Video Fridays: Mountaineering, Monty Python & My Son The Rock Climber

jclimbing2It’s been WAY too long since I wrote about My Son The Rock Climber!

That’s him six years ago, age 12, in the lede photo here, climbing on the wall we built for him in his bedroom. By the time this photo was taken, he’d been climbing for about six years, he’d joined a local youth climbing team six months earlier, and a year later he qualified for the national championships!

Well, while My Son The Rock Climber, now age 18, no longer competes, he still climbs and is AMAZING!!!, he works as a route setter at a local climbing gym, and when he climbs he looks like this:


In some ways, not much has changed. In other ways, EVERYTHING seems to have changed.

Anyway, last night he and I went together to the 10th Annual Reel Rock Film Festival, a collection of short films about rock climbing and mountaineering. It was inspiring for him, but it was terrifying for me.

See, while I’ve been super supportive of My Son The Rock Climber’s climbing for years, and while I know that the vast majority of climbers are hyper-safety-conscious, the Reel Rock films are chock full of some of the most intense, dangerous climbing you can imagine, and the thought of My Son The Rock Climber somewhere like, let’s say, 2,000 feet up the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, fills me with anxiety and dread.

For now, he’s solely interested in the relatively safe form of climbing known as bouldering, consisting of difficult, technical routes typically no more than 20 feet high.

But last night he expressed an interest in ice climbing, a component of mountaineering, and the film that focused on mountaineering, A Line Across The Sky, the most terrifying of the evening, was about two climbers who climbed this:


That’s Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Argentina, and the two climbers were and thankfully still are Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold.

For Video Fridays, then, I thought I’d spread the terror around a bit by posting the trailer for A Line Across The Sky, encouraging you to seek out and see the whole film, which, beside being terrifying, is absolutely gorgeous to look at and an inspiring story of human dedication, perseverance, and achievement.

Following that, I’ll share what I turned to for relief from the anxiety at the thought of My Son The Climber ever doing anything remotely that dangerous.

At least one of the members of Monty Python had to have been a mountaineering enthusiast, because mountain climbing featured prominently in three different skits from their Flying Circus days, and the technical terms peppered throughout make it clear that they knew what they were talking about.

Here now, then, the serious and not-so-serious side of a very dangerous activity.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Tweet of the Day: @TheOnion

Because Monday.

The Pros:

Reinert said the values Bisquick sought to embody in the design of the campus are the same that drive the company itself: simplicity, freshness, quality, and fun. To that end, Bisquick added many communal facilities, including a full-size saltwater swimming pool, 10 onsite pancake bars stocked with organic fruits and various flavors of syrup, a Japanese zen garden hand-constructed in Kyoto and reassembled on campus, and a weekly lecture series at the grounds’ 2,000-seat amphitheater featuring speakers such as futurist Michio Kaku, fiction writer Stephenie Meyer, and former British prime minister Tony Blair.

The Cons:

While many in the area have hailed the arrival of Bisquick, some longtime residents—wary of higher rents and the company’s famously insular corporate culture—have expressed skepticism.

“Bisquick is just another one of these Silicon Valley behemoths that moves in and totally changes the community—and not for the better,” said local resident Peter Watson, who noted that the land used for Bisquick’s indoor rock climbing wall used to be open park space that the city sold to help attract the company. “When I moved here in the ’80s, it was all students and families; now, my whole street is nothing but Bisquick millionaires in their electric cars and luxury penthouses.”

“My neighbors and I have complained to the city council, but with Bisquick’s deep pockets, there really isn’t anything we can do,” Watson added. “I guess we just have to put up with it and hope that, sooner or later, this pancake bubble bursts.”


Oh, England. You’re No Fun Anymore!

monty-python-copIf you are a heterosexual guy and you reached puberty when I did, in the 1970s, and you were lucky enough, as I was, to have a public television station that, late at night, would play reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus , not only were you introduced to some of the best comedy ever produced, but you could also catch precious, hormone-stirring glimpses of female … um … as the Pythons would say, naughty bits, such as the image here, taken from one of Terry Gilliam‘s amazing and hilarious cutout animations.

If you were extra lucky, as I was, you had another channel available to you, like WOR TV 9, that, also late at night, played reruns of a second British comedy program, The Benny Hill Show, which contained rarer bits of nudity, but plentiful moments of scantily clad women.

Consequently, my impression of England and British culture was that it was more liberal and open-minded than it was here in the U.S., and I loved them for it!

Disappointing then, to come across this item in today’s New York Times:

Ad for Rolling Stones Exhibition Banned from London Underground

A poster for the coming Rolling Stones exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London — showing a bright pink tongue on the front of a pair of women’s underwear — has been banned from the London Underground until adjustments can be made to make it less explicit.

Here’s the image from the poster:


Really, England?!

The Rolling Stones have been raunchy for decades, while becoming one of the greatest bands in the world, and you’d be hard-pressed to prove that they are in any way to blame for any perceived decline of the United Kingdom.

Let’s face it, you’re no fun anymore!

Tweet of the Day: @RainnWilson

meditation-flipboardI’ve mentioned numerous times here at Fish & Bicycles that I dabble in Buddhism (one example), and I’ve tried to sustain a regular meditation practice off and on for many years, so it’s fair to assume that I think very highly of the process.

And yet, Buddhism and meditation are highly susceptible to suffering at the hands of New Age pretension, and meditation has notoriously been stripped of its religious and spiritual origins as of late, and co-opted as a productivity tools for businesses.

I use and mostly enjoy the iOS app Flipboard on my iPhone, and like other news aggregators, when you first setup the app you enter general topics you are interested in so that Flipboard knows what kind of content to push to you. Sadly, however, the vast majority of articles I see on Buddhism, meditation, or spirituality look like the one in the screenshot provided here.

Well, all that’s to say, as much as I continue to aspire to living a more spiritual life and to sustaining a daily meditation practice, there are days when the spirituality industry gets to me, it’s been getting to me quite a bit lately, and so when I came across today’s Tweet of the Day installment, posted by one of the funniest guys around, Rainn Wilson, it just totally hit the spot.

Rainn tweeted the following video titled F*ck That: A Guided Meditation by Jason Headly, whose short film titled It’s Not About The Nail is one of the funniest-whilst-insightful comedy bits on couples I’ve ever seen.

(Disclaimer: F*ck That: A Guided Meditation is laced with profanity, and may therefore be offensive to some and/or NSFW for others.)

Headline of the Day: Threats To Male Genitalia, Part II

pacuA few weeks ago I posted a Headline of the Day installment, featuring an article in British newspaper/website The Guardian, with the cringe-inducing headline: Penis transplant patient to become a father

Well, I don’t know what it is with British newspapers, but they seem to have a very specialized interest in threats to male genitalia, evident by this latest cringe-inducing headline from another UK newspaper/website:

Testicle-munching fish species found in US lake

The Telegraph


You gotta love the drama they’re reaching for here:

A species of fish best-known for attacking human testicles has apparently invaded America.

It’s an invasion!!! Protect your reproductive organs! Run!!!


And could they have picked a better photo to accompany the article? I think not! Coupled with the following bit of information, it makes for a very effective argument that men should avoid these fish at all cost!

I know I will!

“The pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite, there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where some men have had their testicles bitten off…”

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.