One of the side effects of this pandemic is that we are spending a lot of time at home and consequently looking for things to keep us occupied. These are items I've bumbled, stumbled, and come across on my Internet wanderings. They amuse, fascinate, and/or educate me so I thought I might share them with all of you.
DelanceyPlace.com: I don't remember how I stumbled upon this free daily email. I enjoy a good, long fiction or non-fiction read or educational magazine articles for those moments when I am too tired to get lost in a full story, but I don't like short stories. They leave me feeling hungry for more; empty and unfulfilled. That said, however I do look forward to checking my email and seeing what DelanceyPlace.com has offered up for me to consider. These are short excerpts from books on everything from Edward Hopper's paintings, Nixon, Patton and Viet Nam; The Song of Birds; America Puts Aside Civil Liberties; Charlemagne Could Not Read or Write; Britain's East India Company and the Jagat Seth; Religion and the Afterlife; Venerating the Cat; to How Fast Can People Travel on Foot?
Here is what founder Richard Vague and managing editor Clarissa F. Griebel have to say about their service: Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. And there is not necessarily an endorsement, and in some cases an excerpt may be particularly controversial and we may disagree with some or all of it, but nevertheless deem it worth noting. This is a 'slice of intellectual life" for those of us whose attention span is having difficulties fixing upon one sustained thing for a great length of time, with the option to purchase the book somewhere if the topic moves you.
Brain Pickings: A weekly email letter from Maria Popova, a Brooklyn, NY intellectual and author with a vast taste for bringing many ideas together for our consideration; hers is a mind where art and science for example, meet and feed one another giving birth to fullsome beauty and great astonishment. I love her choices for my contemplation. The newsletter is free and essay topics have ranged from A Stoic's Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety; The Courage to Be Yourself: EE Cummings on Art, Life and Being Unafraid to Feel; Rap on Race: Margaret Mead and James Baldwin's Rare Conversation on Forgiveness and the Difference Between Guilt and Responsibility; The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks; The Poet of the People Sings Freedom: Carl Sandburg on Transcending the Pride and Vanity That Paralyze Social Justice;
Popova is an avid supporter of The Universe in Verse, begun in 2017 which celebrates science and poetry. Some of the poets are scientists, and some of the poems are deeply loved verse by well known non-scientists such as Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, and Neil Gaiman. Poems are narrated by the great and the good in science and literature. For the inaugural show in 2017, dedicated to trailblazing 19th century astronomer Maria Mitchell and celebrating women’s underheralded contribution to science, Neil Gaiman delivered something of singular enchantment — a work of lyrical storytelling tracing the history of our species as the sense-making, truth-seeking animal who hungers for knowledge and advances by love. At its heart is an imaginative antidote to women’s erasure from the selective collective memory we call history. Titled “The Mushroom Hunters,” lovingly addressed to Neil’s newborn son Ash, the poem went on to win the Rhysling Award for best long poem and has now been brought to new life in a soulful short film/ Please do yourself a favor and watch this lovely piece of collaborative art.
If you are looking for excellent gifts for thoughtful youngsters, I suggest The Velolocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader. This fine book is a collection of original letters to the children of today and tomorrow about why we read and what books do for the human spirit, composed by 121 of the most interesting and inspiring humans in our world: Jane Goodall, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline Woodson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Oliver, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Rebecca Solnit, Elizabeth Gilbert, Shonda Rhimes, Alain de Botton, James Gleick, Anne Lamott, Diane Ackerman, Judy Blume, Eve Ensler, David Byrne, Sylvia Earle, Richard Branson, Daniel Handler, Marina Abramović, Regina Spektor, Elizabeth Alexander, Adam Gopnik, Debbie Millman, Dani Shapiro, Tim Ferriss, Ann Patchett, a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor, Italy’s first woman in space, and many more immensely accomplished and largehearted artists, writers, scientists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and adventurers whose character has been shaped by a life of reading. Accompanying each letter is an original illustration by a prominent artist in response to the text — including beloved children’s book illustrators like Sophie Blackall, Oliver Jeffers, Isabelle Arsenault, Jon Klassen, Shaun Tan, Olivier Tallec, Christian Robinson, Marianne Dubuc, Lisa Brown, Carson Ellis, Mo Willems, Peter Brown, and Maira Kalman. A number of the art pieces are available as prints, with all proceeds also benefiting the public library system.
In the same vein I also suggest Lost Words: A Spell Book which I first came across in 2018. I suggested it as a lovely gift for children of all ages from 9-99 years of age who like to read, and was gifted a copy by a dear friend. The word poems and illustrations by author Robert MacFarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris are engrossing and enchanting. This book is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and may be available through your local booksellers. Please check with them first.
The book began as a response to the removal of everyday nature words - among them "acorn", "bluebell", "kingfisher" and "wren" - from a widely used children’s dictionary, because those words were not being used enough by children to merit inclusion. Each acrostic spelling has three accompanying artworks by Jackie Morris–a glorious triptych of watercolor painting–firstly a clever but solemn display of the creature or plant’s absence from our world, then the spell itself accompanied by an ‘icon-esque’ self portrait of the central character surrounded with sumptuous gold leaf, and finally the creature or plant is depicted embedded in its natural habitat.
So imagine my utter delight to discover there is now accompanying music (Spell Songs) available featuring British folk musicians Julie Fowlis, Karine Polwart, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Kerry Andrew, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter, and Jim Molyneux. The music may be purchased as a CD, a digital download or a special vinyl double LP with liner notes in a beautiful mixed media format featuring exclusive new Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris with accompanying new artwork. Also includes new paintings inspired by the Spell Songs musicians and their instruments.
Since I have segued from reading to listening, I must share my stunningly favorite online find: Radio Garden! Radio Garden invites you to tune into thousands of live radio stations across the globe and stream stations online for no additional charge other than your Internet access. By bringing distant voices close, radio connects people and places. From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away. Listeners can submit stations for inclusion and save favorites to find again easily.
My favorites are The Jazz Groove in San Francisco, California for delectable, eclectic soft instrumental jazz, SOMA Thistle Radio also out of San Francisco featuring Fiona Ritchie from The Thistle & Shamrock hosting her own format 24/7, KQED FM and KALW FM Public Radio out of San Francisco for excellent music, news, and public radio programming, The British Home Front Radio Service out of Doncaster, UK which plays a continual stream of music from 90 years ago during WWI and II, Radio Folk out of Copenhagen, Denmark featuring Danish folk music, SOMA FM Folk Forward out of San Francisco which offers modern folk artists, Giant 91.7 FM Classic Hard Rock out of Welland, Canada for a fix of Cream, Led Zep, The Stones and others, Radio Siamsa out of Dublin, Ireland brings us Irish mostly folk music, NWPR Classical Radio Public Radio station out of Pullman, Washington has the best streaming of classical music , Arctic Outpost AM1270 out of Longyearbyen, Norway which is jazz oriented, Xorroxin Irratia 88.0FM broadcasting from Lesaka, Spain with fascinating Spanish folk music, and Ambi Nature Radio out of Zurich, Switzerland which provides nature sounds. Still and all there are literally thousands of stations available on Radio Garden I have yet to tap into!
Radio Garden started out in 2016 as an exhibition project commissioned by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in the context of the research project Transnational Radio Encounters. It was created, designed and developed by Studio Puckey & Moniker. After taking care of the project in the following years, Jonathan Puckey turned Radio Garden into a small independent company in 2019.
Finally I note that the British canals are open for cruising once again. I stumbled upon a website called Lockdown Loos! This is a crowd sourced site so the info is only as good as the information supplied. If you are on a phone the website offers instructions on how to access it via Google Maps on your phone.
Love Jaq xxx
Wow Jaq, that's a veritable pool of watching and listening to explore - love the sound of the children's book Lost Words and will certainly take a look at that. Good to hear from you, stay well, be happy. Sending love and hugs as big as Biggs to you and yours from us both xx
Wow - a lot of amazing and interesting stuff out there. If I wasn't already overwhelmed with stuff I subscribe to I'd jump at some of it. AND, I am thrilled to know about Radio Garden. I'll be exploring that. Yup, a lot of time in front of our computers is definitely a feature of our times. Stay Safe and Sane. Karen in Pullman
You will love the Lost Words book. It is stunningly beautiful in every sense for all of our senses. I am ding my best to stay well and looking forward to reading about your new adventures. Bigg big hugs and loads of love to you and George.
You will love Radio Garden!
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