Video Fridays: The Sapphires

The_Sapphires-posterIt’s been several weeks since I saw the wonderful film, The Sapphires, at Bellingham’s own art house emporium The Pickford Film Center, and I just can’t stop thinking about it.

I went into the experience with few expectations. The brief description I’d read gave me the impression that it would be a fairly lightweight, feel-good, possibly a little silly movie. BUT, man, take four Australian aboriginal gals with amazing voices, introduce them to a washed-up white soul musician played by Irish comedic actor Chris O’Dowd, and then take the show to Vietnam in 1968 to entertain American troops and you’ve got one dynamic, fantastic film!

As I’ve mentioned several times before (Just two examples: Post 1, Post 2), I LOVE Soul music. It has become my go-to genre when I’m burned out on nearly every other type of music, I eventually get fatigued by everything else but I can always come back to Soul music.

So, it’s Video Fridays, and thanks to The Sapphires, I’ve got some wonderful Soul music to share, first a clip from the film, with the gals doing the 1968 Linda Lyndell tune What A Man, then a sampling of the soundtrack in the trailer.

Seriously, see this movie if you can, whether in the theatre or at home. It’s a gas!

Enjoy, and Happy Weekend, everyone!

Tweet of the Day: 80-year Old Does Everest

VERY inspiring story of oldest man to summit Mt. Everest, 80-years old, broken hip two years ago, heart surgery this past January…

…the excuses for becoming a decrepit old fart are running out.

Best of Fish & Bicycles: Slow Down and Slow Bike

Originally Published: August 3, 2011


Just came across a fun piece at treehugger.com that introduced me to the Slow Bicycle Movement:

Copenhagenizing Has Another Name: The Slow Bike Movement

We have talked about “Copenhagenizing“, Mikael Colville-Anderson’s term for learning to ride bikes like they do in Copenhagen, in street clothes, at a comfortable pace, usually without a helmet. Andrew Sullivan points us to the American version, where it has become part of the Slow Movement, and is now called Slow Biking.

The whole blog post and the pages it links to are totally worth the time to read, and it all really resonated with me.

Often, when I tell people that I ride my bicycle to work everyday, I’m asked if I’m into road cycling or mountain biking. And, when I answer that I’m not, they seem perplexed. For some, it’s hard to understand why anyone would ride a bicycle just for purposes of transportation. For them, cycling is all about getting stronger and stronger, going farther and farther, getting faster and faster, either or all of those. For them, that kinda thing is fun, and I respect that. (I think of my friend and fellow blogger Mike McQuaide, who does things like riding up the last eight miles of Mt. Baker Highway four times in one day, at a total elevation gain of 9,200 feet. Just.Wow.)

For me, however, while I was quite the athlete and participated in numerous sports when I was younger, I’m no longer interested. I absolutely need and want exercise, I desire to be healthy and active. But, commuting to work on my bicycle or cycling around town on errands, hiking (not mountaineering) to a modest peak or ridge for a nice view, or paddling a kayak on calm or, at most, lightly-choppy water, keeping an eye out for harbor seals, is my idea of fun, and the fact that it just happens to be good fitness is merely icing on the cake, to use a terribly incongruous figure of speech.

There’s this guy I know, who also commutes by bicycle to our workplace at Western Washington University, a campus situated atop a fairly substantial hill, he’s considerably older than me, and I didn’t think it was possible to pedal as slowly as he does on the hill without gravity pulling him back down.

And yet, he doesn’t appear to be laboring at all. Rather, he seems to be completely at peace and content, no matter the weather, day in and day out, and when I occasionally see him locking up his bike on campus in the morning he’s not breathing hard and he looks like he hasn’t broken a sweat.

It seems to me that in these modern times, in this, to borrow a phrase from Douglas Coupland, accelerated culture, the slow bicycle movement can bring some balance to one’s life. You don’t have to commute to work every day, or any day for that matter. All you have to do is get on your bike and ride, slowly, and breathe normally, take in your surroundings, smile at the people you pass by, stop to say hello even, or ask them to join you.

Now, if I could only leave my house about 10 minutes earlier everyday, I could practice what I’m preaching and not have to rush to work, inevitably arriving sweaty and gasping for breath.

It really is so very Zen.

Fish & Bicycles Celebrates 500+ Followers!

celebrateFor a non-professional blogger like me, celebrating milestones is a real treat.

While we might not earn a paycheck for broadcasting our creative impulses over the interwebs, we do earn the enormously gratifying attention of those whom we manage to inspire to visit, read, like, comment, and follow us.

Since I started Fish & Bicycles in October 2009, I’ve had the great fortune of celebrating these modest achievements:

And now, today, I have the immense pleasure of celebrating yet another momentous milestone:

follows

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I truly am honored and grateful for every single visitor.

At the same time, I feel I must repeat my humble apology, stated originally in a post from February 2012, my regret that I am unable to respond to every single Like and Follow that I get, much less reciprocate by visiting the blogs of those who have so graced me, that I might Like and Follow in return.

A regrettable shortage of hours in a day make it so, I’m afraid, so if anyone can lend me a device that can stop time, I’d be happy to rectify this situation.

Once again, thanks!

Don’t Mix Reggae With Taxes: A Poem

reggaeDon’t Mix Reggae With Taxes

reggae
no worse music
in April
while doing one’s taxes.
a torturous cognitive dissonance
a juxtaposition of
lilting Caribbean rhythms
conjuring lush tropical beaches
jerk chicken, rice & beans
washed down with
ice cold Red Stripe beer
a big, fat spliff
and a psychedelic sunset
against
a ghastly spreadsheet
a blizzard of receipts
a puzzle of numbers
a labyrinth of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo.
nothing easy ’bout this skanking.

Jimi Hendrix, Korean Style

jimiSo, a friend of mine posted the following video of a young Korean woman, Luna Lee, playing Jimi Hendrix‘s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) on a traditional Korean stringed instrument called a gayageum, this morning and it just…

…blew.my.mind.

In fact, it blew my mind so thoroughly, especially affecting the language centers in the left hemisphere of my brain, that it’s making it difficult for me to fully express my thoughts on this video.

Suffice to say, the timing is very interesting.

Back in February, on a little getaway to Portland, Oregon, my wife, son and I stopped into a Japanese art gallery, where the gracious host, without our asking, played some beautiful traditional music for us on a Japanese koto, which is a VERY similar instrument.

Then, just this past weekend, my family and I, who have hosted foreign exchange students in our home for many years, welcomed into our home for the first time a student from Korea.

Anyway, I’ll get my mind back eventually, but, in the meantime, here’s the video (though I dare not watch it myself again right now, or else I’ll be fairly useless today), as well as a clip of Jimi doing the original.

Enjoy, but don’t plan on being functional for a while afterward.

Tweet of the Day: #TheLazarusFrog

 

gastricbroodingfrogOk, so this is freaky on several different levels:

  1. That there was ever actually such a thing as a “gastric-brooding frog,” a formerly extinct species that incubated their eggs in their stomachs and gave birth through their mouths. Holy crap!
  2. That scientists have brought these formerly extinct frogs back to life.
  3. That, regardless of how disgusting their method of reproduction is, the tiny baby frog in the mommy frog’s mouth in the photo here is actually kinda cute.

Fascinating to think about the implications of this development, the ethics behind bringing back extinct species, whether or not this is a dangerous slippery slope on the way towards scary CGI action-adventure movies, or worse, the real thing.

Quadrophenia & “The Universal Adolescent Problem”

QuadropheniaWhen I was a sophomore at Rutgers University, I read an article in the school newspaper that mentioned an album that was very near and dear to my heart, The Who‘s 1973 masterpiece Quadrophenia.

And, because I was a serious music geek, obsessed with Rock & Roll on a scholarly level, and because I was majoring in English literature, writing papers on a nearly constant basis, I sat down at my typewriter and pounded out a letter-to-the-editor in response to the piece I’d read. Only, instead of the few column inches typical for this sort of thing, page after page after page spilled out, with at least a dozen quotes, transcribed from memory.

It was classic me at the time. I put considerably more effort, my heart and soul really, into that letter than I did into the paper on Shakespeare or something that I should have been working on. It also took me a fraction of the time.

Well, much to my surprise, the letter was published in its entirety, as a full-on article, which was a terrific thrill and an enormous boost to my confidence as a writer. (So, I guess it was probably a good thing, after all, that I was procrastinating that Shakespeare paper.)

One of the reasons why that piece on Quadrophenia was so easy to write was because that album spoke to me and touched me so deeply. Though it was written all the way across the Atlantic, about people and events in a totally different culture, set right around the time I was born, its writer, Pete Townshend, had communicated the essence of what it’s like to grow up, how difficult and confusing and painful it can be, and, as it turns out, though 20 years and many cultural changes had come and gone since the fictional events depicted in Quadrophenia had taken place, so much of the coming-of-age experience had stayed the same, filled with all of the pressures to leave the innocence of childhood behind, to fit in, to get a job and keep it, and to find, if you’re lucky, sometimes against seemingly insurmountable odds, love.

In the video below, a documentary about the making of the album, The Who’s manager, Bill Curbishley, referred to this theme that Townshend had so accurately portrayed as “the universal adolescent problem”.

Anyway, as a father of a 15-year old son, I can see my boy wrestling with this universal problem just like I did, I can see him struggling mightily at times, and in some ways it’s more painful than when I went through it. Parents like me want so badly to protect our children from this kind of thing, and when we see it happening, regardless of our hopes and efforts, we not only feel the pain that our kids are feeling, we feel anger at the world for bringing it upon them, and sometimes anger at ourselves for having failed to protect them from it.

So, you might wonder, if this universal adolescent experience is so painful, why would we want to listen to an album on such a painful subject?

Thing is, one of the things that can happen at this time of our lives is tremendous isolation, born from a sense that we’re the only ones going through it. We look around, everyone’s putting on their brave faces, posing their asses off, no one’s talking about their feelings and about how difficult it is to keep up this pretense.

When you hear Quadrophenia, then, it breaks through that isolation, letting you know that you aren’t alone, that you aren’t the only one to have experienced the difficulties you are experiencing, and there’s great relief and comfort in that. Add to this the intense, powerful, pulsing rock music of The Who, and the album becomes a vehicle for this catharsis, this release valve for all the pressure that’s been building up.

I very nearly owe my life to Quadrophenia, and so having stumbled across this documentary on the album was a real treat for me, stirring up considerable memories.

I hereby dedicate this post to my son, who has inherited my vinyl record collection, including Quadrophenia, and I hope that it provides as much comfort and inspiration to him as it did for me.

Tweet of the Day: @GOOD: Hawaiian Street Art

I want to go to there!

I want to go to there!

We’re in a stretch of weather, here in Bellingham, Washington, where rainy days are greatly outnumbering sunny days, and despite the fact that green is exploding on the no-longer-hibernating flora, crocus and daffodils are popping with color, and cherry trees are starting to bloom, all welcome signs of spring…

…I know a handful of people who have been in Hawaii these past few weeks, and so I’d still rather be there right now, just for a little getaway, really, just a little one will do.

Anyway, as if I haven’t heard enough from my friends about their wonderful island times, the following tweet led to the following video, shot in Hawaii.

It really is stunning! Enjoy.

Bellingham’s Coal Train Blues: China, Please Hurry Up!

Coal_TrainIt’s been over a year since I last wrote about the ongoing battle over coal happening here in the Pacific Northwest, where efforts are underway to build multiple shipping terminals to send millions of tons of coal to China, with one of the terminals proposed here, at a site just north of my Bellingham, Washington home.

Ironically, and perhaps fortuitously for us here in Bellingham (via Bloomberg.com):

China Drives Record Solar Growth Becoming Biggest Market

The $77 billion solar-energy industry is forecast to expand the most since 2011, as China becomes the biggest market for the first time and drives annual global installations to a record…

China, after building scores of factories that helped cut panel prices 20 percent in the past year, is poised to become the biggest consumer of the devices after doubling its 2013 target for new projects in January…

China, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is forecast to unseat Germany as the largest solar market in 2013… Projects have multiplied as the nation provides financial support to its solar companies in a bid to diversify the coal-dependent energy industry.

The Chinese government expects 10 gigawatts of new solar projects in 2013, more than double its previous target and three times last year’s expansion.

Tripling their solar implementation in one year! THAT is good news, whether your hometown is threatened by coal or not.

The latest on the proposed shipping terminal: The backers of the project, SSA Marine and Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad, will have to conduct a thorough study of environmental impacts, resulting in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that they will have to submit to the local, state, and federal government agencies (aka Co-Lead agencies) overseeing the project. The Co-Lead agencies will study the EIS and either approve or reject the building of the terminal. The scoping of the EIS — identifying exactly what impacts must be studied and reported on — was recently conducted, via a series of statewide public hearings and an open comment period. 124,000 comments were submitted.

It’s unclear how long it will take for the government agencies to review all of the comments and to announce the scope of the EIS, but it is estimated that the EIS will likely take two or more years to complete.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if China’s rush to liberate itself from its coal dependency resulted in a severe enough decline in demand that the building of the shipping terminal would ultimately be cost-ineffective?

One can hope, can’t one?