The Future Is Unstoppable – Death Throes Are Ugly & Scary

light-tunnel“I see the light at the end of the tunnel now…

Someone please tell me it’s not a train.”

~from “I See The Light” by Cracker

For the past six months or so, I’ve spent most of my writing time online using my Twitter account: @FishAndBicycles.

Now, some writers would argue that calling this “writing” is being generous, and there are times when I question it as well. And yet, ultimately I really do believe that there is a value to regularly writing these short, formerly 140 and now 280-character, compositions; forced, as you are, to trim the fat and think creatively about how to say a lot with a little.

BUT, there is one significant drawback of spending so much time on Twitter: the daily barrage of bad news can wear down even the most enthusiastic optimist.

Today started out as one of those days, it was really getting to me, the despair threatening to drag me down. I thought about reposting a post that I wrote back in October 2017 about reaching a saturation point and the impulse to hide one’s head in the sand.

But then, a thought — one I’ve had before and have hoped to explore in writing at some point — changed my direction. A thought that, on my best days, I can actually believe:

The Future Is Unstoppable

…and, the future, despite any appearances to the contrary, will be much, much better.

There’s plenty to complain about when it comes to Hollywood, but one indisputable fact is that movies and TV shows are steadily and increasingly presenting images of a diverse world populated by people of color, powerful women, and non-binary gender identities.

In other words, Hollywood is more reflective of the world we actually live in than it has ever been before, and it’s having a very positive, normalizing effect. Young people who are not brainwashed by bigoted families and communities see diversity and equality as the normal, positive state of things, they are more likely to stand up for and with people of color, to see women as fully equal to men, and increasingly LGBTQ young people are feeling safer and safer coming out and claiming the right to be their genuine selves.

This is the future.

Demographic trends prove it is unstoppable.

Death Throes Are Ugly

At the same time, those who believe in white patriarchal supremacy are trying to fight off the unstoppable, and they are resorting to increasingly brash and violent measures, pushing the boundaries of legal behavior or embracing outright lawlessness and authoritarianism.

But make no mistake. These are death throes. They are ugly, but they are futile.

On My Best Days

Anyway, as I said, that’s what I believe on my best days, and there are other days when these ideas are no solace at all.

“I see the light at the end of the tunnel now…

Someone please tell me it’s not a train.”

 

Trapped Under Something Heavy

There’s a scene in a movie that I love a lot, Rob Reiner’s 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, where Harry (Billy Crystal) leaves a message on an answering machine (remember those?!) 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.

All that’s to say that Fish & Bicycles has been quiet for quite some time because I’ve been figuratively trapped under something heavy:

  • Buying a house
  • Selling a house
  • 19-year old son moving out on his own for the first time

Yeah, heavy.

Nothing bad is happening, so that’s good, but not much time to blog.

Hopefully I’ll figure out how to fit blogging back into the routine sometime soon, probably after the house we’re in currently has sold, because I’m super excited about the new house and looking forward to sharing some creative projects we’ll be doing to the place and on the property.

Seeya soon!

 

Santa As A Role Model: The Dark Side

santa-clauseSo, there’s this Christmas movie starring Tim Allen called The Santa Clause, wherein Santa falls off of Tim Allen’s roof on Christmas Eve, he dies, his body vanishes, leaving behind the empty Santa suit, Allen’s son convinces him to put the suit on and fill in for Santa that night, only, by doing so, he unknowingly enters into a contract to permanently become the next Santa.

The next morning, Allen believes it had all been a dream, but very quickly his body starts transforming, he gains weight at an alarming rate, his hair turns white, and however often he tries to shave, the beard grows back, voluminously, overnight.

The movie is described as a comedy, but let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing funny when you, yourself, start transforming into Santa.

See, since Thanksgiving, I have been off the wagon of my low-carb diet, a grain-free and sugar-free regimen that has worked really well for me, effectively controlling my weight and reducing inflammation, keeping me energetic, healthy, and happy.

As a result of this lapse, and with ubiquitous, seductive, and decadent holiday foods everywhere I turn lately, um, let’s just say that I have put on some pounds.

Then, because I completely spaced out and didn’t participate in No-Shave November — the goal of which is to grow cancer awareness by not shaving or cutting hair, because cancer patients often lose their hair during treatment — I stopped shaving right before December 1st, figuring better late than never, and within days I remembered one of the reasons why I do shave: my facial hair is mostly grey/white now, and I look MUCH older with facial hair.

So…

Getting Pudgy + Grey/White Beard = Yikes!!!

Now, why can’t I just think of what a wonderful, generous, happy guy Santa is and enjoy the emerging resemblance? Why can’t I just emulate his Ho, Ho, Ho!!! attitude?

Well, at 52 years of age, I am face-to-face with the challenges of aging, aware that my physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing depend, more than ever before, on taking good care of the only body I will ever have, and sustaining a youthful attitude.

Yet, when I look in a full length mirror right now, particularly if I’m naked (my apologies for the visual), I’m clearly failing on both of those fronts.

Truth is, I honestly don’t know how I didn’t see this coming!

I grew up watching Santa Claus Is Coming to Town every year on television, wherein, in less than an hour, this strapping, fit young man…

santa-claus-is-comin-to-town-skinny

…balloons into this quadruple bypass waiting to happen:

santa-fat

That’s the subliminal setup for where I’m at right now!

Fictional Santa will of course continue enjoying the gift of immortality on a diet of milk, cookies, and egg nog, but it’s not really gonna work out so well for us mere mortals.

So please, for your own sake, don’t take after Santa.

Death Of Dystopia?

I’m pretty proud of a post I wrote back in May 2013 on the topic of dystopian fiction, and that post will explain the opinion I express in my tweet today.

Tweet of the Day: #RIPAlanRickman

Tough, tough week. First David Bowie, now Alan Rickman.

I’m sorry, Alan, that I’m unable to muster the time today to honor you as much as I would prefer, as much as you deserve.

All I have time to say is that I loved your work, from the first time I saw you in the 1991 film Truly, Madly, Deeply, through Sense & Sensibility, Galaxy Quest, the Harry Potter films, of course, Love Actually and Bottle Shock, just to name a few.

You always rang true, regularly stole scenes, showed us the human flaws in the villains you played, and did it all with panache.

Rest in peace Alan, and thanks for the memories.

Tweet of the Day: #StarWars

star-wars-wineFinally!

A substantive analysis of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

Also, it points the way to a very real solution for those who disliked the new Star Wars installment but passionately love the franchise.

Simply drink a glass for each suggested wine pairing in this article while re-watching the movie, and I guarantee that you won’t notice all those nitpicky things you complained about the first time.

Bon Appétit!

Tweet of the Day: #MontyPython

monty-python-grailI’m a HUGE Monty Python fan, and especially a fan of their 1975 film Monty Python & The Holy Grail, as I mentioned in a post this past June.

Today’s Tweet of the Day installment, for obvious reasons then, totally cracked me up!

It reminds me of all those brilliant fake letters from disgruntled viewers interspersed between skits in the Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV series, and truly reads like it was written by the Pythons themselves.

LOL!

Video Fridays: Nina Simone

nina simoneIf you, dear readers, have not yet seen the wonderful documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?, available on Netflix, I encourage you to check it out.

You must be prepared, however, as Nina Simone‘s story is a very, very sad tale. Even if you already know her story, the film will still be gut wrenching.

And yet, it’s the least we can do, to be witness to how racism and sexism pounded Nina, for despite those horrendous forces, she blessed us with the gift of her music, generations to come get to enjoy her music, all thanks to her monumental courage and perseverance.

Nina was not a perfect person, she was not a perfect mother, but she was a phenomenally talented musician and she pushed the boundaries of music and of what it means to be a musician, what it means to be a female musician, what it means to be a black female musician, and pushing the boundaries is rarely easy.

For today’s installment of Video Fridays, then, here’s a performance I’d not seen until I saw What Happened, Miss Simone?, and it completely blew me away. Nina’s Ain’t Got No, I Got Life, a medley of two songs from the musical Hair, is a powerful expression of the adversity Nina faced and the longing for freedom from that adversity.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Eyecatchers: Matthias Brown

matthias-brownAs anyone who spends a fair amount of time surfing the interwebs knows, GIF animations are quite a thing.

And while, in my experience, the vast majority of GIFs out there range from the trivial to the annoying, many amounting to nothing more than a short, looped video clip stolen from some movie or TV show, thanks to the always reliable Colossal, this morning I’ve discovered the work of Matthias Brown.

Brown’s minimalist drawings are set in motion using rotoscoping technique, which dates back to 1915.

I’ve always loved the simplicity of drawing, how it serves as the foundation for so much visual art, from sketch studies that evolve into fully-realized paintings or sculptures, or even storyboarding for movies. I remember, years ago, a friend who, having loved the early Pixar films, was inspired to become a computer animator. He was quite proficient with computers, but in order to get into a college computer animation program he was surprised to learn that he first had to take a number of classes in drawing, because he had no experience in it whatsoever.

Matthias Brown’s GIFs have an ephemeral informality that, paradoxically, makes them at once enjoyable as playful, standalone pieces, while also suggesting that they could be preliminary ideas for bigger works.

For this installment in my Eyecatchers series, here are some of my favorites:

traceloops-1

traceloops-2

traceloops-6

traceloops-4

traceloops-7

traceloops-8

traceloops-9

Video Fridays: R.I.P. Omar Sharif & How Lawrence Of Arabia Explains A LOT

Sharif_in_Lawrence_of_ArabiaSad news today, of the passing of actor Omar Sharif.

I can’t say that I’ve been a HUGE Sharif fan, having seen him in only a relative few of the movies in which he appeared.

And yet, one film that he was in, 1962’s Lawrence Of Arabia, is one of my all-time favorites, a stunning movie in just about every way: cinematography, acting, directing, writing, etc, but also stunning for how it inadvertently explains a LOT about how the Middle East became a nearly perpetual battleground, remaining so today, thanks to Western imperialist greed.

It would require nothing less than revisionist history to argue that the latter was not the case. The Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America, coupled with rapidly expanding European and eventual U.S. empires, led to a voracious appetite for fuel, oil was first discovered in the Middle East in 1908, and, big surprise, World War I broke out six years later, with the events of Lawrence Of Arabia occurring during that war.

Lawrence Of Arabia is deeply poignant, in that it tells the story of how the British exploited the people of what was then a region generally referred to as Arabia, sending T.E. Lawrence to build an alliance of Arab tribes to fight the occupying Ottoman Empire, promising that the Arabs would then have full autonomy in the region, only to betray those promises under their secret Sykes-Picot Agreement with France, which divided up Arabia into “spheres of influence and control”.

For today’s Video Fridays installment, then, in honor of the late, great Omar Sharif, I’ve chosen a pivotal scene from Lawrence Of Arabia, the moment when the friendship between Sharif’s Sherif Ali and Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence was solidified, with Lawrence’s sharing of his background, and culminating in the burning of his British uniform, symbolic of oh, so much.