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Dogs in Cars: California


Doing What They Love Most




Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



If three minutes of sunshine and dog smiles doesn’t make you grin,
we’re not sure what will.

In his short film Dogs In Cars: California, director Keith Hopkin captures eight dogs doing what they love and do best: leaning out the passenger side of their owners’ cars and taking it all in.

Set to the song California by Phantom Planet, the slow-motion video has the flapping ears, rippled fur, and the smiling faces of Jasmine, Kona, Bailey and others as they ride shotgun through the streets of LA.

It’s a moment of sheer bliss and a kind reminder of what’s important. 

Dogs filled with the joy of life, closing their eyes and giving themselves up to the happiest and simplest pleasures that exist:  the day, the sun and wind, travel, and of course, everyday love and being with their people.

When life gets overwhelming, take a page from the dogs’ playbook.  Let yourself be satisfied and content with a simple ride through life, and all the good and little things that happen along the way.




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Meandering Through the Desert of Life


Any Road Will Get You There


Award-Winning **VIDEO**



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



About a two-and-a-half-hour drive east of Los Angeles along the Twentynine Palms
Highway, a tiny intersection brings you to the town of Joshua Tree, population 7,414.

Sharing a name with the unusual Yuccas that punctuate the rocky desert skyline, the town and its neighboring picturesque National Park are about as close to a road-trippers’ paradise as they come.

In a rare morning fog the 10-foot Yuccas jut about the low desert plains in isolation and silence.  For JG Francis, founder and owner of classic restoration specialist Mercedes Motoring, they signal the passage of a labyrinth of dirt roads he’s been exploring ever since he knew how to drive.

Renovating low-mileage diesel ‘Benz’s produced between 1968 and 1985 back to their original condition, Francis has managed making a hobby into a career.  Finding near-perfect specimens worth the timely investment isn’t easy. 

But find them he does, behind the doors of long-forgotten barns or online car forums.  Once they’re fully renovated, they don’t spend the rest of their days behind showroom glass or under cover in a ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ garage.  They get back on the road.

“These cars were meant to be driven, not just sit around looking pretty,” explains Francis at his headquarters in the LA suburb of Glendale, California.  “I’m not that big into the car scene because a lot of them aren’t put into use, and I’ve never connected with that side of the industry and show.”

Classics are not exactly known to be perfect run-about material, but drivability and raw craftsmanship is.  In fact, this is what makes these majestic survivors special to Mr. Francis.  He puts them to the test by taking them on a road trip or two of his own.

“I always take the back roads,” he explains with a smile.  “I avoid the Interstate at all costs.  It’s all just Walmarts, Chilis and Targets anyway.”

He spent his early years spent growing up in Nevada deserts where he lived next to a Mercedes-obsessed car mechanic.  “That’s where it all started,” he says. 

He still makes the desert his special place for adventures and a solo drive.  He loves the emptiness, the seclusion, the loneliness.

What moved Francis to sit behind a wheel instead of a desk?  Or, as he describes it, his decision to “become a corporate drop-out”?  “Working with my hands every day is really therapeutic,” explains Francis.

“You can get lost in the moment.  You can focus on the task in hand, but your mind can drift off into other parts of your life.  I find it relaxing in an odd kind of way.  The peace and quiet, the isolation, and the solitude.  You know, any road will get you there and it all works out in the end.”



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Up in Smoke


Award-Winning **VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Think of it as an explosive love story– with sparks.

Rich and Dee Gibson are a quirky couple who have built a career out of doing what they love:  playing with fire and blowing things up.

As the owners of Rich’s Incredible Pyro, the Oshkosh couple spent more than 30 years traveling around the world planning explosions for air shows, before they semiretired in 2013.

The two met sky diving and bonded over their shared military backgrounds– Rich is a Vietnam vet and Dee worked in the Army Corps of Engineers.

They started their business in 1981, traveling from their home in Illinois to air shows across the country and around the world to create elaborate explosions for locals, who generally pay an entrance fee to watch the pyro-spectacle.

It took Brooklyn-based filmmakers Colin Sonner and Brady Welch a year to finally catch up with the couple in El Salvador, where they filmed this video at the Ilopango air show.  Rich and Dee periodically emerge from retirement each year to work there.

Going into this project, Sonner and Welch said there were two love stories at work.  One, of course, was the love between Rich and Dee; the other was simply the love of wantonly exploding stuff to smithereens.  But what the filmmakers also found was something deeper and more philosophical than what they had anticipated.

You see, Rich and Dee’s dedication to exploding things sky-high goes beyond mere flame and retort.  They call it The Boom, and it has to do with the rhythm, ambience and certain things too beautiful to be put into mere words.

It’s the same mesmerizing quality that led Rich to try to get as close as possible to fireworks displays when he was a kid.  It’s hard to turn away; and it sheds light on our primeval human fascination with all things that go up in smoke and thunder and flames.

~Via NYT, Fence Check, and Vimeo



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Smile to the World


“It’s Your Choice”


Award-Winning **VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.
  ~Dr. Seuss


When you smile to the world, the world smiles back.

People are basically good, and good-hearted.  And when they’re good and good-hearted, they smile.  It’s the curve that sets everything straight.

Smile to the World is about the power of a simple smile.  55 filmmakers from 31 different countries took their camera to capture shots throughout the world of just one simple thing: smiles.

Holzleiter Fanny, seen at right and at the end of the video, is a young Hungarian who was the inspiration and ambassador for Frédéric Viau-Davodeau’s universal film.  Fighting against her debilitating disease with a smile, she reminds us of something important in her three short words: “It’s your choice.”

It’s a good reminder to keep close.  While we will never know all the good a smile does, it’s a light in our window telling others there is a caring, kind and good person inside.



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Three Chords and the Truth


A Rock History Lesson– in 100 Riffs




Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Is it the end of an era?

In the very cool video above, Chicago-based guitarist Alex Chadwick at Chicago Music Exchange plays 100 well-known guitar riffs from 1952 to the present day in one surprising take, providing a rapid-fire lesson of rock and roll history.

In 12 minutes, Chadwick tackles classic riffs from songs by artists ranging from Chet Atkins to St. Vincent and everything else in between.

The transitions are seamless as he moves between keys and artists while chronologically covering snippets from instantly recognizable classics like Wipeout and Bohemian Rhapsody as well as some lesser-known, more recent jams like Marcy Playground’s Sex and Candy and Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out.

And while some of you might’ve seen this clip before (It’s been viewed 7 million times), you might enjoy another run of Chadwick’s amped-up mad skills, playing his 1958 Fender Stratocaster and using a ’57 Fender Tweed Deluxe amplifier, Jim Dunlop Cry Baby, T-Rex Roommate Tube Reverb, pedalboards and a host of other vintage and new equipment.

Alas, we mourn for the good old days.  The ’60s are gone.  Dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free, and the rock and roll never as great.



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The Difficulty of Saying ‘I Love You’


This American Life of Relationships


Award-Winning **VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Love is like a rose.  It’s difficult and thorny and awkward to put into words at times.

It causes some to simply freeze up, uncomfortable and catatonic, unable to mutter those words of deep affection and devotion.  Have you ever felt like you can’t tell someone something important?  It happens.

Meet Bianca Giaever.  She’s a filmmaker.  She is also a relationship consultant of sorts.  Taken together, she helps people say what’s on their minds. 

She swoops in and assists them for getting their message across in a video that they aren’t fully comfortable saying in real life.    Her company, Videos 4U, finds people who are “having trouble saying something.”

The Brooklyn-based director’s latest project chronicles Chicago-based Maia Leppo’s attempt to tell her boyfriend of eight years “I love you.”  Leppo is only seen on camera wearing a mask– because she’s too shy– but narrates most of the video, explaining why neither she, nor her boyfriend, have ever uttered the L word.

Giaever says the idea came as a result of some “serious” conversations for job interviews that she would rehearse beforehand.  ”But I would get there and completely forget everything.  I thought ‘Man, I’m a radio producer, I should just record myself saying the things I need to say, and then I could edit them perfectly and play that instead,’” Giaever said.

Voila!  That inspired her to help other folks having difficulty voicing a thought to break that communication barrier. 

Giaever won’t comment on her next video, keeping mum on which topics of conversation she’ll help people with next.  She says there are a number in the works.

Since Leppo’s boyfriend has now seen the video, the big question is: what did he say back?

Silly you.  ‘I Love You.’



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Inside The Grand Budapest Hotel


The Work of Director Wes Anderson


**Award-Winning VIDEO**



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel abounds with some madcap energy, high whimsy, and more than its share of dark comedy.

It was well-received at the box office, garnering nine Academy Award nominations.  But Roger film critic Matt Zoller Seitz also detected a deep sadness in the film which he explores in his new video, seen above.

The Wes Anderson Collection, is an intricate inside look not just at the story itself, but the dark influences and somber themes running throughout the film—and in Anderson’s career.

Seitz notes how art and artifice, and mendacity and duplicity, both play an important part in preserving legacies and destinies– allowing the historical characters some measure of control in an otherwise turbulent and chaotic world happening around them.  

It’s an intriguing, well-made, and novel assessment that shines a new and different light on Anderson’s latest work– and what is arguably his greatest film.



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Bonsai: Walking the Thin Line Between Life and Death


An American Shokunin


**Award-Winning VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



“There are no borders in bonsai. 

Its peace flies to a rich palace as it does to a humble house, as it does to young or old, or to rich and poor.  This is the true spirit of bonsai.”

  ~John Yoshio Naka


A master is somebody who, every single day, tries to pursue perfection at their chosen endeavor. 

A master doesn’t retire.  A master doesn’t stop.  They do it until their death.  It’s a part of you; it’s who you are.

Shokunin is a Japanese word used to describe an individual that aspires to become a master in their particular craft or art form.

Ryan Neil falls firmly into this description, practicing the art of Bonsai for nearly two decades.  Bonsai, in its purest form, represents the five virtues in life:  truth, goodness, beauty, harmony and happiness.  Bonsai also symbolizes the keys to a lasting life:  nurturing, patience, caring and growth.

In American Shokunin, we get a glimpse at the broader philosophical thinking behind this professional American Bonsai practitioner, as well as some of the inherent challenges and aspirations that come along with the pursuit for bonsai mastery in America.



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U2: Every Breaking Wave


Are We So Helpless Against the Tide?


**U2 Award-Winning VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



It’s a love story of two star-crossed lovers in Northern Ireland during the sectarian unrest of the 1980s, a punk rock Romeo and Juliet—but with brogues.

Irish director Aoife McArdle’s Every Breaking Wave is a short film based on the U2 song of the same name.  Set on the streets of early 1980s Northern Ireland, Every Breaking Wave is built around the themes of moral and emotional abandonment, coupled with the uncertainty of social and romantic relationships.

It follows two teenagers, one Catholic and the other Protestant, who fall in love amidst the ongoing violence of the time.  It was the era of “The Troubles,” when Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants were engaged in a bloody street war over control of the nation and its direction.

“The piece is full of sound and fury.  It contains a lot of things said and felt, with fucking guts, vision and ambition, Birdman writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu said.  “There is no fear in McArdle’s piece– but plenty of humanity, shot and expressed with poetry and without betraying the truth.”

Talking about her vision for the short film, Belfast-born director McArdle said:

“I wanted to make a film about what it was like to be a teenager in the early ’80s in Northern Ireland.  All the different pressures on you, the pressures of friendship, of falling in love for the first time, and all in the face of huge troubles.

Violence was inescapable.  It was on your doorstep. 

I remember very vividly what it was like to grow up when there were bombs going off and the army was everywhere.  I drew on a lot of those memories.

I hope people see that it’s a story, one that’s based on real stories.  It’s capturing a moment in time.  And I hope people feel inspired by how resilient teenagers were at that time in Northern Ireland, moved by their ability to live life in as full a way as possible, despite the circumstances.”


U2?s The Edge said of the short film, “Aoife’s short film expands on the theme which was largely rooted in our own experience growing up in the early eighties in Dublin.  She chose west Belfast in the same period, it was the neighborhood so formative to her.  We thought her work was extraordinary.”

It’s a stark, shimmering ballad of Northern Ireland’s turbulent and violent times, with a small glimmer of hope and salvation shining through.

“Aoife McArdle pulled off one of the most difficult tasks facing any filmmaker.  She created a universal story,” Hotel Rwanda writer/director Terry George said.  “She captured the tragedy of our young men and women, so full of life and passion, energy and possibility, swallowed up by the destroying rage of poverty, bigotry and repression.”

So true.




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‘Florida Man’: Washed up in the Sunshine State


Florida’s Flotsam and Jetsam


**Award-Winning Documentary**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Florida is a state with a strange propensity.   It has the unique and peculiar property of attracting people who are at the end of their rope.

In Florida Man, a surprisingly poignant documentary by director Sean Dunne about the worn-out and inebriated layabouts in the Sunshine State, the viewer meets a wide variety of beercan philosophers in the course of 50 minutes. 

Many of them have tales to tell:  the government’s economic dependence on the incarcerated; the heady thrills of a lifetime of brawling; the murderous tendencies of pill addicts; the undeniable pleasures of an impromptu three-way underneath a beach pier.

It’s not exactly “Fight Club” as much as it is the “Old Drunk Guys’ Parking Lot.”  It’s a love letter of sorts about one of our weirdest and best states and some of the characters in it.

A majority of the footage was filmed outside various bars, motels, Laundromats and tattoo parlors, and certainly a majority of the interviewees, if not nearly all of them, have booze sloshing around their system. However, it’s hard to state anything equivocal beyond the two facts laid down in the title of Florida Man itself:  it’s in Florida, and it’s about males.

Not all of the guys are old, and not all of them are drunk.  Taken altogether, however, there’s an unmistakable commonality among these worn-out old loser dudes who are willing to interact with Dunne and his crew.  As one guy says, “When I moved here I was a damn Yankee.  I got upgraded to redneck.”

To his credit, Dunne had not much in the way of an agenda when he started the movie, letting serendipity dictate the content.  As he says, 

“Basically we just drove around aimlessly, stopping any time we saw something or someone that interested us.  One thing would lead to another and the universe would pull us in one direction or the other.

Most of what you’re seeing in the final film is the entirety of our interaction with these guys.  It was quick and to the point and I didn’t even interview people besides the occasional “Any words of wisdom?”

So what we got was a whole bunch of people telling stories and talking about whatever was on their mind.  It was a strange and exciting journey that took us to a lot of places we didn’t expect.”


Disney World it isn’t.  The succession of mostly unemployed, retired, or near-retired drifters is a resonantly sad depiction of Florida.

Florida Man,” the Orlando Weekly said, is “about those guys you see pretty much everywhere in the state, riding his bicycle along unsafe highways, drinking beers in his front yard with his shirt off, tripping out in a hotel room with his bros.  It’s … well, it’s about as depressing as you could probably imagine it would be, because it seems to be just as aimless and sad as the guys featured in it.” 

A fellow whose footage opens the movie just lives to tussle.  “I love to make people bleed, I swear to God I do,” he says with punch-drunk conviction.

“Once you get to Florida, you don’t ever want to go back north,” is the questionable premise of another inebriated barfly, wearing a U.S. Navy trucker hat.

Moments after declaring, “I’m not a drunk,” an elderly African-American fellow jokes that the “Ace Liquor Store over there is my second home.”

The owner of the same store memorably says, “Here in the liquor store, we see probably 50% of the people arrive by either foot or by bicycle because they all have DUIs,” adding that most of his problem customers drink increasingly more until they “eventually pass away.”  He concludes rather matter-of-factly, “If you have a drinking problem, handle it.”

There’s much more to Florida Man, and it’s best experienced by watching this intriguingly fast-moving slice of the human condition firsthand.  If you have a few moments to spare, spend it with this hardy bunch of exercise and nutritionally-challenged leather-tanned sauced-up dipsomaniacal survivors– thanking your lucky stars that you, too, didn’t wash up as a piece of flotsam and jetsam tossed away on Florida’s shores.

~Via Sean Dunne, Dangerous Minds, Vimeo



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Living the Dream



Devin Graham Makes Every Moment Count




Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



What did you do in the past year? 

If you’re like Devin Graham, you’ve been busy.  Very busy.

32-year-old YouTube uber-darling Graham lives in Provo, Utah, and is well known for his exotic, extreme, fun and upbeat videos that the Humboldt Sentinel has frequently posted through the years.

He’s filmed almost every extreme sport there is:  from human slingshots to water jet packs, wingsuits to yo-yos.  Each video has action, great photography, a lively sound score, a ton of friends and what looks to be a massive party going on.  It’s everything we like in life.

But what viewers hardly ever see is Devin Graham himself.  He’s the guy behind the camera.

Through social media and worldwide recognition, Devin continues to lead the YouTube world when it comes to uniquely capturing the joy of life, making it all look sharp and stunning due to his filmmaking ability and talent. 

Though Devin has successfully produced many videos ranging from nature in Tahiti to puppies at Christmas, his main success and niche is in his work of extreme activities.  While Devin’s career has taken off, he still continues to produce videos that are close to his heart and soul.  Namely, they are small vignettes that in his words, “entertain and inspire the dreams we live.”

Devin’s Facebook bio simply states that he is a filmmaker, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of his tremendous success in the viral video world.  The question most often asked of him is what he actually does for a living.  To answer that question, he replied:

“I love making videos.  I love what I’m doing, and I’m very passionate about it!  I really believe that anyone can reach their goals and reach their dreams.

How I got where I am, why I do it, is what drives me.  My goal with any of these videos is to inspire and remind people that if you love something, to do it.  Pursue your dreams, don’t wait until it’s over, have no regrets, and seize the day.”


At the young age of 30, Devin gained a large enough following to capture the attention of advertisers, enabling him to make a substantial living from the work that he does.

In his early days of filmmaking, though, Devin was a one-man band.  He made his impressive videos without the help of a production company, an agent, a record label, a recording studio, or a production crew.  He did it solely by himself.  And it didn’t come easy

Devin was also well-known for consistently saying it was all about putting in the work and “getting the shot.”  Sometimes that would take him days of travel time, hours of filming, and sleeping in parking lots to capture what might be only a few seconds of footage to use.

“What it really comes down to is just being willing to work when no one else is going to work– so when you’re competition is sleeping, you’re up working,” Devin explained.  “What keeps me in business is being willing to get the shots that no one else will fight for– that no one else is willing to do.“

With his viral media success and popularity, things have changed.  He’s living the dream of what he wants to do.  And he now has a company, production manager, crew, better equipment, and a right-hand man named Parker Walbeck.

Each week Graham posts a new video and his income comes from the ads on the site.  Companies fly him around the world now and put him up in such places as Africa, New Zealand, Iceland, Tahiti, New York, England and Hungary to shoot videos marketing a specific product or event they have in mind.

His YouTube channel DevinSuperTramp has earned over 1 million subscribers and 195 million video views.  His extreme sports videos include World’s Most Insane Rope Swing Ever!!! – Canyon Cliff Jump (10 million views); Flyboard – Coolest Water Jet Pack EVER!!! (5.5 million views); and Human Slingshot 2X – Vooray (1 million views).

“I essentially try to come up with concepts that go viral.  I’m always trying to think of the next big thing,” Devin said.  “What determines my success is my audience.”

“As long as they watch, I can make any kind of movie I want to make, and to me, that’s the fun part.  If you’re pursuing your dreams and preparing for them way in advance, I really believe anyone can reach them.”

~Via Devin Graham, YouTube, and Keith L. Brown



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Getting the Orchestra Together on the Same Page


The Great Human Odyssey


**Award-Winning VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



It’s not easy getting everyone on the same page.

Composer Darren Fung created a magnificent musical score for the upcoming CBC series The Great Human Odyssey.

In an era when live-recorded orchestral scores are a dying breed, Fung, and filmmaker and anthropologist Niobe Thompson, brought together the Edmonton Symphony and ProCoro Canada to one of North America’s premier acoustic spaces: Edmonton’s Winspear Centre.

Over three days, 70 classical musicians and a large team of sound engineers recorded a remarkable score, capped with a sold-out public performance.  The above video, Making of a Film Score, offers an amazing insight into the orchestral and recording process.

We have walked the earth for a fraction of evolutionary time – about 200,000 years.  But in that brief window in time, we’ve colonized the planet and adapted to every one of its odd environments.  It is the great human odyssey

Humans are astonishing.  Thriving on every ecosystem on Earth, we seem quite at home whether its the freezing tundra, waterless deserts, remote Pacific islands, or playing a musical score in a full orchestra.



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Dying On Mars


Candidates Vying to be Colonists


Award-Winning **VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Would you do it?

More than 200,000 people have applied to be on Mars One, a four-man mission to the Red Planet with no return voyage.

Scheduled to depart in 2024, the voyage will be humanity’s first attempts at colonizing another planet.

“If I Die on Mars” is a mini-documentary from the Guardian News contemplating what’s either a suicide mission or one of the most noble voyages a person could ever embark upon. 

Meeting three of the 660 remaining candidates currently competing for a spot on the team, we find out how they’re preparing for the fateful day when they find they’re leaving life as they know it on Earth forever, never to return.

It’s the first manned space flight to Mars– and perhaps a one-way suicide mission.  There’s the physics student in the UK, a young doctor from Mozambique, and an Iraqi-American woman, all happy to sacrifice their futures for a place in history.  Why do they want to leave Earth, and who are they leaving behind?

It’s a poignant exploration of sorts of the human condition.  Have the candidates ever had sex and will they miss it?  Have they been in love– and what happens if they’re chosen for the mission but hit by Cupid’s arrow right before takeoff?  Are they afraid of disappearing forever into the abyss of space?

There’s also the whole issue of mortality and dying alone.  And whether or not you’ve wasted your entire life on what turned out to be a fool’s errand. 

Prepare to be left wondering whether the sacrifice is worth the potential reward.  Should we feel incredible sadness or respect for the four explorers who will eventually embark into the vast unknown?

The list of candidate colonists will be whittled down again, to 28 to 40 candidates on February 16, 2015. 

Good luck and Godspeed.  You’ll need it.



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Thinking Outside The Box


The Illusion of Seeing and Believing


A Truly Awesome **VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



The first time watching Box is a unique and jaw-dropping experience.

Seeing isn’t always believing.  The viewer must juggle the pure enjoyment value of Box with the logistical questions and thoughts about the boundaries of space and matter.

The second time we watched Box—and we recommend you do that on a full screen—the magical illusions seemed less illusory, meshing the images back to a state of reality that we could fully comprehend in our minds.

We watched in star-struck awe.  How did they do it?

The production house Bot & Dolly introduces us to special robotic camera systems that can move objects around with remarkable precision.  Bot and Dolly are former automoble industry robots, rescued from Detroit’s factory floor and retooled for a new life and purpose. 

The twin robots take flat images projected onto screens and seemingly transform them into 3D objects moving about in precise symmetry, while a man, seemingly in total control, interacts with them.

It is rare to come across a video that introduces us to a a technique completely new to the film industry and on the grandiose scale Box presents.  Altogether it’s one magical performance and an extreme experience of optical illusion that isn’t soon forgotten.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.



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Puppy Love


The Life and Loves of Carli Davidson


Award-Winning **VIRAL VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Carli Davidson’s photography was inspired by her own dog Norbert, whose drool she regularly cleans off the walls because he frequent shakes.

Shake, Davidson’s photo series, captures some of the frenzied shakes and drool and the slow-mo fur and eye movements of some pretty adorable pups. 

It’s the moments of wonder and laughter and the combination of innocence, ridiculousness, and the strange beauty of it all that caught us by surprise.  And it’s pure Carli.

An internationally recognized award-winning photographer and animal trainer, Carli’s photographs have been featured in publications such as Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, and Slate.  She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Tim, pets Norbert and Yushi, and a rotating cast of foster animals. 

She describes herself as “an animal obsessed visual artist, photographer, director, and animal and human rights activist.”  You can also add author to that list, too.

Puppies are awesome, it’s a universal truth,” Carli said about her videos, above and below.  “And my thanks to everyone who brought their amazing puppies to the set for us to snuggle with.”

“Excuse the sweat, but I was working in front of a bunch of Fresnel lights and they are verrrry hot!  It was making the puppies very sleepy, and making me very gross.  Also you’re welcome for my wearing my super hot coveralls that were thoroughly smeared with peanut butter.  I wasn’t really planning on being in the shot.“

Carli, her pups, and her videos are nothing less than cute, cuddly and adorable.

We think we’re in love.


Behind the Scenes Shake Puppies from Carli Davidson on Vimeo.



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Blasting Away on Motorized Drift Trikes and Blokarts


Humming Thru New Zealand
Footloose and Fancy Free




Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Devin Graham, aka Devin Supertramp, takes us on yet another
fun-filled awesome romp.

This time, we’re in North New Zealand, where the locals have rethought the use of their spin trikes (which we covered previously here) by adding motors, making for some wicked twists and spins and occasionally, collisions.

Knowing how to have more fun on the island, the New Zealanders also invented blokarts– small three-wheeled highly maneuverable land yachts capable of some tight sailing in small urban settings. 

Using only handheld controls, they’re easy to sail, turning and spinning around in tight circles.  They’re also highly transportable, folding up into a tight package you can carry, stuff into your car trunk, and take anywhere.

Landing near Papamoa two weeks ago after a direct flight from Utah, the team from Devin Super Tramp got straight to work filming their newest video at the locations of Mount Maunganui, Pilot Bay, and the Main Beach.  They also filmed the action on the streets of New Zealand and at the Blokart Recreation Park, setting the film to some bumping music. 

And for all you techno-film geeks out there, Devin and his right-hand man Parker Walbeck used the RED Dragon camera in 6K resolution, a Glidecam, a GoPro Hero 4 with stabilizing poles, and some way-cool quadcopter aerial photography capturing the action.

It looks like the Kiwis know how to have some shredding fun. 

We can’t wait until these trikes and blokarts blow onto our shores for us to wickedly try out in short order.

Below is Parker Walbeck explaining the Behind-the-Scenes filming
of how it all went down:




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Tripping Thru ‘Nam


A Young Man’s 3-Minute Trip


Award-Winning **VIDEO**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Young Russian photographer Georgy Tarasov’s film is a trip through a country once ravaged by war. 

No longer.  That was 40 years ago.

In The Road Story Vietnam, Daniil Tarasov, Georgy’s brother, takes viewers on an adventure through many parts of Vietnam:  from cities to the countryside, by train, bicycle, motorbike, rowboat, and jumping under a waterfall.

Georgy, 23, is a world traveler.  He enjoys sharing his love of travel from behind the camera lens.  Traveling through the country in a 45-day long trip, it took him nearly two months to finish the video after returned to Moscow.

He said they faced several difficulties while traveling and making the video, but the spirit of adventure and wanderlust encouraged them to continue.

“It was an amazing adventure.  The whole trip was remembered as a great trip,” Georgy said, “And Ha Long Bay was among the most awesome places we have ever visited.”

 “I have lots of feelings about Vietnam that I tried to pass on in my video,” Georgy said. “Vietnam is a wonderful place.  It really is all beautiful.  But I cannot tell you which is more beautiful– the northern or southern regions of Vietnam,” he wisely noted.

One of the things the Tarasov brothers loved most about Vietnam was the children.  “They are always happy, always smiling, and I love that,” Georgy said.  He described the Vietnamese people as simply being “wonderful” and treating them well along their journey.

Since being posted on Vimeo last week, The Road Story Vietnam has been praised by many for its beautiful scenes and music, as well as capturing the overall spirit of traveling.

Georgy said he and his brother will return to Vietnam someday.  But next time, they will take the trip solely by motorbike exploring the country– being sure to have plenty of camera batteries and visas in proper order before they go.



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The Sadness of Losing a Best Friend



Crying Pup Grieves Over Loss of His Twin







I noticed Brutus, my Rottweiler, was upset.  So was I. 

His twin brother, Hank, had stopped eating.  He became lethargic, and then, seemingly, began grieving. 

Hank had always been by my side with his Therapy Dog service.  He grieved with me when I was so upset.  Now he looked so sad.  He was still drinking and nibbling on food so I thought he was okay.

He wasn’t.

A week later Brutus and I awoke to his peaceful body next to us as he passed in the night in his sleep.  The above video was shortly after we woke up, missing our baby.

Brutus first woke to find his twin had passed during the night and gone to heaven.  Brutus didn’t want to leave him.  He wouldn’t budge, laying on top of his head.  They were inseparable.

Brutus has never whined or cried out in pain the two years I have had him.  But I clearly saw in his eyes that he was crying for his brother.  The world around him just crumbled.  We both cried.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for my sweetest boy.  Hank did not feel well.  I held him in my arms and let him know I didn’t want him to go, but if he had to it was okay to be free.  That death is a way to be free and not to be afraid.  That I wished I had him since he was a cute lil chunky puppy and that he was the best dog I ever had and that he had made a legacy for other Rottweilers being the extraordinary dog that he was.

A few hours later he was gone.  My father put my mind at ease saying Rottweilers of this size have very short lives and he thought Hank to be approx 10 years old and not 7 like I had thought.

I’m so sorry I wasn’t strong enough here.  Yes, I had a breakdown.  I cried in front of the dogs.  I normally don’t record my real life catastrophes or share them, but this was different.  I wanted to send a message to the world and show how much pain my dog was in because he loved his twin so much.

Let the world know animals feel love and pain just like us.  Share our story.  Animals do have emotions like we do.  Don’t let Hank’s passing die in vain with him. 

I hope something good can come out of something so sad.

RIP Hank the Rottweiler: Unknown — 01-20-15



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Double Deutsch Vision


Sight and Insight are Different Things


**Award-Winning VIDEOS**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



One step aside and you might discover something unexpected. 

It´s amazing what you can find right in front of your door, if you just open your eyes and look a little closer.

In the above video, Travel Where You Live, German photographer Sebastian Linda traveled around in his beautiful home state of Saxony as if he was trekking around in a foreign country.

Sebastian believes that if you travel where you live– and find the awesome places your country has to offer right in front of your doorstep—you’ll see good people, learn volumes, and have new experiences to share with others along the way.

We believe that.  Opening up your eyes, being aware, and seeing the newness of things around you.  It’s the difference between having sight and having vision.  Or, Wake up and Live.

Formic, below, is a bit of a different flavor altogether.  German studio Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg captures in stunning effect the world we don’t often see, down close and personal.  And who doesn’t like Beethoven’s 5th?

Life is one big road with lots of signs.  So when you’re riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind.  Don’t bury your thoughts.  Put your sense of vision to reality.

We’re reminded we are not here merely to make a living.  We’re here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.  We are here to enrich the world.  And we impoverish ourselves if we forget the errand.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.


Formic by Crave from Woodblock on Vimeo.



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Elgin Park


Creating a Miniature Utopia
of How the World Should Be




Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Welcome to Michael Paul Smith’s Elgin Park:  A 1/24th-scale recreation of everyday scenes from mid-20th century America, ranging from the 1920s to the mid-1960s.

Elgin Park is a lot of things: a 1950’s utopia, a fantastical world, and an optical illusion.

Artist Michael Paul Smith’s imaginative town– composed entirely of miniatures– delighted audiences worldwide when
his photo series became wildly popular.

The series posted on Flickr went viral, attracting 76 million visitors from around the world.  Michael’s work has since been featured by media around the world.

For the first time, the documentary Elgin Park dives into the life of this charming, reclusive artist to reveal the dark inspiration behind his work.  What started as an exercise in model-making and photography became a dreamlike reconstruction of the town Michael grew up in.  It’s not an exact recreation, but it does capture the mood and feel of his memories.

Michael serves up a comforting slice of mid-20th-century Americana:  the local banker’s slinky ’56 Lincoln Premiere reflects the summer sun outside the hardware store on Main Street.  A spit-shined Divco truck delivers fresh milk from the Borden dairy.  On the town’s outskirts, where rents are low and hot-rodders use the county road as a dragstrip, a custom ’55 Ford gets a set of loud pipes at a one-bay speed shop.  

Driving Michael’s creation of Elgin Park were his memories of Sewickley, Pa., a real steel-mill town a few miles north of Pittsburgh.  He spent his first 17 years there, and it still holds his heart.  

“Elgin Park is not an exact re-creation of Sewickley,” he explained, “but it does capture the mood of my memories.”

The buildings are constructed of resin-coated paper, styrene plastic, and wood, plus numerous found objects.  Photographing
the scenes with real life trees and woods in the background, Elgin
Park takes on a very real appearance.

The vehicles are from Michael’s collection of 300+ commercially produced, diecast models.  Although drawn to American cars of the ’30s to the ’60s, Michael does not call himself a car buff.  “As a teenager, I was a car enthusiast for the design, not so much the horsepower,” he said.

Describing himself as a recluse, Michael has created his own little world he’d like to live in.  Like photographs pulled from shoeboxes in dusty attics, the images he makes form a parade of memories that, one by one, reveal the focal points and quiet corners of an imagination and a small town called Elgin Park.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Elgin Park book is available for preorders at  All preorders will be shipped to arrive by June 21st and each will be signed by the creator of Elgin Park, Michael Paul Smith.



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The Longest Walk


A Changing Selfie and Beard Across China


Award-Winning **VIDEO**


Christoph Rehage
The Longest



My name is Christoph Rehage, and I like to take walks sometimes.

I was born a fat kid to a Hungarian mom and a German dad in Hanover, Germany, on November 9th in 1981.  During my childhood, I spent my time mostly consuming adventure stories and setting things on fire.  

Later on, I ended up in Wichita, Kansas, for a year, then in Paris as a laborer, and eventually in Beijing as a student of Chinese studies.

At some point in between, I spontaneously decided to walk long distances. 

Walking was both terrible and awesome at the same time, and I realized that this was something that I liked very much.  More than reading. More than swimming.  More than taking pictures, and probably even more than watching TV.

It was better than fire.

I’ve always had the desire for photography and exploration.  On the morning of my 26th birthday, on November 9th 2007, I started walking home from Beijing to Germany.  I walked and I walked, growing a beard that got longer and longer.  I had been planning this trip for over a year before I even started, and getting as far as I got was an experience for which I am very grateful.

Then, after a year on the road, close to the border of Kazakhstan, I stopped walking.  And I got a haircut.

I returned home to our village, made a video about the walk called The Longest Way, and posted it online. Little did I know that it would turn out to become a minor Internet sensation.

I never finished my original goal of walking to Germany.  Instead, I walked for a year and after roughly 2,800 miles, passed the Gobi desert, and then decided to stop walking.

I completed the journey solely on foot– straight, good old walking, and three pairs of shoes.  

There are instances where you can see me in the video sitting on a plane or riding a boat, but those are during breaks I had to take from walking, either to sort out bureaucracy issues or to take care of some personal things.  For example, obtaining the necessary visa for a trip like this was not very easy, hence I had to go back to Beijing a few times to resolve some issues.

Walking is good for you.  It helps you see the world around you in a much different way, at a slower and natural pace.  The sights and sounds are more clear.  In fact, walking itself allows you to clear your head, slow down, gather your thoughts.  There were times I felt myself thinking and living clearly for the first time, and seeing the world around me in a new and different way.

There are so many adventures and stories I could tell.  One of the things I learned is that people all over the world are inherently good in nature.  We all want the same things in life.  We all help each other wherever and whenever we can.  People are just that way.

I met so many folks.  I think if I want to get to know someone, I am most of all interested in what that person likes.  The things that someone enjoys doing, the people and ideas that he or she values.  I want to know that, and through that understanding comes the knowledge of what really makes them tick– and to live and love.



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The Little Drive-In With A Big Heart


The Choice:  Go Digital or Fade to Black


**Award-Winning Short Film**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Longtime projectionist Roger Babcock has been threading
film through the Hi-Way Drive-In’s projectors for more than
40 years.

However, with Hollywood studios no longer offering film prints of their releases, Roger faces an ultimatum:  upgrade all four of the Hi-Way’s 35mm film projectors to expensive digital systems, or close the gates which have warmly welcomed moviegoers since 1960 forever.

The drive-in has relied on historic RCA Brenkert projectors for more than 60 years, two of which have been there since it opened in 1951, Babcock said.  Babcock, 67, and his wife, Sharon, 65, bought the Hi-Way in 1996.

The Hi-Way Drive-In on U.S. Route 9 in Coxsackie, New York, opened in 1951, joining a growing trend when television was just starting to catch on, and the Thruway was under construction.  “We are one of just 400 remaining drive-in theaters in the U.S., down from a peak of over 4,000 in the late 1950s,” Sharon Babcock said.

But now, “Studios are preparing to stop making 35 millimeter prints of their feature films,” Roger said, “shifting to digital projectors that rely on computers with special encrypted hard drives, allowing them to save up to one billion dollars each year.”

Changing to digital would come at an enormous cost.  “It would cost $300,000 to convert all four of our screens to digital projection,” he said.

Roger remains steadfast and defiant in the face of closing down.   “We have no plans on shutting the drive-in down, none whatsoever,” he said.

But finding the money for digital projectors won’t come easy.  Babcock tried donation boxes and a fundraising campaign to the raise money, but these efforts netted just $4,160– which doesn’t even begin to cover the $26,000 to $40,000 deposit required just to get the digital projectors delivered, he said.

Babcock has turned to Social Security to help allow him to offset the cost of digital and keep the movies running for the community.  “Social Security at my age is going to help pay for this,” he said.

“The Hi-Way is going to an absolute extreme to show movies to customers that want to see movies in an outdoor setting,” he said.  “With Social Security, the monthly payments are reasonable enough for us to convert two or three screens, but not four.”

Babcock said the future of the fourth screen is still up in the air.  He said he’s considering buying a used digital projector for about $39,000 to show older movies that aren’t subject to the complex rules and regulations that first-run movies are.  Showing 35-milimeter films on the fourth screen is not an option, he said, because the movie studios prohibit theaters from showing digital movies and film at the same time. “With digital it’s all in, or nothing,” he added.

Digital projection will bring brighter, clearer and crisper pictures to the drive-in, but with many strings attached, he said.  Cost is the biggest factor.  Babcock won’t see anything on his bottom line for seven to 10 years if he switches to digital.

“Right now, our movies are affordable.  A double feature is $9 for adults and $4 for kids for new movies,” Sharon said.  “We don’t want to have to raise our prices to exorbitant levels to pay for digital,” she said.

Over the years, since Roger Babcock started at the drive-in as a box office attendant in 1971, he has learned how to fix just about anything on the 60-plus-year-old projectors in his projection room.  He keeps a warehouse of parts, a place he said he hardly ever has to visit. 

“These projectors are real workhorses,” he said.  “All I replace is bulbs and a gear here and there.”

He takes pride in maintaining the old projectors, and setting up films, which can stretch to 1.5 miles for a feature length film.  He said he loves it when guests assume a movie is digital because the picture quality is so clear.

The manufacturers expect the digital projectors to last just 10-15 years, Roger noted.  “Bulbs that cost $2,000 would only last for 75% of our outdoor movie season,” he said.

Roger also said he needs an internet connection for studio monitoring, something he never had to worry about with the old film projectors.  The projection room must also be a ‘clean room’, too– with heating, air-conditioning, and filtered air year round.  As for doing his own maintenance, that’s off the table, also.  “My contract would not allow me to do that,” he said.  “I would have to bring someone in for $1,400 a day.”

One thing that’s not an issue for the Babcock’s is attracting guests.  There’s a line of cars outside the gate every night before every double feature begins.  He said it’s thriving because they’ve focused on making the Hi-Way a great experience.  It’s popular with nostalgic baby-boomers, young people, and families who can be sure that one screen is devoted to kids movies each week.

“Many regulars come every week to see a new film,” he said.  “We even get people from the city.”

In the face of digital adversity and an uncertain future, Roger is refusing to quit.  He just won’t let the community and his movie-going public down.  And he doesn’t want to retire. 

Simply put, he and Sharon love what they do.  They understand they will have to go digital– or end up fading to black.

“We’re looking forward to seeing everyone during the 2015 season,” he said, with pride.

~Via Tansy Michaud, Adam Carboni, the Hi-Way Drive-In,
   Daily Freeman, Vimeo

* * * * * * * * * * *

Our appreciation goes out to Roger and Sharon Babcock, Joyce Lehnert, and John Waters for being the underdogs and saving a little piece of Americana community.



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A Signpost for Humboldt County


Crime, Humboldt, and New York City: 1981


Award-Winning Short Film


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



NYC, 1981 is Austin Peters’ captivating six minute documentary
about a particularly dark and intense period in New York City.

A companion piece for the drama A Most Violent Year currently in theaters, Peters relates the dark truth about 1981, the year in which the film is set. 

We can only wonder if Humboldt County and Eureka could ever get so bad as 1981’s Gotham, given the crime we’re witnessing everyday on the streets and in the pages of the Times-Standard

Murders, robberies, physical assaults, criminals and drugs seem to be a daily occurrence here, running amok in our Fair City while no one seems to give a damn—from Supervisors to Councilmen, police to prosecutors, welfare workers to probation officers. 

We shovel more money into their burgeoning local budgets with nothing to show for it as a result.  It’s just more of the same crime, day in, day out.  They talk a big line of fiscal woes and promises, but nothing ever really happens for good.  It’s no wonder we have one of the highest per capita crime rates in the state and nation.

Like Eureka, death, assault, burglaries, rape, criminals running rampant, and an influx of drugs made New York City into a living nightmare with more than 2,100 murders in 1981.  That number went steadily into remission, shrinking down to 648 in 2013 after citizens demanded change.

The short film features the people who lived through those heady nitty gritty dirty days, when one could actually be caught dead in Times Square for different reasons.  Or Eureka, for that matter.

If the NYC, 1981 has a gritty ’80s feel, it’s because it was shot on 16mm film and processed at Film Lab, the only company that still developed film stock in New York City.  That company closed its doors for good in December, like many of the shuttered businesses still littering Eureka’s 5th Street.

Speaking in the film are Curtis Sliwa, who spearheaded the Guardian Angels;  Johnnie Mae, an actress who moved to New York from the South;  Dapper Dan, a Harlem street legend and fur salesman;  Penny Arcade (real name Susana Ventura), a fixture in the downtown arts scene; Nick Rosello, a Puerto Rican immigrant and auto body shop owner; and Wayne Walsh, a delivery trucker since he was 18.

NYC made amends after sinking under its own weight into a deep dark dismal abyss.  The Mob is long gone from power; the East Side has seen an arts and business revival; slums and run down areas have been torn down to make way for new development and housing.  The cops and probation officers are doing their jobs.  The Big Apple’s murder rate has dropped 70%, crime is at historic lows, and tourists are flocking back to Times Square.  Gotham’s citizens feel better; proud of their community, their neighborhoods, and the self-made accomplishments to get it done.

Humboldt County should take and learn from NYC’s example. 

Consider it a signpost for our future.  An example that Eureka citizens can and should demand better from our leaders and take back their community, too– especially when the fat-cat bureaucrats, asking for more tax monies without future promise, seem unable and unwilling to do so.

It is up to the people to lead where their “leaders” have failed.

* * * * * * * * * *

For all of those who are striving to make Eureka and Humboldt County a better place to live, thank you.  You know who you are.  And a special shout-out goes out to Charlotte McDonald and Eureka Main Street.


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Breathe in the Air


Award-Winning **Short Film**


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



When we breathe in, we are breathing in the laughter, tears, victories, passions, thoughts, memories, existence, and the joys of life. 

And we barely notice it.

Breath takes us on a journey that explores everything that life is– from birth to excitement, shock and awe, love, surprises, and even death. 

Blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, sharing a first kiss, warming your hands up on a snowy day, grieving the loss of a loved one.  We will take millions of breaths in thousands of ways across our lives.

Feelings often come and go like clouds in a windy sky.  Conscious breathing remains our anchor.  We wonder if Beethoven held his breath the first time his fingers touched the keys, the same way a soldier holds his breath the first time his finger clicks the trigger? 

We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.

It’s the essence of human life that’s beautifully captured here.  Who knew such a short compilation focusing on the myriad ways people breathe could make for a very cool short film?  It may only be a few minutes long, but it’s filled with such rich, emotional material to give one pause for thought. 

Breath is a video that will have you sitting back, relaxing, and remembering to experience life for all its worth.  It’s a reminder to live in the moment, to live in the breath.

And of course, to breathe.


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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




**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 Evolution of Batman


Gotham’s Classic Music and Batmobiles


**Award-Winning VIDEO**


The Piano Guys



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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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




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




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




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
The Internet’s Own Boy
Night Moves
Palo Alto
The Double (audio clip)
Men, Women & Children
The Unknown Known
Citizen Koch
Mr. Turner
The Rover
Winter Sleep
Transformers: Age of Extinction
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Big Hero 6
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Guardians of the Galaxy
Sex Tape
Heaven is For Real
The Expendables 3
As Above, So Below
The Purge: Anarchy
The Boxtrolls
Obvious Child
Only Lover’s Left Alive
The Theory of Everything
Need for Speed
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Homesman
The Imitation Game
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
Son of God
The Congress
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Maze Runner
Bad Words
John Wick
Magic in the Moonlight
Get on Up
The Monuments Men
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Nut Job
Inherent Vice
Million Dollar Arm
The Lego Movie
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Planes: Fire & Rescue
American Sniper
Winter’s Tale
The Legend of Hercules
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
Let’s Be Cops
The Skeleton Twins
Muppets Most Wanted
The Other Woman
Dumb and Dumber To
The Babadook
The Immigrant
Think Like a Man Too
Step Up All In
Earth to Echo
Wish I Was Here
Love is Strange
Two Days, One Night
A Most Wanted Man
Blue Ruin
The Hundred-Foot Journey
The Lunchbox
Big Eyes
Still Alice
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
If I Stay
St. Vincent
Fading Gigolo
Beyond the Lights
The Railway Man
Top Five
A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
God’s Pocket
Force Majeure
Life Itself
The Interview


….We told you it was a long list.


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




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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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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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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The E-Joint Has Arrived



New Marijuana Device Has its Advocates and Critics




Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



It’s discreet, disposable, and mild—and they’re changing the way people consume marijuana.

At a recent Seahawks football game in Seattle, Shady Sadis, 41, took a drag on a slim vapor pen that looked like a jet black Marlboro.  The tip glowed red as he inhaled.

But the pen contained no nicotine.  Instead, it held 250 milligrams of cannabis oil loaded with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

“Nobody noticed,” said Sadis, who owns several marijuana dispensaries in Washington State.  “You pull it out of your pocket, take a hit like a cigarette, put it back, and you’re done.  It’s so discreet.”

“This day and age, everybody has a vapor pen,” he said.  “You don’t know if they’re smoking marijuana or nicotine.”

“It’s the iPod of vaporizers,” said one enthusiast.  It’s “very Apple,” his friend agreed.

The device, called a JuJu Joint, heralds a union that seems all but inevitable: marijuana and the e-cigarette, together at last in an e-joint.  For years, people have been stuffing marijuana in various forms into portable vaporizers and into the cartridges of e-cigarettes.  But the JuJu Joint is disposable, requires no charging of batteries or loading of cartridges, and comes filled with 150 hits.  

You take it out of the package and put it to your lips — that’s it.  There is no smoke and no smell.

Since their introduction in April, 75,000 JuJu Joints have been sold in Washington State, where marijuana is recreationally and medically legal.  The maker says that 500,000 will be sold this year and that there are plans to expand to Colorado and Oregon, where recreational use is legal, and to Nevada, where it is decriminalized.

“I wanted to eliminate every hassle that has to do with smoking marijuana,” said Rick Stevens, 62, the inventor and co-founder of JuJu Joints with Marcus Charles, a Seattle entrepreneur.  “I wanted it to be discreet and easy for people to handle.  There’s no odor, matches or mess.”

Not everyone is so enthusiastic.  Many addiction researchers fear that e-cigarettes will pave the way to reliance on actual cigarettes, especially in teenagers.  And THC adversely affects the developing brain, some studies have found, impairing attention and memory in adolescents and exacerbating psychiatric problems.

“In some ways, e-joints are a perfect storm of a problematic delivery system, the e-cigarette, and in addition a problematic substance, cannabis oil,” said Dr. Petros Levounis, the chairman of the psychiatry department at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Each JuJu Joint contains 100 milligrams of THC, twice as much as a traditional joint, as well as propylene glycol, a chemical normally used to absorb water in foods and cosmetics, said Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.

“We do not know the effects of inhaling constant doses of this agent,” she said.  “We know very little about these products and what they contain.”

Stevens, a former marketing executive who spent 30 years in the tobacco industry, defended the device’s THC content, pointing out that each inhalation is metered by the device.  “Our goal is not to get people stoned so they sit in corner and vegetate,” he said.

Local retailers report that JuJu Joints are catching on, especially with women and consumers in their 40s to 60s.

“You wouldn’t believe the demographic this has opened up,” said Ed Vallejo, 60, a manager at New Vansterdam, a recreational store in Vancouver, Wash.  “This is the older, retired set.  The younger set can’t afford it.”

“I love the convenience of it,” drag queen Jinkx Monsoon said, taking a drag for the first time, pointing out it’s perfect for singers since “you don’t have to burn something and inhale the smoke.”

JuJu Joints for recreational use cost $65 to $100 each, 25 percent of which goes to the state’s Liquor Control Board.  It costs a suggested donation of $25 at medical dispensaries.  Purchasers must be at least 21.

“The underlying reason people buy it is because of its design and because you can smoke it in public,” said Lindsay Middleton, 21, a bud-tender at Green Lady Marijuana, a recreational store in Olympia.  Though smoking marijuana in public is illegal, customers report using JuJu Joints while skiing, hiking and going to concerts.

One may not immediately feel anything after using the JuJu Joint— the company website says to “enjoy three or four hits and give it five minutes.”  Even when it does hit its user, it’s a softer high than most are used to.  After you’ve taken a few drags, one can slip the device into their pocket without worrying about spilling ashes or weed into their pants.

Law enforcement agencies are concerned that discreet vapor pens filled with cannabis oil are already being abused by teenagers, and that many are sure to lay hands on JuJu Joints.

“If you go on Instagram, you will find hundreds of thousands of postings by kids on how they are using variants of e-cigarettes, or e-cigarettes themselves, to smoke pot in the presence of their parents and at school, and getting by,” said Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

According to the latest Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual study of 40,000 teenagers conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014 marked the first year that more teenagers used e-cigarettes than traditional ones.

The study also found that in the past year, 35.1 percent of 12th graders consumed marijuana, making it the most common illicit drug among high school seniors.

But users of medical marijuana may prove to be the largest market for e-joints.  The Food and Drug Administration recognizes no legitimate medical use, and there is little high-quality research backing marijuana as a remedy for the scores of conditions for which it is being used.

A few studies, however, suggest ingredients in marijuana may help relieve pain and improve appetite in patients with cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis.  Some researchers argue that marijuana — especially in the form of nebulized vapor — could be found beneficial to even more patients, if the federal government loosened research restrictions.

“There may be and probably is a legitimate medical use for vaping cannabis, but we need to do the research to figure out if it’s true and to find out the dosing,” said Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.  “But with marijuana being a Schedule 1 drug, it’s so onerous to get the licensure that many people actually skilled to do the research just choose not to.”

Ocean Greens cannabis shop owner Oltion Hyseni says there are a lot of reasons the e-joint is so popular.  ”A lot of people that are new to recreational marijuana or are coming back after years of nonsmoking, they prefer vapes over smoke.  Juju Joints are good for people who don’t want to get so baked they can’t talk, don’t want to set something on fire, and don’t want to inhale carcinogens.  Health-wise, it doesn’t have the agents that smoke has—that’s the number-one benefit,” Hyseni says.

Even though the oil in Juju Joints contains about 40 percent THC—twice the amount of THC as what you’d find in the plant material of a traditional joint— it’s a different experience.

“The first few times I tried one, I didn’t think it was making me high.  It smelled lovely and solved all the problems I associated with other vaporizers, but still, where was the high?” Chris Frizelle said.  “Only 10 or 15 minutes later did I start to feel something, and when I did, it wasn’t the same high I was used to.  It didn’t scramble my brain.  I could read a book without getting lost in the shapes of the letters, like I do if I smoke a regular joint.”

“It was fine, but I missed the sensation of smoking a joint,” said one friend after trying it.  “I felt sort of stoned but in a different way.  It was less intense, but it was kind of weirder.”

The old school way had folks making their own hash oil; grinding up the weed and flushing it with a solvent: alcohol, naphtha, hexane, butane, propane—just about any solvent will do, and stuffing it into a vaporizer by hand.

 ”People left and right are blowing up their houses doing this,” Stevens said, holding up a bottle of cannabis oil someone had made with butane as the solvent. “It’s dangerous.  The other thing about using petrochemicals is that they end up in the final product, so Juju Joints don’t use petrochemicals in the first place.”

After simple trial and error, Stevens devised a system that uses liquid CO2, which is safe to ingest and also acts as a sterilizer—taking care of any bugs, mold, or mildew that might be in the weed.

Stevens is now developing a JuJu Joint that contains only cannabidiol, or CBD, a nonpsychoactive extract of marijuana that advocates say can prevent seizures.  This version contains less than 0.3 percent THC, so it would be legal nationwide.

The world belongs to those who build a better mousetrap, and the sky appears to be the limit for cannabis connoisseurs and entrepreneurs alike in this day and age.


~Via MSN News, NYT, The Stranger, YouTube, JuJu Joint

* * * * * * * * *

Want to know more?   Here’s the unofficial stoner’s review.



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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…

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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Manhunt Drawing Closer for Paris Terror Attack Suspects


Heavily-Armed Suspects on the Run





Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



The Parisian police net is closing in quickly.

A massive manhunt for the perpetrators of France’s worst terrorist attack in generations shifted to the countryside north of Paris on Thursday.

Commandos and helicopter patrols poured into villages following reports that the two main suspects — both heavily armed — were spotted on the run.

Tensions mounted in France on Thursday after the killing of another police officer in Paris and reports that two gunmen sought in a nationwide manhunt robbed a gas station in the northern part of the country.

As France awoke to the aftermath of its deadliest attack on home soil in decades, a national day of mourning was marked with flags flying at half staff and crowds gathering at some of the country’s best-known monuments at noon for a minute of silence.

The memorials came as authorities hunted for the gunmen who a day earlier had launched a deadly attack against the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during an editorial meeting, killing 12 people, including the magazine’s editor, several well-known cartoonists and two police officers.

Police said they are searching for Said Kouachi, 34, and his brother Cherif, 32.  In 2008, the older sibling was convicted on terror-related charges for recruiting fighters for the insurgency in Iraq during U.S.-led military operations there.

Paris prosecutors said they received an unexpected break in the case early by finding the national identity card of Said Kouachi in an abandoned getaway car, media reports said.

Hamyd Mourad, 18, reportedly turned himself into authorities late Wednesday after learning he was being sought as a suspect.

“Hamyd Mourad handed himself in to police … on Wednesday at 11:00 pm after seeing his name circulating on social media,” the news service Agence France-Presse reported. “He has been arrested and taken into custody.”

The two Kouachi brothers reportedly robbed a gas station in the north of France early Thursday, according to French media, and the scene has since been cordoned off.

There were conflicting reports about the sighting.  Some said they were heavily armed and stole food and gas before getting in a Renault Clio and driving in the direction of Paris.  Other reports said the men were armed with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Also Thursday, a female trainee police officer was shot to death while investigating a car accident, but it was not immediately clear if the shooting was linked to Wednesday’s killings.  The incident, which also left a street sweeper injured, took place in the Montrouge neighborhood in the south of Paris.

France’s Le Monde newspaper said the gunman in that attack had two weapons, immediately fled and remained at large.

There were also reports that a mosque in Le Mans, southwest of Paris, had come under grenade and gun attack.

Meanwhile, tense Parisian mourners gathered to honor those killed in Wednesday’s attack.  Thick gray clouds hung low in the sky and residents hurried around under umbrellas with their heads low.

Hundreds gathered in front of the historic Notre Dame cathedral, where the bells chimed to mark the moment of silence.  The somber crowd fell quiet, then broke into spontaneous applause as the 60 seconds ended.

Outside the National Assembly, people huddled together under umbrellas in the relentless drizzle.  President Francois Hollande stood on the steps in the courtyard, facing rows of police standing at attention.

Nearby, four women stood under umbrellas holding hands.  

Another man stood with his fist held high in the air against a backdrop of four flags that had been lowered to half-mast.

The Metro halted service for a full minute, and across the city, some newsstands put up black posters with the words #JeSuisCharlie, French for “I Am Charlie,” to show solidarity with the slain journalists.

~Via Christian Science Monitor, LA Times, Washington Post, New York Times


UPDATE: Friday January 9:

Two simultaneous hostage-takings in France today are linked, with suspected gunmen in each situation connected and knowing one another.

Amedi Coulibaly, 32, a suspect in a Thursday fatal shooting of a police officer in Paris’ Monrouge area, is believed to be involved with a hostage standoff at a kosher grocery, police said. 

Explosions and gunfire were heard inside the grocery store and two individuals are believed dead.

Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said Kouachi are the suspected gunmen barricaded in a printing company in a town northeast of Paris, taking one male employee hostage.

A fluid situation developing minute by minute, more details can be found here and here.



French security forces have stormed the sites of two hostage-taking standoffs.  The terror suspects, the Kouachi brothers and Amedia Coulibaly,  are dead at both locations.  Four hostages also died.



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