Happy New Decade!

A year ago today I explained how the media was jumping the gun with the various Best of the Decade features they were trotting out — two examples: Rolling Stone, Salon — and I compared these premature reflections to the Y2K Bug hype in 1999, when the media would have had us believe that the end of the second millennium would occur on January 1, 2000.

Let’s review:

There is no Year 0, so the first decade of the first millennium ended on January 1, 11, after the first ten years B.C.E. had been completed. Therefore, the first millennium ended on January 1, 1001; the second millennium ended on January 1, 2001; and the first decade of the second millennium ends tomorrow, January 1, 2011.


And yet, sure enough, if you browse the headlines in the media outlets via Google News, there are no reflection pieces this year on the true end of the first decade of the 21st century…

…um…wait…I stand corrected.

The Hindustan Times and Tom’sHardware.com are on it!

Ok. Enough. (Please understand, as I mentioned last year, I’m Left Brain Challenged. And so, on the rare occasion when I seem to be in the minority of people who understand some kind of mathematical concept, I can’t help but shout about it.)

I’d like to wish everyone out there a very Happy New Year, and even though I just did so a week ago, I’d like to thank you all for stopping by Fish & Bicycles, whenever you can manage. I look forward to keeping the blog entries coming as often as possible through 2011 and beyond.


Understanding Life

I know this has been posted for years all over the interwebs, but I just came across this quote from John Lennon today:

Plinky: Desert Island Album?

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

This morning’s Plinky asks that maddening, old chestnut: If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?

And, rather than fall into the obvious trap, trying to answer a question that can often paralyze a person with indecision, a question that so fills a music lover with anxiety that he forgets that, if he was on a sinking ship or crashing landing in an airplane in the vicinity of a desert island, he would of course have his iPod, containing hundreds of albums, along with a solar-powered charger and earbuds in a waterproof container, on his person, hence rendering the sadistic question moot.

Seriously, I’ve fallen for this before, I’ve blown hours and hours trying to think of the “one album”, and if not the one album the Top 5 or Top 10, and fortunately I learn from my mistakes and won’t go there anymore.

Still, just the other day, my 13-year old son, Julian, reminded me that I promised him over a year ago that I’d buy a turntable so that he could explore the 200 or so vinyl records that I’ve had stored in our basement, untouched, since before he was born. As I wrote about at the time, we had just visited a Bellingham institution, the wonderful hole-in-the-wall, late night eatery Pel Meni, and Julian, for the first time, got to see vinyl records in action, on the turntable they offer up for use there to any customer who wishes to make a selection from their extensive collection.

Embarrassingly, I never kept my promise, but Julian was recently given a vintage copy of The Who’s Quadrophenia as a gift, and although he already has the album on his iPod, ripped from my CD, he wants to play his record and try out the other records in my collection with a renewed sense of urgency.

And so, we’ll soon be off to Goodwill and checking Craigslist for a used turntable, and then, just maybe, one of those glorious old records of mine might take me so thoroughly back down memory lane, reminding me of just how sweet that old scratchy analog sound is, that I’ll decide that there is one album amongst them that could keep me happy for the 40-50 more years I plan to have left on this planet. (After that, of course, I’ll for sure have my iPod in heaven, so I’m covered.)

Eyecatchers: Scott Stulberg

This guy‘s photography is jaw-dropping stunning…

…a few Sport Illustrated swimsuit model shots notwithstanding.

The Slinky still inspires

While Inhabitat doesn’t mention the Slinky in it’s piece on a Russian architectural firm‘s new “Ark” hotel concept, featured in the slideshow here, there really is no doubt about the resemblance.

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Now, the Slinky was never one of my favorite toys. Call me ADD, but I could only stay entertained for so long by making the Slinky walk down the stairs or from hand to hand. And, when you tried to make the Slinky do more than it was intended to do, it inevitably became irreparably tangled and headed for the landfill. (Note: Wikipedia insists that a tangled Slinky can be untangled, but let’s face it, by then it doesn’t really matter, does it?)

As for this “Ark” hotel, while I admire the sustainability elements, the fact that it was designed to be an autonomous biosphere and to float in anticipation of rising sea levels due to global climate change really rubs me the wrong way. Inhabitat‘s tagline is Design will save the world, and I’d prefer designs that attempt to prevent a climate catastrophe rather than those preparing for one as if it was an inevitability.

Out of Office: Holidays Edition

Not that I have a Fish & Bicycles office per se, as I tend to blog from wherever I happen to perch with my netbook on any given day, but it’s fair to say that I will not be blogging much, if at all, over the next few days, as I head to Seattle today to celebrate Christmas with the in-laws.

I would like to wish happy holidays to my family and friends and anyone else whom I consider myself fortunate enough to call a reader. I deeply appreciate it whenever you take the time to stop by this little creative outlet of mine.


Lyric of the Day: Dave Matthews

Last year I explained my slightly complicated relationship with Christmas, so you won’t find me complaining that holiday songs have been streaming through our house pretty much non-stop for the past few weeks.

I’m a real sucker for traditional carols or jazzy songs like Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, but I don’t really care for many of the contemporary additions to the repertoire.

That said, there’s one contemporary song that really moves me — Dave Matthews’ Christmas Song.

Now, I’m no Christian, but I do appreciate some of the messages Christianity brings. And to me, those enduring messages, messages that transcend humanity’s often flawed attempts to live by and share those messages, are beautifully captured in Dave Matthews’ telling of the Christmas story.

Simply put, the message that I most connect with is the message of love, and it is this love — the love of Mary for Joseph and vice versa, the love of the wise men for the baby Jesus, the unconditional love Jesus had for the “less than refutable” Mary Magdalene and his disciples: gamblers and robbers, drinkers and jokers — that Matthews weaves into the heart of the song. The refrain toward the end — Father up above, why in all this hatred do you fill me up with love — always makes me choke up, a stark reminder of just how difficult it can be sometimes to sustain love, so difficult that even Jesus famously asked why he was so forsaken.

She was his girl; he was her boyfriend
She’d be his wife and make him her husband
A surprise on the way, any day, any day
One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy
The wise men came, three made their way
To shower him with love
While he lay in the hay
Shower him with love love love
Love love love
Love love was all around

Not very much of his childhood was known
Kept his mother Mary worried
Always out on his own
He met another Mary who for a reasonable fee,
less than reputable was known to be.

His heart full of love love love
Love love love
Love love was all around

When Jesus Christ was nailed to his tree
Said “oh, Daddy-o, I can see how it all soon will be
I came to shed a little light on this darkening scene
Instead I fear I’ve spilled the blood of our children all around”

The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children’s all around

So I’m told, so the story goes
The people he knew were
Less than golden hearted
Gamblers and Robbers
Drinkers and Jokers, all soul searchers
Like you and me
Like you and me

Rumors insisted he soon would be
For his deviations
Taken into custody
By the authorities less informed than he.
Drinkers and Jokers all soul searchers
Searching for love love love
Love love love
Love love was all around

Preparations were made
For his celebration day
He said “eat this bread and think of it as me
Drink this wine and dream it will be
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children’s all around
The blood of our children all around

Father up above, why in all this anger do you fill
Me up with love, love, love
Love love love
Love love was all around
Father up above, why in all this hatred do you fill
Me up with love, fill me love love love
Love love love
all you need is love
you can’t buy me love
Love love love
Love love
And the blood of our children’s all around

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Jack The Chair

Discovered a great industrial design website today — designboom — and found this really cool chair by French designer Arthur Bodolec.

The Jack Chair concept converts from a simple box “stool” to a chair with armrests, and does it with style.

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Now THAT is wireless!

Funkin’ Up The White Stripes

Back in September I wrote about my love of interpretative art, specifically the art of the cover song, and today I came across a cover that totally knocked my socks off.

I had one of my favorite Pandora stations playing — Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings — which offers up a tasty selection of soul and funk tunes, when a familiar riff came through an otherwise unfamiliar song by an unfamiliar artist.

And when it finally registered where I’d heard that riff before, when it finally registered that this was a cover version of a song I’d never expect to hear on my Sharon Jones station, a HUGE smile came across my face.

A well-done cover song almost always has that initial impact — the pleasure of hearing a fresh take on something you know so well. But when that novelty wears off and you notice that it’s not only a fresh take but a really, REALLY good song in and of itself, well, then it’s rather magical.

I’d never heard of Alice Russell before today, but she sure got my attention and I look forward to exploring her music further. That said, I have most certainly heard of The White Stripes and their song Seven Nation Army, so without further ado, here’s Alice’s funky cover followed by the original.

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