Rapp Strategies Rundown – August 2019

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I’m going to start reading the book Today, We Die A Little, the biography of Emil Zatopek. Zatopek was not only the greatest long-distance runner of all time, but also a freedom fighter. Maggie and I loved “City on a Hill.” Now, we’re looking for our next binge-worthy show. Recommendations will be taken. And Café Caribe at the State Fair has live music, lobster rolls and Lift Bridge Mango Blonde beer, but you need to get there before Labor Day.  

Alyssa: Ok, hang with me on this one for a minute. My “out there” read for August was The Case Against Reality by Donald Hoffman, which argues that our perceptions of what we observe as space, time and matter are not true, but rather a symbolic representation of what we’ve evolved to understand about the world order to survive as a species. The author argues that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and spacetime can no longer be foundational in physics because this perception-based understanding of the universe is an inadequate paradigm for understanding how things really work at the atomic level. Instead, he says, scientists should recognize that there is no reality that does not depend on consciousness, and that until we can mathematically define consciousness, we may never be able to understand and explain the ultimate nature of reality. Phew!  

Todd S.: August has been all about squeezing in as much family activity as possible before school starts, including a Twins game, a trip to the Minnesota Zoo and, of course, the State Fair.

Rich: I’m about a third of the way through Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow – a fascinating read. Golf is ongoing, of course. I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time with my kids. My daughter Katie and her fiancé Nick set a wedding date, and next month, my wife and I are going to New York to visit our daughter Emma and our son David. 

Sarah: I’ll start with the most obvious – Lover, Taylor Swift’s new album, has been on repeat since they day it dropped. It’s a great album, don’t @ me. Just because “The Bachelorette” is over doesn’t mean I’m quitting Bachelor Nation until January. “Bachelor in Paradise” is the best show in the franchise in my opinion, and the drama is out in full force this season. When I wasn’t watching love triangles play out on Playa Escondida, I was catching up on season 5 of “Jane the Virgin.”

Anna: I read the vivid, poetic memoir Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson in one evening – I could not put it down. I also traveled to Colorado for the first time. I’m still not over the breathtaking mountain views, or the soreness from horseback riding, whitewater rafting and rock climbing.

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Rapp Strategies Rundown – July 2019

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I’m enjoying “City on a Hill” on Showtime with Kevin Bacon. I started Preet Bharara’s book Doing Justice a few months ago, and I really want to get back to it in August. I saw Bohemian Rhapsody now that it has hit some On Demand services, but I recommend watching the actual footage from Live Aid on YouTube. There is just no way of duplicating that.

Alyssa: After seeing The Avengers Endgame this spring, I was so happy to find out that Marvel didn’t leave us without a summer movie. Spiderman will never be as great as Iron Man, but it was a good summer flick nonetheless. Also, there are still seven thousand more Marvel movies in production so we’ve got that going for us. 

Todd S.: Took the family to Hayward, Wis., where we enjoyed our time fishing and boating at Clear Lake and Spider Lake. My news consumption went down to almost zero. That’s when it’s really a vacation.

Rich: I read a great book called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, which I highly recommend. I just started the sequel, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. We also celebrated our first engagement in the family, with my oldest daughter Katie becoming engaged to Nick. We’re looking forward to a wedding sometime next year. And surprise, surprise – I’ve been playing golf.

Sarah: This month I binged my way through “Big Little Lies” and it was everything everyone said it was. My record player has been getting a workout while I declutter and pack my apartment ahead of an upcoming move. Big Band records are the perfect playlist for an evening of Marie Kondoing – relaxing and not distracting. A few favorites: Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Anna: I just finished The Thing About Jellyfish, a thought-provoking young adult novel by Ali Benjamin that deftly interlaces grief, growing up, and scientific discovery from the perspective of a precocious 12-year-old. Now I’m reading Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, a book inspired by the true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society – an orphanage where poor children were kidnapped and sold to wealthy families in the early 1900’s.

Zach (our summer intern): I’m currently reading a novel published in 1960 called Rabbit, Run by John Updike, which was one of his first novels. I’ve also been reading a lot of poetry by Stephen Dunn, Billy Collins, and Charles Bukowski. My favorite podcast is easily “Armchair Expert” with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, where they interview celebrities and various experts about the messiness of being human. This weekend, I’m going to the Hinterland Music Festival near Des Moines to see some of my favorite bands.

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Rapp Strategies Rundown – June 2019

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I really like the podcast “The Oath” with Chuck Rosenberg, particularly his interview with former federal prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald, which was awesome. Maggie and I are almost through with our nearly nine-month effort to watch “The Wire.” We heard people were disappointed in the fifth season – I am not disappointed in any way. I’m also broadening my pop culture insights by adding Vulture to my reading list. And although I have yet to try it, Holman’s Table in St. Paul is the buzz at my house.

Alyssa: With my daughter racking up hours behind the wheel before she can get her driver’s license, I’ve been in the car a lot lately. Driving aimlessly needs music. So, as far as new music goes, Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You is so good. Because I have been a diehard Guns N Roses fan since I was 15, and I think bassist Duff McKagan is one of the most interesting guys in the band, I got Duff’s solo album Tenderness this month. For the throwback track I can’t get enough of, I’ve been into every live version available of Tom Petty’s “The Waiting.”

Todd S.: A family road trip to Chicago was the highlight of our month. Architecture tour by boat and a day at Millennium Park, including plenty of pictures with “The Bean,” were among our favorite moments.

Rich: I’ve been watching the DFL debates and playing a lot of golf. I also attended a performance at the Dakota to see Lisa Fischer, an amazing singer. Next week I leave for the Hamptons for a family vacation, so I’m looking forward to that.

Sarah: This month had me on the road with clients quite a bit so naturally I shredded through my podcast playlist. Some of my favorites: Comments by Celebs, Bloom and Grow Radio, Off the Vine and the Popcast. I’m also trying to be better at reading for fun, a practice I’ve fallen out of largely due to my college textbook days. I’m currently reading At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. June also brought the return of the Jonas Brothers – both their documentary “Chasing Happiness” and their album “Happiness Begins” brought back my teenage fangirl in full force. 

Anna: I’ve come a bit late to the Stieg Larsson party, but I’m finally reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. When I’m not trying to keep all the Swedish names straight, I’m fascinated by his writing style and the intricate web of mystery he weaves. I also saw Aladdin in theaters and enjoyed it – it doesn’t touch the original movie of my childhood, of course, but I liked the vibrancy and slight plot twists of this version. 

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Rapp Strategies Rundown – May 2019

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I completed the eighth season of Game of Thrones. I can’t say I understood what was going on, but the dragon was cool. I also finished John Sandford’s book Neon Prey, a great summer read. The whole Rapp household is mesmerized by the Stanley Cup playoffs – go Bruins! And we’re also looking for unique Old Fashioned recipes.

Alyssa: One of the most entertaining interviews I’ve ever listened to was when Joan Rivers was on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show a few years ago. So, I was an easy sell for Howard’s new book, Howard Stern Comes Again, which is a collection of his best interviews. I also just finished reading the story of Suzi Weiss Fischmann, the co-founder of O.P.I. nail polish. I’m Not Really A Waitress is both the title of Fischmann’s autobiography and the name of one of the best-selling colors in the O.P.I. line of memorably named “luxury nail lacquers.” She’s got a great story of how she and her family escaped Communist Hungary, immigrated to America, and eventually transformed the dental supply company she worked for into a global nail polish empire.

Todd S.: I attended my first Minnesota United FC soccer game at Allianz Field. The new facility is a terrific venue for the sport, and the game was a lot of fun – a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo.

Rich: I’ve enjoyed several Twins games at Target Field, where a lot of fair-weather fans are starting to show up. I took a family trip to New York City for my daughter’s birthday, and visited Brooklyn for the first time while I was there. I also watched my first Game of Thrones episode (the Battle of Winterfell) and have been checking in with friends to see if they survived legislative session.

Sarah: Like many Minnesotans, the Oliver family made the obligatory stop at the Judy Garland museum on one of our family vacations when I was young. Years later I’d see the ruby slippers in the Smithsonian. “The Case of the Stolen Ruby Slippers” gave me a new respect for the history and mystery behind them. Now that Game of Thrones is over, my weekly TV watching void has been filled with the new takes-no-BS Bachelorette, Alabama Hannah. She’s my favorite since Kaitlin Bristowe and makes this show finally fun to watch again (sorry, Minnesota Becca). “Dead to Me” on Netflix was a one-weekend binge and I highly recommend it.  

Anna: I finished The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker, which was a surprisingly relatable and yet chilling read from the perspective of a German friar struggling to both protect his family and stand up to the Nazis during World War II. I also watched my first soccer game at Allianz Field, where the Loons were victorious over the Houston Dynamo and the hotdogs did not disappoint.

Andrea: One of my all-time favorite podcasts is the NPR’s TED Radio Hour. This past month I listened to many episodes. Three of my favorites were one on Keeping Secrets, Jumpstarting Creativity and Setbacks. One of the tips that I took away from the creativity episode was the power of walking while brainstorming. People who brainstorm while they walk come up with a substantially higher number of creative ideas than those who brainstorm while they sit. A grand reason for an afternoon stroll.

Rapp Strategies, Inc.
Rapp Strategies Rundown – April 2019

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: The new John Sandford book, Neon Prey, is out — that will be part of my weekend reading in the coming weeks. Now that the last season of Game of Thrones has started, I am watching it with my family and am quite confused (although I think Jon Snow is supposed to be a good guy, right?).  And there is word that a new Springsteen album is on the way, but without a concert tour, it is like a bacon cheeseburger without the bacon.

Alyssa: Although I’m only halfway through it, I’m loving Arthur Brooks new book, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt – full of good perspectives as we get into the tense last weeks of legislative negotiations.  I’ve also been on a Deepak Chopra kick lately – re-reading some of his old books and listening to his new podcast, Infinite Potential – the one with Dr. Michio Kaku talking about the theory of everything is really good.

Todd S.: With all the debating over what the Mueller Report says or doesn’t say, I am investing the time to read it, so I can decide for myself.

Rich: I continue to read several newspapers to keep up with politics and government, including the Star Tribune and New York Times. I’ve also been watching golf (and playing too). Lately I’ve been impressed with golfer Justin Rose (except in the Masters).

Sarah: I, like seemingly everyone else on the internet, am heavily emotionally invested in the final season of Game of Thrones. I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief that (SPOILER) Ghost survived the Battle of Winterfell. Earlier in April I was cheering on Minnesota Hero/Rockstar Maggie Nichols as she claimed a back-to-back all-around win after not competing AA since early January.

Anna: Imagine if your cells were taken without your knowledge and became one of the most important tools in medicine, used for historic breakthroughs like cloning and the polio vaccine – and then your children found out, decades later. It’s a fascinating and true story, which is why I’m reading Rebecca Skloot's book about it: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I’ve also been in a poetry mood, so I’ve been circulating between Emily Dickinson and John Keats.

Andrea: Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, aka mcDJ, aka a creative prodigy, is known for his success in…well, practically everything he touches, including acting, music, comedy, rapping, and production. This month, I watched Guava Island, a great, short musical film featuring both Donald Glover and Rihanna. The film touches on the topics of systematic oppression, the idea of “America,” bravery and hope. To top it off, the visuals were truly remarkable. If you’re looking for a short, visually stunning film, check it out.



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