santigold at first seems to be trying to affect Karen Os style on her second albums first single, GO!, but then the beat drops out and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman herself takes the mic, all elongated syllables and spliced-up vocals, and its clear Santi isnt just playing dress-up, but skillfully, reverently co-inhabiting Karens world. Santi is a shapeshifter, and the beats and arrangements of each track are likewise perfectly tailored to their lyrics. Dont look ahead, theres stormy weather, Santi warns just as guitar licks crackle like electricity on Disparate Youth, an expertly layered piece of dub-pop, while her cavernous background vocals reverberate beneath the mechanical rhythm section of God from the Machine. Even if hip-hop-leaning tracks like Freak Like Me and Look at These Hoes feel more derivative than the albums copious nods to new wave and synth-pop, Master of My Make-Believe is still a genre-defying exercise in exerting ones mastery over all. Cinquemani

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The 100 Best Albums of the 2010s - slantmagazine

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December 20th, 2019 at 6:49 pm

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Xbox Series Xs Reveal Better Received Than Xbox One | TheGamer – TheGamer

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While the Xbox One stumbled out of the gate, the Xbox Series X appears to be off to a good start.

After the Xbox Series X trailer dropped at last weeks The Game Awards, it seems like Microsoft has finally earned back their cred with gamers after an entire console generation of getting the side-eye.

In the weekend since The Game Awards last Thursday, December 12, the new trailer for Microsofts next console, the Xbox Series X, has far surpassed the Xbox One reveal in terms of popularity. The trailers for the respective consoles on YouTube have racked up 236,000 likes with 20,000 dislikes for the Series X and 32,000 likes and 30,000 dislikes for the One.

There are a lot of possible reasons why the Series X video might be more popular than the Ones. The One was revealed as part of an E3 press conference and the Series X was part of The Game Awards. The way gamers get news about games has changed a lot in the six years since the One was released, with YouTube becoming more of a viable platformthan it was in the past.

Related:Microsoft Confirms The Next Xbox Will Simply Be Called Xbox

The most likely cause though is that the Xbox One famously fumbled its messaging before launch. Microsoft was determined to sell the Xbox One as not just a game console but an entertainment device. The pitch was that the new box would be the one box youd hook into your TV. It had HDMI pass-through for your cable box and voice commands were supposed to change the way we all experienced in-home entertainment. The problem Microsoft ran into was that the people they were pitching to, namely gamers, only wanted to hear about things related to gaming.

On that front, at launch at least, the One had some issues, the biggest of which was that it would not play second-hand games. Eventually, to their credit, Microsoft reversed some of the policies that initially infuriated gamers but by then the downvotes had been cast, so to speak.

In contrast, all we have to go on with the Series X is some specs and a minute and a half of tech demos with Alan Watts talking over them. Oh, and that there will be a Halo game for it.

Source: GameRant

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Stephen Krusel is a freelance writer focused on the gaming industry. He has been playing games since 1987 and has never really stopped.

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Xbox Series Xs Reveal Better Received Than Xbox One | TheGamer - TheGamer

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