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Courtney Marie Andrews Is an ‘Emotional Archaeologist’ on Timely Album ‘Old Flowers’

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It’s difficult enough to connect with another human being in the time of Covid, but that didn’t stop Courtney Marie Andrews from taking things a step further — by traveling from her home in Nashville to an isolated cottage on the island of Nantucket, where a reliable wireless signal to do an interview is about as rare as a seagull without designs on your lunch.

“I’m on a remote artist colony,” says Andrews, who was offered a residency to finish her first book of poetry, which she completed earlier this month. For the first time in years, the songwriter went somewhere with the intention of staying. “I derive so much of my inspiration from leaving and being in the presence of human connection. It’s been a really nice change to shift.”

Like many artists, Andrews was supposed to be on the road promoting her new record, Old Flowers, this year. And like many, she’s been grieving a future that never came as it was supposed to. “There is a part of us that is missing,” she says. “For the first two months it felt a bit like denial: maybe you will get back together with your ex, that underlying hope. To be honest, I just miss life and music.”

Appropriately, Old Flowers is an album about breaking up, moving on and rebuilding — in her case, about a long-term romantic relationship, but written and sung for anyone in need of a manual for how to let go. Right now, that’s pretty much all of us: an entire planet of people letting go of a year full of unrealized plans, promises, and memories that never even got a chance. “I’m alone now, but I don’t feel alone,” she sings on the title track, her voice so full of power yet still delicate every step and note along the way. “You can’t water old flowers.” She’s right. It’s best to simply start anew.

We spoke to Andrews about Old Flowers, poetry, and reflecting on both the past and what’s still to come.

Writing a “breakup album” is nearly a folk tradition at this point. Some of our greatest albums (see: Blood on the Tracks) are about making beautiful art from the ashes of a relationship. Does that come with a sense of responsibility?
I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m going to make a breakup record.” But every time I sat at the piano, these sorts of songs came out. With this record I wasn’t thinking about crafting an album so much as I was processing everything. It was all I could do. I’m a big believer that sometimes as an artist you really don’t know how you feel until you listen back to something. Songwriting, it’s the highest form of communication. And when I wrote “Together or Alone,” I knew. In many ways the moment I mastered the album and had it in my hand, I felt a chapter closing. There was a sense of hopping over that hurdle.

Though this album is, on the surface, about a relationship, there is a lot we can all take from it in terms of examining the process of losing something dear to us — a person, a dream or one of the million things we’re learning to say goodbye to this year.
Albums that are deemed “breakup albums” don’t have to just reveal parts of ourselves that are about love. Grief can be about so many different things. Breakup albums make you very vulnerable. The most vulnerable part of you. I feel like all my favorite records have a way of mirroring parts of myself I didn’t know were there. The goal is to do that in a song.

It was recently the four-year anniversary of Honest Life, your 2016 breakthrough album. How does it feel to reflect on everything that has happened since then, especially in such a time of stillness?
That record was such a catalyst for my career, and I feel so connected to it because of that, but also the span of four years is so little time in the grand scheme of things, though it feels like it was eons ago. It was the first record that allowed me to quit my bartending job. There are records that I look back on and wish I could change, but not this one. With Honest Life, in this strange way, it felt like an act of rebellion. I had worked with older men who wanted to co-write and to produce, but I stepped aside and did it myself. And for the first time I felt very in control of my art and empowered. I look back with a fondness for that time. It was the beginning of everything.

Your 2018 LP May Your Kindness Remain preaches kindness as a way through our tumultuous existence, part of a real moment in folk and Americana that advocated for forgiveness and empathy as political action, like John Prine and Brandi Carlile did with their albums as well.
In the proceeding years in which I wrote those songs, there was a cultural feeling of needing to perpetuate those good morals because, frankly, there were a lot of things that were revealed that weren’t good. A lot of us took the mothering approach to writing. This is a continuation of those years, this huge tradition. I will say I feel more vitriol than I once did. The really deep desire to want change and see it not changing can be very upsetting. But you can be kind and also be radical at the same time.

As you work on poetry now, is there a measured difference between how you approach poems and how you approach songwriting?
When I am writing songs I feel like an emotional archaeologist. I’m speaking for a character or talking to a friend. At least with this batch of poems, I feel like I am in more of a philosopher-type brain. Pondering the meaning of things, explaining the meaning of things. I have yet to flop from that and have switched to full poetry brain mode.

For all the disappointment that comes with releasing an album during a pandemic, is there a silver lining to be had in thinking about how people now have some time and quiet to take in the “emotional archaeology” of Old Flowers?
Old Flowers is a heavy record to digest. It’s not an open-air festival record. The upside is people are sitting quietly listening to it. If you are going to have an intimate conversation, the middle of a pandemic is a good time for that. People will have sat with it by the time we are out on the road. It’s so hard to feel pity for ourselves, because it’s happening for everyone – even Beyoncé can’t tour. I have my one day a week breakdown and ask, “Why is this happening?” But then you just get up.

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack

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Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).

It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.

However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.

With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.

Choosing the Wrong Table

Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.

First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.

Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.

Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.

When to Hit and Stand

As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.

One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.

While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.

Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.

When to Split and Double

If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.

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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.

While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.

It is not recommended to split when:

  • You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
  • You are dealt two 9s
  • You are dealt two 5s
  • The dealer holds a 10 or picture card

It is best to split when:

  • You are dealt two 8s
  • You are dealt two aces
  • The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)

Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.

Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.

Conclusion

Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.

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Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students

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The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like. 

Who Are You?

Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.

Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:

  • What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
  • What do you like or hate most about yourself?
  • What is your greatest value in life?
  • What emotions do you express easily?
  • What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
  • Who you want to become in five years?
  • What is your major objective for next year?
  • Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
  • What motto do you try to live by?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?

Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.

Sentence Completion

Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:

  • Before I came to college, I was interested in…
  • When I was a child, I wanted to become…
  • The best moment I remember most about high school is…
  • My favorite pet is…
  • The things I value most are…
  • Five years from now I hope to be…
  • My greatest personality trait is…
  • My favorite subject at high school was…
  • If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
  • My greatest fear is…
  • After I graduate from college, I…

The Reception Line

You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • What motto do you try to follow?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What music do you like?
  • What is your favorite hobby?
  • Why did you choose this college?
  • What do you like about college life the most?

Take Sides

You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:

  • Watermelon or banana?
  • Sweat or bitter?
  • Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
  • Partying or hiking?
  • Listen or speak?
  • Rock or pop?
  • Morning or night?
  • Superman or Batman?
  • Robocop or Terminator?
  • Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
  • Los Angeles or New York?
  • Liberal or conservative?
  • American football or ice hockey?

My Most Embarrassing Moment

You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.

These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.

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