Light Rafts for Flagging Spirits | Vol 9

"At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” —Albert Schweitzer

1. Light Side Up: Groundbreaking Aurora Borealis doc debuts | Alaska

For a while now, I’ve been following the development of an ambitious, short documentary film about three adventurous photographers as they attempt to become the first film crew ever to capture cinema-quality footage of the northern lights from the edge of space.

The film debuted on Thursday, Dec. 8, coincidentally just in time to welcome the first night of Hannukah, the Jewish festival of lights. The images they capture of the aurora above Alaska from the outer edge of inner space are extraordinary, the tale of how they took an idea from a wild hare to a truly unique scientific achievement is an enjoyable and inspiring ride. Check out the film above and learn more about HERE.

2. Chag Sameach, y’all: Foo Fighters Make Hannukah’s 8 Nights Rock

Here’s Night One with the Foo Mensches covering Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage!”

Foo Fighters' Twitter Fee

Tune into the Foo Fighters’ Twitter feed for seven more daily drops of melt-your-face cover songs by Jewish artists for the Festival of Lights!

3. The Derry Girls episode of the Great British Baking Show | Netflix

There are few British/Irish shows I have fallen more madly for in the last several years than the Great British Bake Off (and its many ancillary spin-offs) and the hilarious and poignant Northern Ireland-set comedy Derry Girls. Put them together in a one-hour holiday mash-up special and that’s a really lovely sponge.

Pour yourself some spiked eggnog and have a laugh for an hour before you go back to doom-scrolling on Twitter to see what political mishegoss has transpired since the late time you looked four minutes ago. Here it is on NETFLIX or (for UK friends) Channel4.

4. An Original Poem: Cor • po • sa(i)nt

From a collection of poems I’ve been working on these last months during lockdown. It’s a new muscle to write and to share them, on the page and in spoken word.

What’s that saying, “Do something every day that scares you.” This was it for me today.

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5. Fleet Foxes + Resistance Revival Chorus perform “Can I Believe You”

Thursday night on a very special Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Fleet Foxes performed “Can I Believe You” from the band’s new album, SHORE. And once again, as it never fails to do, Robin Pecknold’s voice shatters me.

The FF members were joined by members of the astonishing Resistance Revival Chorus for the performance, which led me down a rabbit hole or research about that all-women-and-non-binary-people choral/activist group. They’re fascinating. Learn more about them HERE.

6. Corona Borealis: A Night Under the Comedy Stars | Minnesota

Lizz Winstead, comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show, has spent most of 2020 quarantining alone in her home in New York City. At the height of the summer surge, while watching her hometown of Minneapolis implode after George Floyd’s murder, she decided she had to do something. With no performance venues available in NYC, she packed up and headed for the land of 10,000 Lakes to record a comedy special.

    The result is a raw and real comedy special Corona Borealis, A Night of Comedy Under The Stars.

    Winstead wanted to do this special as in the moment as possible, so it is a total DIY experience. Made up of honest, hilarious, and wholly untested material, this is a video-on-demand comedy experience that is not only brave but, is unlike any other comedy special out there. Shot in two parts, Winstead’s first show was in late September, performed on a rickety stage lit with string lights, on the shore of one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes with an audience of 20 fans, sitting in Kayaks on the water.
    With the second half of the special shot around a campfire in the woods, with another socially distanced audience of 20, November 14th, one week after the election results were delivered.

    As with most stand-up comedy, it’s not for everyone, but I enjoyed it both for its ingenuity and because some of it was just really smart and funny. You can rent or buy Corona Borealis via Vimeo HERE.

    7. Speaking of Borealis and Minnesota…here’s poem “Thanks, With Northern Lights” by Joyce Sutphen, poet laureate of Minnesota

    In Minnesota, from Main Street
    to Highway 61, from Paisley Park

    to Park Rapids, we’re thankful for
    snow that comes down from Canada

    covering the leaves we didn’t rake
    and how sometimes after that, we

    get a heat wave and a second chance
    to put things right in the world

    so we can meet our friends in a park
    and savor being together (safely

    apart). We feel so lucky that we smile
    our biggest smiles behind our masks,

    making our eyes crinkle and shine
    like the elusive Northern Lights.

    Sutphen’s poem was part of that New York Times’ project, “Poems of Gratitude,” that I included in last week’s dispatch.

    8. Explore Hannukah-related Medieval Manuscripts via Literary Hub

    From 14th-century Spain, Germany, and Italy, this collection presented online is a fascinating glimpse into Jewish history and culture.

    Link to explore the Hannukah/Chanukah-related medieval manuscripts HERE.

    9. If We Make It Through December: A Classic Sad Song Three Ways

    A new iteration, by Phoebe Bridgers

    The original, by Merle Haggard

    And my favourite, by Over the Rhine:

    10. ICYMI: This week on The Artist Care and Feeding Podcast …

    Kaitlyn, Mark and I were lucky to be joined by three remarkable guests this week, including the unstoppable Nikki Kimbrough and Billy D, a power-couple in the sacred sense of those words who are among the most inspirational and energizing people I’ve ever met. They’re both professional musicians, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and educators who, during lockdown with the sidewalks all but rolled up in their hometown of New York City, launched an online show called The Amputee and His Girl— “the chronicles of a couple living the entrepreneurial lifestyle while on the grind in NYC with only three legs.” They made us laugh, they made us cry, and helped jump start some healthy new habits we hope will stick in the new year.

    Listen to Nikki & Billy D.’s episode HERE or find it wherever you get your podcasts.

    Writer/actor/singer/performer/playwright/filmmaker Teri Hansen, who wrote, filmed, and released a dramatic film (with union approval and all the safety precautions in place) during the COVID lockdown. It’s called Into the Water and it’s a meditation on overcoming the ideas and fears (often self-imposed and created) that keep us from becoming who we truly are and what we’re meant for in this world. It was a conversation that went deep quickly and stayed there, including a long discussion of what the global cosmic time-out might mean spiritually, as an opportunity for all of us.

    Listen to Teri’s episode HERE or find it from your favourite podcast purveyor.

    Below is a trailer for Teri’s film, Into the Water, which she’s funding via IndieGoGo, should you want to check that out and help support artists making art during this dumpster fire of a year.

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