Category Archives: Review

My thoughts on various media

When Geekery and Hypnosis Collide

Fact: I am studying to become a Marriage and Family Therapist.
Fact: I love the unique way kids view the world and would like to work with them.
Fact: I believe hypnosis is the most useful therapeutic tool anyone can know or use.

Given all that, ever since Uncommon Knowledge started putting out their Children’s Series of hypnosis downloads, I have been collecting both the MP3s and scripts for each title, as a way of learning how to use hypnosis with my future child clients. And because listening to hypnosis is one of the more effective ways of learning its patterns and language, I listen to each of the children’s titles at least once. (Besides, even adults sometimes just need a comforting bedtime story!)

The latest title in the series, “Speak Up in Class”, aims to help children be more confident in the classroom, not worry about the possibility of being wrong, and be open to making mistakes from which they can learn and improve. All the child-aimed downloads consist of enjoyable and relaxing “dream stories” that your child can listen to at bedtime (or any other time). No mention of hypnosis is made, nor is the goal of the program overtly stated; rather, the story gently relates a solution via metaphor and parallels to reality. (Small plug: from now through March 26, 2012, the program and script for “Speak Up in Class” and all the new March downloads are 15% off for both free and paid site members.)

Fact: I am a geek.

Last night, I listened to “Speak Up in Class” for the first time as I was getting ready to drift off to sleep. The program opens with teaching the child listener “a very special, secret way of breathing” (AKA relaxation breathing), then moves on to describe a playground scene. So far, so good; I was settling in, enjoying the program. And then we met the protagonist of this particular dream story…

“…and there among all those children, a little red-headed girl called Amelia…”

"Amelia Pond...like a name in a fairy tale."

"...like a name in a fairy tale."

Relaxation flew out the window as my geek mind made the inevitable connection (Doctor Who Series 5 and 6 spoiler warning for that link) and I started laughing, then laughed harder because it was Roger, one of Miss Pond’s fellow Scots, who had recorded the program.

Already that far gone, I’m sure my fellow Whovians can sympathize that I completely lost it later in the program on the phrase “silence fell in the classroom”. (If you don’t get it: help is here, with further spoilers.)

(…Sorry, Unk folks!)

My geek-infused amusement aside, “Speak Up in Class” is a great program that I hope will help many kids who feel uneasy sharing what they know (or are unsure they know) in the classroom.

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Review: Hugh Laurie’s “Let Them Talk”

(I wrote this a few weeks back for future posting. With my first grad school term ending this coming week, it seemed like a good time.)

This post’s connection to psychology is admittedly tenuous, at best, in that my sister was at a therapy training workshop when she bought me this as a surprise present:

Now, this is a blues album, and to the best of my recollection, my exposure to the blues has been limited and, perhaps oddly, only through Caucasian men who I first “met” as actors. That River by Jim Byrnes, of Highlander: The Series, has for 13 years been my only album in this genre. Though I like it, it’s not usually my first port of call when my fingers ply the controls of my MP3 player.

So I make no claims of being a blues expert. I’ll gladly admit I’m not qualified to be a music critic – I have no lengthy training in or study of music or performance. I can’t even identify with any confidence the range in which Hugh Laurie sings (baritone? tenor?).

But I can say that Let Them Talk was an obvious labor of love from a man sharing with the world his adoration of the blues. His liner notes betray his deep connection to this music with self-effacing humor:

Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south. … Why listen to an actor’s music? The answer is – there is no answer. If you care about pedigree then you should try elsewhere, because I have nothing in your size. … I could never bear to see this music confined to a glass cabinet, under the heading Culture: Only To Be Handled By Elderly Black Men. … I love this music, as authentically as I know how, and I want you to love it too.

The album producer notes that the recording schedule was deferred and rearranged to suit the availability of musicians he and Laurie felt were the best of the best.

And to my undereducated ear, Laurie’s rich voice envelops each note with the savoring quality of a foodie enjoying the finest truffle. During the instrumentals, my mind’s eye recalls scenes from House or A Bit of Fry and Laurie of his long, graceful fingers dancing over ivory keys or coaxing magic from steel strings. I’ve known for some times that he’s had these skills, but until now I’ve more or less only seen him employ them in the service of comedy:

But perhaps the best recommendation I can make for this album is the observation that it was more than a minute into “After You’ve Gone” (Track 6) on my first listen before I noticed my finger tapping on the steering wheel. I think it shows the true passion and skill of the performers when the music can wriggle its way into your body and make you move without consciously realizing it.

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