Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Web Secret 573: Streaming down the hill

I don't remember when I started streaming TV shows, mini series and movies. I was most definitely NOT an early adopter. Didn't quite get it.

The chief television critic of the New York Times reported that most of her friends pitied her when he took that position in 2004. "TV," they scoffed, "how are you going to stand watching all that trash?" Ten years later, is colleagues envy her, and movies are the trash - endless reiterations of the same 3 plot lines or yet another superhero offering. (PS the critic in question, Alessandra Stanley, was a prep school classmate of mine.)

As I write this, I literally can't remember the last time I went to the movies. It was many months ago and I paid extra to sit in a comfortable reclining seat, drink a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc and eat farm to table fare.

Wait - I can do that at home - anytime I want. I have a large 4K TV, which may be small compared to an IMAX screen, but I don't have to deal with cinematic deplorables. By which I mean children jumping around, teenagers texting non-stop, and demented senior citizens loudly asking questions because they can't follow the plot. I have wine in my fridge, and any food in the world can be ordered on my "GrubHub" app.

One thing that I started noticing recently is how many streaming apps I have loaded on my smartphone and tablet:

Netflix - Love Death and Robots
Hulu - The First
PBS Video - Victoria
CBS All Access - The Twilight Zone
HBO GO - Game of Thrones
FXNOW - Fosse/Verdon
NBC - Good Girls
Bravo - Project Runway
YouTube - Origin

I am sure I'm forgetting a couple. I am feeding an addiction for science-fiction, fantasy, historical drama and documentaries. Many, many, documentaries.

I am never going to watch it all.

I have to schedule "Reading a book" lunches - because otherwise...

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Web Secret 572: 44 pages

Do you remember reading "Highlights for Kids"?

Maybe in your dentist's or pediatrician's office?

Would you think it still existed in 2019?

Would you think it's still relevant in our digital world?

Would you think it is one of the most ethical companies in America?

Would you think it is run by 4 generations of the same family?

Well, I didn't know any of the above.

Until I watched a warm blanket of a documentary, "44 pages."

You should too.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Web Secret 571: The Kindness Diaries

Years ago, I found myself stranded in a remote Andean village for a number of days. There was no running water, no electricity and the villagers tilled the soil using Medieval tools.

One of the families in the village offered me food and lodging while I waited for the bus to come. By Western standards, these people were poor, yet I was amazed at their happiness and serenity.

I find myself thinking back to that experience as I watched "The Kindness Diaries", a wonderful documentary series on Netflix.

The series follows the journey of host Leon Logothetis as he travels the world with no money, choosing to rely entirely on the kindness of strangers for food, lodging and gasoline to fuel his motorcycle.

When Leon and his crew meet someone who touches their hearts, they reward them with a gift.

Every episode, I too am touched, and I cry.

Things I've learned from watching this program:
  1. The poorest people are usually the most generous. I don't know if this is because they have more empathy, or they have less to lose by gambling on helping a total stranger.
  2. True contentment is not linked to material wealth.
  3. I want to visit Bhutan. The government of Bhutan is guided by the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. I will say no more.
  4. Kindness can be found anywhere. You just have to ask.
True chicken soup for the soul.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Web Secret 570: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

The Internet taketh away.

But sometimes it giveth big time.

Take NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts, "Intimate video performances, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen." Since 2008, a Who's Who of musicians and bands have performed them, from Adele to Chance The Rapper, from T-Pain to Yo-Yo Ma.

In 2015, the Tiny Desk people decide to launch a contest to find undiscovered talent. Contestants must submit a video showing them performing a song they have written while seated at a desk. Winners perform a Tiny Desk Concert.

In 2016, there were 6,000 entries and six judges unanimously selected Gaelynn Lea as the winner.

Yesterday, I accidentally came across her Tiny Desk Concert - I had never heard of her:


Within 10 seconds of clicking the link, I feel like I noticed 6 things simultaneously:

1. she is a little person
2. her limbs are askew
3. she plays the violin like a cello
4. her playing is amazing
5. her voice is amazing
6. the song she wrote, (Someday we'll linger in the sun,) is amazing.
7. I had never heard anything like it.

Food for the soul.