Vlogging--Fun for all ages?

THE KIDS ARE DOING SOMETHING these days called vlogging. Best I can tell it hasn’t set off danger alarms and warning flags among parent groups and religious fundamentalists like poor little Harry Potter did, or Ouija boards, or Chubby Checker and The Twist, or the Hula-Hoop, or The Beatles. It does involve social media, a device with a screen, and putting-yourself-out-there, so it does come with those typical inherent concerns.

It’s kind of a fun word to say—vlogging. Rhymes with clogging, which, by the way, sounds like something you might see: someone vlogging about clogging.

Best I can tell, it is sort of a mix of journaling and home movies; except for the fact that probably few people care to read my journal, and if I remember correctly, no one wants to see anyone’s home movies. I may recall that there were times when we would have company over that didn’t seem to want to leave, even though it was “getting late.” So, Dad would say, “Let me get out the old slide projector and show you the shots of our vacation to the painted desert.” Within minutes you could see the hazy red of their taillights glowing through the exhaust of the family sedan.

 Home Movies. Stevan Dohanos (1907 – 1994)

Home Movies. Stevan Dohanos (1907 – 1994)

Here’s an official definition:

A vlog (or video blog) is a blog that contains video content. The small, but growing, segment of the blogosphere devoted to vlogs is sometimes referred to as the vlogosphere. Definition from WhatIs.com

I like to journal. I like to write a blog. I like taking pictures and shooting video. And although I’m an introvert, I have enough arrogance and creative drive to put-myself-out-there. Do I have delusions that anyone would watch an on-going vlog called About Pops? None! I can imagine someone saying, “WOW, would you look at the time! Honey, better gather up the kids. We gotta get home.”

It’s kind of like this blog. I created AboutPOPS.com in August 2013. Five years ago (and my sixth grade teacher told me I couldn’t stick to anything). I didn’t start this blog with aspirations of a huge readership. As I’ve said before, it was mostly about a motivation to write. I love to write, but without a deadline, an impetus, a spark, I lean to good intentions but no words on the paper.

Now, five years later, I enjoy looking back over the posts and remembering the births of grand-kids, a marriage, trips, good times, uncertain times, silliness, making people mad, making people question my sanity, questioning my own sanity.

The other day I got a call from our son Corey: “It’s time to renew your URL for About Pops. I’m assuming you want to do that?” I didn’t think about it. I just said yes. Had I thought it over, I might have said, “Five years is long enough.” I’m glad I didn’t. It’s still fun.

Blogging is one thing. Vlogging is another. My 8-year old Grand-Girl, Karlee, showed me a few videos by vloggers. Then I found a few on my own. I find it fascinating. If I were 17, I would definitely start vlogging. At 67? Why not?

Hold on while I set up the movie projector.

Beans To Brew

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A NEW COFFEE SHOP. BUT FIRST...

I do enjoy coffee. I like the taste of a good dark roast and the whole coffee-drinking experience. And I don’t mind the buzz.

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According to Wikipedia: “Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.

It is also legal and mostly unregulated in Baptist churches, and probably other churches too, but I’m mostly familiar with acceptable and unacceptable drug use in the Baptist Tradition. I noted that it is “mostly” unregulated; many Baptist churches frown upon coffee in the auditorium (or sanctuary, if you’re a high-class Baptist.). Other than that; it’s all-you-can-drink anywhere you want to drink it.

I don’t like to think of myself as a coffee snob, but church coffee is kind of like Vacation Bible School Kool-Aid—weak and tepid. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Which brings us to Starbucks and the conditioning of coffee-drinkers to think little of paying a lot for a few pennies worth of coffee beans and hot water. But we all know, at some point you’re paying for the experience. And I’m a willing participant.

Can you imagine, how many wonderful conversations have happened over a cup of coffee? The world’s problems are solved everyday in coffee joints across the country. Cookies taste better and politics are more bitter with a good strong cup of coffee.

So, where in the great state of Oklahoma can you go for the best coffee experience? Although I’m just a humble consumer and accidental connoisseur, I have opinions and I’m not afraid to share them. Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list. In fact, I am wide open to trying new places, especially if you’re buying. But, for what it’s worth:

In Oklahoma City:

  • Cafe Evoke
  • Coffee Slingers Roasters
  • Cuppies and Joe
  • Elemental Coffee Roasters
  • Hank's Coffee & Wine
  • Junction Coffee
  • t, an urban teahouse

I like all of these places. I have visited each of them numerous times and in many cases I know the people that run them. Try them all. Note: If you want to visit Junction Coffee, you’ll have to hunt them down. It’s a coffee shop in a double-decker bus from Great Britain and they move around from place to place. And that last one on the list, t, an urban teahouse, you can get a cup of coffee there, but go for the tea. Kristy Jennings, the proprietor will illuminate the whole process for you if you ask.

In Tulsa:

  • CHoCS: Coffee House on Cherry Street
  • Shades of Brown Coffee & Art
  • Dwelling Spaces

My hometown and three of my favorites. Each of these is in neighborhood worth visiting: Cherry Street, Brookside, and Blue Dome, respectively. On a cool evening, go al fresco at the Starbucks at Utica Square. 

El Reno:

  • Iron Tree Coffee Company

We lived in El Reno for several years back when it’s downtown was thriving. (Before Wal Mart came to town.) I love seeing this little shop helping keep downtown percolating.

Guthrie:

  • Hoboken Coffee Roasters

One of my favorites. You know the old saying, “Location, location, location!” The Hoboken folks said, “To heck with that!” This place isn’t hidden away in a back alley, but if you can find it you won’t be disappointed.

Shawnee:

  • Elevated Grounds

There was a great little shop in downtown Shawnee called Sips. It was just right, but now it’s gone. Elevated Grounds is fairly new and doesn’t have the same ambience as Sips did, but the cup I had there was very good and the service was beyond expectation.

Weatherford:

  • RX Brew

This little shop in a wonderfully converted craftsman house was one of my favorites. It is now under new ownership and is called RX Brew & Donuts. I haven’t tried it yet, so you’re on  your own.


Now to that new coffee shop I want you to know about. It’s in Hinton, Oklahoma, which is about an hour west of OKC just south of I-40. Wait! Let me tell you why it’s worth the drive all the way to Hinton for a cup of coffee.

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This shop is called Brew92. The proprieters are dear friends, but even if they weren’t I would still recommend you go. The coffee drinks are brewed with the same care you would find at a coffeeshop in Seattle or Portland. The pastries though… these are worth the drive. Forget about the calories for an hour or so and enjoy. 

Not only are the food and beverages outstanding, this is a place you will want to spend some time in. It’s comfortable and even inspiring. Believe it or not, there is a good chance you’ll be able to watch a real potter working clay on a wheel. Her name is Sterling and she is an artist in the best sense of that word. Could be that your next coffee could be from your new mug fired in her kiln.

Here’s my offer: want to try Brew92? Let’s pick a time, drive out together. The coffee is on me. Or if you go without me, be sure to tell them, “Pops sent me.” It won’t get you anything, but perhaps a little sympathy. By the way, Brew92 also serves teas from t, an urban teahouse. Who doesn’t need a little Tea & Sympathy occasionally, or a double shot of espresso and a scone?


Brew92 on Instagram
Brew92 on Facebook
Sterling Pottery on Instagram
Sterling Pottery on Facebook

t, an urban teahouse

Magical Beans

CONSENSUS ON COFFEE AND ITS ORIGIN seems to be that the first cup was poured in the 11th Century AD.  I feel confident in saying, I bet the first beans were roasted, ground and combined with scalding water in the First Century.

Why and on what authority? Sixty-Seven years ago I was carried into a Baptist Church for the first of many, many times. One thing I know for certain about Baptists—coffee is the official drink and caffeine the permissible drug of Baptists. So, I can only assume that John THE Baptist percolated the first pot. If he was not the first Mr. Coffee he probably should be known as John The So-Called Baptist.

Coffee is much bigger than Baptists. Currently there are 27,339 Starbucks stores. (Statista: The Statistics Portal) According to  an article in Huffington Post, “America’s Coffee Obsession…”:

• Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world.
• Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States.
• The United States imports more than $4 billion dollars’ worth of coffee each year.

 My amazing-missus enjoying a cup from the top of a double-decker bus

My amazing-missus enjoying a cup from the top of a double-decker bus

I am one of those who starts the day with a cup or so and later too, especially with the occasional dessert. Given a choice, I prefer a bold, dark roast, served black.

It seems to me that coffee is the best grease for the gears of social interaction. Anytime of day, we can meet for a cup. Even if we don’t actually all drink coffee, we can be open to gathering around the idea of it—“Let’s grab a cup of coffee and catch up.”

Years ago, I heard Nora Ephron speaking about her movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” She mentioned the idea of something called the Third Place. I was utterly intrigued. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

In community building, the third place is the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home ("first place") and the workplace ("second place"). Examples of third places would be environments such as cafes, clubs, public libraries, or parks. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

In the early 70s, I played drums with a group that played at these little venues called coffeehouses: third places for people in their lated teens and twenties. With a little stage for music and poets, candles on the tables, posters on the wall, and lots of coffee. The pay was lousy, but the gigs were fun and relaxed. 

I have a brother-in-law who served several tours of duty in the middle-east. I love to hear his stories about times spent at the little coffeeshops on the bases in the middle of nowhere. Third Place indeed.

How about coffee and solitude? You know the scene: a single man or woman sitting in a diner, a back booth or on a stool at the end of the counter, having a cup and probably a cigarette, maybe half looking at a newspaper or staring out the window. On the jukebox, Tammy Wynette sings:

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man.
You'll have bad times
And he'll have good times, 
Doin' things that you don't understand
But if you love him you'll forgive him,
Even though he's hard to understand
And if you love him oh be proud of him,
'Cause after all he's just a man
Stand by your man...

One of my favorite works of art is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. We can’t talk about hot coffee at the diner without a look.

1200px-Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942.jpg

In case you don’t still have your notes from Art History 101, my favorite commentary on the painting comes from that little nun with the speech impediment, Sister Wendy:

Apparently, there was a period when every college dormitory in the country had on its walls a poster of Hopper's Nighthawks; it had become an icon. It is easy to understand its appeal. This is not just an image of big-city loneliness, but of existential loneliness: the sense that we have (perhaps overwhelmingly in late adolescence) of being on our own in the human condition. When we look at that dark New York street, we would expect the fluorescent-lit cafe to be welcoming, but it is not. There is no way to enter it, no door. The extreme brightness means that the people inside are held, exposed and vulnerable. They hunch their shoulders defensively. Hopper did not actually observe them, because he used himself as a model for both the seated men, as if he perceived men in this situation as clones. He modeled the woman, as he did all of his female characters, on his wife Jo. He was a difficult man, and Jo was far more emotionally involved with him than he with her; one of her methods of keeping him with her was to insist that only she would be his model.

From Jo's diaries we learn that Hopper described this work as a painting of "three characters." The man behind the counter, though imprisoned in the triangle, is in fact free. He has a job, a home, he can come and go; he can look at the customers with a half-smile. It is the customers who are the nighthawks. Nighthawks are predators — but are the men there to prey on the woman, or has she come in to prey on the men? To my mind, the man and woman are a couple, as the position of their hands suggests, but they are a couple so lost in misery that they cannot communicate; they have nothing to give each other. I see the nighthawks of the picture not so much as birds of prey, but simply as birds: great winged creatures that should be free in the sky, but instead are shut in, dazed and miserable, with their heads constantly banging against the glass of the world's callousness. In his Last Poems, A. E. Housman (1859-1936) speaks of being "a stranger and afraid/In a world I never made." That was what Hopper felt — and what he conveys so bitterly.

Text from "Sister Wendy's American Masterpieces"

We have some dear friends who are opening a coffeeshop soon. As soon as we have a chance to visit, I’ll tell you all about it. Or, better yet; let’s meet there for a hot cup and catch up.

2017 Retrospective

It’s the time to reflect on the year past and take a peak forward. I’ve seen numerous Best of 2017 lists, so I’m playing along. I realize, by the way, that some of my picks didn’t actually happen/release in 2017, but still they’re my favorites (not necessarily in any particular order).

My 5 favorite books of 2017

  • All the Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr
  • News of the World — Paulette Jiles
  • Falling Upward — Richard Rohr
  • Letterman, The Last Giant of Late Night — Jason Zinoman
  • A Gentleman in Moscow — Amor Towles

My 5 favorite movies I watched in 2017

  • Paterson
  • Hidden Figures
  • Brooklyn
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Moana (…only because I watched it with the Grand-Girls and I loved the way they always had to tell me what was going to happen before it happend and then afterward explain to me why it happened, and of course listening to them sing along with every song, at the top of their lungs, without shame or apology. Maybe that’s what happens when they watch movies about fierce young women.)
moana.jpg

My 5 favorite TV shows of 2017

  • Big Bang Theory
  • The Blacklist
  • The Crown
  • Thunder Basketball
  • CBS Sunday Morning

My 5 favorite albums of 2017

  • I Long to See You — Charles Lloyd & The Marvels
  • The White Album — The Beatles
  • Fleet Foxes — Fleet Foxes
  • Paradise — The Wood Brothers
  • So Familiar — Steve Martin & Edie Brickell

My 5 favorite songs of 2017

  • Joleen — Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton
  • Spanish Harlem — Rebecca Pidgeon, The Raven
  • Voyager-Live By Night — Eric Harland
  • America — First Aid Kit
  • Round Here — Counting Crows

My 5 things I wish could end along with 2017

  • Politician arrogance
  • Mosquitoes
  • Scorpions
  • TV ads for prescription drugs
  • Hate

My 5 things I hope to have more of in 2018

  • Family time
  • Travel
  • Pho
  • Hanging out with creative people
  • Peace