Light Rafts for Flagging Spirits | Vol 12

Sunday evening inspiration after a week that was so exhausting, I slept right through Friday. Images and sounds, words and moving pictures to enliven spirits as we begin an epic new week/chapter.

1. On the Day We Are Together Again from Congregation Bet Haverim Chorus | Atlanta

Earlier this week, a dear friend of ours (hey, Jules!) shared this video from Congregation Bet Haverim, a Jewish Reconstructionist congregation in Atlanta, where she used to worship and sing in the chorus. It was the lift my soul needed that day, and I hope it will be joy-giving for you, too.

“On the Day We Are Together Again”: Words and Music by Humbird,
arranged by Will Robertson.

Learn more about Bet Haverim HERE.


2. James Baldwin’s Record Collection Playlist | St Paulde-Vence, France

Ikechúkwú Onyewuenyi, a curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, assembled “Chez Baldwin,” a 32-hour-long, 478-track Spotify playlist based on Baldwin’s vinyl record collection.

Via Hyperallergic:

“The playlist is a balm of sorts when one is writing,” Onyewuenyi told Hyperallergic. “Baldwin referred to his office as a ‘torture chamber.’ We’ve all encountered those moments of writers’ block, where the process of putting pen to paper feels like bloodletting. That process of torture for Baldwin was negotiated with these records.”…

Not all of Baldwin’s records could be found on Spotify. Two albums, Lou Rawls’s When the Night Comes (1983) and Ray Charles’s Sweet & Sour Tears (1964), both in the writer’s collection, are missing from the playlist because they haven’t made it onto the music platform. But Onyewuenyi says there’s “something nice about it being an incomplete playlist.”


3. The Irish Coastal Experience: Wave/ocean generator | MySound.net

I am not a great sleeper. This wasn’t always the case, but for the last 15 years or so, insomnia or at least wonky sleep patterns have been persistent. I like white noise and especially this last 11 months, there’s almost always a fan going in whatever room I’m in, whether I’m trying to sleep or just, ya know, exist. I’m always on the lookout for good ambient music and/or soundscapes to read, write, and sleep by. This week, I discovered a marvelous new (to me at least) option via MySound.net: The Irish Coastal Experience.

Comprised from field recordings made on a boat trip from Oileán Chléire (aka Cape Clear Island) off the coast of County Cork, Ireland, the Irish Coastal Experience sound generator (which is free), has a digital mixing board where you can add more or less of the 10 different sound categories you might want most, whether that’s “wind rumble,” “rain,” “loch,” or “pebble shore.”

It’s brilliant. A marvelous find, in my book. And if you click through, there are behind-the-scenes photos of the sound sampling sure to slake or stoke any yearnings you might have for a blustery day on the Irish coast.


4. Indigenous “Messiah Complex”: Against the Grain Theater | Canada

In December, Toronto’s Against the Grain Theater company released its interpretation of Handel’s Messiah—a truly cross-Canada performance—in Arabic, Dene, English, French, Inuktitut, and Southern Tutchone, and accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It’s free for everyone to experience online through the end of January.

The New York Times described “Messiah Complex” as, “a polyglot, nonsectarian, gender-inclusive film from Canada remakes the Handel classic for today’s world.”

The brainchild of Joel Ivany, a Broadway-loving son of pastors, and his Toronto indie opera company, Against the Grain Theater, in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, “Messiah/Complex” seeks to revamp a Christmas favorite for a world upended by a pandemic and a renewed consciousness about the rights of Black people and other minorities.

It mixes the sacred and profane as it journeys from Canada’s Far North to an urban hockey rink, engaging in a bit of high camp and translating passages into six languages, including Arabic, French, Dene and Inuttitut. The text Mr. Britten sings has been retooled as a coming-out anthem for a young man confronting his conservative Chinese relatives.

Read more about Against The Grain’s production HERE.


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5. Microscopic Tree Films and Cellular Landscapes | Online

I spent at least an hour staring at these microscopic images of trees collected in a fascinating post by the inimitable Maria Popova on her Brainpickings site.

One of the things that struck me most about the cellular structure of some of the wood samples is how much they remind me of the work of knitting designer Stephen West and his Westknits. If you’re a knitter like me, surely you know West’s work and maybe even have tackled some of his intricate-yet-not-impossible to make creations like these below. Whether you knit or not, West’s Instagram feed is a wonderful place to lose yourself from time to time.

My trip down the tree microscopy hole also led me to this whimsical discovery called CELLULAR LANDSCAPE—a 3D image of a eukaryotic cell created by the scientific visualization researcher and artist/CEO Gael McGill.

Created for Cell Signaling Technology, Inc., and inspired by the stunning art of David Goodsell, this 3D rendering of a eukaryotic cell is modeled using X-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and cryo-electron microscopy datasets for all of its molecular actors. It is an attempt to recapitulate the myriad pathways involved in signal transduction, protein synthesis, endocytosis, vesicular transport, cell-cell adhesion, apoptosis, and other processes. 

Honestly, I’m not sure what most of that means. But it’s really beautiful.

See more of McGill’s work HERE.


6. YEATS NOW: Why We Still Need W.B. Yeats’s Poetry | (Jan 19) Online

This free program of the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Global Irish Studies at Georgetown University, an evening of appreciation for Yeats’ poetry begins on the eve of the Biden/Harris inauguration, at 5 p.m. EST this Tuesday, January 19.

A celebration of Joseph M. Hassett’s latest book, featuring actor Lisa Dwan, poets Paula Meehan and Teri Cross Davis, Ambassador Daniel Mulhall, and more. Moderated by Cóilín Parsons, Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University and member of the board of Solas Nua.

Yeats believed that lyrics can 'take on a second beauty, passing as it were out of literature and becoming life.' By focusing on Yeats’s most memorable lines of poetry, Joseph Hassett’s latest book, Yeats Now: Echoing into Life, reveals new ways of enjoying a body of work that speaks eloquently and urgently to the twenty-first century. Join us as we consider Yeats’s legacy and the enduring power of poetry to translate and transform our world.

Book Now (for free) HERE


7. Our Inauguration Poet, Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman | LA

On Wednesday, California’s Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate, makes history as the youngest poet ever to read at a presidential inauguration when the Los Angeles native recites her poem “The Hill We Climb” when Joseph R. Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

According to several news reports, Gorman, a Harvard University graduate, was chosen by the presidential inaugural committee to read at Wednesday’s ceremony after a suggestion by no less than soon-to-be-First-Lady Dr. Jill Biden.


8. This week on the Artist Care & Feeding: Caitlinn Finnie & #NoFlyList

Classically-trained Soprano Caitlinn Finnie spent much of 2020 performing in Korea and China with an international tour of Phantom of the Opera. Her fascinating perspective on living through the COVID-19 pandemic from abroad, where audiences all wore masks, but where she ultimately had more freedom of movement and from the fear of contracting the virus than she has back at home in Texas. She’s delightful and it’s a must-listen episode for anyone who loves theater or just, ya know, life.

And in our eighth “minisode,” Kaitlyn, Mark, and I discuss the #noflylist and other troubling phenomena of the last days of the Drumpf dynasty, as it were.


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