Pirate songs, Dubya's bathroom portraits + Grammy winners

I wish this could open like the unexpected sighting of a Telegraph Hill parrot -- a bright flash of green across your morning -- but, alas, I'm still getting over a cold, so you'll have to encounter birds on your own. Here's wishing you a week that brings at least a few moments of gratitude, wonder and rest.

:: events ::
  • Lenten Prayer Retreat: Feb. 16-17 in Berkeley ($35). My uncle, a retired pastor, was recently asked to describe his prayer life. "Inadequate," he said, which surprised me, but probably rings true for almost all who follow God. If you, too, resonate with that, and you're not traveling over the holiday weekend next weekend, why not come to the Lenten healing prayer retreat Christ Church is hosting? Rusty Rustenbach, an author and director of pastoral care with the Navigators will be leading the two-day retreat (9-5 on Saturday, 9-1 on Sunday). The schedule will include a mix of teaching, prayer and discussion on listening and healing prayer. In my own life, a two-day prayer conference that Redeemer hosted a while back proved a very significant turning point in my prayer life and relationship with God.
  • Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale: March 2-3. If you're any kind of thrift store/garage sale/antique shopper, this just might be the event of the year. Admission is free, but parking can be hard to find (they do provide shuttle from BART). A couple things they don't advertise:
    • Everything is half off on Sunday.
    • You can do two one-day passes before the sale if you make a donation. They add a 10% surcharge, but it's still worth it to beat the crowd. Drop-off/shop hours: 10-2, Tuesday to Saturday through Feb. 23.
  • Dark Star Orchestra does a mini residency at Great American Music Hall in April, Thursday through Saturday, April 11-13.
:: visual art ::
  • I wondered why I'd seen something about George W. in the LA Times trending topics, and now I know: a hacker recently got into W's sister's email, discovering photos of some paintings in process, two of which are self-portraits in the bathroom. The New York Times has an image-free but fairly fair assessment of the works-in-progress, which includes an odd closing jab at Bob Dylan. New York magazine's art critic actually likes the bathing portraits, which he considers alongside a landscape of a church. Yes, he shows all three images. Fascinating, whatever you thought of him.
  • Dr. Seuss didn't just write about hats, it turns out, he loved them -- and often had guests wear pieces from his large hat collection during meals. Now that collection forms the basis of a new exhibit debuting -- where else -- in the New York Public Library (it's slated to visit a few other sites, I believe).
  • I still need to watch these, but Paste reports that Jimmy Fallon's been doing a Downton Abbey spoof, called Downton Sixbey, which includes quite a cast.
:: tunes ::
:: reading/food for thought ::

  • As I've shared before, poetry may be the art form I most want to "get" and yet remain the most mystified by. Thus, I was immediately intrigued by this NYT Magazine piece on Afghan women who've risked their lives to write poetry. It's a longer read, but a fascinating portrait of a literary society connected largely by phone and secrecy. In some ways it's also a rebuke to the ease with which one can neglect art making in this country.
  • I have to confess, I never knew exactly where Timbuktu was until read this fascinating article (it's in Mali, home of that blues-y band Tenariwen). As the author notes, "In modern times Timbuktu has become a synonym for a remote place." It's also been the site recent conflict, however, which yet again threatened thousands of ancient manuscripts. Residents are no strangers to hiding their treasures, however, as this article recounts. Worth checking out, even if just for the slideshow. Some really beautiful images.
  • Brainpickings highlights the new, posthumously released Maurice Sendak book, My Brother's Book.
:: food ::
  • Here's a no-cook breakfast tip for a change: looking for something healthy and portable to start your mornings off? My breakfast staple is a jar of plain yogurt topped with a few spoons of homemade jam (I buy the Straus yogurt quarts at Costco), plus a container of homemade granola I stir in right before eating. You could make your own version with store-bought jam and granola, of course, but I find it a pretty balanced meal with decent staying power -- especially if your yogurt and granola are rich in protein.

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