Ventipop #228 :: Vivid & Vibrant, San Giovanni & Viva La Vulva


These are the most interesting, humorous and inspiring things I found on the net this week. If you enjoy, please share with a friend.

If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.
— Ellen DeGeneres

They Shall Not Grow Old Trailer

Peter Jackson’s new documentary features WWI film footage cleaned up and colorized. The trailer was released this week and it’s breathtaking and moving. Amazing. This is how film makers should be utilizing modern special affects:


Podcast Recommendation - Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

There’s something calming and reassuring about Alan Alda. Maybe because it’s a voice I grew up listening to. Whatever the reason, it’s nice having Hawkeye in my life again. Season 2 began on November 13th.

Podcast Description: Learn to connect better with others in every area of your life. Immerse yourself in spirited conversations with people who know how hard it is, and yet how good it feels, to really connect with other people – whether it’s one person, an audience or a whole country. You'll know many of the people in these conversations – they are luminaries in our culture. Some you may not know. But what links them all is their powerful ability to relate and communicate. It's something we need now more than ever.

TV Recommendation - Dogs on Netflix

We all know that dogs are good, but what about people? That’s really the question being asked in this six-part dog-centric series from Netflix. It’s a deeper watch than you may think. The dogs in this series are really there to tell a greater story about humanity. Dogs bring out the good in people. My wife and I agreed while watching our favorite episode, we’d like to move to Italy and hang with the Italian family and their dog Ice during an isolated winter in San Giovanni. For a few hours, it doesn't matter what language you speak or exactly what box you marked during the last election—a rare exception to what feels like any other conversation these days. Over the course of the series, between barks and snuggles, you might learn something about another part of the world that catches your eye. And if you're really paying attention—truly listening to the stories that are being told—some of that unconditional love from these dogs may rub off on you too.

Shopping Site Recommendation - Good, Cheap and Fast

Good, Cheap, and Fast is a data scientist's take on things to buy on Amazon that are both good and cheap. You can tell he’s a scientist just by the way he describes his site:

Hello, I’m a Data Scientist. This site wouldn't exist without user reviews, i.e. the reviews that actual customers write about a product. I find products with tons of positive reviews, then I scrub away the fake ones. Then, I remove the products with above-average prices. The result: a shortlist of things worth buying.

Mental Yoga, What an Obscure German Novel Taught Me About Dictators

The following excerpt is from an excellent Politico article written by Jens Kruse. It details the fear, confusion and denial occurring in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power which is sadly, poignantly relevant today.

“I was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1949, so I grew up playing cowboys and Indians with my cousins in the rubble fields of my native city. Family lore had it that my mother, who had survived the Hamburg firestorm of 1943, made me baby shirts from the sugar bags that came in American care packages. Her father had been sent to a concentration camp during the early days of the Nazi dictatorship because he collected dues for an illegal union; fortunately, he survived. Because of the housing shortage caused by the bombings, my parents and I, for the first 11 years of my life, lived in a one-room apartment. Suffice it to say my childhood was a daily reminder of the catastrophic consequences of the destruction of the Weimar democracy and the rise of Adolf Hitler.

The Oppermanns: A Novel
By Lion Feuchtwanger

The other constant of my early life was a presence of things American that went beyond the baby shirts with “SUGAR” stamped on them. Even though we lived in the British occupation zone, American movies played at the local movie theater where my mother worked, and Bill Haley & His Comets were my father’s favorite rock ’n’ roll band. My father had been a prisoner of war of the Americans, and while he almost never talked about the war itself, he talked frequently about those years from 1945 to 1947 in camps in Germany, Holland and France. The Americans, he said, treated and fed him well and taught him to drive a 2.5-ton truck. When my parents traveled to the U.S. for the first time for my wedding to a wonderful American woman—six years after I had visited the U.S. for the first time and three years after I had spent a year at Indiana University as an exchange student—he brought his decades-old POW driver’s license in hopes that my father-in-law would let him drive his car. By that time, my German education had been supplemented and improved upon by my American education and my respect for Americans’ generosity and openness had grown. Even more, I admired the principles of the American Constitution and the strength of its democratic institutions. My wife and I had two sons (one of whom is a senior writer at POLITICO Magazine) while I was earning my Ph.D. at UCLA, which launched a long and productive career teaching German language and literature. In 1999, I became an American citizen.

Then came the election of 2016. Suddenly, I was forced to question my long-held belief that American society was constitutionally immune to the threat of dictatorship. I know I wasn’t the only person who wondered whether we had crossed some threshold; it wasn’t an accident, after all, that George Orwell’s classic 1984 was suddenly at the top of the Amazon charts. Still, something told me that reacquainting myself with Big Brother and his Ministry of Truth wouldn’t be sufficient to explain the moment we were living through. I decided to follow my academic instincts. I expanded the field of inquiry. I made a list of every novel about authoritarianism and totalitarianism I could think of, spanning more than a century of work. My reading list came to 12 novels in all. I read them chronologically: Jack London’s The Iron Heel, published in 1908, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, which he wrote in 1914/15, and Sinclair Lewis’ semi-satirical 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here. I reread staples of college syllabuses such as Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and, of course, 1984. I dived into more obscure works such as Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone and Philip K. Dick’s The Penultimate Truth. And I read the most modern works—Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Philip Roth’s alternative history, The Plot Against America, and Dave Eggers’ 2013 dystopian vision of internet technology run amok, The Circle.

I would learn during my 15-week immersion, which I undertook with the help of some like-minded members of a reading club, that it was not the novels about fully formed totalitarian regimes—The Trial, Darkness at Noon, Every Man Dies Alone, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Penultimate Truth and The Handmaid’s Tale— that spoke loudest to me. Terrifying as those novels were, it was in fact the books that charted the ominous path from the familiar to the horrific that were the most useful in answering my questions—The Iron Heel, It Can't Happen Here, The Plot Against America and The Circle. Read in order, the events and worlds depicted in these transitional novels trace—not completely linearly, not entirely smoothly, but clearly enough—a progression from more to less brutal, from less to more sophisticated methods of achieving dictatorial power and exercising and maintaining authoritarian and totalitarian rule. From the use of raw military power in The Iron Heel to the apparently painless establishment of a heaven-like totalitarianism in The Circle, the arc of these narratives seems to describe an ever more sophisticated, subtle and insidious manipulation of human beings into the acceptance of dictatorship of one sort or another.

But of the dozen books, the one I found most memorable was perhaps the least well known, at least to an American audience. It was called The Oppermanns, and it was written in 1933 by a German exile named Lion Feuchtwanger…” - Click here to read the complete Politico article

Ventipop Book Shop

Books indeed make the best, most memorable gifts. Click here to see all Ventipop’s recent book recommendations.

Bookshelf Artist Monde

Japanese artist Monde has created a beautiful series of woodworks complete with a light switch! The Tokyo-based artist built and designed intricate, wooden bookshelf inserts that are like miniature dioramas of narrow alleyways you might find in the streets of Tokyo.

“I Should Have Learned To Talk To People”, Comedy by Brad Upton

Viva La Vulva

Libresse, a Swedish brand of feminine hygiene products, enjoys breaking taboos whenever it can. Their latest ground-breaking ad ‘Viva La Vulva’ features self-aware plastic dolls, singing camel-toe and an array of vulva-like imagery and shapes singing in praise of, you guessed it, the taboo subject of female genitalia. WARNING: If you feel even a bit awkward while watching this video then I think it’s mission accomplished for Libresse.

Equal Time to the Penis

The little mustache in no way makes this look less penisy-ish:


Interaction of the Week

Daughter: What does gays mean?

Me: Well you know mum and dad love each other - two men can love each other the same way

Her: So what's 'penetrating gays'?

Me: Er... read me the whole sentence

Her: "She stared at him with a penetrating gaze"

Me: Oh

The Tricks of a Food Stylist

Food in commercials always looks absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, what makes it looks delicious oftentimes also makes it completely inedible:

Snaps & Buckles & Things…

The Only Gift That Lasts Forever

Scientifically Proven, The Most Relaxing Song in the World

Scientists have discovered a song that reduces anxiety by 65 percent. Some UK researchers put together a “science backed” playlist of 10 songs they found to be the most relaxing on Earth. Study participants listened to various songs while solving puzzles, while neuroscientists measured physiological markers of stress and brain activity. Blood pressure, heart rate, rate of breathing and other factors were analyzed in the study. Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson, the main man who conducted the study, noted that the number one song in their study produced a profoundly greater state of relaxation than any other song they had ever tested.

‘Weightless’ was so effective, many women became drowsy and I would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be dangerous.
— Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson

That song was titled “Weightless,” by Marconi Union. You can listen to it below, but please pull over before clicking play.

This is the playlist those neuroscientists came up with: the most relaxing songs they could find.

10. “We Can Fly,” by Rue du Soleil (Café Del Mar)

9. “Canzonetta Sull’aria,” by Mozart

8. “Someone Like You,” by Adele

7. “Pure Shores,” by All Saints

6. “Please Don’t Go,” by Barcelona

5. “Strawberry Swing,” by Coldplay

4. “Watermark,” by Enya

3. “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix),” by DJ Shah

2. “Electra,” by Airstream

1. “Weightless,” by Marconi Union

Waffle Records

If you’ve spent time in the American South, there’s nothing quite as iconic as the black and yellow signs leading to the Waffle House. While you’re chowing down on pecan waffles and grits, you might be treated to a sweet sweet serenade all about waffles, eggs or even raisin toast. The beloved restaurant chain has its own record label that creates songs unique to the Waffle House experience. Waffle Records has been releasing jams like “Cooking Up Your Order” and “Special Lady at the Waffle House” available at Waffle House jukeboxes across the U.S.

Encore…”Oil in the Water” by John Joseph Brill