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.

Best of Fish & Bicycles: Father Time is a sadistic bastard

Originally Published: November 3, 2009



It seems that at just about every turn these days Father Time is rubbing it in my face that I’m getting old.

Consider the following list of recent reminders that I turned 45 in August:

  • A friend emailed me to report that he’s hearing late-era songs by The Who, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and U2 on an Oldies radio station in New York. (These stations were like the soundtrack to the movie American Graffiti when I was growing up. I don’t know what’s worse, that Oldies stations have changed or that my friend listens to Oldies stations.)
  • As I wrote last week, I just attended an actual U2 concert, but what I didn’t say then was that I could not believe how many old-looking people were there. (I reassured myself that I looked much better, much younger, than my peers, but am I just in denial?)
  • At the very same U2 concert, the opening act was the Black Eyed Peas, a hip-hop group that appeared to be enormously popular, judging by the crowd’s reaction, judging by their singing along and screaming out their approval. Black Eyed Peas has been together nearly a decade and a half, they’re internationally famous, they’ve sold millions and millions of records… and I didn’t know one song.
  • Yesterday I read in the New York Times that a Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs closed after only one week, shocking the playwright and critics who gave it good reviews. The article contains this quote: “To that end, if ticket sales before the critics’ reviews were any measure, Mr. Simon struck many people as passé.” (I watched the TV show The Odd Couple, based on Simon’s play and movie, religiously in reruns when I was growing up, and I loved his autobiographical stage and film trilogy of Brighton Beach, Biloxi Blues, and Broadway Bound. And now it’s passé. Oy.)
  • I work at a university and have a 12-year old son, meaning that, on a daily basis, I am reminded about just how little I know concerning the latest music, fashions, TV shows, movies, video games, lingo, behaviors, etc.

My new goal is to live long enough to hear Death Cab For Cutie on an Oldies radio station.

Best of Fish & Bicycles: My kingdom for a deli!

Originally Published: April 15, 2010


If you are Jewish and not a vegetarian and you gaze at this photo and don’t start salivating uncontrollably, then you probably don’t have a pulse either.

As I wrote during Passover, I’m not much of a Jew in religious terms. But damn! I read an article today in the New York Times that stirred something Jewish deep inside of me.

My stomach.

Can the Jewish Deli Be Reformed?

New delis, with small menus, passionate owners and excellent pickles and pastrami, are rising up and rewriting the menu of the traditional Jewish deli, saying that it must change, or die. For some of them, the main drawback is the food itself, not its ideological underpinnings.

So, places like the three-month-old Mile End in Brooklyn; Caplansky’s in Toronto; Kenny & Zuke’s in Portland, Ore.; and Neal’s Deli in Carrboro, N.C., have responded to the low standard of most deli food — huge sandwiches of indifferent meat, watery chicken soup and menus thick with shtick — by moving toward delicious handmade food with good ingredients served with respect for past and present.

Excuse me, but what exactly is indifferent meat?

I don’t know about this revolution in Jewish delis, because I do know that one of the positives of having been raised Jewish is having been introduced to the joys of a corned beef, pastrami, cole slaw, and Russian dressing on rye bread sandwich, with a crisp kosher pickle on the side. There is NOTHING indifferent about that!

Bellingham does not have a Jewish deli, and I’ve been living here long enough (17 years), so thoroughly distracted by the magnificent natural beauty, dynamic community, a family, and a career that I’d managed to completely forget the waves of pleasure that would course through my body at the first bite into that sandwich and the pickle chaser. But one read through that Times article and a look at the accompanying photos brought it all back, and I feel the loss from every day of every week of every month and of every year that I’ve been without this food of my people.

Since Shakespeare’s been on my mind lately, let me put it this way: If Richard III was Jewish and had been deprived of corned beef and pastrami and pickles for 17 years, while he might have been concerned that justice was closing in on him in the battle of Bosworth Field, he absolutely would have given his kingdom for a deli rather than a horse.

Much Ado About Shakespeare

Full disclosure: I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in Shakespeare, a fact intended, not as conceit, but rather quite the opposite, to perhaps explain the obvious, that what you are about to read is decidedly NOT the product of a master’s or doctoral degree.

I just happen to love Shakespeare, purely as a consumer and appreciator of drama, comedy, poetry and theater.

Now, there’s this new movie coming out, Anonymous, and it has fixed a spotlight on a debate that has been raging since the middle of the 19th century, as to whether or not a man named William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon actually wrote the legendary plays and poems attributed to him.

The film is based on the Oxfordian Theory, which holds that the actual author of the Shakespeare canon was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. It’s a pretty audacious claim, strenuously refuted as having no basis in any actual evidence.

So, I poked around, read arguments for and against, watched an enjoyable if too brief debate between two scholars with opposing opinions, watched a video by the director of Anonymous, Roland Emmerich, who lists his 10 Reasons Why Shakespeare Was A Fraud

…and then I watched this:

…and I knew instantly that I had to see it.

Sure it’s sensationalist. But, it seems to me that that is exactly what Emmerich unapologetically intended it to be. His 10 Reasons video starts off with titles and voiceover that state, “The director who brought you Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, and 2012, now brings you…Shakespeare!”

Then there’s a quick cut to a cartoon of a Shakespeare monument, with birds chirping, and lute music, and it’s pretty obvious that Emmerich is coming right out and admitting that it’s a bit odd that someone known for making blockbuster action adventure movies, drenched in special effects, would be making an historical drama period piece.

Sure it’s sensationalist, but it also looks like great, great fun!

The scholars will go on debating this for eternity, or until long-lost and conclusive evidence is discovered that definitively proves one side or the other, whichever comes first. In that context, claims that Emmerich & Co. are dangerously trying to re-write history ring hallow to me.

On the contrary, the very controversy contributes to the making of a great story loaded with juicy dramatic potential.

With all it’s royal court intrigue, swapping of identities, and violent consequences at every turn…

…why, it’s downright Shakespearean!

My kingdom for a deli!

If you are Jewish and not a vegetarian and you gaze at this photo and don’t start salivating uncontrollably, then you probably don’t have a pulse either.

As I wrote during Passover, I’m not much of a Jew in religious terms. But damn! I read an article today in the New York Times that stirred something Jewish deep inside of me.

My stomach.

Can the Jewish Deli Be Reformed?

New delis, with small menus, passionate owners and excellent pickles and pastrami, are rising up and rewriting the menu of the traditional Jewish deli, saying that it must change, or die. For some of them, the main drawback is the food itself, not its ideological underpinnings.

So, places like the three-month-old Mile End in Brooklyn; Caplansky’s in Toronto; Kenny & Zuke’s in Portland, Ore.; and Neal’s Deli in Carrboro, N.C., have responded to the low standard of most deli food — huge sandwiches of indifferent meat, watery chicken soup and menus thick with shtick — by moving toward delicious handmade food with good ingredients served with respect for past and present.

Excuse me, but what exactly is indifferent meat?

I don’t know about this revolution in Jewish delis, because I do know that one of the positives of having been raised Jewish is having been introduced to the joys of a corned beef, pastrami, cole slaw, and Russian dressing on rye bread sandwich, with a crisp kosher pickle on the side. There is NOTHING indifferent about that!

Bellingham does not have a Jewish deli, and I’ve been living here long enough (17 years), so thoroughly distracted by the magnificent natural beauty, dynamic community, a family, and a career that I’d managed to completely forget the waves of pleasure that would course through my body at the first bite into that sandwich and the pickle chaser. But one read through that Times article and a look at the accompanying photos brought it all back, and I feel the loss from every day of every week of every month and of every year that I’ve been without this food of my people.

Since Shakespeare’s been on my mind lately, let me put it this way: If Richard III was Jewish and had been deprived of corned beef and pastrami and pickles for 17 years, while he might have been concerned that justice was closing in on him in the battle of Bosworth Field, he absolutely would have given his kingdom for a deli rather than a horse.

What’s in a name?


That which we call a Shakespeare play, by any other name, would…

…smell.

Via Paste:

    Royal Shakespeare Company Uses Twitter to Retell Romeo and Juliet

    Yesterday, England’s Royal Shakespeare Company began “”Such Tweet Sorrow,” a modern-day retelling of “Romeo and Juliet.” RSC actors will spend the next five weeks updating Twitter accounts as members of the Montague and Capulet clans, responding to each other and audience members alike in a production that RSC’s Artist Director Michael Boyd tells the BBC he hopes will “allow our actors to use mobiles to tell their stories in real time and reach people wherever they are in a global theater.”

Listen, I’m ok with social media. I have Fish & Bicycles linked with Twitter and Facebook accounts, so that everything I post here automagically gets posted there as well.

And I’m not an uptight Shakespeare purist. While I did a concentration in Shakespeare as part of my B.A. in English at Rutgers, I could still appreciate Baz Lurhmann’s crazy modern send-up, Romeo + Juliet.

However, even though I might be using Twitter and Facebook to market this blog, I don’t really participate in those communities with much regularity, and so, as I look at the actual Twitter page for “Such Tweet Sorrow,” much of the appeal is lost on me because I don’t quite get Twitter culture.

So, is it fair for me to judge so harshly, to say that “Such Tweet Sorrow” smells, not like a rose, but, rather, like any unpleasant odor one might think of, just because I’m a 45-year old Twitter ignorant?

Perhaps Shakespeare was talking about people like me when he wrote:

For you and I are past our dancing days.

Father Time is a sadistic bastard


It seems that at just about every turn these days Father Time is rubbing it in my face that I’m getting old.

Consider the following list of recent reminders that I turned 45 in August:

  • A friend emailed me to report that he’s hearing late-era songs by The Who, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and U2 on an Oldies radio station in New York. (These stations were like the soundtrack to the movie American Graffiti when I was growing up. I don’t know what’s worse, that Oldies stations have changed or that my friend listens to Oldies stations.)
  • As I wrote last week, I just attended an actual U2 concert, but what I didn’t say then was that I could not believe how many old-looking people were there. (I reassured myself that I looked much better, much younger, than my peers, but am I just in denial?)
  • At the very same U2 concert, the opening act was the Black Eyed Peas, a hip-hop group that appeared to be enormously popular, judging by the crowd’s reaction, judging by their singing along and screaming out their approval. Black Eyed Peas has been together nearly a decade and a half, they’re internationally famous, they’ve sold millions and millions of records… and I didn’t know one song.
  • Yesterday I read in the New York Times that a Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs closed after only one week, shocking the playwright and critics who gave it good reviews. The article contains this quote: “To that end, if ticket sales before the critics’ reviews were any measure, Mr. Simon struck many people as passé.” (I watched the TV show The Odd Couple, based on Simon’s play and movie, religiously in reruns when I was growing up, and I loved his autobiographical stage and film trilogy of Brighton Beach, Biloxi Blues, and Broadway Bound. And now it’s passé. Oy.)
  • I work at a university and have a 12-year old son, meaning that, on a daily basis, I am reminded about just how little I know concerning the latest music, fashions, TV shows, movies, video games, lingo, behaviors, etc.

My new goal is to live long enough to hear Death Cab For Cutie on an Oldies radio station.