Trapped under something heavy

There’s a scene in a movie I love a lot, Rob Reiner’s 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, where Harry (Billy Crystal) leaves a voice mail for Sally (Meg Ryan) that goes like this:

If you’re there, please pick up the phone, I really want to talk to you. (silence)

The fact that you’re not answering leads me to believe you’re either: A.) Not at home; B.) Home, but don’t want to talk to me; or C.) Home, desperately want to talk to me, but trapped under something heavy.

By way of explaining why I’ve not been able to post anything here at Fish & Bicycles since last Thursday, I could paraphrase Harry’s Option C. I’ve just had another 4-day weekend, and as I wrote a week ago, coming back to work after time off can make one question the whole concept of vacations.

Of course, the truth is that the weekend was great and I did not have internet access, in a good way, the whole time. Lots of reading (a new genre for me, crime novels by Norwegian writer Karin Fossum), beach walks, bicycle rides, and afternoon tea.

Now, if someone would just pry this anvil off of me, I’ll soon get back to my daily virtual scribblings.

Plinky: Advice to my 16-year old self

( sends me an email everyday with a question meant to inspire a blog post. Occasionally I take the bait.)

Ok, I know, it’s terribly cliché, so Dead Poets Society and all that, but I LOVED that movie, and I really can’t think of anything that I needed to hear more than Carpe Diem when I was 16.

Regrets can be toxic, and here’s what Langston Hughes had to say about deferred dreams:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

And while I’ve been mostly free of festering, runny sores, and I certainly haven’t exploded, two things came to mind that I wish I had, at age 16, approached with a seize the day spirit.

Besides my family and friends, making music is the most important thing in my life, and yet most of the time all I do is make music, informally, recreationally, with my family and friends. I’ve been obsessed with music since I was just about my son’s age (12), and yet I didn’t start learning guitar seriously until I graduated college. I missed the opportunity to immerse myself in music while I was young and single and free, when I could have at least had a chance to realize my dream of being in a band.

The dream is not dead and I’m still working on being in a band and performing, but it would have been a HELL of a lot easier when I was younger, and I’d be a MUCH better musician by now as well.

When I was a senior in high school I already had serious dreams about traveling and I knew other people who did as well. Backpacking through Europe, for instance, was at the top of the list…and I still haven’t done it.

Some of the other people I knew who wanted to travel made it look easy. They worked hard to save up the money and then they took off and did it, starting a pattern they’d repeat again and again for years, making their way around the globe. For six months or so, it was all work and little play, two, sometimes three jobs. But that would be followed by six months of journeying to wondrous places.

I was too conditioned by my parents’ financial insecurities to follow my friends’ examples. It was too risky, you see, to take off and travel with no job to return to.

I’ve since been able to manage one significant solo trip — Israel & Egypt in 1996 — as well as some great trips with the family — Mexico, Hawaii, Jamaica, Costa Rica — and there are many years and many trips to come. Yet, there won’t be the twentysomething backpack trip to Europe. More likely, it will be a fifty or sixtysomething trip, which isn’t really the same.

Wilco Soul Revisited

Back in January, I wrote about my love of the band Wilco, the influence soul music has had on Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, and the exciting news that Tweedy was producing an album for legendary soul/gospel singer Mavis Staples.

Well, the album, You Are Not Alone, will be released September 14th, and Pitchfork has posted the track listing and a video of Mavis and Tweedy doing a cover of Credence Clearwater Revial’s Wrote a Song for Everyone. The album includes songs from a variety of sources — traditional gospel, Randy Newman, and Allen Toussaint, to name a few — as well as three Tweedy originals.

For now, here’s the Staples/Tweedy duet. Mavis’ performance is mesmerizing and moving and totally captures the pure joy of two people making music together. Bands are great fun, no doubt about it, but all you really need is one guitar and two voices for a transcendental musical experience.

Click on the photo to play the video:

The double-edged sword of vacation

It’s a tired old tale, but it’s true. Vacation is wonderful, essential, but the frantic work leading up to vacation, the effort to get everything in order so that, hopefully, things won’t fall apart while you’re gone, and then the catch-up game when you get back, threatens to overshadow the vacation itself.

I’ve been of the opinion for years that the problem lies in the dichotomization of our vacation and non-vacation lives. For people who don’t like their jobs, work has become something to be endured between weekends and vacations, rather than something you just do as a normal part of your life. Work, then, becomes something you do in order to earn vacation time, but many Americans are lucky to get 2 weeks of vacation out of 52 weeks in the year.

That’s awfully lopsided.

Even for people who love their jobs, the compartmentalization of vacation and work time still creates this situation where the effort planning for and then cleaning up after a vacation can dilute the very restorative effects that a vacation is supposed to offer.

Then again, I might just suck at time management and this whole theory of mine could be nothing more than a massive rationalization.

My goal today: To protect the following memories from my four-day vacation weekend.

  • Setting out from beautiful Horseshoe Bay on a B.C. Ferry, past Bowen, Gambier and Keats islands, and landing on the Sunshine Coast
  • Arriving at Roberts Creek, a village with a restaurant, cafe, general store, library, and not much else
  • Exploring the coast by car, bicycle and kayak
  • Returning to the mainland for a day in Vancouver, cycling around Stanley Park, swimming, tea, and unexpectedly enjoying a performance by SpandyAndy
  • Time with the family

Fish & Bicycles Out of Office

Heading to the beautiful Sunshine Coast of British Columbia for a long, 4-day weekend and can’t promise any new entries here until Monday, August 24th.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Video Fridays: Next time, Bolivia

While it was tempting to riff off of yesterday’s post and offer up Monty Python’s Spam sketch for this week’s Video Fridays installment, I’d rather go back to the day before that and post the classic scene from Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid that I referenced there.

I haven’t watched the film in years and seeing this clip makes me want to run out to the video store to rent it. I’ve seen it numerous times and I never tire of it. The chemistry between Paul Newman and Robert Redford raised the bar ridiculously high for the buddy picture genre, and this scene captures it perfectly.

The look Redford gives to Newman, that curt nod of the head, after he states that he doesn’t know how to swim, is priceless.

And so, without further ado:

Spam of the Day

About once a week I browse through my junk mail folder, just to be sure something important hasn’t been incorrectly designated as spam, and I have to say it’s what I’d imagine dumpster diving at a McDonald’s is like.

And yet, every once in a while, the subject line will stand out and make me chuckle.

Today’s was just such a case:

Your huge apparatus will grow

So, yeah, it’s funny, but it’s also a little sad.

After all, it doesn’t seem like a very good business plan to try and sell this product to men who already have a huge apparatus.