Embracing Beauty • Day 30 • Hong Kong

 

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-11-48-30-amFor the past three years, I’ve lived across the water from one of the world’s most vibrant, exciting, living cities. A city where East meets West in the truest sense of the expression. A city that is full of culture, and energy, and music, and the most amazing food (oh, yes. Food in Hong Kong…)…

She is a city that I have grown to love, even after only scratching the surface of who she really is, mostly from a distance. She is beautiful, she is exciting, she is mysterious, and I wish I didn’t just live across the water from her – but within her city limits where I could truly get to know her. I imagine long afternoons, searching for her secrets, teasing out her love, making her my own.

She is Hong Kong, and she is one of the beauties of the world. Would that I knew her better.

Thanks, Karina, for the vid. 😉

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty (just one day left!) and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

Embracing Beauty • Day 26 • Star Trek

Embracing Beauty • Day 28 • Appalachian Spring

Embracing Beauty • Day 29 • Song of the Sea

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Embracing Beauty • Day 29 • Song of the Sea

 

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-11-48-30-amMy morning routine is a lot like my father’s was when I was a boy.

A shower, a cup of Folgers, and the paper spread out before me.

Of course, because I live in 2016, the coffee is Starbucks and the morning paper is actually Facebook, but the shower is still the same.

One thing that my father didn’t have to deal with back in the late 1970’s was an election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He didn’t have to deal with friends who support one or other of the candidates (but really, just one) taking it upon themselves to unleash all sorts of October Surprise attempts on Facebook over and over and over again for weeks at a time.

This morning, I had enough.

What set me off was one of the most disgusting stories I’d seen linked about either of the candidates during this entire process, and it finally drove me over the edge.

The story had been linked onto Facebook by an old friend, and I sat there, typing and erasing and typing and erasing a heated response in which I said that it was my strongest wish that my friend would get arrested by the Internet Police and locked away in the darkest part of the darkest secret Internet Police prison. And that they would not be allowed out until the election madness had passed.

If ever.

But then something happened that reminded me that i was supposed to be focusing on beauty this month.

While I was sitting there fuming, my coffee sitting beside me untouched, my three year old padded out to the living room from his bedroom in his footy pajamas, toused hair, and sleepy eyes, and he came and sat on my lap and gave me a big good morning hug.

song-of-the-sea-posterSo I shut down Facebook, and decided to share and enjoy some beauty with my wee tyke.

I turned on the television and played one of the most beautiful animated films – dare I say it – of all time:

The Song of the Sea.

And everything was better.

For the next ninety minutes or so, my little one and I were transported to a magical side of Ireland, where we watched a brother fight to save the sister that he’d started out resenting, and we learned how magic exists all around us, even as close as the rocks and the owls.

And so today, for my contribution of beauty, I give you the work of Tomm Moore (the “Miyazaki of the West” as my friend Amanda calls him) and his colleagues at Cartoon Saloon.

We’ll begin with the trailer for Song of the Sea.

Moore’s work has such unique and beautiful hand-drawn animation that makes you wonder how CGI ever became the dominant expression of animation. But perhaps one of the reasons why his films resonate so strongly with the audience is because they do fly in the face of convention, which says kids can’t handle movies unless they are loud, brash, full of pop-culture references, and end with the cast dancing to an upbeat pop song.

“We have a huge responsibility when we make movies aimed at kids to say something they need to know, instead of just distracting them with fart jokes and talking animals,” Moore said in an interview with CartoonBrew.com, and that integrity places his films heads and shoulders above most animated movies of our time.

And I don’t know about the rest of the world, but my three year old sat enraptured for the entire run time of the movie. And his dad alongside of him. So apparently his way of doing things works.

While Moore’s films do not have upbeat pop songs (which is part of the reason why I love them) and since the films are focused on Irish lore (which is another reason), the soundtrack (composed by Bruno Coulais) does so as well, and it compliments the animation and the storyline perfectly.

Take some time and listen to the soundtrack for the film. It’s just gorgeous.

And of course, if you are not up on the beautiful animated work of Tomm Moore and Cartoon Saloon, then you must check out his equally beautiful film, The Secret of the Kells, which has an equally beautiful soundtrack. This is the film that introduced most of us to their work.

And I think I speak for the rest of the movie loving world when I say that I hope Moore and company will continue making films for years to come.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty (just three days left!) and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

Embracing Beauty • Day 26 • Star Trek

Embracing Beauty • Day 28 • Appalachian Spring

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Embracing Beauty • Day 28 • Appalachian Spring

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We’re getting to the end of my little experiment of embracing beauty, and it’s had its ups and downs. The main up has been the experience of being purposeful in seeking out beauty each day. As I wrote when I began this project, things had just become overwhelmingly ugly online – in large part thanks to the elections – and I had grown weary.

“Do not grow weary in well doing,” the Scriptures say, and so I decided to busy myself with some well-doing in the hopes that it would combat that weariness. And for the most part, it worked.

However, if there was a downer to this experience, it was that so few people joined me on it. I have quite a number of social media friends, and still, only a handful visited the blog over the course of the month. This is a bit of a bummer, not because I was hoping to become a viral sensation, but because I wanted to expose lots of people to beauty. Oh well, I can only hope that over time, people will find this series on their own, and that it will encourage and uplift the ones it is meant to encourage and uplift.

And if you are actually reading these words, then perhaps you will be encouraged and uplifted if you go back through these past few weeks and let the journey take you where it will.

And that brings us to today’s look at beauty. I decided to return to music today, as music plays such an important role in our lives, and a melody or lyric can have the unique power of transporting us across time and space. The piece of music that has that power over me, which I’m embracing today, is Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.

martha_graham_erich_hawkins_ppalachian_springA little history – Copeland wrote Appalachian Spring in the mid 1940’s for Martha Graham’s dance company. It premiered as a ballet in 1944 at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. as a piece for a smaller chamber orchestra. Copeland went on to expand the piece for full orchestra the next year. In 1945, Copeland won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for the piece.

I first discovered Appalachian Spring when studying for a music degree at King College in Bristol, Tennessee – in the heart of the Appalachian mountains – and the music wound up serving as a soundtrack for many of those days and nights. Even now, when I listen to it, I’m carried back to the rolling hills of north-west Tennessee and some of the best years of my life.

And so, I’m pleased and feeling a bit nostalgic as I present today’s example of beauty. Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, played by the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Leonard Bernstein.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

Embracing Beauty • Day 26 • Star Trek

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Embracing Beauty • Day 26 • Star Trek

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Star Trek has been one of my favorite shows for many, many years. I have to admit, I was never so crazy about the original series, but I loved the movies, and nearly every incarnation of Trek that has come since.

One of the powerful things about the various television series was that you spent so many years with the characters that you felt like you really came to know them. And with dozens and dozens of episodes, the writers had plenty of time to develop the characters and give them moments to shine.

But what does Star Trek have to do with embracing beauty? Because every now and then – in the midst of this ongoing mission to seek out new life and new civilizations – moments of tenderness and beauty take you by surprise.

For today’s examination of beauty, I want to single out a few scenes from some of my favorite episodes that are, well, beautiful.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, The Inner Light, an episode widely considered to be one of the best TNG episodes, Captain Picard is struck by an energy beam from an alien probe, and while only a few minutes pass for his crew on the Enterprise, Picard seems to live for decades in the probe. Over the years he is unconscious, Picard learns how to play a flute, has a family, grows old, and dies.

The probe, we find, is actually from a long-dead civilization that keeps its memory alive by capturing other species and having them live a life within that civilization. When Picard finally regains consciousness back on the Enterprise, he retains all of the memories of that lifetime, but feels lost in what should be his own life.

It’s an emotional and perplexing time for Picard as he has to relearn everything he’d forgotten in the decades he’d been “gone”. When Riker brings him a flute found within the probe, it is the only thing that is still familiar to him. The haunting song Picard plays in this episode is called “The Inner Light”, and it was composed by Jay Chattaway.

Chattaway went on to compose an entire orchestral suite based on this tune, called “Orchestral Suite From The Inner Light”, which I present as a companion piece.

The flute and the tune made a reappearance in another episode of TNG, The Lesson, in which Picard falls in love with a Lt. Commander pianist stellar cartographer, and the two bond over music in the 4th intersect of Jefferies tube 25.

Of all the scenes in TNG that could have stood out to me, this one always has stood out the most. In fact, since watching this episode, I have always made it a point to find the most acoustically perfect spot in any building in which I’ve lived, so that I could play my own tin whistle, just like JLP.

Turning from TNG to my favorite series in the Star Trek universe, Deep Space Nine, we have several beautiful scenes from which we can choose. My favorite doesn’t involve the cast regulars, but the quartet of genetically enhanced individuals who appear on a couple of episodes of the show.

In the episode Chrysalis, Sarina is a genetically enhanced woman who is unable to speak or act or do much of anything. But Dr. Bashir operates on her, essentially waking her from her slumber. Sarina then begins to explore what it is like to be alive. This scene is another one of my favorites, as Sarina’s friends help her to explore her musical abilities.

As beautiful as that was, the real beauty in DS9 came through the relationships of the main cast. Especially, I would argue, with Captain Benjamin Sisko and his son, Jake. In The Visitor, one of DS9’s most powerful episodes, an accident on the Defiant causes Captain Sisko to vanish. Years later when Jake grows up, his father seems to return for brief moments, and it turns out that he is trapped in subspace. Jake then focuses the rest of his life in search of a way to reunite with his Dad. When he finally figures out how to free Sisko, Jake is an old man who has lived most of his life without a father.

The scene has some tremendous acting by veteran actor Tony Todd and Avery Brooks, and it is truly beautiful.

For my final example of beauty in Star Trek, I will move on to the series I’m currently working my way through, Star Trek: Voyager. Voyager also has some nice moments, although the show never quite captured me the way DS9 or TNG did. Many of of the nice moments seem to revolve around the acting of Robert Picardo, who played The Doctor, the Emergency Medical Hologram.

In Someone To Watch Over Me, the Doctor is helping Seven of Nine learn how to properly interact with the other crew members, specifically in the realm of romance. As he’s coaching her, The Doctor realizes that Seven has a lovely singing voice, and then the two sing a little duet.

I’m sure there are many more scenes from the various incarnations of Trek which would qualify as beautiful, and if you would like to suggest a scene in the comment section, I’ll gladly expand my examples here. Just describe the scene, or better yet, provide a youtube link so that I can post it.

Meanwhile, I’ll end this with one of the most moving and beautiful scenes in the history of Star Trek. Ah, those pipes…

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

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Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

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This week brought us our final debate, which means that the end of the 2016 season is upon us. That is good news, except that the next two weeks are liable to be the ugliest of the last year and a half, if that’s possible. This is the time when we really need to be intentional in balancing the cynicism, the propagated fear, the muck-raking, the uncloseting of skeletons, and the overall general nastiness one thing that has the ability to overcome it all – beauty.

Last week, we explored and embraced a diverse sampling of beauty. If this is your first visit to the blog, enjoy a snapshot of the last week.

Embracing Beauty • Day 15 • The Bus Scene from Swiss Army Man

I first heard about The Daniel’s Swiss Army Man this summer when I was in Beverly Hills for the Variety Faith and Family Film Summit. I took a Lyft from my hotel to a nearby cinema to watch the new Star Trek movie, and the driver – a hopeful actor named Joe – shared that one of the benefits to living in Los Angeles is that you get exposure to all sorts of unique indy film experiences as well as the big blockbusters.

As an example, he told me about an indy film that he’d just seen, Swiss Army Man. Joe shared the unlikely premise, insisted that Daniel Radcliffe (famous for playing Harry Potter) demonstrated that he had acting chops like we wouldn’t have expected, and said that it was the most original and unique film that he’d seen in ages.

swiss-army-manConsidering that I was in town to discuss a genre that is not known for originality and uniqueness, my interest was piqued. I made a mental note to see the film when the opportunity presented itself.

That opportunity came last Friday, on my birthday. I had invited some friends over to watch the film, and while the film disappointed in some ways, in most ways it was a big success. I found myself both moved and confused, and all in a good way. I also agreed with Joe’s assessment all the way. It was absolutely unique, and Radcliffe was amazing.

It seems a bit obvious to say that the film is not for everyone, because that’s true of all films. In this case, I would say if you demand typical film fare, don’t have the stomach for discussions of bodily functions, and need your films to make immediate sense, this film is probably not for you.

Otherwise, I’d highly recommend it to mature audiences.

On Day 15, I shared a scene from Swiss Army Man that I found to be one of the most beautiful examples of effective filmmaking. I also found it worthy of note that this scene is the six minutes of filmmaking that Daniel Radcliffe is the most proud.

If you didn’t watch the bus scene on Day 15, give it a look now.

Embracing Beauty • Day 17 • “For the Beauty of the Earth” John Rutter

One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about the past two weeks is when someone has made suggestions of beauty, suggestions that I otherwise would never have considered.

On Day 17, I featured one of those suggestions, from Lyndall Cave of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. Lyndall actually wrote with two suggestions, and so you’ll be seeing that name again over the next two weeks. But the first suggestion that I took from Lyndall was for the choral work of composer John Rutter.

I was a music major in college, and I directed the student choir at my small Presbyterian college. And so I was very familiar with the work of John Rutter. But having lived overseas for the past fifteen years, and attending church in less traditional and formal settings for most of that time, I hadn’t thought about Rutter in years. It was nice to revisit his work, and to share one of his most famous compositions, For The Beauty of the Earth.

Embracing Beauty • Day 18 • Animated Short, Borrowed Time

I don’t have a lot to say about this day, except that you need to go and watch this short video if you haven’t. It’s a brilliant piece of animation.

Embracing Beauty • Day 19 • Unplug Part 2

You know, this is one of those things that we know we should do, but we’re just so hooked on looking at that screen. I know I am. I want to make a concentrated effort to not be looking on a screen as often as I can, and to notice the world right in front of me.

At first, I thought this was quite possibly the most beautiful idea I’d had this month so far.

But then I realized that it was only the second most beautiful idea.

Embracing Beauty • Day 20 • The Café

Unplugging in a nice little cafe, nursing a hot cup of coffee, nibbling on a homemade chocolate chip cookie, all while writing in an actual paper notebook or reading an actual paper book… this is the most beautiful idea to me right now.

As my friend Scarlett reminded me, having the ability to do this used to be mundane; a part of the daily grind if you will. But now that I have a family, the idea of relaxing anywhere in solitude warms the cockles of my introverted heart.

But in a cafe? Yeah, that would pretty much be the summit.

As a final example of the kind of cafe I’m talking about, I present the Vintage Emporium Cafe in London. These images were found in a Messy Nessy article, “10 Inspiring Cafés Around the World“.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

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Embracing Beauty • Day 20 • The Café

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I’ve spent quite a bit of time these past twenty days exploring beauty in art, in music, in photography, in space, in cinema, and in unplugging. Today, I want to focus on an area of beauty that might be a bit surprising, but it cannot be denied.

Art in food. More specifically, enjoying the art of food in cafes.

One of the best ways I could imagine spending a morning would be sitting in a cozy little cafe with a fresh cup of coffee, something delicious and fresh-baked, still warm from the oven, and an open notebook. I would be writing, and the ideas would be flowing thanks as much to the food as to the atmosphere. After all, the best cafes have something unique about them, an ambience that invites and even inspires creativity.

It is a beautiful idea, isn’t it?

The following images of cafes that are overflowing with ambience come from a VK page called Artifact, sent to me by my friend, Karina, who says, “Beautiful photos of different cafes around the around are my love.”

The photos show three cafes: Monmouth Coffee in London; Republique in Los Angeles; and The Bistrot in Bali, Indonesia.

Warning: some of the treats in these photographs look so delectable that you may be tempted to take a bite out of your screen. This is not advised.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 15 • The Bus Scene from Swiss Army Man

Embracing Beauty • Day 17 • “For the Beauty of the Earth” John Rutter

Embracing Beauty • Day 18 • Animated Short, Borrowed Time

Embracing Beauty • Day 19 • Unplug Part 2

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Embracing Beauty • Day 19 • Unplug Part 2

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This morning (China time), like many of you, I watched the third and final presidential debate. The experience of watching that debate was a microcosm of this entire election cycle, with all of the frustration, shock, embarrassment, anger, and disbelief that has characterized the past several months all packed into 90 minutes. The only positive feature of the whole thing was that Chris Wallace managed to maintain some semblance of control.

via MattStevensCLT on Flickr

via MattStevensCLT on Flickr

As I shut down the browser, I was struck by a need for beauty. This debate, this election, and what is waiting for us in the next two weeks, all made me realize how much I’ve started to starve for beauty, even in the midst of keeping on top of this 31 Days project. And once more I’ve realized that the beauty that I need is not going to be digital. It’s going to be found in embracing reality – the people around me, the wind in my face, natural light rather than light from an LED screen.

And so, for the second time during this 31 Days of Embracing Beauty, the beauty that I present to you is the beauty in your own world once you have shut down the digital.

Unplug, and get out there and remember that as important as the election might seem, what’s even more important is the reality living in the house with you, the reality of the sun and the stars and the weather, the reality of the touch of a loved one, the reality of life. And the beauty of it all. Get off this device and enjoy that experience for a while.

You’re welcome.


Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 15 • The Bus Scene from Swiss Army Man

Embracing Beauty • Day 17 • “For the Beauty of the Earth” John Rutter

Embracing Beauty • Day 18 • Animated Short, Borrowed Time

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