Light Rafts for Flagging Spirits | Vol 11

Show of hands: Who’s exhausted? Hard same, mostly because Wednesday was six weeks long and week #1 of 2021 has been 2020 2.0-terrible. But here at Look for the Light, we do aspire to find it....

Show of hands: Who’s exhausted? Yeah, me, too. Mostly because Wednesday was six weeks long. And the first week of 2021, aka “2020: Annus Horribilus Addendum,” has been a ghoulish parade of the awful and the terrible, just when we were hoping we’d turned a corner.

But here at Look for the Light, we endeavor to find it, even when it seems like an exercise in futility, as if we’re fumbling around in the darkness amidst shards of broken glass with a mob of ne'er-do-wells, real or imagined, fast on our heels. Indeed, this week was a challenge to the hopeful, and yet lux in tenebris lucet, right?

So, here are a few things we found to be helpful distractions/time-outs, that injected a bit of light in the form of levity, were weird and wonderful, and/or inspired a sense of awe or helped me to marvel, in a good way, if only for a few moments.

Dear readers, please try to keep looking for the light, the awe, the wonder, the love, and laughter. I promise I will, too. Stay safe and well. Stay home if you can. Wear a mask when you can’t. Wash your hands. Get some sleep. And keep your distance.

Courage, dearhearts!

1. Mesmerizing | The Web

I’ve literally spent hours looking at this

For a while earlier this week, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the perfect ambient sound/music accompaniment to this twirling/morphing image, before deciding that considering it in silence was far more gratifying.

2. Randy Rainbow, National Treasure: SEDITION! | NYC

I love him. And true love lasts a lifetime. From one Yente to another, hit it, Randy!

From the opening scenes of Fiddler on the Roof:

“Is there a proper blessing for the tsar?”

The rabbi responds: “A blessing for the tsar?”

He ponders awhile, then pronounces: “Of course . . . May God bless and keep the tsar . . . far away from us!”

Amen and L’Chaim, y’all.

3. Sarcastic Fringeheads | The Deep

Yes. That’s a real fish and that’s it’s actual, given name. I’m obsessed.

It feels like creative Glaswegian insult, but no, it’s a fish. One of nature’s weirdos.

According to the Ocean Conservancey:

While “sarcastic” is often used to describe one’s humor, the word originates from the Greek sarkasmós, which means to bite or tear. The first part of the name refers to the sarcastic fringehead’s series of needle-sharp teeth that it uses to bite into its prey (although maybe it has a biting sense of humor too, who knows?) “Fringehead” comes from the soft appendages that rise above its head. Together, they make one of the weirdest names in the ocean (whoever named this guy must have had fun).

A type of blenny, the sarcastic fringehead is recognizable by its brown-grey coloring with patches of red or green. They have disproportionately large heads and jaws and long, slender bodies. Although they can grow to about a foot in length, they average around 3-8 inches.

The sarcastic fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi) is native to the eastern Pacific and prefers to hide in shells and other crevices along the soft, muddy bottom. They’ve even been known to stay in bottles or cans in more polluted areas….They are known to be incredibly territorial, and will attack anyone, including other fringeheads or even scuba divers, who dare to threaten them.

To defend its territory, the sarcastic fringehead opens its enormous mouth to intimidate its foe. They have specially-designed jaws that fan out to the side (reminiscent of the cockroach alien from Men in Black) which makes them appear larger and more intimidating. If the challenger is another sarcastic fringehead, the two will “kiss” by aggressively pressing their open mouths against each other until one finally gives up and swims away.

Without further ado, we give you a SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD KISSING BATTLE from Mission Viejo, Calif.

Ew.

4. Clair de lune | Choreographer Yoann Bourgeois’ Escalier | France

‘There’s a moment when a child chooses a direction, as part of growing up, and that is a step that I never managed to take. Fortunately, I found the circus, which allowed me to remain undisciplined.’
– Yoann Bourgeois

An article posted this week in the online publication PSCYCHE, explored the French dancer/choreographer’s seemingly gravity-defying/time-bending performance:

Whereas his primary productions are meant to be experienced in person, in situ, the short film Clair de lune by the French filmmaker Raphaël Wertheimer uses tools of cinema – camera angles that shift perspective, editing that accentuates the music’s contours, a stark black and white palette – to explore elements one of Bourgeois’s most celebrated choreographies, La mécanique de l’histoire (The Mechanics of History). Adapting that work into a one-man performance set to Claude Debussy’s beloved composition Clair de lune, Bourgeois draws out the theme of childhood and time. Describing his collaboration with the French pianist Alexandre Tharaud, whose rendition of Clair de lune graces the film, Bourgeois says, ‘To create – to be creative – is to draw a door on the wall, and then open the door. Clair de lune opens this door wide to transport us to a time where time doesn’t pass. That’s why we become children again when we listen to this music.’

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5. White Walker Thrones or Lifeguard Towers on Lake Erie?

6. Field Recording: Wolves Howling | Mafra, Portugal

“Groups of Iberian Wolves in Portugal howl into the nights of Autumn in Mafra, Portugal. In a beautiful mediterranean forest, where other species co-exist, the Wolf easily becomes the center of attention.”

Listen to the entire 4.5-minute recording by sound artist Melissa Pons HERE

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7. Watchlist 1: Pretend It’s a City | Netflix

The acerbic, curmudgeonly author and humorist Fran Lebowitz is not everyone’s cup of tea, but for all of my adult life, she’s been the kind of strong brew I inhale in large gulps. A new docuseries directed and produced by Martin Scorsese follows Lebowitz through New York City, the place and idea she’s inhabited for 50 years. I urge you to watch as it’s as insightful as it is delightful (and occasionally, maddening.)

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I have not slept well this week, so in those semi-waking hours, when my eyes and mind are too tired to read but to busy to shut down for a reboot, I’ve tried to watch things that were more edifying than CNN. I inhaled the entire series last night, and went back to rewatch some of it today, including this monologue from the second episode, where Lebowitz talks about the power of music in her life and in all our lives, and how like me, she often finds herself watching the crowd rather than the artists on stage during live performances:

I am very interested in the audience. You see how happy and grateful the people are, for this music. Especially popular music of their youth. It doesn’t matter whether the popular music of their youth is Frank Sinatra or Billy Joel or David Bowie or Q Tip. This is, ‘don’t you remember when we went on our first music, this was the music…don’t you remember?’

This is centrally important to people. And they LOVE the person who gave this to them. And the whole thing is a mystery to them. No one is loved like musicians, no arts. Musicians are loved by people, really loved, Because they give them the ability to express their emotions and their memories. There’s no other form that really does that. 

I think that musicians and cooks are responsible for the most pleasure in human life. 

With gorgeous cinematography of New York City and guests including Scorsese, Alec Baldwin, Spike Lee, and Olivia Wilde, Pretend It’s A City is a gem. Watch it HERE.

8. Speaking of TV, Need a Laugh? We’ve Got You Covered | ACAF Pod

What's your guiltiest guilty TV pleasure? The trashiest, garbage-y-est, perhaps truly-embarrassing-to-admit show you watch or have watched?

In this week’s Artist Care and Feeding Minisode, Kaitlyn, Mark, and I tackle “trash TV” and our “guilty pleasures” on the small screen. Not for the delicate of sensibilities, but if bawdy humor and belly laughs are what you need, press play above or follow the link HERE (or go to wherever you get your podcasts and it’s the latest episode.)

RHWOWherever? Jersey Shore? The Bachelor? Big Brother? (If you say The Apprentice, you need to leave. Now. ) Are you old enough to remember the first season of Real World? Survivor? How about Laguna Beach--the 'reality' show that launched a thousand (or a dozen) terrible C-list careers? We admit a few terrible truths—how many times has Cath watched every episode of Golden Girl and Grace and Frankie, exactly?—Mark uses "Jared Leto" as a verb, Kait says "ratch-ED," tells us what it was like to hate-watch Love Is Blind in lockdown, and actually read the entire Game of Thrones series. Why Letterkenny is brilliant. Full stop. Mark and Kaitlyn explain the RHWOTOC cat meme and the plot of Dexter to Cath, who can't remember the name of the actor who plays the hot son on Weeds (which was really good and then really bad) and was also in the revival of Godspell. (It's Hunter Parrish.) Mark tells a super gross story, and yes, Kait still loves Nickleback. (We know.) Welcome to the dark corners of our pop-culture minds.

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