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!
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”
- “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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first half of the show was performed in original Beatles regalia, while the second half was in Sergeant Pepper”s attire.
Kudo’s to Toppermost for a great show!
One of my favorite activities while traveling is to make an effort to see the Chinatown friendship gates in cities that I visit. Among those I have personally observed are the friendship gates in Boston, Chicago, Sacramento, and San Francisco. From a human scale, Boston’s is hard to beat and San Francisco’s is certainly iconic, but the gate in Washington, DC’s Chinatown (just east of the intersection of H & 7th Streets) is simply stunning for its overall beauty, size, and artistic intricacy.
Walking out of the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station, the friendship gate immediately captures your attention and holds it tight. It is quite an impressive visual treat. Next time you happen to be visiting our Nation’s capital, hop on the Metro and stop to take a look at the city’s Chinatown friendship gate – it’s worth the trip! Cheers!
While traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike on our way to Washington, DC last night we stopped at the Midway Service Plaza in Bedford. This recently updated plaza included a very interesting display on the history of the turnpike, Americas first superhighway. Numerous artifacts and collectibles were presented in the diorama.
Among them, was an intriguing display about a superhero I had never heard of or seen before – Turnpike Man! Who knows what adventures Turnpike Man dealt with – filling potholes with a single shovel full; clearing/melting snow with a single breath; stopping runaway semis on steep mountain descents; holding back rock slides; or combatting his evil arch nemesis – the Toll Troll (I made that up).
So the next time you are traversing the Keystone State, keep an eye to the sky, for Turnpike Man may zip past on his way to performing superhero good deeds.
Betcha’ none of the guys from Big Bang Theory has a Turnpike Man!