It seems that I am now starting to frequent the Illinois Bar and Grill at Chicago’s Midway Airport more often than some of my favorite restaurants in New Mexico. I am now 30,000 feet in the air and instead of sitting in front of amusing college students, I have the unfortunate experience of being kicked in the back by a fussy child… at least I think the terrible two year old is directly behind me. Anyhow, I promise not to waste this post by venting about a toddler who is probably just afflicted by a case of ear pain from the cabin pressure. Instead, I want to talk about random celebrities for once. Why you ask? Well, we finally got that turbulence I told you we were expecting, and I REALLY want to get my mind off of it.
I spent the other night doing one of my favorite things, surfing Youtube. While spending hours of aimless video surfing, I came across some videos of The Real Housewives of New York City… ok really just Bethenny Frankel and her fascinating interviews all involving her now famous Skinny Girl Margaritas. How can I express my sincere love for this woman without coming across like Elizabeth Barrett Browning? I can’t… so let me count the ways.
- Bethenny Frankel is probably the only truly relatable housewife on the series (New York that is). I mean, who else on the show can relate to not having enough cab fare to get from point A to B?
- Bethenny is a completely self-made success. While the other women married there ways into penthouses, Bethenny turning healthy cupcakes and low calorie cocktails into a now fledgling empire. Really you have to get on a list to by ONE bottle of the Skinny Girl Margarita, and I am dying to try it.
- Who else can lose baby weight that fast?
- Who else can make Alex from the Real Housewives of NYC seem like a normal/ nice person?
- She doesn’t need the other housewives or the franchise to stay a massive success.
All in all, Bethenny is a pretty hot mama, and should really be considered as a host for SNL. You think I’m kidding? I highly suggest you watch her video parodies of nearly every one of her cast mates from Real Housewives… really, this woman has impeccable comedic timing and is destined to become the next… well, there really hasn’t been anyone like her yet, so watch out!
So here I am, 45 minutes into my flight back to Manhattan, I really need to use the restroom, the seat belt sign has been turned back on thanks to turbulence (which I have yet to feel), while I listen to the man behind me describe how his parents got by for 2 years on money they made donating plasma… its a fascinating story, but I’m now plugging in my headphones to try and listen to Danielle de Niese’s new Mozart album that I just downloaded. Let me just say that I really really love this singer/ actress.
Speaking of Mozart, I was visiting two of my best friends, Kim, Josh and their newborn daughter ( my Goddaughter) Kiera when I started thinking about something I read in The Mozart Effect a few years ago. The book discusses the various effects that not just classical music, but Mozart’s in particular has on our brains. Did you know that some music can actually make you dumber? I wonder if that applies to the millions of Justin Bieber fans… Anyhow, Studies have shown that when an adult listens to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos in D Major, his or her IQ actually raises by about 7-8 points, but only for about 15 minutes after an initial 10 minutes of listening. The study also showed that when newborns were played the piece, they showed an astounding improvement in spacial-temporal reasoning. As you know, babies spend that first 3 months adjusting to, well… everything. From being able to produce Melatonin in the evening to having a visual range that expands beyond twelve feet, we literally experience a whole new world as a developing human.
Another study involved control groups of 3-4 year olds in which one group was given piano lessons for eight months, the other groups were given computer lessons, singing lessons and one was provided with no training. The group of children who were provided the piano lessons scored on average a staggering 34% higher in tests of spatial-temporal reasoning than all the other children.
So what does this mean? Simply that some music makes you smarter, some doesn’t, and Justing Bieber just might fry your brain.
Last spring I took an art history course at my school. The class was taught by a curator from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and claimed the class to be exciting and fun. I was initially thrilled to take the course which focused on the development of art between the Renaissance and Romantic periods, since I had the privilege to see some of the paintings like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus in person a few years ago. The curator, while thoroughly educated on the subject matter was in her early eighties and presented the entire course by use of an overhead projector and slides, i.e. Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile, all the while speaking with a severely affected diction attributed quite possibly to her wide range of ailments past and present. I slowly began to dread the three hour long class and would occasionally not return from our halftime restroom/ coffee break. This weekly experience led me to think about the many times I actually did enjoy art classes, tours, or even just staring at (or listening to) a work of art for long periods of time without ever having that dreaded anxiety of boredom creep its way in.
In the fall of 2008, when I attended orientation at the Manhattan School of Music, we were taken on a tour of The Cloisters. Run by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the collection is an exquisite representation of medieval art of both secular and religious origin. The excursion, which had about fifty people in it, was split into two groups. The group I was in, was matched with a young graduate student from Columbia University to lead our tour, while the other group was handed over to an elderly volunteer. Throughout the afternoon, I was fascinated to find out just how naughty some of the artwork in the medieval times was. Our guide frequently lifted seats that were brought in from European monasteries to show us little gargoyles that were designed to look like they were biting the asses of their occupants. The enthusiastic Ivy Leaguer also showed us books of medieval pornography and other hilarious finds. When the tour finally ended, members from both groups convened to discuss our findings.
“That was so boring!” said one student “I can’t believe we spent our afternoon looking at a bunch of bibles” said another. My entire group was shocked to find that the other tour guide had merely led the others through the museum reading off vague information cards, while ours offered an exciting and at times disturbingly erotic experience. I found it odd that half of our initial tour group was withheld information either because of the strict discretion of their guide or plain ignorance.
When we arrived at Leonardo da Vinci’s brilliant Madonna of the Rocks, in my art history course, I was really curious to discuss the differences between the Louvre and National Gallery versions. I was simply met with “that’s a little controversial for this course.” She obviously didn’t see Mona Lisa Smile.