Keeping Your Mental Health Up in Hard Times

“One of the keys to becoming more resilient is to practice compassion both toward ourselves as well as toward others,” Ms. Marston said. “One of the keys to doing so is to interrupt recurring cycles of negative inner dialogue.”

When we find ourselves cycling through negative thoughts that don’t go anywhere, it’s important to take a step back to disrupt the cycle of anxiety, Ms. Marston said. “This can include stopping and focusing on our breath rather than on our thoughts, changing our physical environment to help create distance from our initial mental space, or having a conversation with someone we trust to get a fresh perspective.

Dr. Sarah Kate McGowan, an assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggested coming up with coping statements to help you get through dark moments. This might be something like, “I can take this one day at a time” or “This is frightening, and I can handle it.” You can even write these statements on index cards to refer to when you find yourself back in the negativity loop, she said.”

Kristin Wong, NY TIMES
How to Stay Optimistic When Everything Seems Wrong

NORMAN MAILER: Ten Favorite American Novels

With the exception of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I reread recently, the other books were devoured in my freshman year at Harvard, and gave me the desire, which has never gone completely away, to be a writer, to be an American writer. They’re all selections from the mainstream of American novels, not a surprise on the list, which separates me, I suspect, from my colleagues. But it’s an honest list, even if it doesn’t bring a deserving writer out of obscurity. Freshman year at Harvard is luminous because of these books.

John Dos Passos

Mark Twain

James T. Farrell

Thomas Wolfe

John Steinbeck

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ernest Hemingway

John O’Hara

James M. Cain

Herman Melville

From – The Reader’s Catalog: An Annotated Selection of More Than 40,000 of the Best Books in Print in 208 Categories (Reader’s Catalogue)

Coronavirus Pandemic and Unemployment – Theatrical Workers

Brown is a 33-year film veteran. He has seen many ups and downs in the industry, from the Writers Guild strike in 2007 to 2008 to the global financial crisis to natural disasters. This one is different. “Our income currently is zero dollars with no end in sight. It’s frightening,” he told CNN Business, “I am going to deplete all my savings.”

Brown is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents roughly 145,000 entertainment workers working behind the scenes. In March, IATSE announced that more than 90% of its members are out of a job due to the pandemic — that’s roughly 120,000 craftspeople, technicians, and artisans.

Anna-Maja Rappard, CNN Business.
Hollywood Has Gone Dark, And It’s Crushing Thousands

Diary of a Country Priest – Georges Bernanos


In this classic Catholic novel, Bernanos movingly recounts the life of a young French country priest who grows to understand his provincial parish while learning spiritual humility himself. Awarded the Grand Prix for Literature by the Academie Francaise, The Diary of a Country Priest was adapted into an acclaimed film by Robert Bresson. “A book of the utmost sensitiveness and compassion…it is a work of deep, subtle and singularly encompassing art.” – New York Times Book Review (front page).

Serious subject matter handled seriously, not ironically. Clearly written sentences. Doesn’t insult your intelligence.

I had a hard time following it. Characters weren’t introduced. People just start having long abstract conversations. Never sure of what was going on exactly. This might have been due to the diary format of the book. In any case, I didn’t get much of a feel for what life was like for the main character, or for the time and place.

Try it for yourself: Amazon
Part of the Desultory Notes International Book Club

Black Sabbath Plays Before the Queen

Backstage before the gig I stood outside talking to Paul McCartney and some other people. It was great, but there were all these signs saying ‘No Drinking’, ‘No Swearing’, no this, no that. That terrified Ozzy more than anything, because with him everything is fucking this and fucking that, so he was practising not swearing. He walked up and down in the dressing room going: ‘Raise your hands, come on, raise your hands . . .’ instead of his normal: ‘Raise your fucking hand, you fuckers!’ I thought, no way he’s going to keep that up! But he did.

Iommi, Tony. Iron Man

Classic Rock – Top 50

Selection from:
Rock n Roll America’s
Top 1,000 Classic Rock Songs

Rank Song Artist
1 Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin
2 Hey Jude Beatles
3 All Along the Watchtower Hendrix, Jimi
4 Satisfaction Rolling Stones
5 Like A Rolling Stone Dylan, Bob
6 Another Brick In The Wall Pink Floyd
7 Won’t Get Fooled Again Who
8 Hotel California Eagles
9 Layla Derek And The Dominos
10 Sweet Home Alabama Lynyrd Skynyrd
11 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
12 Riders on the Storm Doors
13 Rock and Roll Led Zeppelin
14 Barracuda Heart
15 La Grange ZZ Top
16 Dream On Aerosmith
17 You Really Got Me Van Halen
18 More Than a Feeling Boston
19 Sultans of Swing Dire Straits
20 You Shook Me All Night Long AC/DC
21 Kashmir Led Zeppelin
22 Lola Kinks
23 Carry on Wayward Son Kansas
24 Tiny Dancer John, Elton
25 Locomotive Breath Jethro Tull
26 I Still Haven’t Found U2
27 Magic Carpet Ride Steppenwolf
28 Free Bird Lynyrd Skynyrd
29 Purple Haze Hendrix, Jimi
30 Tom Sawyer Rush
31 Let It Be Beatles
32 Baba O’Riley Who
33 The Joker Miller, Steve
34 Roxanne Police
35 Time Pink Floyd
36 It’s A Long Way to the Top AC/DC
37 Whole Lotta Love Led Zeppelin
38 The Chain Fleetwood Mac
39 I’ve Seen All Good People Yes
40 For What It’s Worth Buffalo Springfield
41 Black Magic Woman Santana
42 Nights in White Satin Moody Blues
43 While My Guitar Gently Weeps Beatles
44 Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones
45 Gold Dust Woman Fleetwood Mac
46 Fortunate Son CCR
47 American Pie McLean, Don
48 Bad Company Bad Company
49 Waitin’ For The Bus/Jesus Just Left ZZ Top
50 Over the Hills and Far Away Led Zeppelin

CTRL f  *analysis* on the whole 1000 list
Love – 41
Baby – 6
Money – 8 (Includes Eddie Money)
Car – 22 (Includes The Cars)
Rock – 27
Get – 14
Summer – 2
Night – 31

Woman – 13:

948 Rock And Roll Woman Buffalo Springfield
910 Just Like A Woman Dylan, Bob
779 A Woman In Love Petty, Tom
717 Kentucky Woman Deep Purple
519 Woman From Tokyo Deep Purple
496 Pretty Woman Van Halen
310 Evil Woman ELO
307 Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress Hollies
245 L.A. Woman Doors
204 American Woman Guess Who
180 Witchy Woman Eagles
45 Gold Dust Woman Fleetwood Mac
41 Black Magic Woman Santana


The Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, Lancashire, England on Monday 16 August 1819. On this day, cavalry charged into a crowd of around 60,000 people, who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 there was an acute economic slump, accompanied by chronic unemployment and harvest failure, and exacerbated by the Corn Laws which kept the price of bread high. At that time only around 11% of adult males had the vote, very few of them in the industrial north which was worst hit, and reformers identified parliamentary reform as the solution. A mass campaign to petition parliament for manhood suffrage gained three-quarters of a million signatures in 1817 but was flatly rejected by the House of Commons. When a second slump occurred in early 1819, radical reformers sought to mobilise huge crowds to force government to back down. The movement was particularly strong in the north-west of England, where the Manchester Patriotic Union organised a mass rally in August 1819 addressed by well-known radical orator Henry Hunt.

Shortly after the meeting began, local magistrates called on the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry to arrest Hunt and several others on the platform with him. The Yeomanry charged into the crowd, knocking down a woman and killing a child, and finally apprehended Hunt. Cheshire Magistrates chairman William Hulton then summoned the 15th Hussars to disperse the crowd. They charged with sabres drawn, and 9-15 people were killed and 400–700 were injured in the ensuing confusion. The event was first labelled the “Peterloo massacre” by the radical Manchester Observer newspaper, in a bitterly ironic reference to the bloody Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier.


Miss Amelia’s Whiskey – Carson McCullers

“For the liquor of Miss Amelia has a special quality of its own. It is clean and sharp on the tongue, but once down a man it glows inside him for a long time afterward. And that is not all. It is known that if a message is written with lemon juice on a clean sheet of paper there will be no sign of it. But if the paper is held for a moment to the fire then the letters turn brown and the meaning becomes clear. Imagine that the whisky is the fire and that the message is that which is known only in the soul of a man—then the worth of Miss Amelia’s liquor can be understood. Things that have gone unnoticed, thoughts that have been harbored far back in the dark mind, are suddenly recognized and comprehended.”

Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: and Other Stories 

Hot Patootie – Meat Loaf, Rocky Horror Picture Show

He joined the high school choir in order to avoid study hall, and from then on, singing became his main passion. After completing high school at 15, he travelled around with a number of bands. By the time he settled down in New York, live rock music was no longer in so much demand as before. “That’s one reason I went into theatre,” he remarks. “Another reason was because someone hired me and I didn’t have a job.” As a singer and actor, Meat performed in some 10 Broadway and Off Broadway productions, including Hair and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which he also appeared in the 1975 film.

100 New Yorkers of the 1970s, Max Millard

100 New Yorkers of the 1970s – Max Millard

“The interviews for this book were conducted from May 1977 to December 1979. They appeared as cover stories for the TV Shopper, a free weekly paper that was distributed to homes and businesses in New York City. Founded by Bruce Logan in the mid-1970s as the West Side TV Shopper, it consisted of TV listings, advertisements, and two full-page stories per issue. One was a “friendly” restaurant review of an advertiser; the other was a profile of a prominent resident of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The honoree’s face appeared on the cover, framed by a TV screen.”

“One aspect of the New York personality, I soon observed, was that the great often mingled freely with the ordinary. At the Alpen Pantry Cafe in Lincoln Center, where I worked briefly, David Hartman, host of Good Morning America, came in for his coffee every morning and waited in line like everyone else. John Lennon was said to walk his Westside neighborhood alone, and largely undisturbed.

The other side of the New York mentality was shown by nightclubs surrounded by velvet ropes, where uniformed doormen stood guard like army sentries. Disdaining the riffraff, they picked out certain attractive individuals milling outside and beckoned them to cut through the crowd, pay their admission and enter. The appearance of status counted for much, and many people who lived on 58th Street, one block from Central Park, got their mail through the back entrance so they could claim the higher class address of Central Park West.”

Read the whole thing, free:

Author, radio humorist, and president of the Fund for Animals
An Andrews Sister finds stardom as a solo
To star in Neil Simon’s new musical
America’s best-selling beauty author
Author of 188 books
Artistic director of the New York City Ballet
Drama and dance critic
North America’s most valuable soccer player
Creator of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater
Creator, writer and producer of Waste Meat News
Oscar-winning lyricist
Governor of New York state
Food editor of the New York Times
Actor, director, producer, novelist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist

Continue reading 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s – Max Millard

Auden Talks to Jay Parini

“I know only two things. The first is this: There is no such thing as time.” He explained that time was an illusion: past, present, future. Eternity was “without a beginning or an end,” and we must come to terms with what underlies time, or exists around its edges. He quoted the Gospel of John, where Jesus said: “Before Abraham was, I am.” That disjunctive remark upends our notions of chronology once and for all, he told me.

I listened, a bit puzzled, then asked: “So what’s the second thing?”

“Ah, that,” he said. “The second thing is simply advice. Rest in God, dear boy. Rest in God.”

Auden’s two points of wisdom have taken decades to absorb. He was telling me, I think, that our frantic search for meaning in the calendar and clock — the race against time — is foolish in the context of a larger universe or God’s eternity (one can define “God” in so many different ways). “Ridiculous the waste sad time,” wrote T. S. Eliot, urging us toward “the still point of the turning world.”

What W.H. Auden taught me about Easter, God and surviving a season of Covid-19
Jay Parini

Open Culture – Free Documentaries Online

“Watch over 200 free documentaries online. The documentaries cover everything from music and cinema, to literature, religion, politics and physics. They’re thought-provoking, eye-opening, and enlightening. For more great films, please visit our complete collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..”

This looks like it might be a good resource.