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Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka

 

A Wrestling Life on the Ropes

 

**Award-Winning Short Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the 1970s, everybody arguably believed wrestling was real.

By the 1980s, people suspected the outcome of the matches were predestined, but they didn’t care because the grapplers were so damned entertaining.

One such star, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, was arguably the best wrestler of his time.  That’s saying a lot when you consider he came up through the ranks at a time when names like Hulk Hogan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, “Ravishing” Rick Rude and countless others also did, all vying for the same spotlight of fame.

Snuka is a one-man highlight reel.  After winning the Mr. Waikiki, Mr. Hawaii and Mr. North Shore bodybuilding titles early on in his life, Snuka set his sights on pro wrestling and shot to the top of the wrestle mania charts. 

Whether it was jumping 15 feet off the top of the steel cage in 1983 at Madison Square Garden, settling ‘feuds’ with others in the ring, or being on the receiving end of a coconut smashed against his head by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Snuka made his mark in the wrestling world by putting his body on the line, night in, night out.

Jimmy could fly off the top turnbuckle higher and faster than any wrestler ever seen.  He was supposed to be a villain, but everyone loved the guy.  He was the underdog.  And an entertaining one at that.

From a childhood of abuse in the Fiji islands to his rise in the ring, divorce, cocaine addiction, and the mysterious death of his girlfriend, Superfly Snuka endured– barefooted, in leopard print tights, and with a matching bandanna for the roaring and adoring crowds of fans in the stands.

That was then, this is now.  His children, a son and daughter, have grown up to become pro wrestlers themselves.  He teaches and mentors young wrestlers entering the game. has written a book, and raises money for causes and charities whenever he can.  He likes to sign autographs for young fans while touring the B circuit of state fairs and carnivals.

But like a bloom that has come off the rose, Jimmy sees his glory days as fading.  He’s older now; slower, mellower, and in constant pain from years of abuse in the ring.

But, in true Superfly style, Jimmy refuses to give up and throw in the towel.
“I have to fly for the fans,” he says.

From Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story, he reflected on his highflying career:

 

“The word fear is not a part of my vocabulary.

Growing up in the Fiji Islands, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, and eventually Hawaii, I was never afraid. Danger means nothing to the Superfly.

I live my life to the max without giving much thought to how dangerous something can be or how impossible it might be.  I make the impossible possible—I always have, long before I jumped off the top of the steel cage at Madison Square Garden.

I can’t tell you how many times I used to dive off cliffs as a kid.  I loved birds.  I’d always look up to the sky, and I was fascinated with them.  I wanted to know how it felt to fly. 

My whole career I’ve soared like an eagle, brah!  As a kid I would dive off boats and cliffs and yell “Superfly!”  That’s how I got my name.  It was only natural that when I needed a gimmick as a wrestler, I used something from my childhood.

I wanted to swing tree to tree, just like my idol, Tarzan.  I remember in Fiji, my mother, Louisa, would take my brother, Henry, and me to the movies to watch Tarzan, and I wanted to be just like him.  Oh man, I loved that guy right away.  

I remember telling her, “I want to be like that man.”  When you see me in the ring today or on video, you’ll notice I always wear a headband and leopard print as a tribute of sorts to Tarzan.  I often wore shells around my neck as a tribute to my culture.  I also went barefoot, just like he did.  I admit, though, that I didn’t wear boots in the ring partly because no one from the islands wants their toes to be trapped in a pair of anything other than flip-flops.

When I got into the wrestling ring, I’d swing rope-to-rope and perch myself on top, just as I did as a kid on those cliffs.  Everything just came so natural.  I was an explorer and the islands were my playground, my education… my everything.

Like Tarzan, I never could sit still. I always need to be moving, and I need to be in the ring locking up with somebody and feeling the energy of the crowd.

I love the fans.  Everything I’ve ever done is for them.  That’s what makes my life these days so hard and extremely frustrating.  Feeding off my fans made all the pain go away, bruddah.

But as I’ve gotten older and the matches have gotten fewer and fewer
over the years, the pain has caught up with the Superfly.

I can honestly say I haven’t been 100 percent for ring action in many years.  Like I said, I masked the pain.  I tried not to see how swollen my body was after each show.  I pretended everything was okay, and that it didn’t bother me.  I ignored the pain.  Each time I’d work an independent show and couldn’t get to the top rope to do my signature Superfly leap, it reminded me how hurt I really was.

There were way too many times I had to do it from the second rope, or worse, the first rope.  I didn’t like that.  My wife, Carole, told me fans didn’t notice, but I knew they did.  That’s what they came for — to watch me fly!

I’m 68 years old as I write this, but all this pain has had nothing to do with getting older.  Yes, maybe the years took their toll, but never my ability.  I never wanted to be without wrestling.  I always needed to be in the ring.  That’s my home, bro.

Sometimes being trapped with my thoughts can be more painful than any injury I’ve suffered in the ring.  I miss being in the ring.  That’s what I love.  That’s what I’m here to do.  I’m supposed to be resting and out of the ring for a long time, but I know I’ll be back doing what I do best.  I love entertaining the fans, watching their faces, and seeing them have fun.  I enjoy the friendship I have with the boys.  They’re like my family when I am on the road.

The way I live my life is, I want what I want, when I want it.  All that runs through my mind is the past and the future.  I love what I’ve done, and I want to do more.  As I sit here, I remember all that I’ve accomplished in my career and personal life, and I want more of those moments.

But as I look back, I can also look ahead, and that takes the sting away.  Anything I’ve ever wanted in my life — whether it was using the Fiji Islands as my playground or learning the wrestling business in Portland, Oregon — I’ve had to figure it out on my own and bust my ass to own it.

I’m not ready to change that mind-set.

What this time has made me remember is all the things I’ve done– my highs, my lows, my failures, and my regrets.”

 

 

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Metallica Alcoholica

 

 

Hardcore Heavy Metal and Spirits

 

VIDEO:  ’The Unforgiven’

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Metallica was the golden era of one of heavy metal’s all-time greatest bands.

They were also one of the hardest touring and hardest drinking bands of the era, too.

It wasn’t easy for the group starting out.  They were going against the grain of what was considered “safe” musically by the mainstream when their bass player, Cliff Burton, died just as the band was breaking through.

On September 27, 1986, during the European leg of Metallica’s Damage, Inc. Tour, the partying members drew cards to determine which bunks on the tour bus they would sleep in.  Burton won and chose to sleep in Hammett’s bunk.  At around sunrise near Dörarp, Sweden, the bus driver lost control and skidded, which caused the bus to overturn several times.  

Ulrich, Hammett, and Hetfield sustained no serious injuries; however, bassist Burton was pinned under the bus and died.

Hetfield later said:  “I saw the bus lying right on him.  I saw his legs sticking out.  I freaked.  The bus driver, I recall, was trying to yank the blanket out from under him to use for other people.  I just went, ‘Don’t fucking do that!’

“I wanted to kill the bus driver.  I don’t know if he was drunk or if he hit some ice.  All I knew was, he was driving– and Cliff wasn’t alive anymore.”

The band continued on without Burton.  It all equated to a string of albums from 1983 through 1991 that sold zillions of copies worldwide, and made them a global stadium headliner.

Metallica was drunk the entire time they toured as part of the Van Halen-headlined Monsters of Rock Tour.  As one of several bands playing on this tour of outdoor stadiums throughout the summer of 1988, Metallica was indeed constantly inebriated.

Lars Ulrich recalls the hazy period:  “Basically, at the time, we used to start drinking when we woke up,” he remembers– which, on the Monsters of Rock tour was eleven o’clock in the morning.

“We’d get the gig over by three o’clock, and then we’d have eight or nine hours in which to drink.  It was awesome.  That was our first exposure to big crowds, like 50,000 people every day.  We were just drunk basically all the time,” Lars said.  “The not-giving-a-fuck meter was peaking.”

And a drunken James Hetfield once trashed a dressing room so severely that he received a tongue-lashing from legendary concert promoter Bill Graham.  After wrapping up a performance at the Day on the Green Festival at Oakland Stadium in 1985, Hetfield smashed a large hole in the wall of the dressing room, after attempting to push food through an air vent.  

After assessing the damage, Graham pulled the shouter/guitarist aside, and gave him some advice:  ”The bad attitude you have – well, to let you know, I’ve had the same conversation with Sid Vicious and Keith Moon.  And they’re both dead.”

When both the Bon Jovi and Metallica bands appeared at England’s Monsters of Rock Festival in 1987, headliner Bon Jovi arrived at the massive outdoor venue– Donington Park– via helicopter, flying over the crowd and creating a scene in the midst of Metallica’s mid-afternoon set.  James Hetfield was irritated in his usual alcohol-fueled mood of resentment.  He voiced his disapproval of the hair metallists by slapping a custom made sticker on one of his guitars that bluntly read, KILL BON JOVI.

Alcohol mishaps continued to haunt the band.  In 1992, while co-headlining the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour, a sauced-up Hetfield accidentally stumbled into a 12-foot wall of flame pyrotechnic display during the group’s rendition of Fade to Black

Suffering second and third degree burns to his arms, face, hands, and legs, Hetfield’s skin was “bubbling up like something on The Toxic Avenger,” bandmate Jason Newsted recalled.  Guitar technician John Marshall replaced Hetfield for the remainder of the tour as Hetfield was unable to play the guitar, even after sobering up for a bit.

In a 2007 interview with MTV, the band members reminisced on the problems
they faced during their alcohol-fueled period:

 

Kirk Hammett:  

“We always had alcohol around us and we always had it around us in large amounts.  When I first met these guys they were drinking vodka like it was water.  

I would start drinking about 12 in the afternoon, we would arrive at the club and go straight to the bar and see how much booze we could consume for free, and by the time we went out onstage we were almost always sauced.

That went on for about eight or 10 shows until I heard a tape recording of a show and my playing was not happening.  So I kind of stopped drinking before the show.  But then I would just drink twice as much after the show.  Alcohol brought out everything that we needed to say to each other that we couldn’t say to each other when we were sober.

It became part of our legend — people would know when we were coming into town to stock their bars and make sure there was always a lot of booze for us to drink.  I can’t really recall most of the Kill ‘Em All tour.  I only remember the shows during the Ride the Lightning tour.  But even then, all I remember is driving up to the venues, going in and playing the show.  Anything that happened after I have no recollection of.

I remember a lot more of Master of Puppets, because by then I was a professional drinker and I knew how to pace myself and I knew not to drink until I blacked out, which was always the norm before.  And nowadays I have issues with alcohol because of all that.”

 

Lars Ulrich:

“Going back and looking at the lyrics, there were a lot of clues, and there are a lot of places where there were tell-tale signs that James was in trouble, but all of us were so caught up in our own drunken activities that we never thought much of what the other guy was doing.”

 

James Hetfield:

“I had quit drinking for a while and didn’t find God or whatever I was looking for, so I decided to go back to drinking, and I kind of peaked when I was in Russia on this insane hunting trip.

I was in the middle of nowhere in Siberia hunting bears, and I was staying in this chicken shack with these Russians and they all have AK-47s and vodka.  We are stuck there in four feet of snow so we started drinking vodka — there was nothing to do for a week but sit there and drink.  

When I came home the behavior continued and it just spun out of control.  It was ripping my family apart and there were some ultimatums about being thrown out of the house.  It took that for me to realize what a problem it was.

So I had to go away. And I was really afraid to go away, not knowing what would happen to me, not knowing what would happen to Metallica, not knowing how I’d be treated in the press about it.”

 

Since their beginings around 1982, Metallica has suffered through their tragedies and triumphs, releasing nine studio albums, four live albums, 26 music videos, and 37 singles, winning nine Grammy Awards and selling over 110 million records worldwide.  They’ve been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone, which ranked them #61 on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

The band is currently in production of its tenth studio album, slated for a 2015 release. 

Unforgiven again, we hope they don’t let the evil genie out of the whiskey jar.

 

 

 

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Life is Too Short to be Angry

 

‘Victor’

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Chad Thompson
Yeah Haus

 

 

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”
   ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Victor is a short film about imagination, solitude and the sometimes blindfolded quest for happiness.

This whimsical journey follows Victor, a peculiar man who has some interesting ideas about how to make friends.  With an optimistic plan and a few technological tricks, Victor shows that sometimes all you need is a little help to notice what’s been right in front of you all along.

Victor is my first proper short film, and Yeah Haus’ first live action production.  We shot it over a couple summer days.

It’s hard to express how blissful and lucky I felt shooting this —I’m not totally sure why it was such a big deal, but life gets busy and somewhere along the line I hadn’t done anything in awhile for artistic purposes.

I myself am prone to needing a really good reason to put so much energy into something.

Of course with most things that don’t have a clear reason, things become clear throughout the process.  I just had no idea it would be as gratifying as making this film with friends and family.

It was done without a budget.  I kept the tradition of casting my brother Keith (as Mr. Angry).  My wife Michelle is in the band and helped with pre- and post production doing everything.  My friend played Victor.  Along with storyboarding,  filming and editing, I wrote the music score.

There are many stories – Don’t have a dolly?  Well how about an electric golf cart with a makeshift pedestal on the back.  The neighbor of the lakehouse we shot at freely offered his pontoon boat to shoot the tugboat scenes on.

30 friends from all facets of my life just showed up on short notice for our dinner scene with their costumes already on.  An old high school marching band friend dug into one of the back storage rooms of our high school to find some 1970s era band hats and uniforms to use.  My wife, brother and I figured out how to make props out of Styrofoam and wood. 

Our locations even worked out – we found the lakehouse via Airbnb.  Then the homeowner, Tim– who was cast as the Gnome– mentioned he also owned a Home & Garden business, so we went over there and found so many great locations that jived with the script!

In some ways my role in making the film paralleled the underlying themes of Victor.  

In my mind, Victor had a whole life before this day.  He finally chose to follow his instinctual need to create because it made him and others happy. 

Funny how life is like that.  It just works out.

 

 

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The Year in Review– in Two and a Half Minutes

 

2014:  Looking Back, Month by Month

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

For a year riddled with milestones, tragedies and epic world events, the important and not-so-important moments get muddled over time.  Slowly fading from our memory, they become part of a distant past we largely forget.

Thankfully, Brooklyn-based artist and “stuff-maker” Mac Premo co-wrote, directed, shot and edited a clever year in review video, tackling most things major and minor, one month at a time.

Thoughtful, spot on, and at times humorously amusing, it’s two and a half well-spent minutes—visualized in a way Premo can muster out.

From a chalkboard depiction of Ebola spreading to continents– to the notion that Brazil lost their World Cup game so severely as to avert eyes away from their corruption scandals– it’s a real retrospective.

While some issues may be distressing, that’s how life goes on this crazy planet. 

2014 Year in Review still remains an enjoyable and upbeat montage helping us remember what all went down and to savor our small corner of the Humboldt world where nothing really happens.

 

 

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The Evolution of Batman

 

Gotham’s Classic Music and Batmobiles

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

The Piano Guys
ThePianoGuys.Com

 

 

Holy Smokes, Batman!

50 years of music and film all rolled together in front of the cars that have become the icons of super hero history.

This is one of those projects we’ve wanted to do from the very beginning of The Piano Guys.  We love super heroes, the dramatic music that has brought them to life, and the vivid films that have made them legends.

We used piano, cello, handheld cameras, a radio controlled helicopter, and some scrappy special effect techniques in the most creative ways possible to emulate the three epic eras of one of the greatest super heroes ever created:  BATMAN!

As we conceptualized this music video, we wanted to take you on a ride through time– first through the 60’s when the wildly popular TV show dominated the networks– the campy, melodramatic colors, gadgets, and the classic comic book components.  To capture the character we actually built a super spiffy set to look like the good ol’ days of atomic power, turbines, and speed.

We wrote the music so it was as groovy as possible– to push it over the top we added a 60’s beach bass part in the left hand of the piano.  The piano used in this scene is a brushed aluminum/cherry wood Yamaha Neo with a clear Plexiglas lid (there are only a handful in the world) and we painted “Jackie” (one of Steve’s stunt cellos) to match it.

Of course, would this all be complete without a sleek, stylishly finned 60’s Batmobile?  This car would come all the way from Niagara Falls from Jett Yaskow.

Next, 1989 Tim Burton’s Batman movie starring Michael Keaton called for lots of brass sounds to pay tribute to Danny Elfman’s soundtrack, accomplished via layered tracks of steel and carbon fiber cellos played with a special technique and at times using paper underneath the strings, and frilly woodwind-like riffs on piano and march-like percussion. 

We filmed in a 100 yr-old, dark, abandoned warehouse that actually houses several hundred bats!  

The piano used is a 9 ft. concert grand– one of the most sought-after concert hall performance pianos in the world and certainly big enough to make even Tim Burton happy.

The “Batcello” was hand built by Gail Flynn, complete with a bat bridge, a cityscape stained glass front, a Batman scroll and even hand carved bat-shaped pegs.  It was an indescribable feeling playing Elfman’s music on these instruments in front of the most ominous automobiles ever built – the 1989 Batmobile!

Finally we pay homage to the most recent Batman series – the Dark Knight Trilogy, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale.

Hans Zimmer’s music is the stuff of legend.  We worked tirelessly to recreate his epic style of composition and full symphonic sound with piano and cello – writing fast, accented ostinatos and soaring brass-like melody lines.  

We used drone flyby shots to emphasize the drama of the series all in front of the buff Tumbler, built by one of the coolest guys in the world: Hans Zimmer’s.  It took him three and a half years!

In the end we combined as many elements as we could – musically, visually, and thematically.  

It’s a whisper deep within us that life is more than super heroes and villains, legendary cars, more than movie theaters and concert halls.  

Even though we were simply recreating all of these components on the top of a building overlooking the city in the middle of the night, we felt we had one of those Superhero moments.

 

 

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The Outsiders

 

Arrested Development

 

**Award-Winning SHORT**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Who knew a game of Paper, Rock, Scissors could be so dangerous?

Jerrycan is the story of a young boy who is bullied into some dangerous risk-taking to impress his friends.  Bad decisions and peer pressure can be like that, and they often have terribly bad outcomes as a result.

The plot concerns a gang of young teens, their group behavior, and the shifting hierarchies of leadership within.  The kids must all ask of themselves how much they’re willing to do to gain the respect of the others and themselves.  We get the idea they come from shitty homes, have shitty parents, and don’t have anything to look forward to but a less-than-shitty direction for the future.

Written and directed by Bridle Path Films’ Julius Avery, it’s a superb suspenseful and uncomfortable drama from start to finish.  Close, quick shots capture the tension and nervousness;  the soundtrack complements every scene with a brilliant undertone; untrained child actors, an improvisational camera style, and a stark storyline make for a gravity and grittiness that’s all of its own. 

And it captures the essence of at-risk kids to a T.

Jerrycan was the Jury Prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 and won the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Short Film in the same year, as well as honorable mentions at the Berlin and Sundance festivals.

We liked it.  We hope you do, too.

 

 

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Seeing and Hearing for the First Time

 

 

A Modern Miracle for Louise and Grayson

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

We take our senses for granted.  We can taste, touch, smell,
see and hear– and think nothing more of it.

There are those of us can’t see or hear.  For children and their loving parents, it’s often a heartbreaking experience.

But miracles can happen.

Denver mom Megan McMorris took the above video of her 8-month-old daughter Louise after the girl was given new glasses to help address her sight problems. After “seeing” her mother clearly for the first time, Louise breaks into a grin. The emotional video has been viewed by five million others who also shared in the joy.

Louise was born with albinism, which means she has no pigment in her skin, hair or eyes. As a result, she has debilitating sight problems, according to McMorris.

“Once she could actually see me, it’s like ‘Oh Hi, that’s you’,” said McMorris of the moment her daughter looked at her with glasses.  ”She’s happy. At least she didn’t start crying.”

With the new specially designed prescription glasses, McMorris also said that Louise has been able to finally play with her older brother Mason since she can more clearly see what she’s doing.

“She’s able to reach out for things because she can see them now,” McMorris said. “If I walk into a room, I can tell she can see me.”

Below, three-year-old Grayson Clamp of North Carolina, is hearing for the first time since his birth, after receiving an experimental cochlear implant — a microchip implanted at the base of his brain.  

Seen by million of viewers, the heartwarming story is touching, showing the adopted boy in wonderment hearing his father’s voice for the first time.  Of course, just like a child, Grayson’s astounded by hearing daddy– and then immediately goes back to reading his book.

Through our senses we can communicate, touch, and reach out to others. 

That, in itself, is a miracle.

 

 

 

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American Sniper

 

 

The Myth and the Reality

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Is it more fact or fiction?

This past week, American Sniper sold millions of tickets.  Seen in the trailers above and below and based on the story of the late Navy Seal Chris Kyle, it’s a box office hit, setting records for an R-rated film released in January.

With 255 kills, 160 of them officially confirmed by the Pentagon, Kyle is the deadliest marksman in US military history.

Yet the film, the autobiography of the same name, and the reputation of Chris Kyle are all built on a set of half-truths, myths and outright lies that Hollywood didn’t see fit or care to accurately clear up.

Here are seven lies about Chris Kyle and the real story director Clint Eastwood isn’t telling you:

 

The Film Suggests the Iraq War Was In Response to 9/11

One way to get audiences to unambiguously support Kyle’s actions in the film is to believe he’s there to avenge the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  The movie cuts from Kyle watching footage of the attacks to him serving in Iraq, implying there is some link between the two.

 

The Film Invents a Terrorist Sniper Who Works For Multiple Opposing Factions

Kyle’s primary antagonist in the film is a sniper named Mustafa. 

Mustafa is mentioned in a single paragraph in Kyle’s book, but the movie blows him up into an ever-present figure and Syrian Olympic medal winner who fights for both Sunni insurgents in Fallujah and the Shia Madhi army.

 

The Film Portrays Chris Kyle as Tormented By His Actions

Multiple scenes in the movie portray Kyle as haunted by his service.  One of the film’s earliest reviews praised it for showing the “emotional torment of so many military men and women.”

But that torment is completely absent from the book the film is based on.  In the book, Kyle refers to everyone he fought as “savage, despicable, evil.”  He writes, “I only wish I had killed more.” 

He also writes, “I loved what I did.  I still do.  If circumstances were different – if my family didn’t need me – I’d be back in a heartbeat.  I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun.  I had the time of my life being a SEAL.”

On an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show he laughs about accidentally shooting an Iraqi insurgent.  He once told a military investigator that he doesn’t “shoot people with Korans.  I’d like to, but I don’t.”

 

The Real Chris Kyle Made Up a Story about Killing Dozens of People in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Kyle claimed that he killed 30 people in the chaos of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a story Louisiana writer Jarvis DeBerry calls “preposterous.”   It shows the sort of mentality post-war Kyle had, but the claim doesn’t appear in the film.

 

The Real Chris Kyle Fabricated a Story About Killing Two Men Who Tried To Carjack Him In Texas

Kyle told numerous people a story about killing two alleged carjackers in Texas. 

Reporters tried repeatedly to verify this claim, but no evidence of it exists.

 

Chris Kyle Was Successfully Sued For Lying About the Former Governor of Minnesota

Kyle alleged that former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura defamed Navy SEALs and got into a fight with him at a local bar.  Ventura successfully sued Kyle for the passage in his book, and a jury awarded him $1.84 million.

 

Chris Kyle’s Family Claimed He Donated His Book Proceeds to Veterans’ Charity

The National Review debunks the claim that all proceeds of his book went to veterans’ charities.  Kyle kept the majority of the profits. 

Around 2 percent – $52,000 – went to the charities– while the Kyles pocketed $3 million.

 

American Sniper has deeply moved some audiences and made others angry.

Controversial in its portrayal, some have referred to it as Clint Eastwood’s “Red Meat Movie for Red States and Republicans” while others deem it a truly patriotic story that’s loyal to the soldiers and their untold military mission.

Although the movie is an initial box office hit, there is a growing backlash against its simplistic portrayal of the war and misleading take on Kyle’s character. 

This backlash has reportedly spread among members of the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences, which could threaten the film’s shot at racking up Oscars.

That’s Hollywood for you.

 

~Via Vox, Slate, Alternet, Warner Bros, YouTube

 

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The Most Quoted Man in the News

 

An Average Joe with an Uncanny Knack
for Media Appearances

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

The Most Quoted Man in the News, directed and photographed by Andrew David Watson, is a short, smart documentary about an interesting guy with a curious ability to get quoted in the news.

In an odd way it’s a real charmer—a snappy profile documentary about a guy who gets his name in the papers…a lot.  He became so successful he found himself banned from the game.

Quirky people often make great fodder for profile pieces, and as you would expect, our protagonist, Greg Packer, delivers the goods.  He’s a funny, congenial everyman sort of guy, an average Joe who beelines towards headline-making events to become part of the story– and get quoted.

Packer has become media’s designated “man on the street” for what seems all articles ever written.  

He has appeared in news stories and broadcasts more than 150 times as a random member of the public.  He was quoted on his reaction to military strikes against Iraq; he was quoted at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Veterans Day Parade.  Packer was quoted at not one — but two — New Year’s Eve celebrations at Times Square.  

He was quoted at the opening of a new Star Wars movie, at the opening of an H&M clothing store on Fifth Avenue and at the opening of the viewing stand at Ground Zero, just to name a few.  He’s been quoted at Yankees games, Mets games, Jets games — even getting tickets for the Brooklyn Cyclones.  He got his name in at a Clinton fund-raiser at Alec Baldwin’s house in the Hamptons and the Pope’s visit to Giants stadium.  And this is his short list.

Breezy in both content and tone, if you look below the film’s surface, it does raise a lot of interesting and relevant subjects.  Yes, there is an inherent narcissistic obsession in Mr. Packer’s desire to see his name in print.

But, who amongst us hasn’t wanted to feel special?  Let’s be honest, you didn’t post that selfie of yourself on vacation in order to make others feel better.  Packer’s unusual hobby comes from that same impulsive desire to be noticed, to be remembered, to live on.  He receives some sort of immortal God-like pleasure finding himself in print.

You could argue Mr. Packer is attempting to skew the news in his favor, but really, that’s not true.  His quotes, in general, are fairly benign and innocuous.  The events he attends are more about popularity and fun rather than shill advertisement or political divisiveness.
 
And, above all, Packer seems to genuinely be having a good time—his everyday joy is infectious and reflective of all of us, like a Seinfeld episode about nothing in particular.
 
Now that the cat is out of the Associated Press bag, it’s doubtful that we’ll be finding Greg Packer’s name in print anymore.  Like Icarus falling from the heavens, Andrew David Watson’s film may very well be the last gleeful ride we’ll be seeing of Mr. Packer for a long, long while.

 

 

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The Real Downton Abbey

 

 

Your Home is Your Castle

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s as British as tea and crumpets.

The very high-class soap opera Downton Abbey has taken the US by storm, scooping numerous Emmys and Golden Globes along the way.  The addictive tale of a family of British aristocrats and their servants, starting with the sinking of the Titanic and winding through the savagery of World War I, has cornered the market in British snobbery and catapulted the series to the status of cool.

But the star of the show — where all this plays out — is Downton Abbey itself.

In real life, it’s Highclere Castle in Newbury, an imposing Victorian mansion of 50+ bedrooms surrounded by 5,000 acres of green hills nestled in the south English countryside.

The castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which was built on the foundations of the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester, who owned this estate from the 8th century.  The original site was recorded in the Domesday Book and since 1679, the castle has been home to the Earls of Carnarvon.

Today it’s the stead of the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.  Their family lives at Highclere during the winter months, but return to its humble cottage on the grounds when the castle is open to the public in the summer.

By 2009, the castle was in dire need of major repair, with only the ground and first floors remaining usable.   Water damage had caused stonework to crumble and ceilings to collapse– and at least 50 rooms were uninhabitable.  The 8th Earl and his family were living in the “modest cottage” and repairs needed for the entire estate came in at a staggering $20 million.

In 2012, the Earl and Lady Carnarvon began offering tours of the palatial Highclere estate.  The influx of 1,200 daily visitors and the popularity of Downton Abbey allowed them to begin major repairs. 

“When you’re driving up … your heart just starts beating faster and faster as you drive through the gate,” exclaimed Baltimore visitor and enthusiast Pat Alford.

“The Earl and Lady Carnarvon live in the house except when it’s on tour and then they move into the cottage” Alford said, who got to meet the Earl as they were walking the grounds.  “He was very nice.  You’d never know he was the owner.”

As she toured the house, guides talked about the filming of Downton Abbey

“We saw everything!” Alford said.  “Every room was spectacular… just like on TV, and the views of the rolling land.  It was just breathtaking.”

Alford’s favorite room was the library.

The library is actually a double library and home to more than 5,650 books, the earliest dating from the 16th century.  And, just like the fictional Crawley family, the Earl and his family use it a great deal to gather before and after lunch or dinner.  One of the favorite spots to sit is on the red velvet triple-camelback sofa.

“I just had to see that red sofa,” said Alford.  “We snuck away from the group and I took my picture sitting on it … I could have taken my suitcase and just moved into that library.”

Another favorite room for Alford was the grand saloon. 

“It has a magnificent fireplace and multiple seating areas.  
You see it in just about every episode of Downton Abbey.”

The saloon is the physical and social center of the castle.  It was designed for the fourth Earl of Carnarvon in a Gothic style with rich decoration and completed in the 1860s.  The wall coverings are made of leather brought back from Cordoba, Spain, by the third earl and date from 1631.  They were hung here in 1862.

“Nothing is changed,” says Alford.  “Everything you see on the show is all theirs– the Earl’s family furniture.  They may move a table to another side of the room, but there are no major decorating changes.  Everything stays where it is.”

“They told us about how difficult it is to film in such tight quarters and it’s all filmed right there, except for the kitchen scenes. They’re filmed on a separate set in the house.”

Alford even got to live a bit of the good life by enjoying a luncheon in Highclere’s formal dining room.

“I sat at the head of the table under that magnificent Van Dyck portrait of Charles I,” says Alford, still excited by the memory. 

“They served us just like they do the family on TV.  It was all very formal, just like you see on the show.”

The tour of Highclere was the finale of Alford’s trip, which in addition to the watch party of the first episode of Season 5, also included dinner with Jessica Fellowes, author of three books detailing the filming of the series. 

“She gave me her autograph to put in my copy once I got home to Baltimore and could buy one,” says Alford, who also took home some Highclere Castle scarves, part of a gift package she received after lunch.

“It was a very special trip … it still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” says Alford.

Every morning when Downton Abbey’s Earl of Grantham descends the estate’s steps, you never know what the day is going to bring.  But no matter what crisis or drama unfolds, there is always a sense of place and knowing where you stand.

After all, your home is your castle.  And to tourists, commoners, and television crews alike, traipsing through to help pay the bills.

~Via UK Telegraph, CBS, Robin De Groot and The Advocate

* * * * * * * * *

For another view of Highclere, don’t miss this inside look
and Robin DeGroot’s nice pictorial piece here.

 

 

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Salute to Cinema

 

The 149 Best Scenes of 2014

 

One Very Fast **VIDEO** of Clips

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Let’s take a short trip down Memory Lane and jog your memory a bit.

Yes, we know it’s 2015 already, but we liked this retrospective video and figured it wouldn’t hurt anybody.

Director Ben Zuk rounded up 149 films from the past year and wove them into the impressively edited 2014 Salute to Cinema, using some of the year’s best soundtrack music to fuel the video.  It’s a collection of the better known films of 2014, along with some buzzed about indies and awards contenders.  There’s also a few seconds dedicated to those we’ve lost:  Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams, and Roger Ebert.

It’s certainly a fine look back at the year in film.

You may recognize the use of Jonsi’s Where No One Goes track from the How to Train Your Dragon 2 soundtrack.  And it’s hard to go wrong with using Everything is Awesome from The LEGO Movie and also the wonderful tune Hero by Family of the Year that was used in the trailer for Boyhood.

If you’re memory is failing you– and you insist on knowing what all the 149 films are– here’s the list in their order of first appearance:

Under the Skin
300: Rise of an Empire
Pompeii
Interstellar
Nightcrawler
The Internet’s Own Boy
Night Moves
Citizenfour
Locke
Palo Alto
The Double (audio clip)
Men, Women & Children
Lucy
The Unknown Known
Citizen Koch
Mr. Turner
The Rover
Selma
Winter Sleep
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Maleficent
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Big Hero 6
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Birdman
Guardians of the Galaxy
Noah
Sex Tape
Heaven is For Real
Annie
The Expendables 3
As Above, So Below
The Purge: Anarchy
The Boxtrolls
Obvious Child
Only Lover’s Left Alive
Mommy
The Theory of Everything
Non-Stop
Need for Speed
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Homesman
The Imitation Game
Neighbors
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The Book of Life
Into the Woods
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Edge of Tomorrow
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dracula Untold
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
The One I Love
The Giver
Dolphin Tale 2
Unbroken
Son of God
The Congress
Snowpiercer
Divergent
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Maze Runner
Godzilla
Bad Words
John Wick
Magic in the Moonlight
Get on Up
The Monuments Men
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Nut Job
Inherent Vice
Transcendence
Million Dollar Arm
The Lego Movie
Boyhood
Hercules
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Planes: Fire & Rescue
American Sniper
Exodus
Winter’s Tale
The Legend of Hercules
Whiplash
Annabelle
Under the Electric Sky 
The Zero Theorem
Rio 2
The Gambler
Penguins of Madagascar
A Million Ways to Die in the West
22 Jump Street
Alan Partridge
The Fault in Our Stars
Jersey Boys
Blended
Foxcatcher
Let’s Be Cops
The Skeleton Twins
Muppets Most Wanted
The Other Woman
Dumb and Dumber To
Frank
Calvary
The Babadook
The Immigrant
Think Like a Man Too
Step Up All In
Earth to Echo
Wish I Was Here
Wild
Love is Strange
Two Days, One Night
Fury
A Most Wanted Man
Blue Ruin
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Joe
The Lunchbox
Ida
Big Eyes
Still Alice
Filth
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
A Most Violent Year
The Judge
Dear White People
Listen Up Phillip
Stranger by the Lake
Endless Love
Begin Again
The Good Lie
Leviathan
Cake
If I Stay
Rosewater
St. Vincent
Fading Gigolo
Beyond the Lights
The Railway Man
Top Five
Chef
A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
Pride
God’s Pocket
Force Majeure
Life Itself
The Interview

 

….We told you it was a long list.

Music:

Love- Mica Levi, Under the Skin Soundtrack
Where No One Goes- Jonsi, How to Train Your Dragon 2 Soundtrack
Everything is Awesome- Tegan and Sarah (& more), The Lego Movie Soundtrack
Hero- Family of the Year, Boyhood Soundtrack
View from the Voyager- Confidential Music

 

 

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The Bumpy Ride of Adolescence

 

‘Sean’

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Adolescence isn’t easy.  It never is.  The answers are just so… ambiguous.

Sean is a meandering journey through the jumbled headspace of a typical teenager, presenting an almost weird and poetic insight into his life as he shares his thoughts on growing up, dreaming big, and one day getting out of his hometown of Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

He lives in a place that could be Anywhere, USA:  Eureka, Lodi, Topeka– take your choice. 

Following Sean as he wakes up at 3:30 in the morning to flip burgers at Jack In The Box, he skates around his hometown, goes fishing, hangs with his girl, befriends the vacationing partiers down at the docks.  It’s hard to tell if Sean is actually going somewhere or nowhere at this juncture in his life.  He’s somewhere between limbo and liberation, the melting pot between childhood and adulthood.

He’s bored, restless, anxious.  He’s waiting for something– anything–  to happen in his life.  Sean is pretty much alone in life, undergoing an emotional upheaval of sorts:  clinging to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future.  It’s not about letting go as much as it is hanging on during a very bumpy ride.

At first, director Ryan Reichenfeld’s film may appear like it is about nothing much at all, but it’s all this pointless wandering that turns out to be its most affecting and resonating feature. 

It’s a relatively unfiltered look into the mind of someone who you’d otherwise never get to know or hear from.  It doesn’t glamorize youth, their problems, or tug at your heartstrings, but it also doesn’t portray the gloomy cliche of kids on the brink of adulthood and rebellion and disaster. 

Sean simply gives us a glimpse into the everyday concerns of an average teen living in an average place under average circumstances.  It’s a glimmer of insight into the consciousness of American adolescence and the coming of age today, leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusions. 

 

 

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What a Wonderful World

 

Sir David Attenborough

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

I see trees of green,
red roses too.
I see them bloom,
for me and you.
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow,
So pretty in the sky.
Are also on the faces,
Of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands.
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying,
“I love you”.

I hear babies cry,
I watch them grow,
They’ll learn much more,
Than I’ll ever know.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

 

 

 

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Falling from Mount Olympus

 

Falling from Grace:  ‘The Off Season’

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

“In the greatest country in the world a young man gets lost.

Willy Loman never made a lot of money.  His name was never in the paper.  But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him.  He’s not allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog.

Attention, attention must be paid to such a person.”

  ~Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

 

There’s a commonly held romantic notion in sports:  if you want it badly enough, and if you work hard enough, anything is possible.

You hear those words by sports commentators over and over again: “that kid’s got talent.”  “He’s determined– he’s got the edge.”

It’s the underdog story.  It’s the “Rocky” of sports, movies, and our dreams.  It’s a concept as old and American as apple pie– and football.

But, there’s a dark side to this idea as well.  Lance Oppenheim’s documentary, The Off-Season, explores this romantic myth, and in doing so, shows just how unrealistic the goal may be:  what if tenacity and work and unbridled enthusiasm aren’t enough?  What if your long-held dreams don’t come true?  Where is the fence between being a success and becoming a has-been?

This film tells the story of Kahlil Bell—a record-holding pro football player who’s lost his job and fallen onto hard times.  Once considered to be a rookie sensation, he’s now forced to face the harsh reality that he may not have “the stuff” to have a long and fruitful career in the NFL.

Throughout the course of the film, it’s clear that Kahlil is a remarkable individual and athlete.  He’s also more than a bit disillusioned, blinded by the bright lights of obsession and his bigger dream.  

Kahlil’s story proved too interesting not to tell for filmmaker Oppenheim.  He remarked about making the film:

“A few days after my 18th birthday, I received a phone call from Jack Davis, the film’s producer, which got my mind racing.  Jack shared with me that one of his close friends was essentially living in an isolated world of suspended animation.

What immediately struck me about Kahlil wasn’t his fall from Mount Olympus, but rather his inherent sense of eternal optimism.  

It then came clear to me that Kahlil wasn’t just another free agent in his ‘off-season,’ but was ostensibly the Willy Loman of the NFL, clinging onto the last vestiges of his dreams and stuck in a never-ending world between going somewhere and going nowhere.”

 

This is more than just another inspirational story:  it lifts you up just as much as it lets you down.  An exhilarating tale with a dark, subliminal edge, it’s a dramatic parallel that Oppenheim expertly captures.  As Kahlil permanently wades and fades away in his “off season,” the viewer roots for him yet feels a tinge of despair.

Is his unstoppable drive inspiring?  Is it sad?  Just when does perseverance become a negative?  

When should someone just call it quits and stop?

Arthur Miller couldn’t have penned it any better himself.

~Via Lance Oppenheim, Short of the Week, and Vimeo

 

 

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One Love, One Run

 

Bobby Brown’s Cool Running

 

Award-Winning Short **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

For his entire life, Bobby Brown has called Breckenridge
his home mountain.

Brown was nine years old when he got his start on skis. Growing up in the Denver suburbs, he would build ramps and jumps in his yard to simulate a terrain park.  He started competing on snow at age 11 with Team Summit’s moguls team and credits the program and coaches there for nurturing his passion of air during his younger years.

In high school, Brown and his friends drove up to ski Summit County on weekends “no matter what.”  

In his off time he would practice his tricks and flips on trampolines and skate parks near his home.  He became a pro skier at 16 years old and graduated a semester early from high school in 2009.  Brown then moved to Breckenridge and won the first-ever Dew Tour for slopestyle, where he says, “it all took off.”

The Colorado native made skiing history by becoming the first skier at the X-Games to win two gold medals (big air and slopestyle) in one trip, vaulting him into freeskiing poster boy status.  Four years later, the name Bobby Brown was etched in the history books once again when he represented his country on the inaugural U.S. Olympic Team for slopestyle skiing in Sochi, Russia.

After recovering from two broken ankles in 2013, Bobby jumped right back onto the competition circuit as an Olympic hopeful.  He placed in the top five of all five of the Olympic qualification events, including the Breckenridge Grand Prix, where he took the win, and the Park City Grand Prix, where he placed second– clinching his treasured ticket to Sochi.

Under sunny Russian skies and spring-like conditions, Bobby finished ninth and brought the first glimpse of Olympic slopestyle skiing to the world.

He’s logged countless runs through the famous ski terrain parks of Freeway and Park Lane, where he’s developed one the most highly regarded styles within the ski industry today.

With the help of some fresh powder, slick ledges, and a few years of experience, Bobby captures a top-to-bottom run at the Colorado mountain where it all began for him:  Breckenridge.

 

 

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iDiots

 

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s no secret.

We love technology, anything robotic, and of course, our cell phones.

We want them to succeed and be our 21st Century heroes.  Luxury cars with powerful engines and display screens to drive through the worst roads under the most adverse conditions, Wi-Fi Hi-Def cable TV that allows us to watch and pay for all kind of sports simultaneously; and hyper-expensive smartphones that can do almost everything but make a simple phone call easily. 

And we want to do it all from the comfort of our seat, now.  Sometimes, all at the same time.

Yes, our happiness is based on things we don’t need and governed by entities we don’t control.  So what?  When all else fails, just sit down, grab some microwave popcorn, and turn on the TV!

Technology holds a privileged position in our lives.  It also serves the purpose of creating a dumb homogeneous atmosphere in which we’re defined by what we’ve got; that is, the same lame things.

But don’t take this message too seriously.  It’s only to laugh at ourselves.

We all have an iDiot inside, and it’s so fun!

 

 

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Every Hour is Precious

 

Anton Chekhov and ‘The Gift’

 

**Award-Winning Sci-Fi Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In March of 1886, at the age of 26, acclaimed Russian author and physician Anton Chekhov wrote this fascinating and honest letter of advice to his troubled older brother, Nikolai.

Chekhov’s brother was a talented painter and writer who, despite being just 28 himself, had for many years been plagued by alcoholism to the point where he often slept on the streets, his days were a blur, his notable skills as an artist largely untapped.

This letter and the list it contained– eight qualities exhibited by “civilized” people– were essentially Anton’s attempt at knocking some sense into the brother he was slowly losing.

Sadly, his efforts were ultimately futile.  Nikolai passed away three years later.

 

Moscow, March, 1886

My Little Zabelin,

I’ve been told that you have taken offense at the jokes we have been making.  The faculty of taking offense is the property of noble souls alone, but even so, if it is all right to laugh at us, then why is it wrong to laugh at you?  It’s unfair.  However, if you’re not joking and really do feel you’ve been offended, I hasten to apologize.

People only laugh at what’s funny or what they don’t understand.  Take your choice.

The latter of course is more flattering, but—alas!—to me, for one, you’re no riddle.  It’s not hard to understand someone with whom you’ve shared the delights of Tatar caps, Latin and, finally, life in Moscow.  And besides, your life is psychologically so uncomplicated that anyone could understand it.  

Out of respect for you let me be frank.  You’re angry, offended… but it’s not because of my teasing.  The fact of the matter is that you’re a decent person and you realize that you’re living a lie.  And, whenever a person feels guilty, he always looks outside himself for vindication: the drunk blames his troubles, others blame the censors, the man who bolts from his house with lecherous intent blames the cold in the living room, and so on.  If I were to abandon the family to the whims of fate, I would try to find myself an excuse.  It’s only natural and pardonable.  It’s human nature, after all.

And you’re quite right to feel you’re living a lie.  If you didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t have called you a decent person.  When decency goes, well, that’s another story.  You become reconciled to the lie and stop feeling it.

You’re no riddle to me, and it is also true that you can be wildly ridiculous.  You’re nothing but an ordinary mortal, and we mortals are enigmatic only when we’re stupid, and we’re ridiculous forty-eight weeks of the year.  Isn’t that so?

You often complain to me that people “don’t understand” you.  But even Goethe and Newton made no such complaints.  Christ did, true, but he was talking about his doctrine, not his ego.  People understand you all too well.  If you don’t understand yourself, then it’s nobody else’s fault.

As your brother, I assure you that I understand you and sympathize with you from the bottom of my heart.  I know all your good qualities like the back of my hand.  I value them highly and have only the greatest respect for them.  If you like, I can even prove how I understand you by enumerating them.

In my opinion you are kind to the point of softness, magnanimous, unselfish, you’d share your last penny, and you’re sincere.  Hate and envy are foreign to you, you are open-hearted, you are compassionate with man and beast, you are not greedy, you do not bear grudges, and you are trusting.

You have a gift from above that others lack:  you have talent. This talent places you above millions of people, for there is only one artist for every two million people on earth.  It places you in a very special position:  you could be a toad or a tarantula and you would still be respected, for to talent all is forgiven.

You have only one failing:  the cause of the lie you’ve been living and your troubles.  It’s your extreme lack of culture.  Please forgive me, but its truth among friends.

The thing is, life lays down certain conditions. If you want to feel at home among educated people, to be at home and not find their presence burdensome, you have to have a certain amount of culture.  Your talent has brought you into their circle.  You belong there, but… you seem to yearn escape and feel compelled to waver between the cultured set and transients.  

It’s the bourgeois side of you coming out, the side raised beside the wine cellar and handouts, and it’s hard to overcome, terribly hard.

To my mind, civilized people ought to satisfy the following conditions:

 

1.  They respect the individual and are therefore always kind, gentle, polite and ready to give in to others.  They do not throw a tantrum over a hammer or a lost eraser.  When they move in with somebody, they do not act as if they were doing him a favor.  They excuse noise and cold and overdone meat and witticisms and the presence of others in their homes.

2.  Their compassion extends beyond beggars and cats.  Their heart aches for what the naked eye can’t see.  

3.  They respect the property of others and therefore pay their debts.

4.  They are sincere, and dread lying like fire.  They don’t lie even in small things.  A lie is insulting to the listener and puts him in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker.  They do not pose, they behave in the street as they do at home, they do not show off before their humbler comrades.  They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others.  Out of respect for other people’s ears they more often keep silent than talk.

5.  They do not belittle themselves merely to arouse sympathy.  They do not play on people’s heartstrings to get them to sigh and fuss over them.  They do not say, “No one understands me!” or “I’ve squandered my talent on trifles!” because this smacks of a cheap effect.  It is vulgar, false and out-of-date.

6.  They have no shallow vanity and are not preoccupied with vain things.  

They are not taken in by such false jewels as friendships with celebrities, handshakes with important people, ecstasy over the first person they happen to meet in important places, or popularity among the tavern crowd. 

When they have done a penny’s worth of work, they don’t strut about as though they had done a hundred rubles’ worth, and they don’t boast over being admitted to places closed to others.  True talents always seek obscurity.  They try to merge with the crowd and shun all ostentation and advertisement.  An empty barrel has more chance of being heard than a full one.

7.  If they have talent, a gift, they respect it.  They sacrifice comfort, rest, women, wine and vanity to it.  They are proud of their talent and gifts.  They do not go out carousing.  What is more, they are fastidious.

8.  They cultivate their aesthetic sensibilities.  They cannot stand to fall asleep fully dressed, see a crack in the wall teeming with bugs, breathe rotten air, walk on a floor with spit or eat off a stove.  They try their best to tame and dignify their sexual instinct… What they look for in a woman is not a bed partner or horse sweat, but the kind of intelligence that expresses itself in the capacity for motherhood.  They do not ask for the cleverness which shows itself in continual lying. 

They—and especially the artists among them—require freshness, elegance, compassion, a woman who will be a mother… They don’t guzzle vodka on any old occasion, nor do they go around sniffing cupboards, for they know they are not pigs.  They drink only when they are free, if the opportunity happens to present itself, for they want a healthy mind in a healthy body.

And so on.  That’s how civilized people act.  If you want to be civilized and not fall below the level of your surroundings, it is not enough to read The Pickwick Papers and memorize a soliloquy from Faust.

You must work at being cultured constantly, day and night.  You must never stop reading, studying in depth, exercising your will.  Every hour is precious.  Every hour is a gift.

You’ve got to drop your old way of life and make a clean break.  Come home.  Smash your vodka bottle, lie down on the couch and pick up a book.  You might even give Turgenev a try.  You’ve never read him.

You must swallow your pride and drop your vanity.  You’re no longer a child.  You’ll be thirty soon.  It’s high time!

I’m waiting… We’re all waiting…

Yours,
A. Chekhov

 

 

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Charlie Hebdo, Before the Massacre

 

A Brief Inside View of the Murdered Cartoonists

 

**New York Times VIDEO**

 

 

Jerôme Lambert and Philippe Picard
French Filmmakers

  

 

In February 2006 the editors of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo met to discuss a matter of what turned out to be of deadly consequence.

Would they publish a satirical image of Muhammad on their cover?  

We were making a documentary about Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, one of the most famous cartoonists in France.

So we were there, filming his conversation with his colleagues as they chose the cover.  

The issue that came out of this meeting — with a Cabu cartoon on the cover and the images they discussed here — turned out to be one of the most popular in the magazine’s history.

Almost nine years later, gunmen stormed this very meeting and killed 10 editors and cartoonists, including three of the people in this film: Cabu, Bernard Verlhac (known as Tignous) and Georges Wolinski.

Beyond his talent as an artist, our friend Cabu was a formidable character — his Joan of Arc haircut and John Lennon-style round glasses were inimitable.  A former children’s television host, he was goofy, kind, sweet.  We loved him.

But what Cabu loved was provocation and bad taste: a very French — political and vulgar, yet sharp — type of irony.  He was right at home at Charlie Hebdo, where he could take uncompromising stands on institutions and leaders of all stripes:  politicians, bankers, cops … and men of God.

In this case, Cabu was supporting cartoonists in Denmark who had just grappled with the same issue in September 2005.

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten had published 12 cartoons considered blasphemous by many followers of Islam.  Arab governments protested officially; there were clashes at protests and demonstrations around the world, leading to more than 200 deaths.  Charlie Hebdo had decided to reproduce the complete set of cartoons for its Feb. 8 issue.

In filming Cabu’s now historic meeting with his editor in chief and fellow cartoonists and editorialists, we could not know that we were capturing on camera such an important moment.  We were just amazed by the collaborative, creative, joyful process that led to the cover and caption, Cabu’s drawing of the Prophet Muhammad, cleverly hiding his face with his hands to avoid breaking outright prohibitions on showing the prophet’s likeness, but still provocative.

Provocative enough to apparently serve as the root of this week’s attack.

As the cartoon was published, police officers were assigned for Cabu’s protection.  As the death threats against him soon poured in, his humor and high spirits remained intact.

Our friend Cabu was murdered.  Today, we miss him.

~Via the New York Times

* * * * * * * * * **

“The rise of fundamentalism in any religion has changed things.  Ending up in court to argue about the freedom of speech is bearable. 

But what you can’t accept … is to be the object of death threats for a cartoon.”

~Jean “Cabu” Cabut: January 13, 1938 — January 7, 2015

 

Je Suis Charlie.

 

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Gateway to the Ganges

 

 

India’s Beauty and Woe Intertwined

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s been said that India is a place so visceral it can only truly be appreciated through your own experience.

It takes a lot of skill to capture the feel of a place so steeped in unbelievable anachronistic awe.  Shots of transcendental natural wonder are contrasted with the poverty and harshness of the streets, the heart and soul of what India is.

No doubt, that selfie you took outside the Taj Mahal was special.  However, filmmaker Brandon Li has come as close as you can to encapsulating the spirit of Northern India on film in Gateway to the Ganges.

In this 3-minute video, he documents the colors, the movement and sounds in the cities of Rishikesh, Haridwar, and Devprayag.  Although beauty is the main focus, make no mistake:  his film is a mini-documentary portrait of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Some say that India is an underdeveloped country.  Others believe, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, that it is a highly developed country in an advanced state of decay.

Li said about making the film:

This region lies in the foothills of the Himalayas where the Ganges River descends from the mountains.  I visited not knowing what to expect, and I was both awed and saddened by the experience.

The beauty of nature and the Hindu ceremonies contrasted with the poverty and suffering on the streets.  The people I met had a very special high-spirited resilience that seemed to stem from surviving and maintaining their devotion of a challenging life.

In India it is said there are always two answers, there may be five, a dozen or a hundred; the only thing that is certain is that all of them will be different.

 

 

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An Epic Reminder to Do What You Love, Today

 

The Secret Sanctuary of Hayden Peters

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Emily Nuchols
Under Solen Media

 

 

Life has its limits.  It also has its timeless beauty in all things.

At the age of 30, Hayden Peters confronted a health scare where for three months, he didn’t know if he’d live a long life, or have to begin getting his end of life plans in order.

The ocean became his refuge — his sanctuary.

“I realize that the amount of time that I live is pretty much irrelevant.  The time spent on the ocean gave me an opportunity to learn about something that I feel like is greater than me,” Hayden says.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks with Hayden aboard his little sailboat Matilda along the coast of Baja.  He was so at home in the ocean, leaping off the boat to swim to shore, snorkeling around rocks with his spear to hunt for dinner — I even watched him chase down some dolphins to try to swim with them.

Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he sprouted fins and gills.  It was so amazing to watch Hayden in his world, but at the same time, I felt desperately out of mine.  I felt isolated and alone, even amongst our tight-knit crew on the boat.

I pushed away my fear every time it would bubble up.  I remember sitting on the edge of the boat, terrified to jump in, and Hayden sat next to me and said: “If it’s not fun, just don’t do it.  You’re okay.”

I was so incredibly grateful for Hayden’s kindness during our trips together.  But that’s Hayden for you.

He has a spirit so bright that it shines— he’s one of those friends that truly lives in the moments around him and in doing so, he is an inspiration to those who are fortunate enough to know him.

Hayden had never told me the story that he shares in The Coast.  But we all get reminders throughout this life to live it — to truly savor every moment that we have in the places that set us free, with the people we love, to do what makes us come alive.

The Coast is another one of these reminders.

* * * * * * * * *

We suggest seeing this beautiful film on the largest screen you have.

Emily Nuchols is a writer and founder of Under Solen Media.  
‘The Coast’ is a collaborative project from Wazee Motion Pictures and NRS
Top photo by Jacob Boling/NRS.

Thank you Hayden and Emily.

For all those who have gone before us.

 

 

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Failing to Succeed

 

 

Fighting for your Passion

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Devin Graham
Filmmaker, Team Supertramp

 

 

Success comes from passion and a lot of experience– and by
experience, I mean a lot of failure. 

I just watched the video Nobody Tells This to Beginners, seen below, and it is right on par with everything I STRONGLY believe in.  Fighting for your passion.

I feel that most people who follow me and watch my videos see me strictly as “devinsupertramp,” and don’t see all the discouragement, failure, let down, and everything else that happened to get to that point.  I want people to see that this is something we all go through, and if you don’t, I would love to know your inside secrets on how to avoid it.

Even for me, I failed countless times to get to where I’m at now with my career, and when I stop and look at the bigger picture, I myself haven’t even started to scratch my goals and dreams.  I want everyone to know that it is okay to fail, to be discouraged.  It’s all part of reaching your full potential.

Let me paint a picture of “key” discouraging moments in my life.  By doing so, I hope that it will give others hope that you can reach your goals, and your full potential no matter how many hardships are thrown your way.

These aren’t all of my hardships in life.  My intention by sharing these experiences with you is to list a few key pivotal moments in my life that put me in the position that I am currently at.  Perhaps even more importantly, they will help me to get where I really want to be.

 

My Key Hardships:

1.  I was the shyest kid in school. I got picked on constantly.  In fact, I was so shy my teacher thought I was mute and couldn’t talk at all.

2.  My Junior year in high school, I was involved in a very serious snowboarding accident.  I broke my back.  I was bed ridden for 3 months straight– my entire summer break.  I had to wear a back brace for a very long time to help me recover.  

Almost exactly a year later I broke my leg snowboarding; a compound fracture.  They had to put a metal rod in my leg.  During this whole time I was pursuing  running with the hopes of getting a running scholarship for college…. that game plan had to change.

3.  I decided to make my first movie a couple years after high school, and released it in theaters. That film was called Tallawah.  I wrote, filmed, edited, and directed it.  I was so proud of my accomplishment.  I showed it in a local theater where 200 people showed up to watch it. 

What I intended to be a comedy film didn’t get any laughs and left the audience totally silent.  Everyone walked out of the theater without even offering me a sympathetic “good job”.  It was that bad! 

I went home that night crying – telling myself I would never make a film again.  I redeemed myself a year later when I released another film to a packed theater of over 400 people.  It made up for my failures in the first film and was a huge success! 
That film was called Passion.

4.  After the film I attended Brigham Young University. I knew I wanted to study film in school, but when I applied to be admitted into the film program I got rejected!  It was heart breaking because I had gone to that college with one goal in mind– to get into the film program.  I had worked so hard for it and failed!  You could only apply twice before being denied forever.  I succeeded in getting in on my final attempt.

5.  For the final senior film project at BYU, you have to pitch it to the entire faculty.  That semester I was the only one that got rejected!

6.  I had started two other YouTube channels before “devinsupertramp“, and one “Vimeo” channel as well.  All of them failed miserably.

7.  Once I decided to pursue YouTube, and after working really hard to save money for a camera and lenses to improve my quality, I had all of my equipment stolen on an airplane.  I had no money left and no camera equipment to pursue my dreams.  

That was hard.  I eventually recovered.

 

So why am I listing all my failures?  

As depressing as it is, I just wanted to remind you that every one of us has to face hardships in order to reach our true potential.  I’ve learned through my experiences that once you’ve reached a milestone in your life, you have to constantly fight to hang onto it.

We get so many emails from filmmakers, passion pursuers, and people trying to learn how to film with the Glidecam.  There are a lot of people that have a hard time learning to use it.  My best advice is simple, and while it might sound too simple, it really does come down to this:  Never give up with the things that matter most to you!

With enough persistence, eventually you will succeed!

 

 ~Via Devin Graham’s Blogspot: Adventures of Devin and other Short Stories 
   Thank you for the beauty and inspiration, Devin.

 

 

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Snowboarding the Communist Bloc

 

Hippie Holy Dayze

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Watch out for that tree, Forest.

Over the past season, 20-something Forest Bailey deftly navigated geographical extremes, hitting street rails in Mongolia one month, slashing powder in the Canadian backcountry the next, and making stops in the communist bloc of Europe and the US in between.

While the topography of the locations where he snowboards couldn’t be more different, Forest has an ease with which he drops in and throws down, regardless of the terrain and features in front of him. 

It’s no wonder he easily took the Gold in the 2012 X-Games.

That, along with an obviously heavy skate influence make for an incredibly unique and recognizable style that’s one part technical and one part very laid back.  Forest makes the difficult look easy, whether he’s sliding concrete and metal, sending it off backcountry cheese wedges, or turning triple corkscrews.

Forest Bailey is a Grateful Dead baby, grew up with hippie parents in Vermont, and has his own production company called “Givin” in Boulder, Co., where he lives.

His snowboarding is heavily influenced by his skateboarding, which he does as much as snowboard.  Forest is happy on all terrains:  natural, parks, and urban settings, where he’ll be hitting the hardest rails in front of him.

His Hippy Holy Dayze is a fitting title and reaffirms Forest’s prowess in urban settings and expands further on his laissez-faire, que sera sera, snowboarding chops.

It’s smooth, it’s raw, it’s fun to watch.  No matter what 9-5 grind you may find yourself stuck in, Forest Bailey’s most mundane days are ones that you can definitely be stoked on when you can finally hit the rails and slopes for yourself.

~Via Snowboarder magazine, Dragon Alliance, and Vimeo

 

 

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Land of Eternal Spring

 

 

The Land and People of Guatemala

 

**VIDEO**

 

Parker Walbeck and Carter Hogan
Team Supertramp

 

 

Every so often Team Supertramp takes on a project knowing
very little about the destination or the people involved. 

The WeaveSleeve Project in Guatemala was one of those projects…  We– Parker and Carter– met up with Andy Thunel, founder of Weavesleeve, in the airport terminal and he shared with us the story of his friends in Guatemala and his desire to help them out. 

That 5 minute conversation as we boarded the plane changed EVERYTHING.  What started out as just another film trip turned into a passion-driven project that we had our hearts invested into. 

We realized that the idea of WeaveSleeve was SO much bigger than just helping Andy start a wallet business and we were going to provide a lifetime of opportunities for the Guatemalan families involved.

As we mentioned earlier neither of us had any idea what to expect from “The Land of Eternal Spring” before we arrived.  The people, culture, and sights that Guatemala has to offer left us completely amazed every day that we were there. 

The trip started off with a bang as we loaded up in a doorless helicopter to film the Mayan ruins in Northern Guatemala.  After an intense day of filming from the ground and the air, we started the flight back to our hotel only to run into the daily rainstorm.  It poured every day around 4 in the afternoon into the night. 

After unsuccessfully trying to cross the lake our pilot, Carlos, was forced to land in the closest place that he could find; a soccer field in a small village of San Carlos.  As you can imagine the whole village came out to see the spectacle of a helicopter landing in the center of their town. 

We wasted no time in making friends and joining in on the local soccer game.  The two hours we spent playing soccer in the rain with Los Chapines were by far the highlight of the trip and a moment that neither of us will ever forget.  

There is something special about immersing yourself, unplanned and unscripted into a culture and capturing real moments of enjoyment.  It is moments like this that we live for as film makers.

The next part of the trip was dedicated to the families and artisans that are a part of the WeaveSleave project.   We spent the next two days with them filming the WeaveSleave process from start to finish.  Everything from buying fabric from a local vendor in the next village over, to seeing some of their final projects for sale in their personal tienda (store). 

Andy had been planning a way to “give back” to all of the artisans and families for helping him, and he decided to give them an experience they wouldn’t be able to do on their own.  He came up with the idea of taking his friends to Xetulul, a theme park near the southern coast of Guatemala. 

The bus fare to the park is too expensive for these families, let alone the entrance fee to the theme park.  Andy rented a micro bus and we jammed in as many people as we could fit into it.  Every seat had multiple people in it not to mention lots of kids sitting on their parent’s laps, and one gentleman standing on the back bumper… 

To be a part of and capture the excitement, fear, and pure joy of these people as they experienced a theme park for the first time was really humbling.  It was an experience that they
thought only existed on television. 

After a couple of hours with them at the theme park we decided to leave and let them be together as family and friends without the distraction of us and our cameras.

After our time spent with the amazing people of Guatemala, we walked away with a new appreciation for the purity and the simplicity and the happiness in the lives of these people.  They have next to no earthly possessions yet they are content because they are grateful for what they do have.  They inspired us to have more positive attitudes and to love and life to the fullest.  Their examples of humility have given us a new perspective on life and we left that country as better people.

Our goal with this video was to portray the valuable lessons we learned and to deliver a positive uplifting video that would inspire our viewers the way we were inspired; to be happy, positive, grateful, and to seek out the good and beauty in life.

Below is the behind-the-scenes filming of our video if you’d like to see it.

If you would like to support to the cause of this film and WeaveSleeve who made it possible, pleases support them in their Kickstarter campaign to help give these wonderful Guatemalan families full-time jobs :)

Thank you,
Parker and Carter

 

 

 Our kind appreciation goes out to Carter, Parker, and Andy for completing the mission and getting the shot–
 And to Devin Graham and his blogspot, too– although Devin was in British Columbia filming grizzlies!

 

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The Island of Dharma

 

Sri Lanka

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

The explorer Marco Polo wrote in the 12th century that Sri Lanka
is the finest island in the whole world.

Sri Lanka is nature’s treasure hunt.  For centuries it has seduced travelers with its magnificent beauty, stunning Hindu and Buddhist temples, lush green gardens, beautifully surreal beaches, and warm and gracious people.  

Ruins of ancient kingdoms and archeological discoveries abound, providing fascinating insights into a sophisticated ancient society which possessed an advanced knowledge of science and technology, planned infrastructure, and an aesthetic beauty towards the arts.  It’s a serene place, although it hasn’t always been so in the past.  The sun sets on the crimson and gold horizon with a peaceful
regularity now.

This small island off the southern tip of India is called by different names – Serendib, Ceylon, the Teardrop of India, the Resplendent Isle, Island of Dharma, and the Pearl of the Orient—all of which reveals the richness and beauty, and the intensity of affection, that the people living on the island have.

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, a reflection of the island’s history of hosting immigrants from all walks of life over centuries of time.  As a rule, the people of Sri Lanka possess a warm and friendly nature seen in their persistent smiling faces, having an eagerness to help those unfamiliar with aspects of local life. 

Should you have the opportunity to visit, you’ll find Sri Lankans are very hospitable and take pride in inviting people to their homes, however modest they may be.

So don’t be surprised if a driver or guide or the new friend you meet– or indeed virtually anyone you might encounter– requests the pleasure of your company.  Sri Lankan hospitality is taken very seriously– reflecting the human spirit of how living, life, and community should be.

 

 

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The Baby in the Drop Box

 

Saving Children’s Lives, One at a Time

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

2015:  It’s out with the old and in with the new.

The Drop Box is the story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak and his heroic efforts to embrace and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

A Korean pastor in South Korea, Lee Jong-rak is a simple man with a huge heart.  Hundreds of unwanted babies are abandoned on the side of the street in South Korea every year and he saw a devastating problem and thought of ways to change it.  Along the way he’s saved hundreds of infants and became a small progressive voice for his society.

Jong-rak is the creator of the ‘Baby Box’.  A simple concept, the Baby Box is the first and only box in Korea for anonymously collecting abandoned babies who are physically or mentally handicapped, or otherwise unwanted by their mothers. 

Knowing he needed to set up a way to save the lives of these precious newborns he built the drop box on the side of his home.  He placed a humble sign on the outside reading, “Place to Leave Babies.”

The inside of the box contains a thick towel covering the bottom, and lights and heating to keep the baby safe and comfortable.  A bell rings when someone puts a baby in the box, then Jong-rak, his wife, or staff associates come to immediately move the baby inside.

His aim was to provide a life-giving alternative for desperate mothers in his city of Seoul.  He even admits that he didn’t really expect that babies would come in.  He was mistaken.

The babies came. Some in the middle of the night, others in the middle of the day.  Some came with notes, some without a word, and only a very few mothers actually spoke to him face-to-face.  Pastor Jong-rak said one of the mothers told him, “she had poison to kill both herself and her baby.”  

He responded, “Don’t do that.  Come here with your baby.”  She did.

One single mother left this heart-wrenching note with her baby that brought tears to Jong-rak’s eyes:

My baby!  Mom is so sorry.
I am so sorry to make this decision.
My son!  I hope you to meet great parents, and I am very, very sorry.
I don’t deserve to say a word.
Sorry, sorry, and I love you my son.
Mom loves you more than anything else.
I leave you here because I don’t know who your father is.
I used to think about something bad, but I guess this box is safer for you.
That’s why I decided to leave you here.  My son, Please forgive me.”

 

Pastor Lee Jong-rak is steadfast about his mission.  In a country that prizes physical perfection, he sees all life as flawless in its creation.

“This world is seeing how life can be for these babies when we take them in; when we become a voice for the ones that cannot speak up for themselves.  They are loved, they are cherished, and they are worthy just the way they are,” he said.  “They’re not the unnecessary ones in the world.  God sent them here to the earth to use them.  I always pray that there will be no more abandoned babies in this country and no more in our baby box.  That’s all I want.”

The story of this man and his baby box is reaching the entire world with the 72-minute documentary called The Drop Box by young 22-year-old filmmaker Brian Ivie.

The touching documentary just won the Best of Festival Jubilee Award and The Best Sanctity of Life film award at the 8th annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.  In total, it has received nine awards from independent film festivals across the nation and is set for a brief premiere in US theaters on March 3-5, 2015.  Negotiations are in the works with a major studio to have the film released to a larger audience worldwide.

Ivie was stirred to do the film after reading an article in the Los Angeles Times about Pastor Jong-rak’s Jusarang Orphanage and decided to go to Korea to make the documentary.  South Korea is not the only country grappling with the issue of child abandonment and orphan care; it takes on different forms from country to country.  Around the world, there are more than 150 million orphans waiting for families to call their own, Ivie found out.

After seeing the orphanage’s mission up close for himself, his life was forever changed, Ivie said.  In his award acceptance speech, Ivie noted:

“These kids are not mistakes. They are important. 

When I started making this movie and I saw all these kids come through the drop box – it was like a flash from heaven, these kids with disabilities and crooked bodies.  This world is so much about self-reliance, self-worth, and self-esteem.  It’s a total illusion that we can really be self-sufficient.

When it comes to the sanctity of life, we must realize that faith and hope is sometimes the last refuge for people who are deemed unnecessary.”  

 

The Drop Box is a heart-wrenching exploration of the physical, emotional and financial toll associated with providing refuge to orphans that would otherwise be abandoned on the streets.

But make no mistake.  It’s also a story of hope– a reminder that every life is precious and worthy of love.

~Via the Los Angeles Times, LifeNews, Brian Ivie,
Arbella Studios and Vimeo

 

 

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In Search of Surf

 

 

Around the World in “Strange Rumblings”

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

The world is your oyster.

You’re young and carefree, there’s no need for money and responsibilities, and the call for adventure beckons.  And over the next crest lies the next perfect wave for you to catch.

Strange Rumblings in Shangri La is exactly that and more.  A mix of high performance surfing and stunning cinematography that documents an unforgettable worldwide journey in the pursuit of surfing.

Directed by Joe Guglielmino and featuring the Globe surf team of Dion Agius, Nate Tyler, and Brendon Gibbens, the awe-inspiring clips exhibit a unique combination of high performance surfing set amidst the sultry tropical coast of Mozambique, some dreamy French beach breaks, a few exotic islands off the coast of Brazil, and headlong into deepest Indonesia (as seen in the short trailer above).

Then they don wetsuits for something completely different:  the frigid waters of Iceland (that segment is below).

Shot in 16mm film and created in the spirit of the classic films by Bruce Brown and Jacques Cousteau, Strange Rumblings in Shangri La is a road trip, a travel documentary, and a youthful adventure that’s as unique and varied in its landscape and scenery as it is the surf.

It’s good to be young.

 

STRANGE RUMBLINGS (THE ICELAND PART) from GLOBE on Vimeo.

 

 

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I Believe in Father Christmas

 

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

 

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin’s birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A Winter’s light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire.

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
’till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
I looked to the sky with excited eyes
that I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise.

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear.

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell–
The Christmas we get we deserve.

 

* * * * * * * * *

When Greg Lake penned and performed this holiday song many criticized it as being ‘anti-Christmas’ in its message.  Lake said this wasn’t the case at all. 

Lake wrote it, he said, because he remembered being so disillusioned by the consumer-commercialism of what Christmas had become as a youth, and saying in response, ”I do believe in Father Christmas.”

 

Happy Holidays and the Best of Spirits
to You and Yours.

~Skippy

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Growing Younger

 

‘Just Go’

 

**Award-Winning Video**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Meet Milos Kmetko. 

He’s 62-years-old and believes in staying as youthful as possible.

He’s not your typical retiree from Slovakia.  Or anywhere for that matter.

Milos does things which to his peers seem a little offbeat or even crazy. 

He gets out and tries sports more suited to young folks.  Like snowboarding. 

He learns, he asks questions, he practices. 

He tries again and again, ever patient,  until he’s satisfied with the results and the direction he’s heading to. 

Milos believes age is just a number.  And he knows that by being with young people he can gracefully glide along with the spirit of the age.

 

 

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Sony Cyberattack: Hackers Win

 

 

But We’ll Show You the Film Trailers Anyway !

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

U.S. officials are treating a cyberattack on Sony Pictures as a “serious national security matter,” with the National Security Council considering a proportionate response, the White House said.

Evidence shows the attack against Sony was carried out by a “sophisticated actor,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.  But he declined to blame North Korea, saying the investigation is still progressing.

That country is suspected of orchestrating the hack in retaliation for the Sony film The Interview, about a fictional plot to assassinate Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

The film portrays Seth Rogen and James Franco as frustrated television journalists who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader. 

Wanna go kill Kim Jong-un?” Franco’s character asks in the movie.

“Totally.  I’d love to assassinate Kim Jong-un – it’s a date,” Rogen’s character replies.

In the film’s climactic scene, Kim Jong Un’s head is seen exploding when his helicopter is hit by a missile.

The company on Wednesday cancelled the film’s scheduled December 25 release after the four largest U.S. theater chains said they would not show it.  A spokesman said Sony “has no further release plans” for the $44 million comedy, The New York Times reported.

According to media reports, U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said investigators have connected North Korea to the cyberattack.  North Korea denies involvement and wants to join the US probe into the matter, saying they can prove they’re not behind the security breach.

The massive breach resulted in the leak of tens of thousands of documents of confidential Sony data, including the private details of thousands of company employees, former employees and freelancers, as well as several Hollywood stars and their squabbles.  The leaks also include financial data and high-quality copies of films yet to be released.

The leak has also escalated to threats of terrorist attacks over the film.  A hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace promised a “bitter fate” to those who attend The Interview showings.  

The group– invoking the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States– warned people to stay away from theaters where the film is playing.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters.” 

President Barack Obama also downplayed the threat, calling Sony’s quick cancellation “a mistake” and saying his “recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

Nonetheless, Sony raised the white flag and surrendered, even though, surprisingly enough, its economy is larger than that of North Korea’s. 

Yes, that’s true.

 

Sony’s Response

Sony was preparing for a Christmas Day release of the comedy about two journalists recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

But not anymore.  They’re backing down altogether.

In a statement about its cancellation, Sony said it was “deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie and, in the process, do damage to our company, our employees and the American public.  We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

In an interview late Wednesday with ABC News, Obama called the cyberattack on Sony Pictures “very serious.”

 ”We’re investigating it.  We’re taking it seriously.  We’ll be vigilant,” Obama said.  ”If we see something that we think is serious and credible, we’ll alert the public.  But, for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

 

Pyongyang Condemns Movie

While Americans might be used to such irreverent humor, Pyongyang isn’t laughing.

In fact, they’re pissed.  Crazy-pissed.

Pyongyang has strongly denounced the comedy as an act of terrorism and had called for Sony to cancel the film.  It has praised the hacking as a “righteous deed,” while insisting it is not involved in the intrusion.

“The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays the attack on our top leadership… is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable,” a Foreign Ministry statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency on Wednesday read.

The ministry called on Washington to ban the film from being screened, warning that failure to do so would trigger a “resolute and merciless counter-measure response.”

It is not clear whether the Guardians of Peace group is linked to Pyongyang, which is known to have a capable group of Internet hackers at its disposal.  Some suspect the hackers may have been aided by an insider at Sony.

Pyongyang was angered by the film and in June promised “merciless retaliation.”  But it has denied involvement in the attack.  A North Korean diplomat said earlier this month the accusation was a “fabrication.”

Eriq Gardner, senior editor of The Hollywood Reporter, said the scale of the Sony hacking is unprecedented.

“There have been things that have made Hollywood studios change distribution of movies, but nothing like an attack from a nation-state forcing its hands on a movie that is really just a comedy,” Gardner said.

“… There have been some people who have speculated, maybe jokingly, that this was all just a publicity stunt,” he added.  

“But really, no matter how much money the film makes from here on out, it will not have been worth it to Sony.  This is absolutely terrible for them.”

 

Financial Loss

Doug Stone of the film industry newsletter Box Office Analyst believes Sony is set to lose up to $55 million and could opt to release the film at a later date or offer it as a video on demand.

Bruce Bennett, a North Korea analyst for the think tank RAND Corp., said Sony’s decision to cancel the film’s release sets a bad precedent.

“Foreigners who want to stop the release of a film can now follow the example of these hackers.  That’s dangerous for the United States,” said Bennett.

And, he added, it is good news for North Korea’s leaders.

“They don’t want this film to get out.  They particularly don’t want it to get on DVD and get circulated into North Korea, which a lot of outside DVDs do because it depicts Kim Jong Un accurately as being ruthless and deceptive, and in ways that don’t coincide with the regime’s propaganda,” Bennett said.

 

Hollywood Reacts

Many in Hollywood spoke out against Sony’s decision to scrap the movie’s release.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel called the move “an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist’s actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

George Clooney said “Hollywood hung Sony out to dry.”

Actor Rob Lowe declared it an “utter victory” for the hackers.  “Wow.  Everyone caved.  The hackers won.  An utter and complete victory for them.  Wow,” Lowe tweeted.

Steve Carell, whose own film set in North Korea has been canceled, said it was a “sad day for creative expression.”

This isn’t the first time North Korea’s leadership has been on the receiving end of Hollywood’s particular brand of parody.

In 2004, the South Park creators portrayed Kim’s late-father Kim Jong-il as a speech-impaired, mass-murdering alien despot in Team America: World Police

While Kim Jong-il, a noted film buff, never publicly commented on the film, North Korea’s embassy in Prague demanded that the film be banned in the Czech Republic.

“It harms the image of our country,” a North Korean diplomat said at the time.  A Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman rebuffed Pyongyang, saying “it’s absurd to demand that in a democratic country.”

Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace and an unofficial spokesman for the Pyongyang regime, strangely enough said North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, in fact, plans to see The Interview.

~Via BBC, VOA, Google News, RT, Sony Pictures, YouTube

 

 

* * * * * * * *

Regardless of the threats and hacks and attacks, we’ll show you the film trailers anyway– while they’re still up and running.

If North Korea and Kim Jong Un don’t like it, oh well, that’s too bad.   Cry us a river.  What would America think if Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 ‘The Great Dictator’ was cancelled because Der Führer didn’t like it?

The movie may be in poor taste but that’s how politcal satire goes.  The Sony story is downright bizarre — and we don’t just mean the hacking.  We mean the decision to make the stupid movie in the first place.

Nevertheless, we believe in free and independent media and we’ll stand up for it– even if Sony won’t. 

We may be small, but we’re still Humboldt.  So come and get us.  We’re waiting.  And we’ll leave the light on for you.

 

 

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Gravity’s Got A Hold On Me

 

 

–And I’m Looking for Something to Set Me Free

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

You can almost fly.  If gravity doesn’t get you down.

World’s Best Trampoline Tricks is the latest video by Devin Graham, aka YouTube’s uber-darling devinsupertramp.

In this edition, Devin joined with the leading trampoline manufacturer Eurotramp to film an amazing video on trampoline jumps, flips, and tricks.

The epic video features the amazing trampolinist Greg Roe, with an assist by Botond Dajka and Csanad Borlay of the Lords of Gravity.  The background music, Gravity, is by the Vibrant Sound.

Below is the behind-the-scenes take of how Devin made the video.

Jump on.

 

 

* * * * * * * *

For you camera techno-geeks out there: 

Devin Graham and Parker Walbeck filmed World’s Best Trampoline Tricks at 6k with the RED Dragon downscaled  to 4k and with the Phantom Miro at 1000fps at 1080p–  upscaled to 4k with the Glidecam HD 4000 for stabilizing. 

It was edited by Parker Walbeck using Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

 

 

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Stephen Colbert Bids The Nation Adieu

 

The Colbert Report Calling It Quits:

‘We’ll Meet Again Some Sunny Day’

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Colbert Nation.  It’s all over except for the applause.

After nine years on the air as host of the The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert is calling it quits and throwing in the sarcastic towel.  Feared by many, hated by some, watched by all, Colbert is heading to CBS to take David Letterman’s Late Show spot in September.

He leaves an uncertain legacy for the media he revolutionized and the culture he altered.  Without him on TV four nights a week, there is a truthiness-shaped hole in our national political discourse.

He promised his audience a revolution, and, said Colbert, “One revolution is 360 degrees right back to where we were.”

“Anyone can read the news to you,” he announced when The Colbert Report debuted in 2005. “I promise to feel the news for you.”

He kept that promise, which is how he came to define our era.  For so many of us, Colbert sums up the absurdity of the Bush years, along with his hero and mentor Bill O’Reilly, whom he called Papa Bear.  ”I emulate you,” he once told O’Reilly in a poignant appearance on Fox News.  ”I want to bring your message of love and peace to a younger audience.  People in their sixties, people in their fifties – people who don’t watch your show.”

His rise in the media world was swift and ruthless. Soon after joining The Daily Show in 1997, Colbert attracted national attention for his uncompromising passion for the witty truth. 

He was able to remarkably reduce complex issues to common-sense tidbits of comedy and satire, uninhibited by facts.  He introduced America to the twin principles of “Truthiness” and “Wikiality,” where anything is true if it feels true, or if someone claims it is, correctly predicting, “The revolution will not be verified.”

And on his last night he signed off in his typical bombastic, authentic fashion.

“I know this is an emotional night for a lot of you,” he said during his opening.  “If this is your first time tuning in to ‘The Colbert Report,’ I have some terrible news.  This in fact is your last time tuning in to ‘The Colbert Report.”

The show went on as normal and ended with the sweet, emotional finale.

Colbert performed the 1939 tune We’ll Meet Again with a slew of famous friends he’s had on the show over the years: singers, actors, authors, politicians, rock stars, filmmakers, and news anchors alike.  They included Jon Stewart, Willie Nelson, Tom Brokaw, Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Cranston, Big Bird, Jeff Daniels, Katie Couric, Ken Burns, Charlie Rose, Arianna Huffington, James Franco, Michael Stipe, Barry Manilow, Christiane Amanpour, Andy Cohen, and George Lucas, among others.

“All those incredible things that people say I did– none of that was really me,” Colbert said during his goodbye.  ”You, the Nation, did all of that.  I just got paid for it.”

And then, Colbert rode away as quickly as he came into the pop culture media world.  In a sleigh with Santa and Abraham Lincoln and Alex Trebek, adorned by his Captain America shield.

Colbert will be remembered for truth.  Nobody summed up the current state of the American mind as brilliantly, as honestly, as terrifyingly as Stephen Colbert.

It’s somehow fitting that he left us so prematurely and under such mysterious circumstances.  He will be missed – even if someone very much like him returns to the airwaves in the coming
months.

Night, night, nation.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Sun Dog and His Master

 

‘Sun Dog’

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s no secret:  We love our dogs.

While ski towns everywhere are bracing for the absolute insanity that occurs in mountain towns during the holidays, here comes a video to remind us of what’s important in life.

In Sun Dog by Sturgefilm and DPS Cinematic, filmmaker Ben Sturgulewski tells the story of skier Santiago Guzman and his dog Conga in the wild mountains of Patagonia overlooking Bariloche, Argentina.

The place they call Refugio Frey is the only protection from the ravaging winds, drawing wanderers of all sorts to its doors.  Santiago and Conga slide down the hills effortlessly with an infectious energy, the windswept landscape a backdrop for the pure joy of two mountain souls sharing a day in the wild together.

Unlike much of the sub-par ski films out there, this short segment isn’t about big powder, big lines, or big tricks.  It’s about a happy little black dog named Conga who can’t get enough of playing in the snow with her best friend.

So even though the mountains might be packed this holiday season with tourists and snowboarders galore, take a deep breath.

As Conga teaches us, life in the mountains is pretty amazing, no matter what the conditions or circumstances.

 

 

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Happy Xmas

 

(War is Over)

 

John Lennon’s VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the 1960s The Beatles delighted their fan club members by sending them
a specially recorded 45rpm single every Christmas filled with comedy, music
and festive fun.

The following decade the Christmas single as we know it– a one-time seasonally themed hit—had arrived.

Fittingly though, it was ex-Beatle John Lennon who changed the whole Christmas game.

Lennon was born October 9, 1940, at a time when World War II was raging across Europe.  Liverpool was under attack, bombed by Nazi Germany when John was born.  The rest, as you know, is history.

Sung by John and Yoko Ono and accompanied by the Harlem Community Choir, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released in the States on December 6 of 1971.  It was released in Britain the following year, and again following Lennon’s death after being violently gunned down outside of his New York City apartment on December 8, 1980.

The Vietnam-inspired sing-along was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by the couple that began with the bed-ins they convened in 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon. 

President Nixon had said at the time that the Vietnam War would soon be ending “as a result of the plan that we have instituted.”  In April 1970, however, he had expanded the war by ordering US and South Vietnamese troops to attack communist sanctuaries in Cambodia and Northern Vietnam.  The resulting outcry across the United States led to a number of antiwar demonstrations– and during one of these demonstrations the National Guard shot four protesters at Kent State.

The couple had launched an international multimedia campaign preceding the song in December of 1969 – at the height of the counterculture movement and the massive protests against America’s involvement in the war– by renting billboard spaces in 12 major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters declaring, “WAR IS OVER!  –If You Want It– Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.”

Lennon said he conceived the antiwar campaign to promote social unity, peaceful change, personal accountability and empowerment, and writing the happy holiday tune to convey a sense of optimism but without the glowing sentimentality typically associated with the holiday music season.

“I was sick of White Christmas,” he said, and “I wanted to pen the peaceful anthem using the lyrical lesson I learned while recording Imagine.  I understood what you have to do:  Put your political message across with a little honey.’”

By the time Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released, Lennon’s antiwar activism had brought him under the scrutiny and ire of the Nixon administration and the FBI.  Lennon had already returned his “Member British Empire” medal back to Queen Elizabeth, citing Britain’s support of US troops in Vietnam and its own involvement in Biafra.  He was involved in so much radical activity in the US that the FBI had 216 pounds worth of files about him. 

In 1972 he received his ignoble payback– a deportation order to leave the United States.  It was later stayed due to his broad popular support and the issuance of a green card for US residency. 

By 1973, the Vietnam War was grossly unpopular.  After extensive negotiations and the bombing of North Vietnam in December 1972, the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January of 1973.  The war was finally over– after nearly 20 years of US involvement.

Yoko Ono later wrote:

“Never in a million years, did we think that promoting world peace could be dangerous.  Were we naive?  Yes, on that account, we were.  

John said:  ‘Nobody told me there’d be days like these.’  That was his true confession.  These songs have become relevant all over again.  It’s almost as if John wrote these songs for what we are going through now.”

Among the many items Yoko donated for an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame following his death were the bloodstained glasses he was wearing when he was shot.   Lennon was legally blind without them.

Yoko refused to hold a funeral for Lennon.  By not doing so, she said, ”his spirit would live forever.”

 

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Rebounding Resilience

 

Life is More than a Game

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Life, not just games, happens on the Filipino basketball court.

Weddings, celebrations, meetings, festivals, and memories occur there.

The damage done by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 was catastrophic, leaving homes destroyed and 580,000 people displaced.  It was the deadliest typhoon in modern history, rated at a Class 5 with winds recorded at 275 mph.

More than 6,300 people lost their lives in the record-breaking super storm.  As of January 2014, bodies were still being found.

After the typhoon, the aid organization Samaritan’s Purse gave out food, tarps, building materials, and other emergency supplies– on the basketball courts.

Now it’s where healing is found. The Rebound gives a touching take of how Filipinos found help, healing, and resiliency through basketball in the wake of the storm.

 

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Helping Rich Lenders Rip-Off the Poor

 

 

State Legislatures Lift Interest Rate Caps

 

**John Oliver VIDEO**

 

 

Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower.org

 

 

Loan sharks, banks, and their lobbyists really know how to put the “ick” in eth-icks.

Though they’ve tried to buff-up their public image by calling themselves “consumer lenders,” their game remains the same ethical mess it’s always been.

They target poor and financially struggling people, entice them to borrow with come-ons touting “quick & easy” money, and then hook them to installment loans with interest rates up to 36 percent.  At such rates, it’s hard for these hard-hit people to repay the bank on time, so most are forced to keep borrowing more money just to pay down the previous loans.

To make this even ickier, the sharks are especially fond of setting up their loan offices around Army bases so they can prey on America’s low-paid, financially-stressed soldiers.

The good news is that several state legislatures are taking action to provide relief.  The bad news is that their relief is not for the borrowers, but the banks!

With an army of lobbyists and a multimillion-dollar arsenal of campaign cash, the industry has already induced legislators to lift interest rate caps in eight states – most of which have a large number of military bases.

The cynical claim of the loan sharks (believe it or not) is that they are suffering financial hardships.

These poormouthing bankers say that to make “an acceptable profit,” they must be allowed to charge borrowers more than 36 percent interest.

Acceptable to whom? One of the largest purveyors of these loans, a subsidiary of Wall Street megabank Citigroup, reported a hefty 31-percent profit increase last year – under the old rate structure.

What we have here is a brazen purchase of legislative favoritism by some of the richest financial interests in America – allowing them to increase their exploitation of some of America’s poorest people.

What’s “acceptable” about that? The whole scheme is a shameful hustle.

 

States Ease Laws That Protected Poor Borrowers,” The New York Times, October 22, 2014.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim Hightower is a Texan, columnist, and populist who believes that to move America from greed to greatness, we must fuel the power and the passion of our nation’s workaday majority.

A national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author, he frequently appears on television and radio programs bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media.

He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried on more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web, and on Radio for Peace International. A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups.

He has written seven books and is a New York Times bestselling author.

As political columnist Molly Ivins said, “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child — mad as hell and with a sense of humor.”

You can listen to more of Jim Hightower’s commentaries here.

 

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America’s Explosive Oil Problem

 

The Disaster of Shipping Crude by Rail

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

On July 6, 2013, a train hauling two million gallons of crude oil from North Dakota exploded in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

It took two days to put out the fire and the disaster devastated the small community.

Regulators in the United States knew they had to act fast.  They had to assure Americans a similar disaster wouldn’t happen south of the border, where the U.S. oil boom is sending highly volatile crude oil every day over aging and defective rails in vulnerable
railcars.

That catastrophe had its origin in America.  For five years, a boom in oil production has been taking place in the Bakkan Shale region of North Dakota.  Oil from the Bakkan is transported across the U.S. and Canada by rail to refineries on the coasts and it was one of these trains that derailed in Lac-Megantic.

The sharp increase in domestic oil production has created jobs, decreased economic vulnerability to turmoil in the Middle East, and lowered prices of gasoline and home heating oil.

But there’s another side to this story:  Boom is a joint investigation film by The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News exploring how the boom in oil has resulted in highly volatile crude oil being sent over aging rails in vulnerable railcars and the resulting disasters that follow in their wake.

Rail accidents involving oil trains have been widely on the rise– yet industry and regulators have been slow react.

Will it take another Lac-Megantic to make America’s towns and cities safer?

You can read the full story accompanying the above video here: stories.weather.com/boom

 

 

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Australian Security Forces Storm Sydney Cafe

 

 

Hostage Siege Ends With Attack, Gunshots

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s over.

Australian security forces on Tuesday stormed the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney where several hostages were being held at gunpoint, in what looked like the dramatic ending to a standoff that had dragged on for more than 16 hours.

Heavy gunfire and loud bangs rang out shortly after 2 a.m. local time today, and moments earlier at least six people believed to have been held captive had managed to flee the scene.

Australian state broadcaster ABC reported that three people were dead and four others were wounded and in serious condition.  Police said the three people killed were the gunman and two of the hostages.

It is unknown whether the two hostages who were killed, a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman, were caught in crossfire, or shot by the Iranian-born gunman.  Among the four wounded was a police officer shot in the face.

Medics moved in and took away seven injured people on stretchers, but it was not clear whether they included the gunman.  He was identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault.  Local media reported that Monis, who was known as Manteghi Bourjerdi before he changed his name, was 49 or 50 years old.

Chris Reason, a correspondent for CNN affiliate Seven Network, said the gunman became “extremely agitated” when he realized what had happened and “started screaming orders” at the remaining hostages.

Reason said he could see the gunman pacing past the cafe’s windows from his vantage point at the network’s nearby offices.  He described the man as unshaven, wearing a white shirt and black cap and carrying a shotgun.

The gunman demanded a flag and phone call through hostages who contacted several media organizations, Sky News Australia reported.

Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron, was found guilty in 2013 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and calling them “Hitler’s soldiers,” as a protest against Australia’s involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.

He was also charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.  Earlier this year, he was charged with the sexual
assault of a woman in 2002.  He has been out on bail on both
of the charges.

“This is a one-off random individual.  It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act.  It’s a damaged goods individual who’s done something outrageous,” his former lawyer Manny Conditsis told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.  “His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness,” Conditsis said.

He was believed to be acting alone and does not appear to be part of a broader plot, US law enforcement said Monday.  Beyond the demands for the flag and phone call, precisely what he wanted remained murky late Monday.

During the siege, hostages had been forced to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.  The black flag with Arabic writing read, “There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God.”

At least six hostages were either released or had escaped, with terrified cafe workers and customers running into the arms of paramilitary police.

Fifteen or so hostages were understood to have been holed up inside the cafe, said Chris Reason, a reporter at Channel Seven, whose office is opposite the cafe.

The incident forced the evacuation of nearby buildings and sent shockwaves around a country where many people were turning their attention to the Christmas holiday following earlier security scares.

In September, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife. 

Tough anti-terror laws were passed by the Australian parliament in October in response to the threat of homegrown extremism.

The siege cafe is in Martin Place, a pedestrian strip popular with workers on a lunch break, which was revealed as a potential location for the thwarted beheading.

“We’re possibly looking at a lone wolf who has sympathies to global jihad or someone with mental health issues in search of a cause,” said Adam Dolnik, a professor at the University of Wollongong who has trained Sydney police in hostage negotiations.  “This is all about attention.”

In the biggest security operation in Sydney since a bombing at the Hilton Hotel killed two people in 1978, major banks closed their offices in the central business district and people were told to avoid the area.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, earlier this year raised its domestic terror threat level from medium to high, mainly due to concerns about home-grown extremists.

About 70 Australians are thought to be fighting for militant groups in the Middle East.

A number of Australian Muslim groups condemned the hostage-taking in a joint statement and said the flag’s inscription was a “testimony of faith that has been misappropriated by misguided individuals.”

~Via Google News, ABC, Seven Network, WRAL, Reuters

 

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Mad Max’s Road Warrior Meets Disney’s Pixar

 

 

The 2015 Official Movie Trailers

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

 

Cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. 

The earliest people who made films were magicians.  And they knew it was always better to surprise and change other people’s expectations than to give them exactly what they wanted.

In the latest trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, forget about the oil wars and civilized gentility. 

The world is almost out of water, everyone’s gone out of their minds, and it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket.  Amidst all of this chaos, toss in more than a few Hollywood-style big-budget car chases and explosions and you’ll get the general idea.

The fourth installment of George Miller’s post-apocalyptic dystopian series, Mad Max: Fury Road stars Tom Hardy in lieu of Mel Gibson’s old role as Max Rockatansky, a man living in a world that’s turned into nothing but “fire and blood.”  

Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max believes the best way to survive is to wander the Wasteland alone.  Hoping to find a way to exist in the midst of all this insanity, he finds a heroine partner in an elite Imperator named Furiosa– played by an unrecognizably macho-looking, crew-cutted, smokin’ hot Charlize Theron– who has no time for any nurturing and coddling.  True to the original story of Mad Max, we’re talking about surviving in the post-apocalyptic world here.

“Out here, everything hurts,” Theron’s character fiercely says in the above clip.  ”You want to get through this?  Do as I say.  Now pick up what you can– and run!”

Between those well-chosen bits of Shakespearean dialogue, clever editing and breakaway pan shots, there’s a dynamic soaring score pulsating throughout every moment and even those unfortunate few who missed out on Miller’s original Mad Max movies will be curious to see what Fury Road is all about when it opens May 15, 2015.  For premature voyeurs, we have
another alternate film trailer for you here.

If apocalypse, mayhem, and hardcore survival aren’t your flavor, there’s another gentler and kinder movie arriving around the same time:  Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out.

The animated movie trailer, seen below, takes us inside the emotional mind of a typical adolescent doe-eyed girl named Riley, in the middle of a major transition as her family relocates from the Midwest to San Francisco. 

Seeing and hearing the voices of Riley’s various turbulent emotions swirling about in her head– playing the characters of Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness and Disgust– we get to relive our own childhood and dance the sweet teenage tango of life’s angst once again.

The Emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life.  Riley herself tries to keep things positive, and how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

Growing up can be a bumpy road.  But as the latest trailer for Inside Out shows, it’s not just young Riley whose emotions are at the center of attention – we get to see inside her parents’ heads, too.  And true to the Disney paradigm of how things naturally happen, the parents are always wise and right again.  Take that, teens!

Inside Out opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.

Wizards and vampires and zombies will be out for the coming year.  The upcoming film noire will be dominated by societies in breakdown.  And yes, the revolution will be televised for teens, parents, and survivalists alike.

 

 

 

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The CIA Psychologist Who Made $81 Million Teaching Torture

 

 

Cashing in on Conscience and Country

 

**VICE VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Working for the CIA has its perks.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a blistering, 500-page report on the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation program, a document that committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said represents the most significant oversight effort in the history of the US Senate.

The $40 million, five-year study concluded that CIA officials exaggerated the value of the intelligence they gleaned from dozens of “high-value detainees” held at secret ‘black site’ prisons, where they were subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Two U.S. psychologists were paid about $81-million each to consult with the CIA on its ineffective brutal interrogation program – criticized as amounting to torture — the U.S. Senate’s damning report said.

The two psychologists, whom the report said had no prior experience with Al Qaida, counterterrorism or interrogation techniques, were working with the Air Force on its “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape” (SERE) program before the 9/11 attacks.  That program was reported to have evolved into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” — which included sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

The committee reviewed more than 6 million pages of top-secret CIA documents and found that the architect of the interrogation program was a retired Air Force psychologist named James Mitchell, an agency contractor who — according to news reports — personally waterboarded alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  

The Senate report confirms that two psychologists’ firm was outsourced the contract for most of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program from 2005 to 2008.

The firm and each psychologist were paid $81-million of the $181-million consulting contract before it was terminated in 2009.

One of the psychologists, now retired to a life of leisure in Florida, sat down for a lengthy interview with Vice News on his role in the program. 

Mitchell has a signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA and was unable to discuss his alleged role in the agency’s enhanced interrogation program, but VICE News met up with him in suburban Florida to discuss the Senate’s report and one of the darkest chapters of the war on terror.

This is the first time Mitchell has ever appeared on camera.

 

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Life in the Nordland

 

‘The Fox of Bloody Women Island’

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

 

Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant
Bureau of Explorers.com

 

 

How does one find happiness throughout a winter when the sun barely makes an appearance?

This source of curiosity took us to Nordland– a mystical Viking land of changing light, deep fjords and mountainous archipelagos.

We arrived in the small town of Kjerringøy, where had we heard there was a man who built traditional boats.

His name was Ulf, his house had the red trim around it, and he’ll
meet us at the end of the drive in the freezing rain.

This was all we knew.

The land was rugged, the sea cold and forbidding, the people of ancient Viking stock strong and independent and peaceful.

Could this man’s belief in his work and connection to his environment be the root of his happiness?

Shot entirely during the twilight hours of Norway’s northern Arctic, this is his story.

* * * * * * *

Filmed by Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant for the Bureau of Explorers,
‘The Fox of Bloody Women Island’ was the Official Selection of the Chicago
International Film Festival and a Vimeo Staff Pick in 2014, and the Official
Selection of the American Documentary Film Festival for 2015.

 

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The Moped Diaries

 

Hope, Loss, and New Beginnings

 

**Award-Winning FILM**

 

Keith Cartwright
A Life of Gratitude.com

 

 

Levi is a boy growing up on Collington island off the coast of North Carolina.

When a new bridge is built connecting his island to the mainland he has to come to grips with both the change and opportunities that come along with it.

There’s the love of home, love of a partner, and the love of family.  And they’re falling apart– pushing him towards a dead end or crossing that bridge to see what lies beyond the horizon.

 

Twenty years ago I started a job that changed my life.  And although I’ve been gone from that job for eight years now, I was reminded it hasn’t finished changing me.

The job was with Eckerd Youth Alternatives.  I was a counselor working with middle and high school students in a wilderness program.  The kids were labeled at-risk, troubled, hopeless, and countless other terms to suggest they were much better suited to live in the middle of the Croatian National Forest than their communities. 

The first year I spent with those kids I was all about the labels.  There were days I coined one or two of my own that were far less complimentary than the standard ones.  Over time, though, as I got to know them better and built relationships with them, I came to understand the label they really deserved was, well– just plain kids.  

Kids who needed someone to listen to what made them mad in the world and not tell them why they should never be angry at all.  Kids who needed someone to identify a thing or two they were doing right to soften up the endless lists of failures others had attached to them.

They needed someone to give them permission to dream.  And not just because that’s what “normal” kids did, but because someone believed those dreams could come true. 

But this week I was moved by one of those young men who’s always held a special place with me.  Several years ago I actually had the privilege of officiating his wedding. In the Virgin Islands, no less.  At the time, I thought he and I were caught up in one of those crazy circles of life that loops us around from a point of chaotic introduction to an inexplicable point of connectedness.

But this week, that young man, Tyler, showed me that the circle back then was filled with gaps.  They felt more complete when he shared something– making this mentor suddenly feel like the one
being mentored. 

Tyler has been working in the movie and television and camera business for years.  And a handsome face it is.  Earlier this week he shared his latest creation on social media:  a short 10 minute movie called The Moped Diaries.

When I watched it I was struck by how much the story reflected his life.  One of overcoming challenges.  One of picking a story and living it out, refusing to let anything or anyone alter the plot.  

But, what stuck out even more– I was basking in the creation of a kid who once came looking for help and was now a young man offering it to the world with his movie.  

His story is timely for so many people in my life who’ve faced or are facing hardships.  This is a story of hope and determination and that they can be conquered.

Having children helped me understand the importance of living a life of gratitude, and how impossible that life is without saying “thank you.”

I hope you’ll take 10 minutes and watch Tyler’s film.  I hope you’ll consider his message.

I’m proud of you my friend, Tyler Nilson

Well done.  Thank you.

* * * * * * * *

Tyler Nilson played the adult character of Levi, and wrote, directed, and produced The Moped Diaries. 

He works for Lucky Treehouse, a San Francisco and Los Angeles based collective of filmmakers and artists working together to make films, commercials, and television content inspired by the stories of youth, the unknown on the road ahead, and the feeling of summer days, rope swings, experience & adventure.

~Via Keith Cartwright, A Life of gratitude.com, Tyler Nilson, Lucky Treehouse and Vimeo. 
   Photos courtesy of Tyler Nilson’s Facebook page.

 

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Eaten Alive by a Giant Anaconda

 

 

Reality TV Stunt Brings Attention and Criticism To the Plight of the Amazon

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

We all have goals.

When Paul Rosolie wanted to focus attention on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, he decided he needed a stunt guaranteed to get people looking.  For the past two years, the naturalist and author had a goal that no man in the history of the world has ever had:  to be eaten alive by a giant green anaconda.

So the staunch environmentalist offered himself as dinner to the monster snake — and was swallowed alive, filming every moment.

Anacondas, the largest snakes in the world, typically suffocate their prey before ingesting it, making Rosolie’s attempt the first of its kind and very dangerous.

Rosolie survived, and people all around the world got to see the harrowing journey on Sunday night into the belly of the beast.  The two-hour special, Eaten Alive, aired on the Discovery Channel and was widely criticized by animal activists.  Rosolie, author of the widely praised eco-adventure book Mother of God, was slammed as a snake-torturing opportunist.

The idea came to him after a decade spent working in, and working to save, the rainforest habitat, Rosolie said.

“Everybody on Earth knows that the rainforests are disappearing and most people can tell you how important they are, but still, not enough people are paying attention, not enough people realize this is such a problem.”

The American activist said he was proud to take on the adventure, even though the prospect of dying was hard to swallow.

To avoid suffocating, his team of experts crafted Rosolie a specially designed carbon fiber suit, equipped with a breathing system — as well as with cameras and a system to communicate.

“We didn’t know if this was going to work, if I was going to be eaten, but we made sure that if I did make it inside the snake, I wouldn’t suffocate,” Rosolie explained after the ordeal.

The next challenge was trying to find a snake in the Peruvian Amazon jungle. 

Rosolie and a camera crew spent eight weeks in the Amazon seeking a hungry anaconda and along the way encountered piranhas, electric eels, giant crocodiles and other deadly creatures.

“We spent 60 days out in the jungle, camping, hiking, looking through swamps every night,” Rosolie said.  “During our expedition in the Amazon, several times we encountered this anaconda with the girth of an oil drum.  The problem was we couldn’t restrain it.  There was no way to capture this snake.  We had a 10-person team and they couldn’t hold onto it.  That started spooking us — it was 26 feet and 400 lbs.  We decided to test the suit on a more normal-sized snake.”

 Eventually, they found a female snake, which at 20 feet long, fit the bill.

“When I went up to the snake, it didn’t try to eat me right away,” Rosolie recounted.  “It tried to escape.  And when I provoked it a little bit, and acted a little more like a predator, that’s when it turned around and defended itself.”

The explorer was swallowed head first and spent more than an hour inside the giant snake, adding that he kept in touch with his team the whole time.  He said he was scared that something would go wrong, but at the same time, “I was very excited to do it.”

“You are going up against one of the greatest predators of the planet and doing something that no one has ever done before,” he said.  “Everybody says an anaconda can’t eat a human, that it’s physically impossible.  I’ve seen an anaconda break a wild boar in half.  I’ve seen an anaconda constrict a black caiman, which is a crocodile that grows up to 15 feet.  Anacondas eat animals much bigger than humans.  Once you crush a human ribcage — squeezing before they eat — we’re much smaller than some of the animals they’re eating, Rosolie said.

“And I know of people who have been eaten.  The cook who tours with us in the Amazon — his father was eaten by an anaconda.  So it’s not a myth.  When you’re in these small villages and your mom gets eaten by an anaconda, they’re not running to get a camera.”

He did not give details on how he was freed from the snake, but insisted his team was careful not to harm it and that he was the only one in danger.

“We didn’t force the snake to do anything, we didn’t ask from the snake anything out of the ordinary,” Rosolie said, explaining that “snakes very often regurgitate if they’re eating something and a predator comes by, they have to give up their meal so they can escape.”

The anaconda is now doing well, he said.  But Rosolie faced fierce criticism from animal rights groups, including from PETA, who said “the snake was tormented and suffered for the sake of ratings.”

Rosolie said he even received death threats.  But he wasn’t fazed, saying the shock value is important to increase attention to his cause of the Amazon’s plight.  As he explained it:

“I’ve worked in the Amazon for 10 years, as well as India and Indonesia and other places, and it all goes back to the loss of biodiversity, plants and animals.  

I’m seeing the Amazon disappear.  I’ve seen entire 1,000-mile stretches of rainforest burnt to the ground where every single plant and animal is destroyed — and no one pays attention to that.  I’ve seen scientists spend their entire lives trying to rally public opinion and support, and people just don’t care.

Anacondas, as an apex predator, are a part of that.  I said, ‘I want to do something completely crazy.’  I’ve studied anacondas for years.  They’re a misunderstood species.  People hunt them and kill them.  And I said I wanted to do something that’s going to grab people by the eyeballs. 

So I wanted to do something that would sort of shock people and force a dialogue about what’s going on here — and it’s working.  People all over the world have been calling me saying they hope I get Ebola, that they hope I die, that they think I’m heinous and inhuman and horrible, and that I’m “the Hitler of animals.”

People care about animals.  They don’t make the jump to caring about the habitat the animals live in. 

What’s interesting is that PETA has something like 40,000 signatures protesting Discovery’s special from people who care about a snake — which is awesome.

But those people don’t realize this is one snake– when there are millions of snakes and other animals that are being incinerated right now.

Yet a petition to protect the standing Amazon rainforest has — wait for this — 159 signatures.”

 

A fund linked to the show was set up to raise awareness and money to protect the Amazon and allow for more research of anacondas in their habitat.  After the US showing, Eaten Alive will air around the world.

The Discovery Channel said it expected at least three million viewers in the United States and a million more from around the world.  They got the views alright, except the stunt didn’t go as planned and viewers and critics alike were disappointed Roaslie didn’t get eaten alive after all.

~Via Paul Rosolie, Discovery Channel, EW, YouTube, and Times of India

 

 

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