Stay with this post to the end, as last week’s focus on reviews and recommendations resulted in some excellent suggestions from The Jungle.

Recomendo is weekly newsletter that gives you 6 brief personal recommendations of cool stuff. They have also put out a book:

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There are a lot of websites making recommendations, most of them focusing on products. Recomendo does that, but features a much broader menu of choices, including websites, apps, podcasts. It’s brief, it arrives in my Inbox unannounced, it can be scanned in a minute, it has turned me on to some good stuff, and it has also filled the top drawer of my desk with some useless gewgaws that seemed like a good idea at the time. Here are some recent Recomendos:

Charcoal lighter cubes

Until recently, I used crumpled sheets of newspaper to start fires under my charcoal chimney, but I stopped subscribing to print editions of newspapers. I started buying Weber Lighter Cubes instead. They’re the size of an ice cube and ignite charcoal briquettes even faster than newspaper.

Play the Blues with your Mouse

Even if you’ve never held a guitar, you can have fun playing a blues lead on this simple web app. Just press the play button to start the backing track and roll your cursor over the buttons at the top of the page. You can’t make a bad sound. If you’re aware of a more sophisticated virtual lead guitar app, let me know!

Charting Conceptual History

Google’s Ngram is a nifty tool for researching historical word use, such as the first use of a word/phrase, or how its popularity changes over time. Ngram is 10 years old, but it got a significant upgrade last year so now it includes a lot more old books. I use Ngram to visualize — to a first approximation — the relative importance of a concept over time. Its cool interface lets me click on a date range, and then it will show me excerpts from the historical books from that date with that word or phrase.

A Better Way to Practice Gratitude

We have been practicing gratitude all wrong. Instead of noting what you are grateful for, you should try “mental subtraction” and think of one positive event or aspect of your life and then mentally take it away. Contemplate what your life would be like without your home, health, job, partner, etc. and the effect of this will be an enhanced sense of appreciation.

Other Recommendations by SBs

(From SB Mike, Post Island SBs) In reply to request for reviews this is a tangent = some favorite movies and TV shows to ease the Covid distress.
Movies – some classics and not so much = beyond best of all time Wizard of Oz and Casablanca :
in no particular order = The Shape of Water, Forrest Gump, Hidden Figures, Scrooged, Hero (Dustin Hoffman and anything with him, Tootsie, Little Big Man, Midnight Cowboy) Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn, This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, Mumford, Hector and the Search for Happiness, Jeff Who Lives at Home, The Artist, Adaptation, Shaun the Sheep, 42, The King of Hearts, The Gods Must Be Crazy, The Lion, The Music Never Stopped, Tucker, Lovers and Other Strangers, Yellow Submarine ,Yesterday- the recent great movie, all the Beatles’ original movies, all 31 Elvis Movies -especially Clam Bake with the theme song Clam Bake, The Last Waltz, Lost in America (Albert Brooks)

TV and You Tube – The Rockford Files, The Twilight Zone ,The Simpsons, Modern Family (first seasons) Blackish, This is Us, Steven Fry in America, Jeeves and Wooster, Portlandia, the early funny and creative SNL, Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit , Every thing ever on PBS/Frontline

SB SM comments You recommend all 31 Elvis movies? You are risking being stripped of your SB status and being relegated to the rank of “monkey.” But, I couldn’t resist adding this:

(from SB Todd, Greenback SBs recommends the 1991 film Enchanted April)

(from SB Alec, Ridge Road SBs recommends some blues with your morning coffee

It’s Black History Month, so let’s hear some blues, jazz, or soul. Black singers and songwriters inspired white performers for over a century, but it took a long time for them to take their rightful place. Until the 1950s, mainstream America tended to hear black music only after it had been whitewashed.” Think of Elvis Presley singing Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s All Right, Mama,” or Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog,” Janis Joplin singing Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain,” Pat Boone singing Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” or Fats Domino’s “Ain’t that a Shame.” The list goes on. It wasn’t really until the 1950s and ’60s that black singers and writers began to headline themselves.
The first time authentic black music appeared on my radar was in 1967 at a summer camp for kids from all over the world. A counselor named Phil Terry not only introduced me to the brand new Beatles’ album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but also to Mississippi John Hurt and through him–the blues! I’ve been listening to it ever since. 
John Hurt was born in the Jim Crow South Teoc, Mississippi in 1892. He recorded on Okeh Records in the 1920s, but America was not ready for his music and he cropped on shares in nearby Avalon for most of his life. During the Folk Revival of the 1960s, he was “rediscovered” and his music finally reached appreciative audiences before he died in 1966. I love his gentle voice, gentle humor, and wonderful fingerpicking. Pull up to the breakfast table with your own cuppa joe and listen to the “Coffee Blues.” What’s your brand? I hope it’s Maxwell House. John says, “A spoonful of Maxwell House is as good as two or three cups of that other coffee.” 
Coffee Blues

(and finally, this recommendation from SB Steve, Post Island SBs)

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