1. Play Settlers of Catan
Trade. Build. Settle. Oh my. One never forgets Catan after experiencing the magic of this board game. Or as some would argue: *the* board game to end all board games. Kudos to German wunderkind Klaus Teuber for bringing us this miracle in 1995 and making himself into a rich bastard by selling over 22 million copies worldwide. A resource-management game which relies almost exclusively on cooperative negotiations, alliance-building stratagems and cold-blooded betrayals to reach the end? Count me in. This isn’t a board game for the faint of heart or sensitive of soul – and you’ll need at least three people in your circle of family and friends to make every night worthwhile in your crusade for wood, brick, ore and sheep.
2. Listen to Oakenfold’s Live From Havana Cuba Essential Mix
Paul blew the doors off the trance world with this late night DJ set (recorded on February 21st, 1999) at the top of his game. His roaring opening with “Turn It Around Baby” is the start of an hour-long electronica cosmic journey that solidified him as the best in the business and someone who could bring it every night. This ethereal mix stands the test of time and will help you forget about unpaid bills and missing toilet paper.
3. Binge-watch a Terry Gilliam movie marathon
It’s really simple: start with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, followed by Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King and 12 Monkeys. By the time you’re through with this cavalcade of science fiction, psychological thrillers and surrealistic sojourns, only then will you fully begin to understand why Gilliam might be the most underrated director of a generation. As a member of Monty Python, he allowed his American bombasities to bolster English sensibilities. But as a director, he took his craft to the highest peaks of human imagination and will keep you spellbound for nights on end.
4. Listen to Jeff Beck’s “Blow by Blow”
His first solo album may have ended up being his best as Jeff Beck brandished a purely instrumental progressive-fusion album and turned it into a stunning masterpiece. You won’t just listen to this once or twice or thrice; you’ll probably make it a regular on your music playlist. The funky Air Blower, melancholic Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, and absolutely celestial Scatterbrain are all testaments to a level of musicianship that inexplicably showed up in 1975. Plus Stevie Wonder plays on the record, bassist Phil Chen brings a whirling dervish of meditative tonality, and I can’t even begin to hyperbolize the monumental talent of 17-year old Richard Bailey keeping it all together with his unearthly drumming. Oh, and if that’s not enough for you, Sir George Martin produced the bloody project. This is heaven for the ears.
5. Read William L. Shirer’s “The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich”
This is the definitive account of World War Two that chronicles history from 1889 to 1945 from the eyes of one of America’s greatest journalists. Shirer relied on captured Nazi documents from Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, General Franz Halder and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano to provide readers with an authentic and revealing 1,245-page look into the Third Reich. His historical interpretation was not only critically lauded and celebrated for its accuracy and breadth, but you’ll find yourself immersed in his prose and ideological perspective from beginning to end. Consider this book an educational tool that far exceeds anything you’ll cobble from academic pursuits or half-baked streaming shlock.
6. Discover the collective works of Christopher Hitchens
His death in 2011 hit me like a bolt out of the blue, his absence a tragic reminder as to how much darker this world is without him. But what Christopher Eric Hitchens left behind needs to be enjoyed whether it be over flickering candlelight or a backyard porch lamp. You should start with “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” and be sure to read “Hitch 22: A Memoir” as further validation to his genius. There’s also plenty of classic hitch-slaps to discover on YouTube that will leave you inspired beyond belief. I can’t even begin to pretend that I’ll ever channel his mercurial self-awareness and acerbic wit, but Chris got me through some difficult times with his love of progressive wisdom and an unwavering desire for the absolute truth.
7. Build a roaring and vibrant fire
Yes, that’s right – build a fire. Go outdoors and to a park or a trail or a conservation area that isn’t closed down to the public and get your fire on. There’s nothing more cathartic than the burning embers of splintered wood during a frosty spring night amidst a raging pandemic. The smoke and ash will serve to remind you that there’s something bigger out there being carried across a great wind that is not only out of your control but is completely disinterested in your plight. That’s when you bust out the spicy bratwurst and let the scent of grilled goodness swirl around your nostrils and remind you that it’s good to be alive.
8. Call your mother
She gave birth to you, raised you, and is the only one you’ve got. If you need another reason, you’re probably a mouth-breathing troglodyte. Call her today and let her know you love her.