Literary Cuisine for June 14th, 2016

This week’s Literary Cuisine is a little late. The truth is, I became so busy that I completely forgot to write a post for Saturday. I was in a friend’s wedding and then heard the news about Orlando. In honor of the perfect ceremony and the awful events in Orlando, here is Literary Cuisine on a Tuesday instead of Saturday…

1: Christina Grimmie (YouTube/Music)

When YouTube was becoming more and more of a normal thing on the internet, Christina Grimmie was one of the first YouTubers I watched on a regular basis. She was a musician. Her voice was unique and her covers always sounded amazing. What was interesting about YouTube back in the day is that it didn’t involve fancy camera equipment or expensive lighting. Many YouTubers, like Christina, simply posted subpar digital camera videos of themselves covering popular songs on piano and guitar. But for some reason, Christina stood out. My favorite covers of hers included Just a Dream and her Miley Cyrus Medley. These past few years I have lost touch with her career. Now I wish I had paid more attention while I could. She was a true talent and I am in such shock that she is gone. RIP Christina. I know this small blog post won’t amount to much but I hope to extend my thoughts to those who knew her and knew of her music. Check out all of Christina’s videos on YouTube by clicking here.

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2: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (Book)

At first glance, Jodi Picoult books look like the books equivalent to Lifetime movies. But once you get sucked in by her fantastic writing and well-developed characters, it is hard to not understand why she has become such a staple in bookstores. I believe that fiction is a form of medicine. It is at once a comfort and a way for us to understand ourselves and the world around us. Nineteen Minutes is a powerful book about violence and what motivates people to commit such gruesome acts similar to that in Orlando this past weekend. What Picoult achieves in this book is nothing short of brilliant. She is able to shape different point of views with such fragility and grace that you feel as if you have crawled into each character’s skin. And, as always with Picoult novels, there is a great twist at the end. For those who want to make sense of why acts of senseless violence happen, this book is a great character study in such events. It is a must read. Buy the book on Amazon.

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3: The Piano Guys (YouTube/Music)

On a more positive note, I attended a wedding this weekend. It was perhaps the pinnacle of perfect weddings, held at an old mansion with large keyholes you can actually peak through, large ceilings with ornate paintings, and grand fireplaces. As my best friend walked down the staircase to marry her love, a pianist played a beautiful rendition of Can’t Help Falling in Love. It was hard to hold back tears. Piano music is such a quiet musical form yet speaks loudly to the emotions it conveys. The Piano Guys know a thing or two about this. I came across their videos a long time ago after they posted a piano/cello cover of Love Story by Taylor Swift and Viva La Vida by Coldplay (buy Love Story Meets Love Story on iTunes). Since then I have consistently been amazed by all of their wonderful covers. From Beethoven to Disney to One Direction, these guys have something for everyone. Check out their channel here.

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4: Parks and Recreation (TV)

Politics is a fine line to walk. Make a sitcom about it? It seems risky. Thinking about it in terms of today’s political climate makes it seem even worse. How can someone create a show about politics that isn’t blatantly obvious about its political leanings, and more importantly how can it not be propaganda? Well, just watch NBC’s Park’s and Rec. and you will see how it can be done. Parks and Rec., if you for some reason have not yet watched this amazingly brilliant show, is about Parks Department’s Leslie Knope – an optimistic government employee who only wants the best for her community. From the show’s lighthearted tone to its cast of diverse characters, it is able to deal with the topic of politics without being political. Go watch the show on Netflix or Hulu, NOW!

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5: Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV)

I’m not a fan of anime. Not one single bit. But people kept recommending this show that was on Nickelodeon called Avatar: The Last Airbender so I finally gave it a chance. And wow, what an experience. Most cartoons for children are usually very silly, very predictable, and very white. Avatar broke all those boundaries…well, okay it also has its silly moments. Avatar is not only the best kids show I have ever seen, it is the best show I have ever seen. Period. The story follows a young boy named Aang who is the Avatar, a person who can master all four elements – water, earth, fire, and air. The Avatar is a person continuously reincarnated to keep the peace between the four nations. But now the nations are at war and Aang must master all four elements in order to restore balance in the world. The show is about friendship, right and wrong, spirituality, and redemption. The characters are beautifully designed and their stories are creative. And most importantly, the show is consistent. While it does have some filler episodes, most serve a purpose for the grander narrative. Seriously, do not miss out on this epic journey. Watch the show on Amazon Prime today!

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Tune in this Saturday for another installment of Literary Cuisine. To do good and help Orlando, please donate or volunteer your time to the LGBT community. With your help, love will conquer hate.

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