Black & White Sunday: Unusual

It was a monochrome day. Gray skies. Rain. The gray hulks of automobiles, many of them high-end, nearly new.



All equal here in the junkyard. A few will fine a rescuer. Others will be stripped for parts. For most, it’s the last stop before the crusher.


Source: offtheshelf.com

Ever since living in Israel and working at the Environmental Health Laboratory of the University of Jerusalem, I’ve been very aware of water. How limited fresh water resources are. How fragile.

When our well went dry last year — not for the first time — it was brought home with the greatest possible force that the one thing we cannot live without is drinkable water.

Without fresh water, our world is over. Think about it. Read about it. Don’t pretend it’s going to go away and never be your problem. It is everybody’s problem.

See on Scoop.itBooks, Writing, and Reviews


A couple of days ago, we were at the post office and I noticed the flag was flying at half-staff. I conferred with Garry. Finally, we realized it was the second anniversary of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Patriot’s Day, 2013.

"1st Boston Marathon blast seen from 2nd floor and a half block away" by Aaron Tang - http://www.flickr.com/photos/hahatango/8652829335/sizes/o/in/set-72157633252445135/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1st_Boston_Marathon_blast_seen_from_2nd_floor_and_a_half_block_away.jpg#/media/File:1st_Boston_Marathon_blast_seen_from_2nd_floor_and_a_half_block_away

“1st Boston Marathon blast seen from 2nd floor and a half block away” by Aaron Tang – http://www.flickr.com/photos/hahatango/8652829335/sizes/o/in/set-72157633252445135/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent related shootings were a series of attacks and incidents which began on April 15, 2013, when two pressure cooker bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon at 2:49 pm, killing 3 people and injuring an estimated 264 others. The bombs exploded about 12 seconds and 210 yards (190 m) apart, near the finish line on Boylston Street. (Wikipedia)

That was the day that a lot of the joy went out all public events. The traditions continue, but there are shadows. There will always be shadows, fear, worry connected with any public gathering in Boston and in every city in this country. In the world.

Nothing is safe, nothing is sacred. The bombs were intended to inflict maximum injury, maiming, and death.

If there was a political point, I missed it.

The bomber, the remaining brother of the two perpetrators, has been convicted in a Federal Court. All that remains is deciding the punishment — death or life without parole. Neither seems quite enough.


Young Voices and The Old Master, Rich Paschall

On the new Brian Wilson “solo album,” as most seem to be calling it, Brian is only going solo on four of the 16 tracks,  When you consider that he is backed by a chorus of singers on those, then you may think he has more of a “Beach Boys” album than a solo affair.  The author of most of the Beach Boys hits, however, can not call it a Beach Boys album.  He doesn’t own the name.

The first guest performer has a song that was not well received by most critics.  “Runaway Dancer,” featuring Sebu (part of the duo Capital Cities), is nothing like the other tracks.  It has a heavy dance beat that screams “pop record.” Yes, it is laden with Wilson vocal work.  Wilson’s own voice can clearly be heard throughout.  Perhaps the new direction can be attributed to the work of Sebu Simonian off-site.  Wilson’s demo was titled “Talk of the Town,” when it was sent to Sebu, who recorded his vocals at another studio.  Sebu is also credited with “Additional production,” which could mean a lot of things.  If critics wanted just another Beach Boys tune, they didn’t get it.

“On the Island” brings an almost Bosa Nova beat and some sun and sand to the album.  The song features the work of “She and Him,” which would be Zooey Deschanel on vocals and M. Ward on electric guitar.  Deschanel’s vocal is perfect for the tune about being “lost in this island nation.”

One track is given over to an instrumental, well sort of anyway.  A mellow piece of jazz shows up as the fifth track of the deluxe album.  The very sounds suggest sunset over “Half Moon Bay.”  The work features Mark Isham on horn, but the Wilson touch is there too.  Voices are blended throughout to create harmonies  giving this a soft and warm feeling.  It is a break from the other type of soft harmonies Wilson has layered throughout the album.

In case you think I loved every bit of this album, I must confess to be mystified by the song “Our Special Love.”  The track may have been the one slated to go to Frank Ocean. Wilson cancelled him out, explaining that Ocean wanted to rap his performance.  If you think a driving dance tune was not well received by hard-core Beach Boys fans, just imagine a rap tune.  Peter Hollens, a You Tube generation performer if ever there was one, shows up instead.  Little of Hollens can be heard on the track as Wilson takes the lead on the chorus and the over produced harmonies just about drown out much of Hollens work.  I am not even convinced the verses fit well with the chorus.  The music, uncharacteristic of a Wilson song, does not blend as you come to expect.

On the other hand, the light-hearted “Guess You Had To Be There,” featuring Kacey Musgraves on the verses with Wilson leading the Chorus is a perfect mix. The happy sounding tune is not as layered or over produced.  A banjo mixed into the song  seems to go with Musgraves work and one wonders if that is indeed her touch.  The lyric could easily be commentary by Wilson on the ending of the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour.  Anyway, it all seems to fit.

The most energetic and contemporary sounding track features Nate Ruess of Fun.  Just like he does with the work in his own group, Ruess energizes “Saturday Night” and turns in a spirited performance.  Given author and composer credit along with Wilson and Joe Bennett, Ruess has a contribution that may well turn up on the radio stations this spring.  You will have to catch the live performance on PBS Soundstage or a tease of it in the trailer we put up yesterday.  Here is the audio:

The final track of the album, “The Last Song,” was originally scheduled to go to Lana Del Ray.  When the list of songs finally came out, her name was not to be found.  At first, Wilson told interviewers that Del Ray had cancelled them, but it turns out that she actually recorded the vocal last year.  It was ultimately decided that the nostalgic piece about looking back on a career seemed to suit Brian Wilson much more than Lana Del Ray.  Is it the swan song of the music master?  Perhaps it is, but Wilson never seems to run out of tunes.

Don’t be sad
There was a time and place for
what we had

If there was just another chance
for me to sing to you…



Just across from the dam …


There is a challenge called Five Photos, Five Stories.  I secretly hoped to be asked to participate in it. Looked like it was right up my alley.  Sure enough, Cee at  Cee’s Photography Blog asked me to join!

I have been following Cee and participating in her challenges for a while.  If you aren’t familiar with her and her beautiful work, I invite you to visit her.

The rules of Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo (or more!)  each day for five consecutive days.

2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or nothing more than a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to you.

3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is supposed to be fun. It is not a command performance!


It was time to visit the dam in the middle of town. The weather was finally warm enough for short sleeves. Probably for shorts, too, if we felt inclined. We planned the excursion for today, knowing it would rain yesterday.


Spring is here. No leaves, but the trees have a soft, fuzzy look.  I decided to start shooting from above the dam. I usually shoot from the bridge, but I have many pictures of the dam from that angle. I thought I’d give try something different.


I felt pretty good, so I followed Garry out onto the ledge. I’m too scared of heights to go all the way. I’m a wall hugger. But I got a nice shot of the husband on the ledge. From behind. With my back against the wall.


It was just about that time when I spotted the bird. A very large bird and it wasn’t a bird I’d seen before. I got all excited and took so many pictures, I burned through my spare battery. At which point, my camera shut down. I should get a second spare battery.

Turned out, it is a Great Blue Heron. Sounds like something Perry White might say. “Great Blue Heron, Superman!” I did not know what it was. Despite all the birding sites that assure me how common it is, I’ve never seen one. I’ve spotted and photographed other herons, egrets, geese, swans, ducks of all kinds. But never one of these guys and I’m sure, given he was taller than me, I’d remember a sighting.

This bodes well for our river. The Great Blue Heron follows the fish. As of 1974, the Blackstone River was one of the top five most polluted rivers in the U.S. It has come a long way since then and this bird is the proof. If there were no fish, he would not be waiting by the river. The birds always know.

The rules of Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive day

2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.

3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

I’ve gotten a lot of negative feedback when asking others to participate in this. I don’t understand the problem since it’s what we do anyway. We post pictures and write about them or other things of which the pictures reminds us. This challenge doesn’t require much writing. A paragraph will do.

I’m not going to ask anyone specific, but I hope a few of you will volunteer. Considering how many bloggers complain about the Daily Prompt, I would expect everyone would welcome something new. Not exactly true.