Them’s fightin words (Happy Boxing Day)

Day 36: Monday

Morning, Tim!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I saw you, so I anticipate it went pretty well. Re-reading that sentence seems narcissistic – you see I wasn’t meaning to imply it was good because you saw me, but because I saw you seemingly enjoying your day.

On that note, Happy Boxing Day. In case you aren’t familiar, Boxing Day is the day following Christmas. Notably, it’s the day everyone is returning all the stuff they don’t want from the previous day. Angry because of the long lines while return shopping, fights often break out, ending the holiday cheer – thus Boxing day.

I’ll be driving today – hopefully it isn’t raining so I can think a bit throughout the trip. I haven’t been able to think much through, but I have an interest in combining my recent writing on technology and automation with your ongoing musings on poetry, music, and art in general. More to come (an early morning, so keeping this brief…).


I defend your huffing and puffing with bricks. No blowing my base down. I lull your base into complacency with a sleepy kitten (not drawn, still counts. See rule #1)

Until tomorrow,



Volcanos and Good (Women) Doctors

Day 34: Wednesday

Morning, Tim!

Today I defend your cacophony of structuralism with (giant [and well drawn…]) earplugs!! I then attack your base (well played) with a giant bottle of vinegar (I contemplated having a man jumping on the bottle to squirt it out as if it were a water blob, but wasn’t able to accurately portray that…). So yeah…take that.

Day 3: Under siege

Sketches Copy - 8.png

My base is defended by earplugs (alternatively it could be headphones and listening to all about that bass…). Your “base” is being attacked by a spritzing bottle of vinegar. 

While fun to draw on my phone, I may need to print out next time…silly big fingers…

One article that has received a fair amount of attention the past couple days calls out disparities in physicians, most notably a quality of care gap favoring female physicians.

“Salaries for female physicians average some $19,879—eight percent—lower than male physicians. At academic hospitals, male physicians receive more research funding and are more than twice as likely as female physicians to rise to the rank of full professor.”

Justified by something, perhaps quality? Nah…

Female physicians actually tend to provide higher-quality medical care than males, according to research released today. If male physicians were as adept as females, some 32,000 fewer Americans would die every year—among Medicare patients alone.

An interesting find. I’m not a clinician, but were I to pursue that route I’d easily be a part of the higher paid statistic – I’m male. Not a part of this study, but I’m also white and tall, each giving me undeserved advantages, privileges. Something isn’t right about that.

But the interesting piece about the article isn’t just the observation that the pay gap is obviously undeserved. At the end of the day, it’s better for patients – they get better results. What is it that brings this about? Is it a communication style? Perhaps an intelligence level of the subset of women self-selecting into the field? Time spent with the patient? Compassion? Less ego?

It’ll be interesting to learn more as they dig in to this.

Until tomorrow,


Expressing Light

Day 25: Friday

Good morning Zak,

At the moment, I’m working on several musical compositions that set various poems from the dolce stil novo, a movement in Renaissance Italian poetry. Despite their antiquity, the poems are surprisingly resonant with contemporary sensibilities, and paradoxically I feel they are some of the most apropos texts I could have found to set at the present moment.

La dolce vista e ‘l bel guardo soave


In these compositions I am fixated on the expression of light and the universality of light and of the juxtaposition between darkness and light. I am structuring the texts in a metaphorical “tonal space” in a way that reflects my symbolist reading.

Ciò ch’i veggio di qua m’è mortal duolo


These illustrations are what I call “concept scores.” They are similar in function to graphical scores, except that they attempt to capture the overall poetic vision of the piece and not the music itself. The actual scores are written in conventional notation.

Although I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to visual art, I’ve found concept scores to be useful to me in several ways. In the case of these compositions, the main benefit of incorporating a visual medium is that it allows me to articulate my vision of light and spacial symbolism more concretely.

Li occhi dolenti per pietà del core


It’s hard to really capture the lyricism of the Italian poetry in translation. But just to give you a rough sense, I’ll try to translate a small passage from this last poem, which is by Dante Alighieri.

Beatrice has betaken herself to heaven,
on high in that dominion where angels are at peace,
and you, O ladies, are left bereft of her.
'Twas not the quality of chill nor fever
that brought her there, as many others falter,
but her benignity alone deprived us so;
for Light of her humility and lowliness
has pierced the very heavens with such virtue
that the Immortal Master is made to marvel—
such that sweet desire
obliges him to bid untimely salvation.

Dante’s Italian is an example of a kunstsprache, or “art language.” It is a purely literary language that cherry picks elements from different spoken dialects. It would have been very awkward and impractical to use in everyday speech, and I feel this justifies a stylized use of English when translating.

Maybe once some of these are performed I’ll share the recordings as well. We’ll see how the singers and instrumentalists feel.

Until Monday,