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  • Melissa Orquiza

Italian Lentil Soup, Why Drummers Brains Are Different, Grateful Dead,The Roots, Verdi, & Dave Grohl

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

Italian Lentil Soup with Crumbled Sausage & Pasta. #comfort when the world is scary. The ratios are close to perfect.

Italian Lentil Soup, Why Drummers Brains are Different and How They Get Bored, Alzheimers, Blue Oyster Cult, The Who, The Grateful Dead, The Roots, Verdi, & Dave Grohl

I met my closest friend from high school in an honors Geometry class when I transferred halfway through freshman year. Not knowing anyone, keeping to myself, trying to just survive the academic and cultural pressures from my family (affirmative action naysayers, please don’t stereotype), I asked if the seat was taken and she said “No” and introduced myself. “Hi! I’m Melissa” and she then, introduced herself. We both wore glasses, had our hair up, and I instantly, knew we would be friends. (I went to an all girls school so we didn’t care about how we looked- a perk! I did love the fact that all we had to do was focus on academics.) Hair buns, no makeup, glasses, and obscenely high plaid skirts (with boxer shorts underneath) were de rigueur. When junior and senior prom came around, we almost didn’t recognize each other because we actually did our hair and makeup and weren’t wearing our uniforms.

En masse, we were a force to be reckoned with. For example, the principal thought it would be funny to have the fire department announce the community service award at our school. So once a year, during the academic awards ceremony, imagine 500 girls screaming and catcalling the poor, young fireman who came to announce the community service awards. I still remember one year, a poor guy turning red in the face and his older superior who set him up in the background, trying to stifle his laughter. Ironically, this behavior set us up perfectly to behave appropriately at live concerts, rock shows, and music festivals. (I don’t think that’s what they intended).

My best friend and I kept in touch throughout our formative years and I am forever grateful. I flew up and met her serious boyfriend when they first started dating, (of course I was protective), who eventually became her lovely husband and a close confident of my husband. She was always a badass and could’ve easily been an award winning novelist or playwright, but now, helps shepherd young girls to become engineers and eventually, astronauts. (I KNOW! AMAZING!) She played the clarinet and piano as a child. Her husband, a drummer who got into Berklee, decided at the last minute he wanted instead to join the Navy and eventually became an aeronautical engineer. Music is symbiotic to so many mathematical, scientific, and artistic pursuits (think doctors orchestras, engineers that play instruments). It recently made me question, “Why do drummers get such a bad rap” (think “Animal” in the “Muppets”, whom I love by the way)?

Here’s an article about how drummers' brains are different from the general population. There’s a link in our brain structure that links tapping rhythms, to the ability to problem solve efficiently. Of note, it also states that musicians play into certain stereotypes when they’re in a band (maybe to help grease the wheels of cooperation).

Science Shows Something Surprising About Drummers' Talents vs. Everyone Else's

Here’s an interesting article on how physically, the drummers brains are different. The data indicated that the drummers had fewer but thicker fibres in the corpus callosum, an important connecting tract between the brain hemispheres.

How Playing the Drums Changes the Brain

Since I like to understand multiple angles, of course, I have to understand the other side. What happens when you are born without the corpus callosum, a brain structure consisting of neural fibers that are used to transfer information between hemispheres? Amazingly, neural reorganization in the majority of patients. (What the?)

A Malformation Illustrates the Incredible Plasticity of the Brain

Finally, see how this all ties together with the Grateful Dead. Check out the Grateful Dead’s drummer Mickey Hart’s foray with UCSF neuroscientist, Adam Gazzaley, to help Alzheimer’s patients bypass their impaired cognition and help their attention and memory by using rhythm to help build neuroplasticity in the brain. (What? Drumming can help Alzheimers?) Again, symbiotic relationship between music and science.

Grateful Dead Drummer's Quest to End Alzheimers

As a huge proponent of education and the integration of music education, it’s interesting to see that learning an instrument can help with mood regulation, cooperation, neuroplasticity, and possibly offsetting cognitive impairments. I hope educators, policy makers, and medical professionals eventually see that this interdisciplinary action could also help change the spiraling costs of medical care and mental healthcare by using music education as a preventative measure. (Pharmaceuticals or playing an instrument?) If music education does become integrated as part of a whole curriculum, I hope that opportunities will not be limited to those who can afford it, but hope that the internet can be a unifiying factor in cognitive development. Here’s to more banging on the drums, singing, playing the guitar, and goofing off on the piano. (No, you don’t have to be a musical genius. Yes, just listening to a great song can apparently change your brain activity.)

I hope these articles make you think, laugh, and look at the world in a new way. Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week! Xo, Melissa

Blue Oyster Cult and more cowbell. Here’s to more laughter!

More Cowbell - SNL

Many variations of this have been used in cartoons.

Towards the end, it feels like what’s happening with our silliness happening in our transition of power.

Giuseppe Verdi - Nabucco - Overture

Here’s another “hit” from Verdi’s Nabucco. You’ve probably heard this, too. (Can you feel yourself getting more cultured?)

Va, pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) - Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco - Kendlinger

Because watching Keith Moon is like watching a kid in the candy store.

Keith Moon - Who Are You (isolated drum track)

Because “The Roots” grooving can make you smarter. Here’s to saving our Live Music and its stages.

The Roots - Live from Apollo Theater (#SOSFEST)

Finally, who says girls can’t upend band stereotypes? (If my daughter wants to play kit, I’ll totally encourage it. Completely the opposite of how I was raised!)

Dave Grohl VS Nandi Bushell EPIC Drum Battle - Dead End Friends - Them Crooked Vultures - Checkmate!

Thanks again for reading! I hope this made you laugh and help transport you to new realms! Here's to more innovation and problem solving for you! Have a wonderful week! Xo, Melissa

Italian Lentil Soup with Crumbled Sausage & Pasta. One of the best homey recipes I've ever come across. The ratios are close to perfect. #comfort

Lentil Soup with Crumbled Sausage & Shell Pasta

by Julia Della Croce from “Italian Home Cooking, 125 Recipes to Comfort Your Soul”


1/2 lb (1 1/2 cups) brown lentils

10 cups chicken broth or water (We usually buy organic produce so any skins, trimmings, etc. I save in a bag and stash in the freezer, along with the chicken carcass from a roast. Please don’t use a lemon. Horrible. Once a week, I usually slow simmer it with fixings and stash the broth in the fridge for the week. That way, the basis for a fast, comforting, meal is always at the get go in case things get out of hand and you look like a genius!)

1 bay leaf

5 links lean, sweet fennel-flavored Italian Pork Sausages

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive OIl

6 large garlic cloves

1 onion, chopped

1 large celery stalk, including leaves, chopped

2 tbs fresh thyme, minced or 1 tsp dried thyme

1 16oz. can plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, liquid reserved

1/2 ditalini pasta (I didn’t have it but I had some fancy shell pasta and used that instead)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbs chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley


1. Pick over and wash the lentils in cold water. Transfer them to an ample pot, cover with the broth or water, and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat until half-cooked, 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, slip the casings off the sausages. In an ample skillet, warm the olive oil. Brown the sausage meat over medium heat until lightly colored all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a side dish and drain any excess fat from the pan, leaving 3 tablespoons. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and thyme to the pan and saute until the garlic is golden and the vegetables are softened and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan. Dissolve the tomato paste in a little of the lentil broth and add it to the pan. Follow with the chopped tomatoes and their liquid. Simmer all together for 5 minutes.

3. Bring the lentils to a boil once again if they have cooled down. Transfer the skillet contents and the pasta to the pot with the boiling lentils. Simmer to marry the flavors, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and allow the soup to rest until the pasta is fully cooked, about 4 more minutes. Discard the bay leaf, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Thanks for reading! Hope this soup makes your heart sparkle! Have a great week! Xo, Melissa


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