Berries are good for you, that’s no secret. But can strawberries and blueberries actually keep your brain sharp in old age? A new study by Harvard researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) finds that a high intake of flavonoid-rich berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, over time, can delay memory decline in older women by two and a half years. This study was published today by Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.
“What makes our study unique is the amount of data we analyzed over such a long period of time. No other berry study has been conducted on such a large scale,” said Elizabeth Devore, a researcher in the Channing Laboratory at BWH, who is the lead author on this study. “Among women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week we saw a modest reduction in memory decline. This effect appears to be attainable with relatively simple dietary modifications.”
The research team used data from the Nurses’ Health Study — a cohort of 121,700 female, registered nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 — who completed health and lifestyle questionnaires beginning in 1976. Since 1980, participants were surveyed every four years regarding their frequency of food consumption. Between 1995 and 2001, memory was measured in 16,010 subjects over the age of 70 years, at two-year intervals. Women included in the present study had a mean age of 74 and mean body mass index of 26.
He was that impossible rarity in modern music, a figure at once indelibly international and utterly local, whose shows in his hilltop barn drew fans and musicians from around the world, as well as the local carpenters, cops and firefighters who were part of his daily life.
More than two thousand of them came out on Thursday to mourn Levon Helm’s death and to celebrate the elusive alchemy he had created, which turned strangers into friends, the past into the present and Woodstock once again into a magical destination decades after its heyday was thought to have passed.
“He wanted everyone to know they were welcome, they were among friends,” said Pete Caligiure, a plumber from Bellmore, on Long Island, who left home with his family at 6 a.m. to arrive in time to be on the first bus to be driven to Mr. Helm’s wake at the barn where the former member of the Band had held his famous Midnight Rambles. “He was just the realest, most soulful person who ever made music, and it was euphoria to be a part of it.”
Mr. Helm, known for his boisterous drumming and weathered voice, came to Woodstock in the late 1960s at the time that Bob Dylan and his other bandmates were turning it into an unlikely musical Mecca. He died of cancer last week at 71.
Mr. Helm went out the way he lived his life — with a public wake at home, his closed coffin next to his drum set at the barn where he gave the concerts, starting in 2004, that proved to be his resoundingly successful final act.
He was, friends said, the most unpretentiously public of performers, entranced by the degree to which his music, a timeless blend of American musical forms drifting back far into the nation’s rural past, became a part of the place where he lived. He played not just at the Rambles, which were originally meant to defray his medical bills and to pay his mortgage, but at times on the Town Green, as well as around the world.
“Levon had deep Southern roots, a graciousness and infectious quality that played out in his life and music,” Happy Traum, a longtime Woodstock musician, said in an interview this week. “I think these were the happiest days of his life, that he could invite all these people into his living room and treat them like houseguests for the evening.”
One of the world’s most prolific bootleggers of Hollywood DVDs loves his morning farina. He has spent eight years churning out hundreds of thousands of copies of “The Hangover,” “Gran Torino” and other first-run movies from his small Long Island apartment to ship overseas.
“Big Hy” — his handle among many loyal customers — would almost certainly be cast as Hollywood Enemy No. 1 but for a few details. He is actually Hyman Strachman, a 92-year-old, 5-foot-5 World War II veteran trying to stay busy after the death of his wife. And he has sent every one of his copied DVDs, almost 4,000 boxes of them to date, free to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With the United States military presence in those regions dwindling, Big Hy Strachman will live on in many soldiers’ hearts as one of the war’s more shadowy heroes.
“It’s not the right thing to do, but I did it,” Mr. Strachman said, acknowledging that his actions violated copyright law.
“If I were younger,” he added, “maybe I’d be spending time in the hoosegow.”
Capt. Bryan Curran, who recently returned from Afghanistan, estimated that from 2008 to 2010, Mr. Strachman sent more than 2,000 DVDs to his outfits there.
“You’re shocked because your initial image is of some back-alley Eastern European bootlegger — not an old Jewish guy on Long Island,” Captain Curran said. “He would time them with the movie’s release — whenever a new movie was just in theaters, we knew Big Hy would be sending us some. I saw ‘The Transformers’ before it hit the States.”
Jenna Gordon, a specialist in the Army Reserve, said she had handed out even more of Mr. Strachman’s DVDs last year as a medic with the 883rd Medical Company east of Kandahar City, where soldiers would gather for movie nights around personal computers, with mortar blasting in the background. Some knew only that the discs came from some dude named Big Hy; others knew not even that.
“It was pretty big stuff — it’s reconnecting you to everything you miss,” she said. “We’d tell people to take a bunch and pass them on.”
White-haired, slightly hunched and speaking in his Depression-era Brooklyn brogue (think Casey Stengel after six years of Hebrew school), Mr. Strachman explained in a recent interview that his 60-hour-a-week venture was winding down. “It’s all over anyways — they’re all coming home in the near future,” he said of the troops.
As he spoke, he was busy preparing some packages, filled with 84 discs of “The Artist,” “Moneyball” and other popular films, many of them barely out of theaters, to a platoon in Afghanistan.
As for his brazen violation of domestic copyright laws, Mr. Strachman nodded guiltily but pointed to his walls, which are strewed with seven huge American flags, dozens of appreciative letters, and snapshots of soldiers holding up their beloved DVDs.
“Every time I got back an emotional e-mail or letter, I sent them another box,” he said, adding that he had never accepted any money for the movies or been told by any authorities to stop.
“I thought maybe because I’m an old-timer,” he said.
Of the two, Living Language (free on Apple and Android) offers a more consistently good experience and the more generous trial terms. The French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese and Japanese apps include 11 introductory lessons, with another 35 lessons available for $20 on iPad and $15 on iPhone. On Android, the first three lessons are free, and languages include Spanish, French, German and Italian. The full app is $15.
The app’s full 46 lessons are included if you purchase the Living Language Platinum service, which, for $179, includes books, CDs, a personal online tutor and access to a online community, among other elements.
Blow rouses from sleep preternaturally alert. “I rarely sleep more than four minutes a day,” he declares as he pulls over a lurid Ed Hardy shirt, stray sequins fluttering off in apparent defiance of Blow’s ordered universe. “When I worked on Braid I hired a Sherpa to strike me if my eyes were closed for longer than sixty seconds.”
Reaching for a can of non-hydroflurocarbon deodorant, Blow sprays a perfunctory jolt under each armpit while clothed. When queriedwhy, Blow barks a harsh laugh, as if disappointed at the writer’s obtuseness. “I’ve got more shirts than armpits,” he notes “it saves time this way. Besides – don’tyou peopleever get tired of doing things the same way – as if you’re just rote little worker bees?”
As I’m cogitating this, apropos to nothing he clearly enunciates the word “Cantaloupe.” Is this a hint of a future game? A dire warning? A term of affection? Who knows?
Levelling me a withering glare, as if to underline the message of my insignificance, Blow pops a cassette (“the sound is warmer than vinyl”) of Kris Kross’s greatest hits into his deskside Akai tape recorder. Muttering almost subvocally along to the beat, Blow beats a path to his ‘kitchen’ – in reality a ragged crater carved into the stone floor. Recumbent inside are coals still aglow from last night’s traditionalhangi. “I prefer stone to most materials,” Blow explains. “It stands the test of time. Wood? Too weak. Titanium? Too artificial…”
“-how about plastic?” I interrupt.
Blow stops moving. With cobra-like speed he whips around, his free hand (the other is using a hand-made bronze shakeweight) lashes out, striking me a resounding blow across the cheek. It will leave a mark for a week, and in the days to come I imagine I feel the individual whorls and pores of those talented fingers compressing the skin of my cheek, distorting it, making it something new – somethingbetter. (Does talent possess the power of osmosis?I will ask myself hopefully as I trace my boorish fingers over the welts left by his. I can only hope.)
“Don’t ever use that word!” he urges, a demonic fire blazing behind those previously piercing eyes. “Think of where you are,” he spits in utter disgust.
I feel wretched, the child who has disappointed their father. I glance nervously around, my cheek throbbing like a pulsating, prodigal sprite eschewing the glorious, ironic 8bit aesthetic ofBraid. Sure enough – there is no plastic materials to be seen. Everything is carved out of stone or wood. Glass too isverboten- the windows are actually wormholes in galactic matter, channeled and moulded by sublime forces beyond our ken. I have brought discord into this magic land. I am bereft. The turgid Gargamel to his winsome Smurfette.
Then: magic. Like a storm cell over a maverick farmhouse, Blow’s annoyance passes without warning, his face wreathed in a beatific smile. “Come, let me show you where the work happens!” he chirps.
Even a pair of coarse gloves (“I wove these myself out of my hair clippings”) can’t conceal the innate elegance of Blow’s index finger as he purposefully extends it to press a button on his wicker elevator. We enter the lift – there’s no buttons.
“Dolce,” Blow murmurs. The doors close and with barely any sensation of movement the lift races towards our destination. At least I think so. “Are we moving?” I ask querulously.
Blow stares at me for a beat before a look of comprehension tinged with pity spreads across those stern features. “Oh that’s right. You only havefivesenses.” Once again that feeling of having disappointed sweeps across me.
The doors open and it’s the same room we left – or is it? Blow whips out a rattan iPad, his fingers speeding across the definitely-not-glass surface in a hair-gloved blur. My presence, nay my existence is seemingly forgotten. At least it’s not registering.
“Okay,” he murmurs, with a faint moue of annoyance at the implied human weakness in uttering a redundant word,” let’s code.”
“31 percent of the men who graduated Oxford in 1913 were killed.”—On today’s Fresh Air, historian Adam Hochschild explains why WWI was different than other major conflicts: “It was different because it was the tradition in most of the major countries for upper-class young men to have military careers, and then it became those young captains and lieutenants.”
“Lee once took a vacation during which he had no access to the Internet. This made him uncomfortable. “I was worried that brands couldn’t get in touch with me. It’s easy for them to forget about you. And I knew my Klout score would go down if I stopped tweeting for too long.”—
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
“As for Nietzsche himself, the one firm faith of his life was his belief in his Polish origin. He cultivated a disorderly, truculent, and what he conceived to be Polish façade, wearing an enormous and bristling mustache. He wrote a book, which was privately printed, to prove that the true form of his name was Nietzschy, and that it was Polish and noble. It delighted him when the people at some obscure watering-place, deceived by his looks, nicknamed him ‘The Polack.’ The one unforgivable insult was to call him a German.”—H. L. Mencken, ‘The Mailed Fist and the Prophet’, The Atlantic (1914)
When the banality of office life has you dozing off at your computer, what do you dream of? If you’re anything like us, the images dancing through your head probably resemble @kaylaporter’s Instagram photos. Is there an existence any dreamier than building wooden boats on an island in Washington?