Friday, November 13, 2015

Have You Never Been Mellow?

Doug: Today we're talking relaxation from life's stressors -- and who isn't assaulted by those on a daily basis? I've long told of my appreciation for the voice of Karen Carpenter. That woman can bring me down to a tolerable blood pressure level with only a few lines of a familiar tune. Another '70s songstress whose '70s material I like is Olivia Newton-John (I'm definitely saying pre-Physical).

Doug: So aside from music, what else brings you down to earth? Is it a certain color, or are you into aromatherapy. Sheesh -- this is beginning to sound like a therapy session in itself! Hey, for all I know, you unwind with a good shoot-'em-up motion picture! But that's what we're after today -- how do you return to "normal"? Me? When I was thinking of this idea I was heading for a nap and wanted something to soothe my mind. But you get after this any way you want.


Redartz said...

Nice easy topic for a Friday morning, Doug! I feel my head relaxing already (of course, some might say my head is too relaxed as it is).

When it comes to settling down, music definitely does it for me. I share your appreciation of Karen and Olivia, and also frequently wind down to Carly Simon. Yet most often, when mellow,introspective time arrives, it calls for instrumental music. I have a playlist on my phone containing an array of artists from Kraftwerk to Henry Mancini. The only thing these songs have in common is: no words. Lots of film soundtrack material as well. Great to listen to while lying down, eyes closed and centering (yes, Doug, this is a therapy session); or when hitting the drawing table to create.

Otherwise, a good book will do wonders for relaxation, as will a quiet walk in the woods. Actually, that sounds pretty good right now...

Anonymous said...

Best Carpenters song - a tie between 'Yesterday once More' and 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft'. I suppose I relax by listening to the radio - BBC Radio 4 is my default radio station, it's a "speech station" so no music and because it's the BBC there are no annoying adverts. Just intelligent and interesting programming about all manner of subjects. Only yesterday the station featured such diverse items as yew trees, Pluto, olive oil, Senator Marco Rubio and the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Edo Bosnar said...

Nothing as relaxing as a nice walk, or hike, in the woods as Redartz mentioned. I'm lucky enough to have quite a large forested area within walking distance of where I now live, and whenever possible my dog and I take these great 1, 2 or even 3 hour walks.

As for music that helps me get mellow, again like Redartz, I tend to prefer instrumental pieces. That means classical, jazz, occasionally some early '70s Krautrock and, to get specific, Fresh Aire III by Mannheim Steamroller - I love that album, the music is so well composed and, yes, soothing.

Humanbelly said...

There are definitely different go-to, stress-countering mechanisms (stimuli?) for specific situations, yeah?

I do most of the daily, feed-everyone cooking in our household, and after a particularly hard day, when I may be running on the late side and am looking for a bit of gastronomic gratification regardless, I'm apt to go straight to making one of my various homemade spaghetti sauces. Spaghetti's always, always been my favorite dish-- and after nearly 40 years of making it (one way or another) on my own, it's something I can whip up relatively quickly w/out it suffering in taste. There are, of course, the associative memories of hearing and smelling the meat and onions and seasonings browning in the frying pan as a child, and the deeply ingrained sense of "Ooo, we're having spaghetti!" has an immediate effect on improving my state of mind. Sauteing onions by themselves has a very similar effect-- there are very few meals that aren't made just a little more comforting with the addition of some fried onions. . . (this may go some distance in explaining the immediate-response choice of "Humanbelly" as an online name several years ago. . . heh. . . )

Musically there are a couple of specific situational choices, too.

Generally after we've loaded a set into our theater there'll be a couple of mornings (before tech) and then a day (after tech) where I'll be doing fixes and changes and finishes and clean-up onstage by myself-- no crew. These are generally days when burn-out has set in, clock pressure is very high, and there have probably been major differences of opinion over what can/should be done at that point. I am rarely in a cordial state of mind. Soooo I make it a point to pull up my Lonely Bull channel on Pandora-- largely Herb Albert-type instrumentals, some film scores, 60's "adult" pop/contemporary, Aaron Copeland, and some Bond and Lindsey Stirling. It just. . . makes me feel better and more cooperative somehow.

Now, when I'm looking to feel plumb brightened and cheered up, or even inspired to roll up the ol' sleeves, there are four specific pieces I'll go to-- and then happily listen to whatever else they're associated with:

1) The March from "1941"-- by John Williams. Best movie march EV
2) The March from The Great Escape (a very, very close second)
3) The main theme from Quigley Down Under-- by Basil Poledouris (my favorite movie theme in general)
4) The Nylons version of KISS HIM GOODBYE ("Sha na na na, hey hey. . . goo-ood bye!")
5) Oh-- and honorable mention to DaVinci's Notebook's cover of STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU.

And finally, not to sound too corny, but really, checking in on things 'round this site after a busy, engaged day is its whole own little therapeutic bright spot-- make no mistake. Disconnecting from routine pressures and events and being able to put thoughts and fingers to keyboard on a myriad of topics that are generally associated with happy memories has a heck of a lot going for it, mental health-wise--! Plus, I think it may be better than suduko (sudoku? soduku?) for keeping one's brain sharp. Or at least. . . sharp-ish. . .


ColinBray said...

Um, to relax I read comics.

For the escapism, nostalgia and opportunity to get away from the flickering screen and demands of everyday life.

If roots reggae is playing in the background all the better, but comics are my true trigger to relax.

Dr. Oyola said...

These days relaxing for me is getting a chance to do the work I want to do, rather than the work I must do.

david_b said...

It's typically Silver Age, perhaps some Bronze comics.., they're like old friends. Especially the very same ones I bought and read back in the day (not the ones I bought in the last 20yrs to fill holes..).

Music..? Carly Simon, plus Bach, Mozart, Handel, along with a 5acre park I have across the street with nice paths in woodsy areas.

Doug said...

Osvaldo --

You hit that nail on the head, brother! Everyone knows that life gets faster and busier as we go along, and one of the hallmarks of this blog has suffered. I'm speaking of the comic book reviews that always used to take place on Mondays. I can count on one hand, I'm sure, the number I've contributed since we resumed with regular material on February 1st. As we've become empty nesters at my home, I have really treasured the times my wife and I have in the evenings to walk, talk, eat dinner, and/or to watch a show we've taped on the DVR. I've chosen to only read comics, not to review them as that's pretty labor-intensive and pulls away from our time together.

However, in the past few weeks she's had some evening activities that have given me some time in the house alone, and those hours combined with having no school on Veterans' Day have spurred me to crank out some reviews -- and it was actually really fun climbing back in that saddle! You read my Supergirl/Legion review this past Monday, and the next three Mondays will also feature reviews I've written (check the sidebar for your "reading list"). Hopefully they will stimulate a little conversation. That's always a nice reward for the hours it takes to read/write/scan/lay-out/proofread a post.

A labor of love... when I can make the time.


Steve Does Comics said...

I'm sure there's something wrong with me. When I want to relax, I go on Youtube and watch videos people have shot of their car journeys. There's something weirdly therapeutic about seeing the world pass by through the windscreen of somebody else's car. Also, we have trams in my city and I like to watch videos people have shot of their tram journeys. I think I may be in urgent need of psychiatric help.

Garett said...

I may horrify some collectors here-- I like to read my comics... in the bath! Very relaxing in the evening. My city has a great river valley with many trails, so it's also nice to go for nature walks. Playing music, either with my band or writing songs on my own, puts me in a good physical and mental state.

J.A. Morris said...

I actually prefer to listen to uptempo music, most "mellow" music makes me depressed. But if I need something calming, I'll go with Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue.

Redartz said...

J.A.- completely agree on Miles Davis, that entire album is part of my 'relax' playlist.

HB- cool that you mentioned Bond music. John Barry's "Thunderball" score is spectacular, moody and also holds a place on the aforementioned playlist...

Humanbelly said...

Now that you mention it, Redartz, that particular channel is generous with both types of "Bond" music: The John Barry-inspired movie themes, and the energetic female violin ensemble that goes by the same name. Hunh!


Anonymous said...

Paul Simon can really write a relaxing tune, IMO.
Even when the tempo speeds up, his songs tend to put me in a certain "chill" frame of mind,
examples being Slip Sliding Away, Hearts and Bones, Rene and Georgette Magritte with their Dog After the War, Train in the Distance, April Come She Will, and The Only Living Boy in New York. Probably a bunch more, he's a genius, IMHO.


Karen said...

Like some folks here, I find the time I have to actually relax has really diminished lately. Sadly, I have to say my most relaxing time is in the shower! Despite the water crisis I like a long hot shower so mind and body can unwind from the stress of the day. It's a time to make all the noise and distraction go away and just BE.

But when I do get a little time, like on weekends, I enjoy movies or sitting in a chair with a book or comic. Not getting as much writing done now as I would like, I hate to say. It feels too much like work.

Redartz said...

HB- I must confess complete unfamiliarity with the Bond quartet. Having just checked out some video, I'm impressed. Thanks for enlightening me; always love being introduced to some good music...

Now there's yet another reason to love this BAB community; it's so educational!

pfgavigan said...


When I need to relax and get into a more pleasant frame of mind I come here.

Thanks to all of you who contribute to this site and keep the suggestions coming.



Anonymous said...


Seriously, though, well, actually I do like to sleep, but my other relaxation activities include making a glass of iced Earl Grey tea and either reading a good page turner novel in bed or doing some light Internet surfing. I've found that I sleep better when I read a book or play over a chess game than when I'm surfing the web just before I hit the sack. Guess it's true when some experts say you should not look at a screen (cellphone/PC/game console) just before going to bed; maybe it's all the visual and audio stimuli hitting your brain before you sleep.

As for music, I generally prefer some light fare; either some classic rock, top 40 songs, or anything soothing. No death metal for me! I don't usually play any music before I sleep, though.

- Mike 'making some warm milk now' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Martinex1 said...

In the summer I like to swim. Get under water and not hear anything. I don't listen to as much music as I used to or would like to, but Vince Guaraldi, Steely Dan, and Eva Cassidy come to mind. I like to read, come to this site, and daydream. Unfortunately it seems like 99% of the day seems otherwise. Did enjoy a nice fire tonight though. Cheers all.

Anonymous said...

Music cools me down, too. I tend to relax with tunes that are a little melancholy, especially the theme to Midnight Cowboy. It's one of the saddest tunes I've ever heard yet it's also hopeful. Other relaxation songs include Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" and Elvis Costello's "Deep Dark Truthful Mirrors."

- Mike Loughlin

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