Oh dear, more Tosa Turkey drama!

Here in my old-school Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa the turkey drama continues. Now the flocks are dogging delivery trucks and pestering/threatening delivery drivers. I remember watching aggressive peacocks at the zoo about this time of year when my kids were little. The only time I’ve ever seen so many peacock tail feathers in full NBC “living color” spread, like little satellite dishes surrounding the poor beleaguered females. Mating season, apparently. Could that be what’s happening with the turkeys right now? Or are they finally beginning to recognize their collective power and assert new dominance over their Tosa dominion? Here’s a link to a local television news story.


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Happy Accident

An accidental photo I took of a carpet. Not really sure how it happened, and it’s blurry because my hand was moving. (I intended to take a picture of a faraway sign so I could then enlarge the photo and read the small print on the sign, LOL 😂 )

Instead I got this rainy-day, impressionistic image and decided I kind of liked it.

Posted in Creativity, Photography | Tagged , | 6 Comments

I can change my life!

I woke up before my alarm today. With faint morning light warmly hinted at through closed eyelids and still in that drowsy, relaxed process of awakening, I slowly became aware of a thought running through my consciousness. A thought fully articulated in one continually looping, complete sentence:

I can change my life.

CC BY-SA 3.0, Nick Youngson (http://www.nyphotographic.com/), Alpha Stock Images (http://alphastockimages.com/)

It’s like I was hearing someone else saying it, except it was also kind of me. You know how dreams can be so strange and sometimes a person will somehow be two people at the same time. Or you’re talking to someone in one place but then as the dream moves on, you realize that this place is also some other place. Or maybe it became some other place but the transition happened without you noticing, except that it didn’t really change, because it’s still that other place, too. I love how dreams occur in a world governed by quantum physics, LOL.

Now, if I were living in the Old Testament, hearing a voice like this would probably mean that God was speaking to me and I was about to become a prophet. However, as I’m living in 21st-century Milwaukee, a more likely scenario is that I was halfway between wakefulness and sleep and somehow thinking I was conscious but not actually there yet.

Here’s something interesting, though. About twenty minutes later, as I was drinking my first cup of coffee, checking the weather forecast, and playing Wordle ( 🙂 ), that sentence kept popping into my head.

I can change my life.

And then the whole time I was in the shower, that recurring refrain switched over to sort of a call-and-response thing.

You can change your life.

I can change my life.

And then a whole series of calls/responses in which different words were emphasized.

YOU can change your life. I can change my life.

You CAN change your life. I CAN change my life.

You can CHANGE your life. I can CHANGE my life.

You can change YOUR life. I can change MY life.

You can change your LIFE. I can change my LIFE.

Okay, this was starting to be a little weird. Usually my shower time is spent planning out various things I’m going to do that day, so I’m not exactly sure why all of a sudden this morning I’d be thinking about how I can change my life. I’m actually pretty happy with how my life is, thank you very much.

But, upon reflection, I suppose my life is not ideal. (Whose is?) And maybe it would be better if a few things were different. So I’m going to work on improving those areas.

Because apparently I can change my life!

And I’m guessing that you can, too 🙂

Posted in Creativity, Life | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

A chance encounter with “Tubular Bells”

Heard this old song on the radio driving home today. It has literally been YEARS since I’ve heard it or even thought about it. The song, “Tubular Bells,” was released in 1973 and went on to be used as the theme song for “The Exorcist,” which added a very spooky over layer to the melody.

The artist was Mike Oldfield, who was only 20 YEARS OLD when the album was released. He played almost ALL the instruments (recorded via overdubbing). No record label would pick up the album (of the same title) because it was all instrumentals, no vocals. Then Richard Branson, who was just getting Virgin Records started, gave Oldfield a chance. The rest, as they say, is history. And apparently this album, in particular this song, played a major role in establishing Virgin Records’ success in the music industry. Who knew? Not me before today! 😀

You can read more in the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tubular_Bells

And you can listen to the song below. It still gives me chills!

Posted in Creativity, History, Media studies, Movies and film, Music, Popular culture | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

One final allusion in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

I’ve never seen anyone comment on this before, but doesn’t the series of arches in the final moments of O Brother, Where Art Thou? remind you of the series of axe heads (the ring holes) that Odysseus (aka Ulysses, the main character’s name in the Roman version of the epic poem Odyssey, and also George Clooney’s name in this movie very much based on that poem) shoots an arrow through just before he slaughters all of Penelope’s suitors? I’m doing class prep for my film and media studies class, which (yikes!) meets in 20 minutes, and one of the clips I’m organizing in the queue is this fabulous behind-the-scenes look at the digital color-grading intermediary technique pioneered by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins in this film. (Included below in case you’d like to watch.)

Anyway, that reminded me of the film’s ending moments’ allusion to the Odyssey, which, again, O Brother is based on, and which, as I also said above, I’ve been disappointed never to have seen anyone talk about, because I thought it was really cool.

First, here is the “contest of the bow” as it appears in the 2017 film Troy: The Odyssey. When Odysseus finally makes it home to Ithaca 20 years after leaving to fight the Trojan War, no one recognizes him except his dogs (those must have been some remarkably long-lived dogs!). His wife, Penelope, is beset by suitors who are harassing her to marry one of them in order to gain ownership of Odysseus’s kingdom. Penelope finally says she’ll marry whoever can string her husband’s bow and shoot an arrow through the holes of 12 axe heads (rings in this movie, but holes in the axe blades in the poem). None of them can do it. Then Odysseus, the recently-arrived stranger (as they all believe him to be), asks to do it and, well, see for yourself. He gets that bow strung with brute strength and then sends his arrow sailing right through the series of rings.

Now check out the series of arches from the end of O Brother, Where Art Thou? echoing those rings (axe heads).

Don’t you agree that this long passageway of multiple arches has to be a deliberate allusion to the ending of the Odyssey? And before I run off to class, here’s a longer take of that ending (in case you’d like to watch it 🙂 ). Bye!!!

Posted in Movies and film, Popular culture | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Live feed of a California bald eagle nest

One year when my kids were younger, a local television station (PBS?) carried a live feed of a bald eagle nest in northern Wisconsin. One of our favorite things that spring was checking on the nest before heading out the door to school.

Well, today I stumbled upon a live feed of a nest in California, apparently somewhere near Big Bear Lake (as the feed is titled “Big Bear Bald Eagle Live Nest Cam”). Big Bear Lake is in southern California, east of Los Angeles, east of Riverside and San Bernardino. The background scenery is gorgeous!

Hopefully this YouTube link will continue working to carry the live feed for a while. There’s something very peaceful about watching a nest. All is still, with just enough occasional activity to provide interest. If you could use a few moments to calm your mind, why not try gazing at these eagles beside the lake?

Posted in Creativity, Nature | Tagged , | 5 Comments

“You’re alone.” (Further thoughts on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine)

Just saw breaking news that Moldova and Georgia have filed applications to join the European Union. This coming just a few days after Ukraine made its own urgent application to join. Not to mention on the heels of an ever-lengthening list of sanctions, condemnations, and actions taken by non-state entities (like Disney, Boeing, BP) against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

You know what this reminds me of? That scene at the end of 12 Angry Men, where the bad-tempered messenger service guy is finally completely isolated from the rest of the jurors and painfully, angrily alone in his insistence on a guilty verdict. Just replace Lee J. Cobb with Putin and all the other jurors with the rest of the world. Not a perfect comparison there, but I sense something similar in the way Lee J. Cobb lashes out from the impossible corner he’s boxed himself into.

Henry Fonda handles Cobb’s capitulation so beautifully, from his calm declaration of checkmate (“You’re alone.”) to the compassionate moment where he takes Cobb’s jacket from the hanger and helps him into it just before leaving the jury room.

I sure hope there’s a Henry Fonda out there capable of guiding Lee J. Cobb toward both correct verdict and final exit.

Posted in Movies and film, Political Analysis, Popular culture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Charlie Behrens, Midwest Storyteller Extraordinaire

Check it out! Charlie Behrens filmed his “2 Types of People in the Parking Lot” video at the grocery store where I often shop.

Did you notice the yellow-green awnings from these photos I took a few months ago. Behrens lives kind of near me, and it’s fun to recognize familiar locations in his videos.

And who is Charlie Behrens, you may ask if you’re not from the Midwest? Well, that’s hard to explain. But basically he’s a guy who stumbled into creating a fabulous Wisconsin character who embodies all the oddities about ourselves that were never completely on our radar until he noticed them and turned them into comedy.

“Husbands of Target” was the first video of his that I ever saw. This is a couple years old now.

And here is one of my favorites, “Midwest Siri.” It’s pretty self-explanatory and definitely has enough of a Midwest flavor to communicate what so endears him to everyone with ties to Wisconsin! ❤️

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Linking to an old (2017) but freshly updated post about SCTV’s “CCCP 1” episode and today’s crisis in Ukraine

I noticed that this old post was getting lots of views tonight, so I decided to go in and check on whether the embedded video was still live. Nope. So I found some new clips and also added some commentary about what is currently happening in Ukraine. Then I thought why not share a link to this old but still relevant (and newly updated) post—FIVE years old already, which I can’t believe is how far away we are from 2017!!!

Posted in Political Analysis, Popular culture, Television | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Some insights on Ukraine from social media activity

It’s very interesting to see the roles played by social media in this Ukraine crisis. We see protests occurring in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We see English-language TikTok video messages of support for Ukraine from Russian citizens. We get instantaneous reporting from Ukraine. We have watched President Zelensky’s speech video, in which he speaks directly to the Russian people, hoping they will see.

And most interesting to me, we can see many experts in urban warfare sharing strategies with citizens of Kyiv so that they know what to do, how to fight and survive, if/when Russian troops arrive.

Here’s one of the Twitter threads I’ve found most compelling, from John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point:

Posted in Media studies, Political Analysis | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment