Archive | Scene

It’s Nappy-Poo Time!

 

Many Children Were Harmed
in the Making of This Video

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Chris Capel is a writer/director who describes himself
as passionate, creative and pine-scented.

He used to animate talking animals at DreamWorks Feature Animation for a living, but says he strives to one day be a big time director so he can just sit in a chair and tell people what to do.

He loves to write as well and is driven to tell entertaining and engaging offbeat humor stories of any level or size to whoever will pay attention. 

His Naptime! infomercial above is his all time dank favorite, following in the true Griswold family tradition.

Getting the intended twisted emotional response from his audience is considered by Chris to be the ultimate high.  Black tar heroin runs a close second.

Chris lives in Valencia with a cat, two rabbits and his wife Lindsey, who is an aspiring animal hoarder.

Thanks for your help getting our Sunday family snooze on, Chris.

* * * * * * * *

 

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Bringing Water and Life to Others

 

 

World Vision’s Zambia Water Project

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Greed is not good. 

Humanity, distribution, and the delivering of resources are good.

More children die from diseases caused by unsafe water than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.  1,600 children die every day from diarrhea because they lack something as simple as clean water.

Scarce, dirty water locks people into poverty.  Clean water not only gives life, it makes it possible for kids to attend school, for families to provide adequate nutrition, and for communities to prosper outside of poverty.

The current World Vision Water Project in Zambia  hopes to dramatically change life in four communities in desperate need.  The project is part of their overall goal to provide clean, safe water to one million new people this year.

50 percent of rural Zambians lack access to clean water, and 1 out of every 12 children die before the age of 5.

The World Vision project includes 133 new and rehabilitated water points, 1600 sanitation facilities, and 117 communities and schools trained in hygiene.  With the formation of 117 local water committees, Zambia will be equipped to maintain the water points and pay for its own repairs, helping to ensure clean water lasts for generations to come.

Clean water transforms entire communities for generations.  Without clean water, all else fails.  It’s a given necessity for progress and humanity.

We can solve the global water crisis within our lifetime.  For the first time in history, we have the technology, resources, and the distribution to bring clean water to every child on the planet.

The World Vision Organization is reaching more people with clean drinking water than any other non-governmental agency– an amazing one person every 30 seconds.  They believe they can provide clean water to an additional 5 million people in the next 3 years.

That may sound impossible– yet it’s already here, it’s happening, and the mission is entirely possible.

And yes, you can help.

 

~Via World Vision, Keith Rivers, Vimeo, and YouTube

 

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Urban Surfing

 

 

Let the Fun Times Roll

A Soon-To-Be Viral Video

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Devin Supertramp’s team has put it’s own twist on surfing 
for what they call “Urban Surfing.” 

They hit the wicked streets of San Francisco to create what looks like a giant slip ‘n slide.  After laying down some plastic and spraying on a bit of water and adding a few toys, they started the fun rolling.

We like the idea that just about anyone can do this.  It’s an instant urban park slip ‘n slide, a gathering of kids who like to slip, surf, skate, and slide, courtesy of your local fire hydrant and whatever tunes you might have available on hand. 

Oh, it probably takes a lot of plastic, a city permit,  liability insurance and some porta-potties, too.  You know how San Francisco goes. 

And kids really can have too much fun.  Slip and slides have always been fairly notorious for more than a few falls, twisted legs, broken elbows and dented chins.  Nothing says Summer fun quite like tequila shooters and lost teeth.  Fortunately youth these days are very malleable.

We only hope they know the Golden State of Cali is headlong into a drought.  Perhaps taking their plastic sand pails and filling them up, they watered down some thirsty urban trees while munching down some Bear Naked Granola before catching the next performance of
Beach Blanket Babylon.

Slip on.

* * * * * * * * *

Film by Devin Graham. 

Shot in San Francisco using the Canon RED Dragon, Phantom Miro, Canon 5D Mark III,
and GoPRO Hero3+ with Goscope poles, and a Glidecam HD 4000.

The music is ‘Hang Out’ by Radical Something.

Below is the interesting Behind-the Scenes In ‘n Out Takes for you camera junkies:

 


 

 

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What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

 

Self-Judgment and Worth:

A Woman’s Perspective

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

63 women were asked what they see when they look in the mirror.   
Their answers were surprising.

When I Look in the Mirror is a powerful behind-the-scenes exploration of each woman’s thoughts and insights as they take a deep look into the mirror and reflect on themselves and their experiences.

Dozens of interviews were conducted over the course of twelve days to cultivate this collection of voices.  From cancer survivors to a bullied middle school student, each woman’s answer is indicative of her unique life experiences.

Through interviews, vérité filming, and impromptu reflections, this short documentary from Everdream Pictures’ Kristelle Laroche and Ben Mullinkosson deeply explores female self-images, self-judgments, and ultimately, worth and self-love.

Everyone has their own individual beauty.  And no one can ever take that away from you.

* * * * * * * * *

 

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Delivery

 

Life Goes On Against the Odds 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Bill is fifty-two years old.

Sporting an unruly mountain man beard and chain smoking
Camel straights, he delivers pizza on a bike in Brooklyn.

Over the course of several shifts, filmmakers Christopher K. Walker and Michael Beach Nichol’s Delivery unveils an intriguing portrait of a man rushing through life and getting the food to your door while it’s still “hot and fresh” through the Big Apple’s crowded streets and back alleyways. 

And he works hard.

A local legend known for his fierce determination and deliverance to the job and his bicycle, Bill’s been through a hard and weathered life.  At the end of his shift he’ll often look for a place to sleep on a friend’s couch. 

His family and apartment are long gone; his future is limited.  Yet everyday he comes to work, making another hard-earned dollar through sheer perseverence.

Riding the City’s streets as a courier and pizza delivery guy for 30 years, Bill has no regrets.  As long as he can continue to ride his bike, he’s relatively happy. 

“The day I can no longer ride a bike better be the day I’m fucking dead,” he says.

To note, filmmakers Christopher K. Walker and Michael Beach Nichol run a documentary production company called No Weather Productions located in Brooklyn, NY.  Michael shoots and Chris edits. 

Sometimes they switch that up.

 

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Growing Up Bayou

 

Everyone is Happy to Give

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

At 82, Anna Mae Doucet sounds deeply comfortable
with herself and her life.

Doucet is a Cajun.

“I wouldn’t want to be anything else but a Cajun.  I’m happy.  I’m a very happy person,” she said. “Maybe the happiest person in the world.”

On a morning last spring, she sat across a small table from her doting great-granddaughter, Elise.

Doucet is a country girl, having lived along Louisiana’s Bayou Lafourche for 75 years. 

She is Elise’s “Mommee,” the matriarch of a family extending five generations, including 10 great-great-grandchildren who still live in the twists and turns of bayou country.

Growing up in Golden Meadow, Doucet and her six siblings wintered four months a year in the marsh where the rhythms of trapping annually consumed their father.  Then it was back on the bayou to fish and trawl for shrimp.

At home they grew vegetables, picked citrus and peaches, and cared for chickens and two cows. When people baked, they automatically shared a bit with neighbors.

They had no car, Doucet said. Nor, it seemed, did anyone else.  They were poor but she or her neighbors didn’t know it.  They had enough; or as she saw it, they had plenty.  Sometimes the clothes were hand-me-downs; sometimes the bathwater was shared among siblings.

There was no washing machine, dryer or dishwasher.  The labor was hard, but there was also leisure time. Neighbors looked out for another, kept up after each other’s children, and helped one another when needed.  Things—and food—were shared when someone needed it.  Everyone seemed happy to give.  It was a way of life.

They were a community; a tight-knit community, loving of each other and understandably wary of the world outside and its strangers they didn’t know.  There was no crime, no drugs, and to their point of view, no poverty, either.  Rich in relationships, they felt blessed.

“We still had a lot of time to visit, because we had no television,” Doucet explained.  “Wherever you wanted to go, you’d walk.  And you had people sitting on the porches, and everybody wanted to know everybody.  So we’d never get to where we were going to, too early.  Because Momma knew everybody, we’d stop and talk at the friends, you know?”

In time, Anna Mae met and married a fine young Cajun man. He had served in the Navy, came home from World War II and settled with Anna Mae in Golden Meadow to work as a marine engineer for the shrimpers.

In their 52 years together, they lost two children, but raised two more.

Life was hard.  There were struggles.  Little money.  New things wanting to be bought from far away.  Keeping clothes clean and shoes for the children in good stead.  Getting to school could be difficult depending on the weather, impending storms, and the boat-taxi ride to the schoolhouse 45 minutes away.

When hard times came, they moved for a few years to Brownsville Texas, where some other families from the bayou country moved to follow the shrimp.

After their return there was another family move, when they arranged to have their house in Golden Meadow jacked up, trucked to the bayou, and barged 10 or 12 miles upstream to Cut Off, where it sits today.  Old traditions and community roots die hard in this part of the country.

Doucet explained they wanted the safety of being a few extra miles inland during hurricane season.  She remembered riding out Hurricane Betsy in a schoolhouse in Raceland in 1965.  A tornado hit the place, blew out the windows, and hurled glass at the evacuees huddled inside, she said. 

The children were terrified but the adults had weathered many storms like this before.  There was safety among themselves, and with others in number.  And when all else failed, they always had their faith to rely upon.

Elise asked her Mommee some questions.

Does she believe in God?

“Definitely.”

Do you pray?

“Yes.”

In English or French?

“Sometimes both.”

“And I’m your favorite, right?” teases Elise.

“Oh yeah,” replies Doucet, sweetly.

Then, thinking for a moment, she wisely adds…

“All of you are precious.  Whoever faces me is my favorite at that time.”

 

~Via New Orleans News, The Golden Age and Woodkid,
Vimeo, Jeremy Love and Zuda Comics

 

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Trans-Mormon

 

Finding Identity

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Eri Hayward was born and raised in Utah County, Utah.

Coming from a conservative Mormon background, she was raised in the LDS Church and even went to Mormon private school – but something wasn’t adding up.

Eri was born a boy and it was a slow, painful journey for her to recognize she is transgender.

Friends at OHO Media met with Eri and her close-knit, supportive family this summer, just before she flew to Thailand for sexual reassignment surgery. 

A guest speaker at both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University, Eri regularly talks about being a transgendered Mormon woman and reconciling her religion, personal beliefs, and one’s life experiences.

A sensitive portrait of a controversial subject, TransMormon was the winner of the Artistic Vision Award at the 2014 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, winner of the 2014 Utah Short Film of the Year Award, and the chosen Vimeo Staff Pick seen here.

 

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Ballet Meets Robotics

 

A Strange and Perfect Union

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Ballet and robotics have come together in a bizarre
and beautiful way.

Although it seems contradictory, it turns out ballet and robotics have a rather remarkable chemistry. The practiced precision of the dancers and the highly controlled movement of the robot make for a strangely harmonious and completely original take on the classical art form.

Or so it seems, judging from filmmaker Tarik Abdel-Gawad’s film adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Francesca Da Rimini ballet, seen above and below.

Described as “an experiment designed to synchronize dance choreography with robotic motion,” the film introduces San Francisco Ballet stars Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada as they perform highly perfected and precise steps to a massive robot-controlled moving camera designed to track and dance with them across the stage.

The close-up shots, tight and intimate, naturally fit with Tchaikovsky’s expressive and dramatic symphonic adaptation of Dante’s classic story– where Francesca and her
lover are eternally damned to Hell. 

“The film itself brings the viewer closer to a ballet performance than is possible on a stage.  Using a robot allows the camera to be choreographed– as well as the dancers– achieving spectacular shots designed specifically for the performance.  The end result is a film that makes viewers feel they’re in the room dancing with the performers,” Abdel-Gawad said.

It’s hard to argue with such a statement because the result is
spectacular and unique, upfront and personal.

Abdel-Gawad gracefully sums up the project as a breakthrough process that “demonstrated that it was possible to synchronize robotic motion with extremely complex athletic choreography.”

We see it as an innovation that will soon be taking root in Hollywood film production, especially as 3-D imaging and Matrix-like scenes evolve further.

Below is the very interesting behind-the-scenes look of how director Abdel-Gawad brought the whole enchilada together.

~Via Tarik Abdel-Gawad, Vimeo, Outer Places

 

Ballet Meets Robotics from Francesca Da Rimini Film on Vimeo.

 

If you liked the robotic element of this story,
you’ll really like our other fantastic piece here.

 

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Going All the Way

 

‘Roll the Dice’

Award-Winning Video

–and a ’Toon

 

Words by Charles Bukowski

Film by Willem Martinot
Narrated by Tom O’Bedlam

Game of Thrones by Zen Pencils

 

 

“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me a magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.

The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.  I shall use my time.”

Jack London

 

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Beat the Drum Slowly

 

A Dark & Haunted Poem

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Deco tower, rainbow fountain showers
Crystal columns, silver tabloid entry
The celebrity cemetery

A faded trail of a golden age
that flickered out into celluloid ashes
phantasms fantastic.

Outran the avalanche
Outran the avalanche
Outran the avalanche

To the cameras rolling

We beat the Drum slowly

The family jewels, the swimming pool
yards marked by emerald coffins
we heard crimes often and softly
A mystery mist, new systems shift
things recognized from television channels
nostalgia signals, unscrambled.

Outran the avalanche
Outran the avalanche

Outran the avalanche
To the cameras rolling

We beat the Drum slowly

 * * * * * * * * *

Dark, haunted, surreal and vacant. 
Shades of the arid West, a funeral march, Jim Morrison, an empty LA night.
Melancholy and society lost. 
Yeah, we liked it.

~Via Timber Timbre from their album ‘Hot Dreams’

 

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The Faked Star Wars Footage Going Viral

 

 

Don’t Believe Everything You See

VIRAL VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Be one with the Farce.

It is an obvious hoax.  And at the same time, it’s a pretty impressive one.

A YouTube video titled Leaked Star Wars Episode VII Filmset Footage! has been viewed more than 3.5 million times– despite the fact that only a very small child would believe it was real.

The description claims:

“Looks like the Story of Star Wars plays on Earth too in the next episode.

I took these pictures on my Flight back from the States to Germany at the Frankfurt Airport.  

Seems like the biggest German airport plays a key role as an imperial starport in the new episode — there have just been imperial forces at the scene.”

 

The impression is reinforced further by implanted signs and superimposed real objects, shaky camerawork, and some arbitrary zooming in and out by the “photographer”.

But that definitely didn’t happen as the minute-long video shows Germany’s Frankfurt airport taken over by the forces of the Imperial army.

Walking AT-AT tanks plod along the runways, TIE fighters hover and take off, and the film’s familiar Storm Troopers stand guard at the perimeter fences.

In the final and perhaps most ridiculous shot, we pan up to see an obscured Death Star hazily looming over the city.

Who made it and why? 

No one is really sure.  The YouTube user uploading it using the common German name of “Frank Wunderlich” has never posted before or since.  

Could he be a front for a piece of subtle viral marketing?  Unlikely, says Philip Dobree, CEO of Jellyfish Pictures, a visual effects company.

“It definitely wouldn’t have been leaked by the makers of the film.  It’s not good enough, and there’s no reason for Disney to put out something of that quality,” Dobree said.  

The film is also not due out in theaters until December 2015.

Dobree estimates the fake footage must have taken about two weeks to complete, or more if the maker animated the walking tanks by himself.

“I’m guessing this is a fan that has just been playing around.  It is someone who is into visual effects and who has gotten hold of various models of Star Wars vehicles,” Dobree said.  

“It’s just a fan mucking about.”

Regardless, it’s a nice piece of CGI work.  Fake, but fun.

~Via Google News, Youtube, and Frank Wunderlich– whoever he is.

 

 

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The Nonstop Flow-Motion of Barcelona

 

Unique Visuals and Photography

Make for a Stellar Film Trip

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Staying home in Humboldt this summer?

Take a short two-minute trip to Barcelona!

In few other cities is it possible to walk from spectacular location to spectacular location.  Barcelona is one beautiful, cosmopolitan place; a photographer’s dream.

Photographer Rob Whitworth had a fantastic time adventuring around Barcelona’s winding streets making his ‘flow-motion’ film, a very fast moving Vimeo Staff Pick that’s unlike anything we’ve seen.

You get the easy end of the traveling camera stick here.  Rob reminds us that while his film is short, it took a lot of manpower to get it done.

How much effort?  Try 363 total hours of work. 

Yowza.  Let’s review the numbers:

There were 75 hours of logistics and travel.  31 hours scouting and finding the locations. Another 78 hours shooting film and 179 more spent in post-production hours.  Altogether, Rob compiled 26,014 raw camera files for a whopping 817 gigabytes of data.

And it took more than a few cameras and gear. 

How much do you ask?  Well, for you camera buffs out there, let’s try:

A Nikon camera D800 DSLR, a Nikon D7100 DSLR, another Nikon D7100 DSLR, and lastly, his favorite  Nikon model, a D3200 DSLR.  We guess Rob is a Nikon kind of guy? 

To note, he also used a wide arrangement of at least six special zooms, fisheyes, wide lenses and filters ranging from 10.5mm to 200mm.

For those having been to Barcelona, you will recognize the familiar locales Rob shot of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Gran Teater del Liceu, Sagrada Familia, Museu D’Historia De Barcelona, Palau de la Música, and the Santa Maria del Pi, among others.

Nice job, Rob. 

We hope you were able to enjoy the rest of what Barcelona has to offer– all the fine wine, sunshine, fashion, art and architecture, pretty ladies dressed to the heels, and the other beautiful things Spain has in store for everyone;  that is, when you weren’t glued behind the lens bringing us these wonderful and spectacular images.

If you like Rob Whitworth’s work, you might also like the other fast-motion Vimeo Staff Pick film he did, This is Shanghai.

 

~Courtesy of Rob Whitworth and Vimeo

 

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Mad Max’s Road Warriors—With a Twist

 

Leave it Up to Those Aussie Bashers

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

We like the Aussie style of doing things. 
They’re a tough bunch.  And it’s oh so…
…Humboldt.

The NSW Variety Bash is Australia’s biggest motoring event, raising
more than a million dollars in August each year for kids in need.

It’s 110 weird, wacky, old and tricked-out vehicles run through 2,750
miles of Outback Hell and back. 

The 380 colorful characters who participate provide a unique spectacle akin to a circus caravan for the 17 towns that they visit along the way of New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.

Given that the Bash criteria are that the vehicles must be pre-1974, the colorful convoy is truly something out of a Mad Max movie– but with a charitable cause in hand.

In the video above you’ll spot a spectacular array of vehicles spanning three decades from 1959 to 1974: cars, ambulances, buses and fire trucks.

The oldest car in the fleet is a 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon, while a 1964 ‘Chico Roll’ themed Wolseley 2480 MK2 proved to be the most enduring by having survived 25 previous rough and tumble Bash events.

Other classic cars hitting the road are two Rancheros, 32 Fords, 36 Holdens, some minis, a Volkswagen Beetle, Ramblers, two Chevy Bel Airs, an Austin, a ‘74 Ford F100 Ambulance, and 12 rugged, dirty and dust ridden rag-tag Mercedes.

They rock, roll, rattle and hum into the towns hosting them.  The Bashers deliver much needed resources like sporting equipment, play equipment or special needs/medical equipment along the way to the local schools they visit. 

Schools kids put on events.  Beer, games, Aussie camaraderie and celebration pour forth in great fanfare.  Hotels get into the act sponsoring their locales and favorite vehicles. 

In short, it’s one big party and a hella good time playing
Road Warrior along the dusty ruts of the Outback.  While
there are few real rules, blatant cheating and bribery are encouraged.  Please check your weapons at the door.

To take part in the Bash costs a tax deductible donation of $8,500 to Variety, the children’s charity.  Any amount raised above this may be used for the purpose of bribing and corrupting officials during the event.

Bashers travel in the guises of cowboys, hippies, mermaids, Indians, ladybugs, Smurfs, Shrek, the Flintstones, and Batman and Robin. 

The oldest basher is 80-year-young Beryl Driver; set to complete her 15th Bash dressed as a Mermaid and in her appropriately sea-themed 1963 EH Holden.  We said they were a tough bunch.

The Bash is not a race or a rally as much as it is a hellacious drive in the Outback with fellow like-minded fun raisers.  They drive the miles for the smiles; travelling to parts of Australia they wouldn’t normally see, ramshackling their vintage vehicles to all heck, driving like a bat outta hell, and at the same time raising money to support kids in need. 

Yeah, sounds like fun.  We like the Aussie style of getting things done. 

Since the first Bash began, the event has raised in excess of $115 million with who-knows-how-many miles piled on and cruisers wrecked. 

Someone should tell our local big money cannabis weed farmers of Southern Humboldt to put their jacked up 4X4s to a similarly good use and charitable cause.

~Via Vimeo, NSW Variety Bash,
and Australasian Paint and Panel

 

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Slip ‘N Slide Cliff Side

 

 

One Slick Ride to the Bottom of the Chasm

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Yeah, it looks fun alright. 

Sun, water, scantily clad bodies, and a whole lotta height.

Ooh La La.  Finally.   A slip and slide extreme sport for sober, trained, mature adults. 
Like that would ever happen in real life.

Director Devin Graham released an online video garnering 3.5 million views in the past two weeks that features young kids sliding off a 50-foot cliff and landing in water in Utah.  The only thing is, the kids here are supposedly trained professionals. 

We think.

The participants take good advantage of the high drop by performing some twists and flips on the way down, but running a makeshift water slide all day in a dry, isolated location has its challenges.

A behind-the-scenes video (seen below) shows how the crew perched themselves on the cliff to record the slides.  There were a few issues with lack of water so they used environmentally friendly dish soap to ensure they could make it down the slide.  Judging from the scum gathering at the center of the pool, we’re not sure how ‘environmentally friendly it was.

Though it appears fun, it’s not appropriate for everyone who lives near large cliffs.

The stunts performed in this video were done by trained professionals and under the supervision of professionals; we insist that you do not try this at home,” the director warns in the video’s description.

Good idea.  Our day isn’t complete unless we suffer a mild concussion and completely blow out the family jewels.  And lay off the sauce unless you really want to knock yourself silly.  Or having to upchuck and enjoy your lunch and those Long Island Teas twice.

Still, it does look hella fun, doesn’t it?

 

 

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Alone Again… Naturally

 

Keeping Body and Soul Together
Assuming Others’ Identities

 

Cannes Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Charles makes his very sad life happier.  By assuming the identities of others.

After his wife leaves him, Charles begins to assume the identities of strangers at a local coffee shop to avoid being alone.  All with the simple wave of the hand and a few well-placed half truths. 

It all works out for the best in the end.  Sort of.

A New Man, directed by Hughes William Thompson and supported by the Kevin Spacey Foundation, was based on the short story Healthy Start by Etgar Keret.  

A beautifully crafted and compelling short film, A New Man gained numerous accolades and the winner of the 2014 Cannes Lions Young Director Award in France.  It has aired at  number of festivals and was particularly well-received at the Academy-qualifying Palm Springs ShortFest in California and the NY Shorts Fest. 

Thompson himself is a young director, writer, and photographer living in New York with a flair for offbeat characters, surreal subjects, and a natural sense of wry humor in his films. 

We hope you like his unusual piece as much as we did.

 

 

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The Man Who Turned Paper Into Pixels

 

Claude Shannon:  Founding Father
of the Digital Age

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

He’s the man you never heard of, but should have. 

He was more important to our digital age than the familiar names of  Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. 

He was responsible for what we know today as the digital revolution.  If you’re reading this, you have him to thank.  He’s the guy who started it all.

Claude Elwood Shannon saw the change that no one saw coming:  the idea that we could take a book, a painting or a song, and send it through cables and wires or even thin air to the other end of the world– and it would be identical on the other side.  And that was back in 1948.

How did we make such a mind bending transition into the digital world?  And how does it work?  It turns out it was all based on Shannon’s concept that is surprisingly beautiful in its simplicity.  

The short video above tells us what that idea is in a nutshell,
and about the man who figured it all out.

Considered the founding father of electronic communications age, Claude Shannon was a mathematical engineer whose work on technical and engineering problems in the communications industry laid the groundwork for both the computer industry and telecommunications.

After he noticed the similarity between Boolean algebra and the telephone switching circuits, Shannon applied the principles to electrical systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1940.

While working at Bell Laboratories in 1942, he formulated a theory explaining the communication of information and worked on the problem of efficiently transmitting information. Shannon’s profound mathematical theory of communication— binary code– was the climax of his mathematical and engineering investigations.

The concept of entropy– a degree of uncertainty– was an important feature of Shannon’s theory, which he demonstrated to be equivalent to a shortage of the information contained in a message.

The entire science of information theory grew out of one electrifying paper that Shannon published in 1948, when he was a 32-years-old.

Shannon showed how the once-vague notion of information could be defined and quantified with absolute precision.  He demonstrated the essential unity of all information media, pointing out that text, telephone signals,
radio waves, pictures, film and every other mode of communication could be encoded in the universal language of binary digits, or bits– a term that his groundbreaking article was the first to use in print. 

In short, Shannon saw the move from analog information to
a digital one, and with great vision and clarity.

Shannon laid forth the idea that once information became digital, it could be transmitted without error. This was a breathtaking conceptual leap that led directly to such familiar and robust objects as computers, modems, CDs, MP3s, and even HDTV.  Without Shannon, computers and computer science could have been very different.

Shannon made many more discoveries and received a slew of prestigious awards, citations, honorary degrees and plaques, including the Nobel Prize, that filled an entire room of his house. 

He didn’t care to publish much, had a great sense of humor, and invented a mathematical model for juggling, a juggling unicycle, a device for solving Rubik’s Cubes, a chess playing machine that spit out wry comments along with its moves, a 600 foot stair lift to take his kids down to the lake, and a mechanical mouse capable of using stored information and artificial intelligence for navigating mazes and considered to be the first artificial learning device ever
created.  And that’s the short list.

Almost as important, as an MIT professor, Shannon taught scores of the nation’s brightest students his theories and applications of communication, electric relays, circuits and switches, and applied engineering and electrical mathematics.  His students revered him, and in turn, futhered his ideas by creating and  developing scores of the digital inventions and devices we use and enjoy today.

By1985, however, he and his wife began to notice certain lapses and eccentricities in his behavior.

He would go for a drive and forget how to get home.  In 1992, when the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers was preparing to publish his collected papers, Shannon was disturbed to realize that he couldn’t remember writing many of them.  

By mid-1993, with his condition becoming apparent to everyone, the family confirmed what many had begun to suspect.  The once-brilliant genius, inventor, and renowned professor Claude Shannon had Alzheimer’s disease.  Later that year, his family reluctantly placed him in a nursing home.

Claude Shannon, the founding father of the information age and the digital revolution, died in 2001.

 

A fascinating man, his bio can be found at the New York University site here.

Curious?  You can read more about him here or in the Wikipedia entry here.

Even more interested?  Spend a few minutes on this lively piece in Technology Review.

Super interested?  Find out more in this very personal account.

 * * * * * * * * *

 

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Follow Your Fears

 

And Hold Onto Your Dreams

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Instead of trying to eliminate problems or avoid fears, run towards them.  They’re your first stepping stones
to greatness.

Consider Brad O’Neal.

O’Neal always had the dream since the age of 12 to be the first person to jump from level ground and off a ramp with his dirt bike– and then base jump on the way down as his bike crashed to the terra firma below.

That’s scary stuff for a 12-year-old.  But for O’Neal, it’s all about holding onto your childhood dreams when you encounter what seem to be impossible obstacles.

Now 26, he made the attempt becoming the first person to jump a motorcycle high enough to parachute from.  He built the ramp and completed the jump you see here– and successfully walked away from it safe and sound. 

He also set a world record by doing so, jumping 150 feet into the air before tossing out his chute.

Creating the dream was a beautiful struggle filled with much planning and many unexpected hurdles.  For O’Neal, he poured his heart out without hesitation and put everything on the line to make it happen.  

Witnessing his jump and describing the process reminds us that obstacles
don’t exist to stop you;  they only test how badly you want it.

Have fun …or die.

 

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Meet the Hoverboard in Real Life

 

Skating Above Air & Water

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s as awesome as it sounds.

If you have ever seen the second or third movies in the classic Back to the Future movie trilogy, then you know how cool the idea of a Hoverboard is.  

If you haven’t, the idea is simple.  It’s like a skateboard without wheels, allowing the rider to almost magically hover above the surface.

Devin Graham, a popular YouTube personality known for his extreme sports videos, got his hands on the slick water-based hoverboard in Cancun, Mexico.  Created by Zapata Racing, the hoverboard uses a 59-foot hose attached to a watercraft and can surprisingly jam up to heart-pounding speeds of 23 mph.

There have been various attempts over the years to create a Hoverboard, but nothing happened that was of any real use until now.  While it isn’t quite the same as in the movies, the water Hoverboard shown in this video grabbing a whopping 2.5 million views over the past two weeks is about as good as it comes for the time being.

We’re still waiting for a real-life air Hoverboard to hit the streets near us sometime soon.

Below is the behind-the-scenes look of how Devin made this video:

 

 

Devin would want us to include this for your extreme sport curiousity: 

Sponsoring the filming and production, Rocky Mountain Flyboard is the largest Flyboard operation in the US, selling Hoverboards, Flyboards, parts & accessories.  They have a Business Quick Start package for people who want to open a business and get up and running fast.

If you’re down in Mexico, check out AquAXtreme for Flyboard rentals in Cancun.  You can try one out and they’re the ones who hooked up Devin’s team with the equipment and logistics for the making of the viral video here.

Happy Hovering.

* * * * * * * * *

 

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Building Choppers: Born Free and Born Again

 

Tom Fugle’s Story

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

People build all kinds of things for as many reasons. 
But what’s the obsession about motorcycles?

If you ever had one, you would know.  The graceful beauty of the bike.  The roar of the engine, the ride of the road, the wind and world and a breath of timelessness whipping into your face and soul.  The independent freedom and motion and glide, the power and carefree excitement.  The mundane reality of an otherwise humdrum life turned upside down, making the spirit come alive feeling real and present. 

Although Tom Fugle isn’t a household name regarding choppers, his bikes and general way of life have been going on for well over four decades.  A living legend starting with his first builds in the early ’60s, it’s evident Tom was one of the first
and true pioneers of custom Harley motorcycles.

Working to complete his customized chopper for the Born Free motorcycle show, the 72-year-old long-time bike builder truly loves what he does, telling about his lifelong passion for choppers in the above video by Scott Pommier. 

After years of toiling in relative obscurity and near poverty, Tom’s work is finally getting some of the recognition it deserves, and after lovingly building customized bikes for a long, long time.

Tom is all about the love of old motorcycles, and like-minded individuals having a good time tinkering away in their own machine shops rebuilding the old bikes of the past– with the meditative art of creating new ones from the inspirations springing forth.

 

…For CJ Bowling and fellow bikers, with love and appreciation.
    Via Vimeo, Street Chopper, and Inner View

 

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Living on the Edge

 

Simply Do the Best You Can Do

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Thomas Bennett is a deeply personal documentary with a universal message about how we approach life.

Director Nathan Honnold’s captivating short film is a touching portrait of a man we’re probably more apt to ignoring.  Providing an insight into the Thomas’ life and mind, we take a journey through his upbringing, his collections, his home and his health.

Honnold described the film in his own words:

“Diversity is very important to me as a filmmaker, as long as the same thread weaves the stories together.

I have a fascination with “underdog” characters, certain characters who aren’t expected to succeed and live on the fringes of society.  When approaching a new filmmaking endeavor, the first thing is the struggling empathetic character, and then the world built around it.

I came to know Thomas through his voice.

One day while walking through the park with my camera, I heard a voice singing hymns through the trees.  As I followed the voice I found myself face to face with Thomas Bennett.  Immediately I knew I had found my character.

After he was done singing he informed me that he had already won an Emmy and an Oscar.  He told me being in a movie was one of his favorite things in the world and at that moment I knew we met for a reason.

Working on the film with Thomas was a great way to build our friendship.  We shot for about a year.

Every week during production I would bring my camera and let Thomas decide where he wanted to go.  Since Thomas doesn’t have a car, I would pick him up and we were able to visit faraway places that he had not been to in years.  The film became a documentation of our weekly hangouts.

There were certainly moments during production when I had conflicts between being a friend and being a filmmaker.  Those moments mainly happened when Thomas was having health issues.  Being a friend and a filmmaker in moments like those caused questions of exploitation and ethics, but I had to push through and still capture the moment.

The last time I saw Thomas Bennett was 2 days ago.

We still see each other often, and try to hang out each week. Currently his pin, and trophy collection is larger than ever, and he has a new award from the film winning the Atlanta Film Festival.

We still hang out at McDonalds and he orders the Big Mac, his favorite food, while proudly wearing tiaras and medals.

I hope after watching Thomas Bennett people see persons around them in a different way. Instead of overlooking someone, think about their story.

The last words Thomas speaks in the film are what I want people to walk away with:  “I just do the best I can.”

This is ultimately the best we can do.  And if Thomas is making
it work, anyone can.”

~Via Vimeo, Nathan Honnold, Thomas Bennett, Director’s Notes

 

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Who Are You?

 

Portraits of Gods and Beasts

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Remi Chapeaublanc is quite the rugged individualist.

He’s the French photographer who set out solo to traverse Mongolia astride a motorcycle for 17,000 miles, carting camera equipment along with his food, tent, and toothbrush to go find himself amid the primitive wilderness.

The renowned photographer stumbled upon a wild and sparsely inhabited place where men and animals are mutually dependent on each other for survival.  He returned back to his native Paris four months later, capturing many unique and wonderful images.

Chapeaublanc is known for distilling an enigmatic environment down to the basic two fundamentals:  its people and its animals.  His raw portraits, made outside the studio, leave the viewer to judge the man, the animal, and the divine.

By exploring their rugged visual relationship, Chapeaublanc marries portraiture with documentary to create striking images that are so beautiful, so sparse, so real, you’ll swear you can still hear the wind whistling through the barren Mongol wilderness.

 

Gods & Beasts — English teaser from Remi Chapeaublanc // LeCrapo on Vimeo.

 

We suggest seeing these two videos on your large-screen settings.

 

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The Hands We’re Given

 

Putting Them to Good Use

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

“How true Daddy’s words were when he said:  all children must look after their own upbringing.

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

~Anne Frank

 

As we grow older, we will discover that we have two hands:  one for helping ourself, the other for helping others.

The familiar story of Matthew 25:14-28 is of the master who gives three different servants an opportunity for using their hands.  It’s a short parable about good stewardship and investment.

Each servant in the story is given a specific amount of money called talents.

The first servant is given five talents.  The second servant is given two talents.  The third servant is given one talent.  Jesus says in telling the story that the master gave each servant an amount of talents based on their ability.

The first two servants invest their talents wisely.  They double their investment.  The third servant, however, chooses to bury and hide their talent out of fear. 

The master praises the first two servants for being useful with what was given to them.  They used their talents as tools.  However, the master is harsh with the third servant who chose to not put his single talent to good use with his own head and hands.

It’s a reminder of sorts:  we’ve all been given our two hands to use as talents;  one to receive with, and the other to give with.  Material things can be lost and stolen, burn and rust and decay, but no one can ever take those hands away.

If you want to see a change for the better, take those everyday things into your own precious hands and use them wisely.  And it is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.

The world is a very different place for us to live in now.   We hold in our mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty.  And we simultaneously hold the ability to abolish all forms of human life. 

We need to use our hands—and our heads—wisely, each and every day. 

These are the hands we’re given.  Use them to make a place
worth living in– and showing just where our lives are going to.

* * * * * * * *

 

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Western Civilization

 

‘I Want It, I Want It, I Want It . . .’

 

Vimeo Staff Pick **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Lucas took one of those trips
That Americans of a certain rage

Must take—to find themselves.  In Utah
Lucas found himself marooned

In the wilderness, 50 miles
From society, covered in flop sweat

And Cheetos dust, perched on the roof
Of his teenaged Pinto as it neighed

A swan song.  His cowed cell phone crowed:
Out of range, where seldom is heard

A word.  Should he hike back to Moab
Should he wait for his satellite

To synch or should he scream like Job
And curse the day he was born?

To keep awake he stared at the sun
And sneezed.  After a week, he came to

Believe that snakelets were zagzigging
From his brain to his heart so that

He felt what he thought.  That was enough
To move Lucas from hood to the earth.

He mimed building a fire and cooking
A can of beans.  At dusk, Li Po,

Came down from the foothills, looking
For Keith Moon.  Lucas offered regrets

And faux joe.  They discussed The Who.
Substitute is their best song,” Lucas said.

The poet disagreed:  “Magic Bus
The version Live at Leeds.”

From the arroyo Steve-the-saguaro
Plucked his mesquite ukulele

As he sang, Thank My Lucky Stars
I’m a Black Hole  Lucas joined on

The chorus and Li Po shadow waltzed.
Later, over spirits, Li Po cupped

His ear and whispered, “Do you hear
The hoo-hah of hoof beats?  The great herd

Is here to lead Old Paint to that
Better place ‘where the graceful whooper

Goes gliding along like a handmaid
In a blissful dream.’  Lo siento.”

Then Lucas submitted to gravity.
When the highway patrol found him

He looked like a dried peach.  They emptied
Their canteens over his face until

His skin sprung back, like a Colt pistol,
To the lifelike.  On the bus ride home

Lucas slapped himself silly, chanting:
                                                                           I want it, I want it, I want it . . .

* * * * * * * *

Western Civilization is an animated poem written by
Peter Jay Shippy and Directed/Animated by Alicia Reece.

Peter Jay Shippy is the author of Thieves’ Latin, Alphaville,
and How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic.

 

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Take On Me

 

Jeremy Weiss and his Deity Cryptkeeper

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Snow and ice all over your ramps?  No problem.  Just melt it off with a blow torch.

Freeride bike athlete Jeremy Weiss is the young dude who embraces his goonie riding style and keeps doin’ his thing.

A local to Kelowna, British Columbia, he moved to Markham, Ontario in October of 2013 to work on his biking and improve his skills over the winter months.  Jeremy primarily rides the indoor bike park on his Deity Cryptkeeper bike (which is also his sponsor) and has been consistently working on growing his list of tricks, indoors and out.

This videos above and below illustrate just how much Jeremy’s riding has improved over the past few months.

However, no one should ever subject themselves to the shame of running pads on the outside of their jeans. That says geek, not goon.  Regardless, it’s gnarly and the last clip of him squirreling out shows the underscoring humility of Jeremy despite all the accomplishments and trophies he’s earned over the years.

The riding, filming and tunes are gonna draw you into this way sticky wicket edit, so you might as well sit back and take it all in.

 

Deity: The Chamber from deity on Vimeo.

 

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The Illusory Rapture of Woman

 

Womanhood, Femininity and Grace

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Stephanie Di Giusto’s film is a surrealist reflection on the femininity, assertiveness, and purity of women.

It’s also a love story of sorts.

Reflecting another side of femininity, it’s the stirring truthfulness of mysteriousness and strength with every look and movement that grabbed us. 

The short thread of this tale is tense in parts.  A confident gracefulness battles the frailty throughout.

Looking solemnly inwards, she runs away frightened by her dark double.  Perhaps it’s her mirror reflection, perhaps a sister in dreams.  White horses bolt, a wildness and impatient purity of energy and victory.

There’s the euphoria of flight and graceful movements, released from surface and reality.  The urban environment gives way to the natural.

Light headed, she is at the top of the tree of life, giving herself up to an appeasing sun.  Streaming along to a reflection in the water, she is a sensual rapture winging along to the evolution of all things.

Captivating and sensual, LØV is a unique spirit.  Di Giusto’s beautiful little film embodies a wholly different take altogether, capturing the very feminine and mysterious aura of womanhood that we’ve never seen or experienced before.

 

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Making Art and Shutting Up

 

Making a Statement on White Trash

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“There is a danger in overthinking and over verbalizing.

I can tell you, I know some artists that I really love their work but once they start talking about it, I’m like, shut up.”

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Kim Alsbrooks paints historical pictures and portraits on trash.  Although initially working out of Charleston, Kim now works and lives in Philadelphia.  Her work of important and well-to-do  people back in the day done on throwaway metal garbage has been exhibited in prestigious galleries throughout America, including the National Gallery in Washington DC.

Her style and philosophy of art  is unique.  Anyone can create it.  It can be made from almost anything you can find, she says.

Of her art painted on flattened cans that she calls Whitetrash, she notes:

“The trash is found flat, on the street.  One cannot flatten the trash.  It just doesn’t work.

It must be found so that there are no wrinkles in the middle and the graphic should be well centered.  Then the portraits are found that are complimentary to the particular trash.

Generally I depict miniature portraits from the watercolor on ivory era—the 17th-18th century more or less. The trash is gessoed in the oval shape, an image drawn in graphite, and then painted in oils and varnished.

I began in 2004 while living in Charleston, SC.  My friend, a Women’s history professor, got me thinking about historical biases and I began to consider the fallacies that lay before me.

What’s up with those people painted on ivory?”

 

 

 

 

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Disgrace

 

A Family on the Brink

 

Vimeo Staff Pick **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Let’s put it out there.  This isn’t a pleasant feel-good film.

It’s a bit unpleasant and painful.  It cuts to the chase.  It’s reality. 
Families get that way when crisis and frustrations bubble to the
surface.

J. Casey Modderno’s short film Disgrace is a look at one family system
in turmoil.

Facing financial uncertainty and stress, a father confronts his teenage son about some items found in his bedroom.

Like many a teenage boy throughout history, Milo has himself a small stash of pornography, however his tastes veer to the more extreme side of sexual interaction.  Disturbed by his son’s prurient interests, Dad’s confrontation with Milo becomes all the more heated– until it boils over.

It’s a timely film of a damaged family.  The family environment is where the true intensity and disturbance originates.

It’s not simply a judgment on Milo’s sexual leanings.  The fact is, there’s a lot going on with the family.  From the financial stresses to the general interaction between the siblings and parents, there are hints that this one moment may be
the final spark that lights the powder keg. 

And if not this, it would have been something else.

This film is an intense experience.  And it’s impressive how up to the acting task everyone is.  Their performances are gritty and real, elevating the film’s intensity in such a way that one gets anxious and emotional just watching.  Presenting a level of engagement that one often hopes for when watching a film, it’s no wonder this harsh little gem garnered numerous film awards at screenings across the country.

In the end, Disgrace is a powerful piece of short film cinema, and a solid acting showpiece by all involved.

There are numerous layers beyond the obvious conflict.  You could run Nature vs. Nurture debates on this one back and forth, making the impact of the film far greater than its 14-minute running time.

The moral of the story? 

Remember when you were young.  Above all, be kind to yourself and your family.  Through thick and thin, good times and bad.

 

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Still Life

 

A Powerful Poem of Moments

Award-Winning VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

How do we hold a moment?

That is the simple question posed and pondered within Still Life,
an incredible work by Zandrak Production and directed by Charles
Frank and Jake Oleson.

The short film shot in an intriguing guerrilla style blends some insightful prose
with mesmerizing visuals against the Big Apple backdrop of NYC.  Enjoy it on
the biggest screen you have, seeing the still moments come to motion.

After you finish watching you may look at things a little bit differently.  What  
is often ordinary can truly be extraordinary, depending upon the perspective
one takes.

You may even be more than inclined to contemplate the inquiry of the question,
walking the splendid streets of your own city, town, and yes, Humboldt.

* * * * * * * *

 

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Life, Love, and Grace

 

‘Love Can Happen to Anybody at any Time’

 

VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“Love recognizes no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, and penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. 

Love is like a virus.  It can happen to anybody at any time.”

~Maya Angelou

 

Maya Angelou had a way of crafting words together with complete grace and courtesy.

Turning thoughtful stories of someone’s life into something that’s relatable, dignified, powerful, and inspirational,  she pursued literary thoughtfulness, social justice, and compassion throughout her life.

She eloquently wrote and spoke about life, love, and living with grace; and she
always did so with a deep and profound sense of place, humility and humanity.

Angelou also wrote about death in her book, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.

“When I think of death and of late the idea has come with alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this valley of strange humors,” she wrote in 1993.

“I can accept the idea of the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to accept the death of anyone else. 
I answer the heroic question, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ with, “It is here in my heart and mind and memories.”

Life, Love and Grace.  Maya Angelou’s wise words and spirit will be missed by us all.

 

Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

 

 

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Fight or Flight …or Whatever

 

A ‘Vimeo Staff Pick’ Short Film

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Life has some twisted humor even in the darkest of dark spots.

When Rob Norman’s home was broken into he could have
fought off his attackers or run away.

He chose to do neither.  When the door came down he
gave up completely, striking at the core of who he was.

Hidden somewhere here is the moral of the story.  
We don’t know what it is, but we do know we really
liked this little insightful flick nonetheless.

 

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Never Give Up

 

The Story of Matt Tapia

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Born 3 months premature and weighing in at a mere 1.5 pounds, doctors only gave Matthew Tapia a 5% chance of
survival.

If he were to live, he would be unlikely to speak or walk. 

Matt did live.  And he defied the odds of just about everything.

18 years later, Matt is a senior at Santa Monica High School.  Gregarious and defiant, Matt used his stubbornness and inner strength not only to survive, but to put himself on track to attend UCLA next year and pursue his dream of sports broadcasting.

Heading into his senior year and a huge sports fan, Matt took advantage of an opportunity offered to him by a brave high school coach and some open-minded kids: he joined the football team.

Matt didn’t miss a practice all year.  His indomitable spirit and positive attitude inspired a team in search of an identity.  Rallying around Matt, they made him part of the team.  They hung out with him after school.  They looked out for him.

For a kid who battled continual teasing and bullying, being ostracized, and the stigma of mental illness his whole life, Matt found a band of brothers he could call family.

The team had a winning season and they marched into the 2nd round of the playoffs. 

But this season was more than about winning and losing.  It was about the ability to overcome obstacles and the power of never giving up.

 

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The Very First Bungee Jump

 

You Don’t Have to be Crazy, but it Helps

**Award-Winning Short VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Leave it to those Down Under.

In 1980, with a healthy mix of imagination, a wild and crazy do-or-die attitude, and his roughly remembered memory of Newtonian physics, Chris Sigglekow jumped off a bridge and sailed into the annals of extreme sport history.

Sigglekow was driven to pursue the concept of jumping with elastic ropes with fellow enthusiast AJ Hackett.  Contacting a professor at the Auckland University to assist in the initial laboratory testing of rubber, they established a predictable formula for the manufacturing of the first Bungee Cord and its safe application for base jumping.

Little did Sigglekow and Hackett know that they would start a worldwide phenomenon of fellow thrill seekers taking a similar adrenaline-rushing plunge over rivers, canyons, caves, and from buildings, bridges, helicopters and cranes, on the multiple elastic lines of bungee cords woven together.

‘The Jump’ reveals unearthed footage of the Bungee beginnings and the amazing tale of its unsung Kiwi creator and his historic life-and-death leap of faith over the rail.

 

 

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Pursuing the Meaningful Dream

 

Life’s Passion Through the Lens

**Award-Winning Short VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

We like inspiring stories about people. 

Everyday people who make something truly extraordinary
of themselves, rising up from adversity and challenge to create
something uniquely special.

Atiba Jefferson is a professional photographer from Colorado Springs, CO.

He discovered photography in high school and quickly developed a passion for the camera.  Since skateboarding was his first love, it naturally became his primary subject and focus in the lens for a meaningful life.

His desire to capture the movement of skateboarding, precisely how he saw it, pushed him to move out west to California– and chase his golden dream of being a photographer.

The Golden State has been good to him.  Atiba now shoots everything from skateboarding to Lakers games to portraits of world-famous musicians and athletes.

This short film gives a glimpse into life’s resiliency and how Atiba, from his first skateboard, humble origins, and with the help of his friends, achieved his dream of becoming a professional photographer.

* * * * * * * *

 

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Of Bad Blood and Banjos

 

A Different Take on Slayer

An Almost VIRAL VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

In the video above, Rob Scallon totally crushes heavy metal band Slayer’s hit song Raining Blood.

By plucking on a banjo.  

The YouTube sensation knocked us out before with his superb guitar skills, playing 30 different songs in one minute.

Since being uploaded Monday, the latest clip has racked up nearly a million views.

Trust us: It’s some mind-blowing stuff done on the country stick. 

Who knew banjos could be so hardcore awesome?

* * * * * * * * * *

~Our hat tip goes out to friend CJ Bowling
& HuffPo.

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Skating for Peace

 

Cuba Skate

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Sport has the ability to change the world, the power to inspire, the power to unite in a way little else can.

It speaks to the youth in a language they understand.  Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.  It is an instrument for peace.

-Nelson Mandela

 

It’s a movement in motion.

In a country where a sport that represented social rebellion was unlikely to be tolerated, a small group of skaters created their own gear with whatever materials they could find– and started a small revolution.

Traffic is a playground.  Darting between smog-choked ’58 Chevys, Havana’s sidewalk surfers are both fluid and elusive, emerging long enough for passersby to catch a glimpse before dissipating into the waves of afternoon haze.

But, in the land of baseball, rum, and Castro (in that order), spotting these mercurial figures isn’t as hard as it used to be.  They are present more than ever, attached to four rackety wheels clattering over rutted pavement and ruptured sidewalks.

They are the faces of a sport on the rise:  the newest generation of Cuban skateboarders.

While skateboarding has been in Cuba for over three decades it has remained underground during the touchy political climate of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Around the world, the sport has always represented a level of social rebellion.  Its attitude wasn’t tolerated during the era that saw Castro tighten his political grip to keep his nation afloat.  

This was the atmosphere when Che Alejandro Pando Napoles began
skateboarding at age 10.

“I’ve been skating for 30 years,” says Napoles, a popular Havana tattoo artist and considered one of the founding members of skating in Cuba.  “In the beginning it was very difficult because there weren’t many materials…. No one had anything to skate with so they’d just invent things—boards, wheels, those kind of things.”

Slowly these little ingenuities birthed a small skate culture, and skaters like Che, as his boarding brethren know him, took to the streets of Havana.

They adopted the mantra, Patinar o Muerte (skate or die)—a clever play on Che Guevara’s famous call, Patria o Muerte (homeland or death)—and started hitting the small ledges, stair sets, and concrete structures around the city, and trying their hands at amateur filming.

Welcoming anyone wanting to skate, the pack frequented a public square that featured three small ledges and some park benches.  The spot, at the corner of the capital city’s 23 and G avenues, became a gathering spot for skaters and the namesake of Godfather Che’s 23yG posse.

“I began skating because one day I came here to 23rd and G and saw a lot of people skating, Che, and others,” says 23yG member Carlos Yandri, 17.   “I liked it, and ever since, skating has been part of my life.”

With the influence of the 23yG squad, the sport continued to gain a foothold on the island.  In the mid-2000s the crew built a skate park in Havana, the first in all of Cuba.

Though it could hardly be considered anything but graffiti on concrete with a few handrails and ramps, the park represented a major step forward for a community that for many years had been entirely invisible.

“I like to go to the skate park with my friends,” says skater Orlando Rosales. “We share tricks and skate styles with each other.”

But despite the increased interest, the most daunting fact remains: Cubans have no domestic access to skate gear.

While at first glance skaters dress and act much like their American and European counterparts, a closer look reveals ripped, blown-out footwear and boards sporting fault-line cracks patched with old bumper stickers.  Some even forego footwear altogether, sacrificing comfort and economy for a little more grip.

The recent relaxation of borders and an influx of tourists have helped.  The situation brings in a slow trickle of skate supplies from the outside world but Che describes the aid as, “just a small drop in a big ocean.”

Organizations like American-born Cuba Skate and its parent organization, Skating for Peace, along with private contributors like pro skaters Ryan Sheckler and Bob Burnquist, have landed boards and supplies in Cuba.

But the process is difficult.  

According to Che, packages must be small to get through strict Cuban customs offices, so there is no chance of delivering the mass supply of goods needed by skaters in the Caribbean nation.

Still, the sport has made inroads on the island.  For one, it no longer sits in the shadows.  The skate culture is young, vibrant and full of energy.  In many ways skaters embody the Cuban mentality: adapting to less-than-ideal conditions, and skating on whatever they have and wherever they can.

“SK8,” as it’s commonly referenced, has become engrained in the nation’s sport culture, a necessary place for the sport’s survival into the future. 

And it has a mission.  Cuba Skate says on their Facebook page:

We are Americans and Cubans.  We are skaters, surfers, and BMXers.  We are brothers who love and support each other in every facet of life.  

We will change the relations for the better between our two countries and we will do many other great things.

 

For many, including 23yG videographer Robert Gomez, a university student, skating is more than just a pastime. 

“If I didn’t skate,” Gomez says like any American youth, “I really don’t know what I’d do.”

 

 

Via Skating for Peace/Cuba Skate/Vimeo

 

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Pop-Up Books!

 

The Art of Imagination
in a World of Playstation

VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Pop-up books by their very nature are intended to
surprise and delight.

They bring a sense of animation and visual depth to what a normally two-dimensional page.  To readers, a flat, static expanse is completely disrupted by the added stimuli of motion, shadow and form. 

The book comes alive with bling and beauty.

More than 150 books on display from the 1,800-volume Goralnick Pop-up Book Collection have been unfolding at Maine’s Bowdoin College’s Library, home of the larger collections of pop-up books in the country.

They range in date from the late 19th century to the present, and run the gamut from works by Andy Warhol to others depicting Fenway Park, R2-D2, and everything else in between.

Pop-up books for adults appear in a wide range of works– literature, erotica, political commentary, engineering, tiny miniatures, books about art and architecture, and advertising. 

Pop-up features are also found in artists’ books, where the book form and the process of reading are underscored in artistic flair.

Increasingly complex paper engineering and technological advances in book production have broadened the application of pop-ups far beyond illustrating fairy tales and nursery rhymes. 

Particularly suited for children’s books where they first appeared, pop-up books still continue to thrive in the contemporary book publishing world.

Bowdoin’s exhibition demonstrates the wide diversity of pop-up books—for children and for adults.

Harold Goralnick, of the Bowdoin College Class of 1971, began
acquiring pop-ups and other “movable” books in 1999.

“My friends used to think that I was crazy,” says Goralnick.

“It’s over a ten year period of collecting.  I never grew up with pop-ups and was never aware of them.

“I found somebody on the Internet who specializing in pop-ups and she gave me a list of the 100 most collectible pop-up books.  I was off and running.”

Most of the books have been published in the U.S. or Great Britain, but some, particularly fairy tales, also appear in German, French, Czech, and Italian, among other languages.

The collection contains rare editions by V. Kubasta and Julian Wehr, whose movable books from the 1950s and 1960s now command prices up to $500, and by such contemporary artists.

In a world where Playstations, Xboxes, and video games dominate, it’s nice to see children and adults discover a whole new world of imagination and wonder before them.

 

~Via Bowdoin College and Harold Goralnick

 

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Burning Man Be-In

 

Sparks of Peeps and Art

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Each year, 60,000 people from around the globe gather in a dusty windswept Nevada desert.

They build a temporary city, collaborate on large-scale projects of art, and party for a week. 

It’s a celebration of people, the freedom of expression, human connections and sense of tribal identity.

It’s an oasis and a phenomenon.  It’s about belonging and community, high and low art, both a bizarre spectacle and a carnival bazaar all at the same time. 

It’s a creative, compelling, fascinating, colorful, and gorgeous thing.  Words can’t fully describe it.  It’s like a burrito wrapped up in a mystery; or, saving souls while simultaneously burning them.

Rooted in principles of self-expression and self-reliance, Burning Man has grown famous for stirring ordinary people to shed their nine-to-five existence in communal fashion.  Liberating hopes and dreams, they ecstatically burn an effigy in 
ritual for one last and final shot at freedom. 

Then, it’s time to pack it up and go home, back to the ordinary
humdrum lives of somewhere else far, far away as if it had all
been a dream and never happened at all.

 

Art On Fire – Stunningly Beautiful Burning Man 2013 Time Lapse from Spark Pictures on Vimeo.

 

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Football, 6 Young Men, and the Lone Star State

 

‘Texas Six’

Award-Winning VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Texas is serious about its football.

The northwest Texas towns of Turkey and Crowell are separated by about 60 miles as the crow flies. 

They’re dusty and lonely and forgotten places you’re most likely to stumble upon only if taking a few wrong turns here and there between Wichita Falls and Lubbock, or Amarillo.

But in December of 2013, the two tiny towns became leading actors in the final acts of the League’s six-man teen football season, breaking through to meet in the semi-finals of a 32-team playoff bracket.

Developed in the 1930s to give smaller high schools an opportunity at top-level competition, six-man teams thrive in the rural districts of a few football-crazy states.  And it’s nowhere more prevalent than in the great state of Texas.

Filmmaker Nicholas Strini followed the strands of the Lone Star’s deep gridiron tradition in their incredible small-scale local versions.

The towns are small.  The game is huge.  The populations may be dwindling, but the passion remains as great as the wide open horizon.

 

 

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Americas’ ‘Missing Link’ Discovered in Underwater Cave

 

12,000-Year-Old ‘Naia’ Sheds New Light on Land Migration

VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

ABOVE VIDEO:  In a submerged cave in Yucatan, divers found
the near-intact skeleton of a delicately built teenage girl, who
died more than 12,000 years ago after she fell into a sinkhole
from which there was no way out.

 

She was found in the depths of planet Earth.

And she’s the oldest human skeleton ever found in North America, discovered by a team of international scientists in an underwater Yucatán Peninsula cave.

DNA from the skeleton shows similarities to modern Native Americans, while her skull structure matches those of Paleoamericans that came across the Bering land bridge. 

In short, she may be the ‘missing link’ to the origins of the first Americans on the continent.

Named “Naia”, the teenager fell to her untimely and tragic death in a large pit called Hoyo Negro, meaning “black hole” in Spanish.

The divers found her on a ledge, her skull at rest on an arm bone.  Ribs and a broken pelvis lay nearby.  She was only a young teen when she wandered into the cave on the Yucatan Peninsula, and in the darkness she must not have seen the enormous pit looming in front of her.

More than 12,000 years later, in 2007, after the seas had risen and the cave system had filled with water, her skull — upside down, teeth remarkably intact — caught the eye of a man in scuba gear.

Patricia Beddows, a cave-diving researcher from Northwestern University, said the find is remarkable: “The preservation of all the bones in this deep water-filled cave is amazing– the bones are beautifully laid out.”

“The girl’s skeleton is exceptionally complete because of the environment in which she died — she ended up in the right water and in a quiet place without any soil.  Her pristine preservation enabled our team to extract enough DNA to determine her shared genetic code with modern Native Americans,” she added.

The skeleton, which is now covered in water, is estimated to be between 12,000 and 13,000 years old, suggesting Naia lived in the late Pleistocene or last ice age.

She measured 4’ 10” tall and was delicately built.  Slender and bucktoothed, her estimated age of death was 15 or 16 years old, based on the development of her teeth.

She lies in a collapsed chamber together with the remains of 26 other large mammals, including a saber-toothed tiger, 600 yards from the nearest sinkhole.  Most of these ancient
mammals became extinct around 13,000 years ago.

“Naia, and the other animals, would have slipped through a hidden sink hole and fallen 100 feet into a shallow pool and trapped,” said paleontologist James Chatters of Applied Paleoscience in Bothell, Washington, who led the study, published May 15 in Science.  

“There would have been no way out.”  The broken pelvis of Naia’s otherwise near-perfect skeleton is likely a result of the accidental fall, he says.

Analysis of the remains in situ, most of which are still lying in the submerged cave where they were found, suggests that modern Native Americans are the descendants of the earliest Paleoamericans, who migrated from Siberia towards the end of the last glacial period.  An alternative theory held instead that a mysterious, more recent influx had brought in new populations from Eastern Asia.

The near-complete human skeleton, which has an intact cranium and some of the oldest preserved DNA to date, was found lying 130 feet below sea level near a variety of extinct animals, including an elephant-like creature and relatives of the mastodon.  Those remains helped scientists establish the age of the skeleton.

In order to assess the age of the skeleton, the team analyzed tooth enamel and seeds dropped by bats using radiocarbon dating and calcite deposits found on the bones using the uranium-thorium method.

They used similar methodology to date the remains of a variety of mastodon relatives found near the skeleton, which were found to be around 40,000 years old.  The more than 26 large mammals found at the site included saber-toothed cats and giant ground sloths, which were largely extinct in North America 13,000 years ago.

Naia’s age was further supported by evidence of rising sea levels, which were as much as 360 feet lower during the last ice age than they are today.

Naia’s mitochondrial DNA reveals genetic signatures in common with modern Native Americans, despite her very different skull shape.

“You can never exclude that Native Americans have more than one group of ancestors,” says Chatters.  But his team’s data, he points out, are consistent with the idea that Native Americans evolved from Siberian ancestors.

“It helps support the consensus view, from archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence, that the Americas were initially peopled 15,000–20,000 years ago from Siberia,” says human geneticist Chris Tyler-Smith.

According to this widely held theory, the Americas were populated by Siberian ancestors who crossed the Bering land bridge that back then linked Eurasia and Alaska.  The migration is thought to have started during the Pleistocene ice age– which ended around 14,000 years ago– and continued over the next several thousand years as these populations moved south.

Yet researchers have puzzled over why the more-than-10,000-year-old Paleoamerican skulls unearthed so far have such different morphology from those in more recent finds and from modern Native Americans.

Scientists wondered whether other Native American ancestors had arrived in a later migration.  The new DNA results indicate that the very different skulls of modern Native Americans have evolved on North American soil.

Paleoamerican remains are few and far between, because the nomadic tribes did not always build tombs for their dead.  The oldest and first full skeleton to be found, it’s the first major set of remains unearthed so far south.

 ~Via Science, Nature, IBT,
and Nature Newstream

 

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Record High Radiation in Seawater off Fukushima Plant

 

California Coastal Commission:
Radiation Plume to Hit Coast in Year

VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

In the above video, Naoto Matsumara is the only resident
living a lonely existence in the exclusion zone around Japan’s
Fukushima nuclear power plant.

When the massive earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown in 2011, high levels of radiation forced all 16,000 residents to be evacuated.

Refusing the government’s plea to leave his hometown of Tomioka, Naoto vowed to take care of the animals that were left behind. 

Two years later, he still stays on– while little progress has been made cleaning up one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters ever to occur.

 

Radiation has spiked to all-time highs at five monitoring points in waters adjacent to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power station, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday.

The measurements follow similar highs detected in groundwater at the plant.  Officials of Tepco said the cause of the seawater spike is unknown.

Three of the monitoring sites are inside the wrecked plant’s adjacent port.

At one sampling point in the port, between the water intakes for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, 1,900 becquerels per liter of tritium was detected Monday, up from a previous high of 1,400 becquerels measured on April 14, Tepco said.

And at a point between the water intakes, seawater sampled Thursday was found to contain high levels of strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, and other beta ray-emitting isotopes.

Tepco is struggling to reduce contamination at the poorly protected plant, which was damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  

Measures include plans to build a gigantic underground ice wall around the plant to keep the daily flow of groundwater from entering the cracked reactor buildings and mingling with the highly radioactive cooling water in their basements.

The ice wall project is expected to cost $300 million and will put a massive burden on the power grid when completed:  It will need about 45.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity to operate, equal to annual power consumption of 13,000 average households.

The project involves freezing the soil into barricades 30 meters deep and 2 meters thick for a distance of 1,500 meters around the buildings housing reactors 1 through 4.  The soil will be frozen by sinking pipes into the ground and running liquids through them at a temperature of minus 30 degrees.

On Friday, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and contractor Kajima Corp. demonstrated a miniature ice wall to reporters at the site.  “We can confirm the frozen soil’s effect in blocking water,” a ministry official said afterwards. 

The department aims to begin construction next month.  But the Nuclear Regulation Authority has not approved the plan saying its backers have so far provided insufficient reassurances about public safety.

International nuclear experts have also expressed concern about the effectiveness of the plan.  Germany has pledged to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 following the Fukushima diasaster.

Meanwhile, the California Coastal Commission downplayed fears about Fukushima-derived ocean radiation today.

The Commission issued a report stating that waterborne radiation levels off its coast are “far below that of naturally-occurring radioactive elements in the ocean.”

“Over the last three years, the radioactive ocean plume has been carried eastward by ocean currents, becoming increasingly diluted as it spreads over an ever-larger area and mixes to greater depths,” the report states. 

“The leading edge of the plume appears to have reached North America off of Vancouver Island, and could possibly reach California within the next year… Radioactive cesium derived from Fukushima has been detected at low levels in the tissues of highly-migratory fish species such as Pacific Bluefin tuna, which appear to have accumulated the cesium in their juvenile rearing grounds in the western Pacific,” the report adds.

The report advised that “the long-term effects of low-level radiation in the environment remain incompletely understood, and that this understanding would benefit from increased governmental support for the monitoring of radioactivity in seawater and marine life and the study of health outcomes linked to radiation exposure.”

 

Via Japan Times/Daily UK/Straight.com/Vimeo/UK Telegraph

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The Koch Brothers’ Other Brother

 

Birds of a Feather Don’t Always Flock Together

 

Daniel Schulman

Excerpt: Sons of Wichita
 

While Charles, David, and William Koch have made headlines for their political and litigious activities over the
past decades, eldest brother Frederick has led a notoriously
private and opulent life as an art collector and philanthropist.

For the first time ever, as detailed in Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers
Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty
, Freddie Koch allows
a reporter inside his private realm.

 

Frederick lowers himself into an armchair in a second-floor sitting room.
 
He has not spoken to the press in more than 25 years, since the British media descended on him like a pack of wolves.  Even before that, he refused interviews and stayed conspicuously quiet as his feuding younger brothers savaged one another on the pages of national newspapers and magazines.
 
“Shall we delve into Koch world?” he asks.
 
He shows me out into the January chill…
 

Frederick, 80, is so private about his affairs that during the 1980s, after underwriting the $2.8 million construction of England’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, he kept quiet about his gift for several years as the British press tried to dig up the name of the angel donor.  

When Frederick’s role was finally revealed, he told the BBC in a rare interview, “Never ask from where I came, nor what is my rank or name.”

Despite the scale of his wealth and the opulence of his surroundings, Frederick also has a reputation for frugality, sometimes growing testy at his staff, if they add extra postage to letters and packages.  He spent lavishly on refurbishing his homes, but he prefers taking the public bus in New York and typically flies commercial.

One associate recalls strolling down East 80th Street with Frederick on a sweltering summer afternoon in the mid-1990s.  Crossing Fifth Avenue, Frederick noticed a nickel in the middle of the crosswalk; it had been run over so many times that it was embedded in the asphalt.

His companion looked on in shock as Frederick took out his keys, stooped down and began trying to pry the coin loose.  The multi-millionaire continued to work as the traffic light changed.  Traffic bore down and horns blared, but Frederick kept digging, finally dislodging the nickel.

“I got it,” he said, holding the coin up with a beatific expression on his face. “I just was dumbfounded,” his companion recalled…

It’s no surprise that Frederick isn’t eager to talk about Charles and David.  He and younger brother Bill spent nearly 15 years locked in a series of bare-knuckle legal brawls with their brothers, who they accused of cheating them on the 1983 sale of their Koch Industries stock, which together netted them $800 million.

Frederick was the outlier among his rough-and-tumble, ultra-competitive brothers.  While the three younger brothers took after their father, a John Wayne–like figure who made his first million building oil refineries in Stalin’s Soviet Union, he gravitated toward his mother’s artistic interests.

Family patriarch Fred Koch strove to teach his sons the value of hard work, by subjecting them to grueling manual labor around the family’s compound in Wichita, Kansas, and on a handful of ranches he owned.  Charles told Fortune magazine in 1997 that during a summer of forced labor on one of the family’s ranches as a teenager, Frederick had had a nervous breakdown (“I have never had a ‘nervous breakdown,’” Frederick says).

“Father wanted to make all his boys into men and Freddie couldn’t relate to that regime,” Charles told The New York Times’ Leslie Wayne.  “Dad didn’t understand and so he was hard on Freddie.  He didn’t understand that Freddie wasn’t a lazy kid—he was just different.”

When Frederick was in his 20s, it was an open secret among the family’s circle of friends in Wichita that he was gay.

“We all knew Freddie was gay,” said someone who spent time with the family and their friends in the 1950s and 1960s.  “You know, those things– especially in an environment like Wichita– were almost whispered.  It was common knowledge.”

During the Koch brothers’ childhood, discussion of Frederick caused noticeable discomfort among his brothers.  “They just didn’t want Freddie’s name brought up,” said one family friend.  “They knew there was something different about him.  You didn’t hear much about Freddie at all . . . It was almost like he wasn’t part of the family.”

In the 1960s, mention of Frederick even vanished from one of his father’s bios: “He and Mrs. Koch have three sons,” it read, “Charles, William, and David.”

Frederick could do little to relate to his father or win his approval.  When Fred Koch died in 1967, he left his eldest son out of his will…

 …An excerpt, you can the full pieceThe “Other” Koch Brother, here.

 

~Via Google News

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From Bean to Bar: The Quest for Chocolate

 

Adventure of Artisanal America

Award-Winning VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The Mast Brothers are pioneers of the bean-to-bar craft chocolate movement.

Founders Michael Mast and his older brother Rick– two bearded Iowa boys– came to New York to pursue careers in film and cooking, respectively.  They share a fiercely independent spirit, a driven curiosity, and the same love for adventure.

Their artisanal chocolate factory creates handmade goodness in small batches and sophisticated flavors. 

The Brooklyn shop has an unfussy, rustic vibe, modeling exposed brick and overhead beams, an old freight elevator, and a hand-me-down wood bar from an old-time ice-cream parlor in Pennsylvania.  The soundtrack of bluegrass, classical, and glam rock plays overhead.

They pair began their voyage in their apartment, using a homemade machine to process cacao beans.  They discovered a flair for chocolate-making at Brooklyn dinner parties and later found success at local farmers’ markets and boutiques where chocolate lovers beat a path to the tent and flocked to buying their product. 

Over time they cultivated their creation further, sourcing speciifc beans from fair-trade family farms in Madagascar, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. 

Each bar is handmade with incredible reverence for the process and history of chocolate.  The brothers produce around ten flavors, from a blend of almond and sea salt, roasted chilies, maple syrup, to the popular salt-and-pepper bar.  Each is wrapped in gold foil and thick Italian paper like a rare book, in vintage-inspired floral, paisley, and patterned prints.  

Every bar offers its own story of flavors, and no two are exactly alike.  Some of the flavors are sweet and simple; others, amazingly complex. 

Visitors congregate around the long kitchen table to taste their spoils and watch the unhusked chocolate nibs be ground with a stone granite roller.  They’ve gained a popular following of customers wanting to see and learn more about the process.  They’re loyal to their cause. 

If you didn’t know, “Artisinal” is the big word in food these days.

It attaches to it a staggering range of producers, from cheesemakers to chocolate crafters, bakers, condiment producers, sausage curers, picklers, microdistillers– you name it.

Humboldt is certainly no stranger to the concept with its own small-scale, handcrafted Buy Fresh, Buy Local approach. 

In terms of chocolate, we have our own special sweet spot for cocoa lovers.  For a large rural area with a relatively small population, Humboldt County is more than blessed to enjoy its many fine choices: Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, Drakes Glen Creations, Sweetness and Light Old Fashioned Chocolate, and Venlo Gourmet Chocolates, to name just a few.

The essence of the ethic– more of an ideal than idea– is independent ownership, hand-crafted food, small-scale production, and a nod to real or imagined culinary heritage.  More often than not, savvy packaging, canny marketing, social-media outreach and, sometimes some wacky experimentation with flavors plays its personalized part.  

Genuine handmade artisanal food production is a tiny part of the $60 billion dollar “specialty” food industry but the movement thrills those who dream of beating back the impersonal urban industrialization of food for something more comforting.   At its heart is the conviction that a young country and its young people can both recover and invent the sort of real-food heritage that the Old World built its cuisines upon. 

A tall order, but one the indie-food generation is excited to tackle.  Like our own Humboldt County chocolatiers and the NYC’s Mast Brothers.

The lives of the two brothers are one given over to wanderlust.  It is still a quest for adventure for them; crossing unseen horizons to secure precious goods and bringing them back to their home port. 

Now planning to navigate the mighty Atlantic and sail to the Dominican Republic for the next phase of business procuring beans directly, the Mast Brothers continue the quest searching for the best cacao and a deeper connection with the folks who grow them.

Sail on.

 

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