Tweet of the Day: @TheOnion

Given my recent post waxing nostalgic and all sentimental on the subject of fatherhood, including references to the common fears that seem to come with the job…

…this TOTALLY cracked me up!

Reason #258 Why I Love Bellingham: Elf Karate

Little known fact: J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was a martial arts practitioner, and in 1967, still obsessed with the world of Middle Earth he’d created for his books, he traveled to Bellingham, Washington, where he’d heard his books had a cult following, and there he founded his own, very specialized school of Karate.

elf-karate

Church Mountain Wildflowers

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The Elusive Bearded Spruce

  

Video Fridays: Father’s Day Weekend Edition

Me & Julian, Father's Day, 2013
Me & Julian, Father’s Day, 2013
Since I likely won’t be able to post anything on Father’s Day this Sunday, and since my son, Julian, is now 17-1/2 years old and his days in the nest are painfully dwindling away, I thought I would dedicate today’s Video Fridays installment to him, for I wouldn’t be a father if he hadn’t come along.

Today’s video, Ben FoldsStill Fighting It, featuring touching homemade-movie-esque footage of Ben and his son Louis, and lyrics about the experience of fatherhood, on one hand, and growing up, on the other, never fails to choke me up.

The song was released in 2001, when my son was about the same age as Louis, and as much as I’ve loved and cherished some aspect of every age Julian has attained, there was something particularly special about that age, when walking wasn’t so new and treacherous, when verbal communication was beginning to get easier thanks to a growing vocabulary, when the innocence and infinite sense of wonder of childhood was in full bloom, when playing was so much damned fun, and when simply holding hands as we strolled in public felt like I had an umbilical cord connecting me to an infinite pool of love.

Being a parent is an experience of extremes. There’s the infinite pool of love and the unbridled joy of play, but there’s also the anxiety concerning the future, the fear of terrible things happening to your child, the frustration when your child has the gall (wink) to remind you that they are an actual person, with the right to self-determination, the pain you feel when they feel pain, the excruciating guilt you feel for the mistakes you’ve made raising them, particularly when they pick up any bad habits that you have been unintentionally modeling for them, and the emptiness at the thought of them one day flying the coop.

Ben Folds captures this all so perfectly:

Everybody knows
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
And you’re so much like me
I’m sorry…

It was pain
Sunny days and rain
I knew you’d feel the same things…

You’ll try and try and one day you’ll fly
Away from me

Somebody get me a hanky, stat!

Anyway, it might seem that that list I wrote above, of the goods and the not-so-goods, suggests that the not-so-goods far outweigh the goods, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When you love someone as deeply as you love your child, you never, EVER see it that way, you would NEVER prefer the alternative — losing your child, or not ever having had a child. You just hope that the Buddhists are right, that if we practice mindfulness awareness we can be totally present for them despite our fears, and if we practice non-attachment we can celebrate their departure when they come of age, feeling satisfied and sustained by all of the years of glorious memories, and excitement for the possibilities that life will present to them.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Vinyl Records Are Magic!

recordplayerWAY back in December 2009, in a post titled Nostalgia: Vinyl Records Edition, I wrote about a trip with my son to a local eatery, an eatery known as much for their Russian dumplings as they are for the record player and vast vinyl record collection they have in the main seating area, available for use by customers.

In that post, and in a subsequent follow-up titled Vinyl Update, a year later, I described how my son, 12-13 years old at the time, discovered the joy — dare I say magic? — of vinyl records at that restaurant, and then at home, when I purchased a used turntable and dusted off my collection of 200 or so LPs.

Well, it seems I’m not alone in finding vinyl record technology to be magical.

Casey Chan, over at Gizmodo.com, in a post yesterday on this subject, wrote:

I don’t care that I supposedly understand how vinyl records work because I still totally think they’re the work of at least some low level sorcery. Trapping sound and music and voices? Come on!

Sorcery indeed! I mean, just look at this GIF footage of a record player’s stylus traveling through the groove in a vinyl record, as seen through an electron microscope:

vinyl-at-work

What the what?! That makes music come out of a speaker, filled with instruments and voices, melodies and rhythms?

That’s some crazy magic!

Casey also includes a 9+ minute video that explains how the footage was shot and how vinyl record technology works, you can watch it if you want, but I chose not to, agreeing with Gizmodo reader JoshMC in the comments section:

Don’t anyone try and explain it, it’s all magic to me. Dark sorcery? Yeah…

The Jurassic World-Jaws Connection

jurassic_worldSo, I went with friends to see Jurassic World this past Saturday, helping it smash the opening weekend box office record, despite my declaration back in December 2012 that I’m not a fan of the AmusementParkRideIfication of movies.

What can I say? I was in the mood for some unapologetic eye candy.

Anyway, while I knew going in that Steven Spielberg — Director of the first two Jurassic Park movies and Executive Producer of the third — was the Executive Director of Jurassic World, what I never expected was such an explicit thread connecting 2015’s Jurassic World and Spielberg’s second film and breakout blockbuster hit from exactly 40 years ago, 1975’s Jaws.

There are two references to Jaws in Jurassic World (spoiler alert!):

  1. In a fairly early scene in the movie, we see a Sea World-esque exhibit at the Jurassic World amusement park, where a Great White shark is lowered over the water to lure a gigantic Mosasaurus to burst through the surface, into the air, and swallow the shark whole.
  2. At the climax of the movie, our heroes are trapped, and the youngest among them, the middle school dinosaur savant, recites the line, “We need more teeth.”

The first reference is obvious enough. They could have used any number of very large animals as bait for the Mosasaurus, but they chose a shark.

The second reference, however, may not be as obvious, but I recognized it immediately, because it refers to one of the most oft-quoted lines from the heavily quoted Jaws.

As seen in the clip below, Roy Scheider‘s Martin Brody, upon seeing the shark up close and personal for the first time, reports to Robert Shaw‘s Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Both “We need more teeth.” and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” suggest that more of something is needed for the characters’ survival, and they both foreshadow the climaxes of their respective movies.

In the case of the former, the line gives Bryce Dallas Howard‘s Claire the idea to let the Tyrannosaurus Rex out of its paddock to fight the Indominus Rex, allowing them to escape. In the case of the latter, the boat does indeed prove to be too small, rammed and torn apart by the Great White, killing Quint, and nearly killing Brody and Richard Dreyfuss‘s Matt Hooper.

Coming full circle, back to my declaration about the AmusementParkRideIfication of movies, I’m inclined to stand by that characterization, but I feel like, in the two and a half years since I made that declaration, I no longer feel like condemning such movies outright.

Thoughtful, more cerebral films continue to be made, and as long as the amusement park ride is fun, which Jurassic World decidedly is, why should I complain?