Saturday, October 29, 2016

Escape the Election with Corgis, Kids and Concertos

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Yesterday I had to drive Youngest up to the University of Maine at Orono for a day-long theater conference. (She came back having learned how to fold and hang black-out curtains and how to help an actor quick-change in under 35 seconds.)

It's a good two and a half hours each way, and I was listening to public radio most of the time... until I just couldn't take it anymore. No offense to Maine Public Broadcasting, but if I heard ONE more story about politics, I was going to drive myself into the Atlantic. So I switched over to the classical music station. I was delighted to find that after listening to Mozart's bassoon concerto, I was relaxed and contemplative, instead of anxious and annoyed.

Clearly, the scariest thing about this upcoming Halloween is that there will be eight more days of campaigning to get through before the longest election season in all of recorded history is over. With that in mind, I offer the following to soothe and comfort us in the days to come. Go ahead and bookmark this page; you may need to return to it many times before November 8th.

The aforementioned Bassoon Concerto in B-flat Major. Lively, yet relaxing, and it doesn't make me think of any European country in particular so I don't have to start thinking about Brexit and immigration and refugees.

Corgi Cooper approaches the water the way we should all approach life - with a bit of caution and a lot of derring-do.

The Carol Burnett Show's "Double Calamity." Are Steve Lawrence and Harvey Korman still alive? Don't tell me - I don't want to know.

This tape has given my family a new catch phrase: "Don't turn your back on him, Joel!"

A troupe of adorable girls performing Mark Keali'I Ho'Omalu's He Mele No Lilo (the opening song from Lilo and Stitch.) Even the flintiest heart will get gooey.

And finally: the greatest video ever to appear on Jungle Reds, after Lucy revealed she had once worked at a lab hand-feeding axolotls: the one, the only Axolotl Song!

Dear readers, what do you recommend to escape from the news?


  1. Anything that gets me away from politics and this election season is a blessing . . . thanks for these wonderful choices. The Lilo and Stitch girls are priceless and the axolotl song is a hoot.

    We’ve been escaping the news with library time and good books . . . .

  2. Thank you! Now THIS is a true public service!

  3. leaf raking, bag after bag of crunchy dry leaves. So many leaves, so many more still to fall. Bonus points: sunshine, blissfully cool temps with no wind, and no one within half a mile using gas-powered mowers, leaf-blowers, or chain saws.

  4. Julia, I confess I'd turned into a news junkie. I even got a digital subscription to the Washington Post. Now I just want it to be over. Thx for the distractions. I love Mozart's bassoon concerto (also all the horn concertos). And Beethoven, Vivaldi, or Handel any day of the week. And axolotls? What's not to love?

    And speaking of axolotls... Mad Magazine published this revisionist version of Wordsworth's musings on wandering lonely as a cloud...

    I Wandered Lonely as a Clod

    I wandered lonely as a clod,
    Just picking up old rags and bottles,
    When onward on my way I plod,
    I saw a host of axolotls;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    A sight to make a man's blood freeze.

    Some had handles, some were plain;
    They came in blue, red pink, and green.
    A few were orange in the main;
    The damndest sight I've ever seen.
    The females gave a sprightly glance;
    The male ones all wore knee-length pants.

    Now oft, when on the couch I lie,
    The doctor asks me what I see.
    They flash upon my inward eye
    And make me laugh in fiendish glee.
    I find my solace then in bottles,
    And I forget them axolotls.

  5. oh my gosh, I'll be giggling all day at the attack llama. And love love love that you resuscitated my axelotl song. I hate for that to fade away into hazy Jungle Red history...

    I've become a news junkie too Hallie, but really enough is enough on this one. We did get lots of laughs in the Key West locals parade last night. Crazy imaginations--at least this year has given us a wealth of material! (You can see a slideshow of pix at my Facebook profile for Roberta Isleib)

    Otherwise, reading...of course!

  6. "The longest election season ever." Ain't that the truth.

    Corgis are so cute. Thanks for the laughs and peace to start my day.

  7. Reading books, preferably those written by Reds, in silence.

  8. Julia, you have my undying thanks for a few minutes' respite from the insanity. Bless you.

    I've also become obsessed with the news, but really, really need to step back from my terror of what might come. With your example in mind, I sought my favorite-ever Craig Ferguson bit, from the night he became a US citizen. His show that night was amazing, and ended with him playing drums with the Scottish band The Wicked Tinkers. You have to see his unabashed joy and energy in this performance, he was so thrilled to become a citizen, but wanted to keep in touch with his roots:

  9. Thank you, Julia. I have the morning news on as I check my Jungle Reds and I realize how upsetting and anxious life has become. My escape... My health club, sitting in sauna talking to friends, swimming then relaxing in the spa.
    For the evenings I have DVDs of old British comedies. So silly and I laugh until I hurt.

  10. Julia, Lucy--the axolotl song will never fade away--I was just thinking of it the other day in one of the grimmer moments after a news story....I too turn off NPS in the car after yet one more take on the day's election outrageousness. Sometimes I make up silly songs (out loud if no one else is in the car--a habit from when the boys were little and would actually giggle at the nonsense: 'Oh, I'm a little froggy jumping in the air. I leapt over a crocodile on a dare. Now I'm wishing I'd gone to the fair....').

    And, yes, long walks to enjoy the cool air and fall colors and books and writing and the cats for distraction and comfort. Write on, Reds!

  11. Thank you, Julia! Wonderful escape. A playlist of relaxation.

  12. I switch to an all-classical music station, too, when the political news comes on. Other distractions are watching DVDs of my favorite detective TV programs, and READING! Don't ask how many books I've purchased in the last couple of months, print books and e-books! Since most of them are written by JRW authors and back-bloggers I think of them as medicine for the soul!

    Deb Romano

  13. Thank you, Julia! this was just right.

    Since we have our very own Corgi living right here with us, I admit, he does a lot to keep us happy. He's a natural born clown with so much sweetness mixed with mischief we can't help but laugh at him. A lot.

    And poetry. I read lots of poetry. More now than ever. And am discovering some pretty marvelous poets.

    Music. I listen to a lot of old music. Old being everything from Big Band to Motown to Classic Rock.

    And my camera.

  14. Thanks for the giggles, Julia. After I voted last week I've been on a news blackout. WTH didn't I know about axolotls before now? Could have saved this ulcer for something important.

    This week I plan to take the dogs for a walk in Mt. Hope cemetery, commune with Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, and thank my grandmother for helping women get the vote a century ago.

    If this election doesn't go well, I suggest we all invoke Lysistrata. Wake my when it's ovah.

  15. You are all brilliant!
    Many thanks for the entertainment.

  16. Julia, you have made my day! I loved the bassoon video! I played bassoon in high school, and I wish I'd kept it up. It's such a beautiful instrument, both visually and audibly. and there is that quirky incongruity of the massive instrument and the thin, tiny reed on the mouthpiece. That reed was a sensitive creature. You might notice the man playing the bassoon in the video wetting the reed occasionally in-between his solos. You have to keep it moist, but not slobbery wet. A dried-out reed or a soggy reed are both disasters. And, then there were the jokes about the bassoon and its appearance, with bazooka often being a common appellation.

    Rainn Wilson, the actor who played Dwight Schrute in the NBC comedy The Office, was a "bassoonist" in his youth, and he has a recent mid-career autobiography out called The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy. I plan on reading it one of these days. Here's an Amazon link to it.