If the movie “Wild” is half as good as the book…

Here’s the trailer for Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. The movie is the screen adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s marvelous book of the same name. Easily the best book of 2013, Wild should be amazing on film, particularly under the direction of Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyer’s Club). Cannot wait!

Temples enshrine the psychedelic era…and more

Temples_-_Sun_Structures - wiki

“Sun Structures” – Source: en.wikipedia.org

I discovered Temples listening to Impact 89fm – Michigan State University’s student radio station when they played the richly 1960’esque “Shelter Song.” As the first track on their debut full-length album, Sun Structures, the song aptly introduces Temples and a whole new generation to the amazing guitar riffs and rhythms of great bands like The Byrds, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, early Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, and even in one song reminiscent of Heart. While this may sound like sincere flattery and a case of imitation, Sun Structures is also refreshing in its own right – for one it’s a hell of a lot better than most music being released today. It also exudes mesmerizing guitars.  Some may claim guitar rock is dying and/or dead – it sure isn’t when you listen to this album!

The great classic psychedelic rock sounds emanating from Sun Structures evoke memories of songs we Baby Boomers cut our teeth on and is far more enjoyable to listen to than the bass-thumping headaches of rap, the bubble gum schlock of modern pop, or the overtly corporatize and partisan blather of most modern country music.

For a band that formed just two years ago, Temples are a polished, poised, and immensely talented foursome from Kettering, England. So much so, that in 2014 they have already played SXSW, Coachella, and Glastonbury, with Lollapalooza next on their plate.

Sun Structures is my favorite new album to date in 2014 (Beck a close second). It contains 12 songs spread over 53 minutes – a welcome length compared to so many recorded sprint sessions. Of the dozen formidable tracks, my favorites include:

  • “Shelter Song”
  • “Keep in the Dark”
  • “Sun Structures”
  • “Mesmerise”
  • “A Question Isn’t Answered”
  • “Move with the Season” – a guitar riff eerily similar to “Love Alive” by Heart
  • “The Golden Throne”
  • “Sand Dance” – reminds me of Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
Who's Next - Source: en.wkipedia.org

“Who’s next” – Source: en.wkipedia.org

Lastly, I have got to say something about the album cover. Not only is it an uncanny reminder of Who’s next, but it is one of the coolest covers I have ever seen from an architectural and historical standpoint. According to the band’s interview on KEXP radio, Rushton’s Triangular Lodge, shown on the cover, is an historic structure built in 1593. Wow! – the building alone is worth a visit for architectural and historical junkies. Given its placement on this debut album, its place in British history has been secured for many centuries to come.

Beware of the weekend sign gremlins

Even notice how a plethora of yard signs suddenly pop-up like dandelions at street intersections on Friday evenings, only to disappear by Monday morning? Those are the result of gremlins putting up signs when they know full well that building or zoning enforcement offices are closed over weekends.

Source: everywheresignsusa.com

Source: everywheresignsusa.com

The same often holds true for portable signs, a-frame signs, banners, flags, streamers, and other sorts of gaudy advertising. Fortunately, when Monday morning rolls around these signs have slithered back into the dark recesses, only for the whole process to repeat itself the following Friday.

Unfortunately, while they are in place, these often illegal signs are quite unsightly and can be a danger to visibility at intersections if improper placed or over-sized.

Short of having enforcement officers working overtime on weekends, policing such activities isn’t an easy task. Perhaps a good civics lesson is one option, but it is doubtful that will have a major impact in the long haul. The legal process may have a far greater impact, if those injured in accidents as a result of visibility constraints from these illegal signs were to take the gremlins and/or the firms who advertise on the signs to court. Not the most efficient way to regulate bad behavior, when all it may lead to is the signs being moved away from street corners.

Any other ideas/suggestions on how to handle the weekend sign gremlins would be welcome.

The searing imagery of “Rush”

Source: politiken.dk

Source: politiken.dk

Kathy and I watched Ron Howard’s latest film, Rush last night. It’s a terrific film (and true story) that deserved many more awards and kudos than it received. Far better than stupidly decadent Wolf of Wall Street or the mind-numbing American Hustle, Rush was a full body rush of energy, faced-paced images, and searing imagery.

The steadfast courage and inner strength portrayed by Daniel Bruhl as Formula One champion Niki Lauda to overcome a horrifying fiery crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix will inspire viewers and makes this film far more memorable than most of the schlock that dominated Hollywood last year. Go see/rent this film, for it deserves multitudes of accolades. You will also develop a great appreciation for Niki Lauda.

“The Gentleman From Finland” gets derailed

Source: goodreads.com

Source: goodreads.com

I really wanted to enjoy this book. The image of riding the Trans-Siberian Express across the width of the Soviet Union is a fascinating concept. Given how much I enjoyed Robert Goldstein’s more recent book, Riding with Reindeer, I figured this one would be loads of literary fun. It starts out that way, but in the last quarter of the book, it loses steam quickly and he gets caught up in too many dream sequences. It was almost like the author was not sure how to conclude the book, so he derailed the project instead. Don’t get me wrong, there are some quite enjoyable parts to The Gentleman From Finland, but in the end it falls flat leaving the reader wanting a more complete and descriptive travelogue and less tangential side tracks into the abstract.

Endangered Kirtland’s Warbler Recovery: What Now?

Rick Brown:

Interesting!

Originally posted on The Outdoor Journal:

Kirtland's Warblers are at their all-time high in Michigan. Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Kirtland’s Warblers are well above recovery goals in Michigan. Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

By Howard Meyerson

Michigan’s endangered Kirtland’s Warbler appears to be well down the road to recovery. More than 2,000 singing males were reported in Michigan’s 2013 Kirtland’s Warbler census. That was the second consecutive year that the population was double the federal recovery goal of 1,000 singing males (breeding pairs)—a world away from 1967 when the bird was added to the federal Endangered Species List, or when its populations reached record lows in 1974 and 1987 and only 167 were found.

While the warbler’s rebound is reason for celebration, federal and state wildlife officials and Michigan’s conservation community remain concerned about its future. Successful recovery brings talk of removing it from the Endangered Species list, a decision that places the gray-blue and yellow warbler at a crossroad with respect to its future survival.

“This is…

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Mirroring the Beatles in tribute

Kathy and I had a chance to see Michigan’s top-ranked Beatles tribute band, Toppermost last night. They were excellent. Close you eyes and you’d swear you were listening to the original band, even the British accents while talking to the audience.

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The first half of the show was performed in original Beatles regalia, while the second half was in Sergeant Pepper”s attire.

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Kudo’s to Toppermost for a great show!

 

Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did.

Rick Brown:

I love “Calvin and Hobbes” and love this story!

Originally posted on Pearls Before Swine:

Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning.

He is legendary. He is reclusive. And like Bigfoot, there is really only one photo of him in existence. 

Few in the cartooning world have ever spoken to him. Even fewer have ever met him.

In fact, legend has it that when Steven Spielberg called to see if he wanted to make a movie, Bill wouldn’t even take the call.

So it was with little hope of success that I set out to try and meet him last April.

I was traveling through Cleveland on a book tour, and I knew that he lived somewhere in the area. I also knew that he was working with Washington Post cartoonist Nick Galifianakis on a book about Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson’s art.

So I took a shot and wrote to Nick. And Nick in turn wrote to Watterson.

And the meeting…

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Utility infrastructure does not have to be ugly

This electrical substation in suburban Chicago (Elk Grove Village) is an excellent example of how, with a little effort, utility infrastructure can be designed to be aesthetically pleasing and blend well with its surroundings. Well done!

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