Switchfoot Bro-Am was a blast!

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I attended the Switchfoot 9th annual Bro-Am this past weekend in Encinitas (North San Diego county) CA. and had a great time!  This is the second year I have attended the Bro-Am and I plan to make it an annual summer pilgrimage from now on.  This surf contest/concert event at Moonlight Beach was started in 2005 as a benefit for Stand Up For Kids, a non-profit charity that helps the homeless youth in San Diego and all over America.  The money raised from the Bro-Am event each year goes to Stand Up For Kids.  The song “Dark Horses” written by Jon Foreman from Switchfoot’s most recent album, Vice Verses, was inspired by the tribulations that these young people have faced in their lives.  If you have never heard the music of this rock and roll band do check them out!  Their next album and first movie combo project titled Fading West is due out this fall.

Switchfoot played a set at the auction dinner (which I did not attend but I plan to next year) and a set at the beach the next day along with several other guest bands.  They also screened a preview of their new film Fading West.  Professional surfer Rob Machado was also there and is a strong supporter of Bro-Am.  After a day of surf contests and music right on the beach, the event wrapped up at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach with performances by Fiction Family (which Jon Foreman also plays in) and several guest musicians as well.

Drew Shirley and Tim Foreman welcome everyone to the Bro-Am after party at The Belly Up Tavern.

Drew Shirley and Tim Foreman welcome everyone to the Bro-Am after party at The Belly Up Tavern.

I love this part of San Diego so much that I decided to spend the next day enjoying Encinitas.  It has so many restaurants and mom and pop shops.  Surfing and skateboarding are very popular here.  Organic food and craft beer is plentiful.  That stretch from Leucadia to Solana Beach is my favorite part of San Diego.  It really is a unique and wonderful place and I really must get back over there more often; not just once a year.

Cardiff By The Sea.  iPhone VSCO Cam app.

Cardiff By The Sea. iPhone VSCO Cam app.

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Reading Jane Eyre

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I recently had the pleasure of reading Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, one of the great novels of Victorian literature. Her prose is concise by 19th century standards, especially compared to Charles Dickens, a writer I greatly enjoy. By the way, I’m a fan of long Dickensian sentences and the shorter Hemingway style. Both are enjoyable and I don’t prefer one over the other. I was already a fan of the 19th century English and American novel so I knew I was going to enjoy this one. Victorian England (1837-1901) is often portrayed as a cold, heartless place in literature. Images of workhouses, debtors prisons, gruel, and stiff collars spring to mind when I think of the era. These images are so commonplace in works like Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Jane Eyre, an orphan, is in a similar predicament to the orphan Oliver Twist. What is it like to live in a world alone with few people who care about you? This is the situation young Jane is in for much of her early life as she lives with her cruel aunt and her spoiled children at Gateshead Hall. She is later sent to Lowood School, a place not much better than her aunt’s home but a decided improvement nonetheless. Her she comes in contact with a couple of kind women who leave a lasting impression on her, particularly one Helen Burns, a kind saintly girl who looks not to the things of this world but instead stores treasure in heaven. This character reminded me a lot of the character Dinah Morris in George Eliot’s Adam Bede.

Eventually, Jane ends up at Thornfield Hall as a governess under the employ of the mysterious Mr. Rochester. The bulk of the plot happens here where Jane discovers the secrets of the house and the strange happenings. Many elements of the gothic novel come into play here such as ghostly appearances, strange noises in the night, secret passages and rooms, and of course the mad woman locked away in the attic. What of the St. John character? Sheesh, how long must poor Jane endure this sanctimonious person? She sure exhibited tremendous patience in her interactions with him and thankfully was ultimately not yoked to him.

I won’t give away how the novel ends even though the plot is well known and you can find out through a search in about two seconds.  I like 19th century novels.  If you do too than you will probably enjoy Jane Eyre.

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One Tree Hill Episode 904: “Don’t You Want to Share the Guilt?”

This episode has the first scene that was partially shown to the audience in the opening montage of the season 9 premiere. You will recall that Episode 901 began with Dan and Chris Keller with guns about to go to some sort of confrontation, Haley identifying a corpse in a morgue, etc. Clay’s sleepwalking continues. Since Quinn is understandably worried about Clay’s problem, she installs a tracking app in his phone to be able to find him the next time he goes in to his sleepwalking state. She has become increasingly worried since answering his phone and finding out that he did not pick up his pills from the pharmacist which the doctor had prescribed to help him.

Quinn discovers to her horror that Clay is buying drugs from a shady drug dealer and catches it on camera. She follows him again to find him buying drugs from the same drug dealer at night. She then brazenly decides to go confront the drug dealer on her own nearly getting hurt in the process. Lucky for her, Clay is nearby and intervenes. This scene was very exciting. The drug dealer pulls out a semi-automatic and threatens to kill them both if they cross him again. With this episode we now move into what Mark Schwahn probably meant when he referred to season 9 being in many ways “old-school One Tree Hill” (i.e. similar antagonists and harrowing events to what happened in seasons 1-4). We now have new psycho characters and antagonists entering the lives of the characters in Tree Hill. This drug dealer character is one of the new antagonists kind of like the psycho Derek character from season 4. This scene then leads to the scene of Quinn and Clay fighting about what just happened when they are back at home; the same scene we saw a clip of in the season 9 premier. Clay’s problem is clearly revealed to be much worse now than we have seen in the previous 3 episodes.

Another new antagonist character enters the picture in this episode. Her name is Tara (Chelsea Kane), aka “Not Alex.” She is revealed to be the owner of the new rival cafe across the street from Karen’s Cafe. Chase meets her in an unusual circumstance and is quite taken with her, especially since he is hurt from Alex’s sudden departure to go on tour with her music. But surprise, surprise. Tara is Chris Keller’s girlfriend as Chase finds out when they both arrive at Tric where he bartends and is bar manager (as he frequently has to remind people).

A great scene in this episode is Dan’s confrontation with the drug dealer after he finds out that the guy had a run in with Clay and Quinn. He threatens to kill the guy if he catches him near any of his family again. This is Dan Scott talking so we know that he is not engaging in bravado or hyperbole when he says that. He means it. However, as fans who have been with this show from the beginning know, Dan is not an evil character. He has a dark side but the murder of Keith happened in a moment of rage when there was a gun present and when he believed that Keith set his car dealership on fire. He didn’t pre-meditatively decide to commit murder before. Dan truly loves his family. He can’t be close to them now because of the mistakes he has made but he still is going to look out for them and will go to great lengths to protect them.

This scene is followed by another scene that I really enjoyed. Dan finds Clay on the beach and gives him a second “baptism.” It is humorous in a way because it is a throwback to season 7 when Dan did the same thing to Clay. Quinn watches the whole thing from a distance on the beach. It is a touching scene because we see Dan’s compassion and concern for all of them. He wants them to be safe and he particularly wants to make sure his grandchildren, Jamie and Lydia, are safe.

The episode wraps up with Clay checking into a special hospital for psychiatric disorders and Julian and Brooke reconciling over Julian accidentally leaving the baby in the car. The coda also ends on an ominous note as Nathan does not arrive home. However, Lydia’s stuffed animal toy he was carrying with him is seen in the airport gutter indicating that something bad has befallen him and dark times lie ahead in future episodes.

Click here for the music list for this episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Tree Hill Episode 903: “Love the Way You Lie”

Nathan left for Europe to scout for athletes on behalf of his agency Fortitude in the last episode of One Tree Hill (902: “In the Room Where You Sleep”). He told Dan to be out of the house by the time he returned. So Dan is around for the time being. Haley is busy running Karen’s Cafe.

Jamie now helps his mother out at Karen

Bad news for Karen

Her chef quit to go work at a new restaurant that has just opened across the street. Chris Keller is unable to fill in as a chef, try though he may. Dan, much to Haley’s surprise, shows up in the kitchen to help her out. Remember, he ran a diner which burned down so he knows how to cook. I really enjoyed how the writer Lenn K. Rosenfeld and director Paul Johansson (who plays Dan Scott) set up Dan’s intro to the scene.

The way Chris Keller screams in this scene is hilarious!

He doesn’t have a scene where he says, “Haley, do you want me to come over to the cafe to help out?” Instead, we see Chris Keller enjoying his food and saying, “compliments to the chef!” Haley then wonders who is cooking since Chris is in the dining room. She walks over and peers through the window to find Dan standing over the grill. That was brilliant. It makes the scene more interesting by adding an element of surprise to it. As I mentioned before, this creates anticipation and interest for the audience, just like the opening montage of the season premiere. I really enjoyed this whole scene with Dan helping out in the diner followed by the confrontation with the patron who wants to know why Haley has a “murderer” working for her.

Dan (Paul Johansson) lending Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) a hand during a busy lunch rush.

The crew who designed and decorated Karen’s Cafe have done a wonderful job as well. It’s such a warm atmosphere. It is a mom and pop establishment with tasteful interior design that fits right in with the town of Tree Hill. The floorplan is almost like a 1950s soda fountain with the counter right in the middle of the restaurant. They kept it fresh by not designing it to look exactly like Karen’s Cafe looked in seasons 1-4 of the show (though let me be quick to point out I loved that set as well). I wish there was a Karen’s Cafe to go to in my hometown of Bakersfield, CA. I would eat there several times a week!

"Chuck Scolnik is starving!"

Chuck has found a new role model in Chris Keller.

Brooke and Haley reopened Karen’s Cafe at the end of season 8 and they both operate it together. However, Brooke has not been around the cafe as much lately since she is trying to launch a new clothing line for babies (“Baker Man”) with her father. She loves designing clothing but really wants nothing more than to spend time with her father and have a close relationship with him. Both parents were de facto absentee parents to her for most of her life. She spent her high school years (seasons 1-4) without her parents as they gave her little attention. They all lived under the same roof but seldom saw each other. The parental influence in her life came primarily from Lucas’ mother Karen (Moira Kelly), Karen’s Cafe’s namesake, and Keith Scott (Craig Sheffer). Brooke and her mother,Victoria, have reconciled and grown close in recent years.

Not quite the father and daughter day out together that Brooke (Sophia Bush) was expecting.

Victoria has been warning Brooke that her father can’t be trusted. Brooke wants to reconnect with her father in the same way that she reconnected with her mother. Brooke expects to meet her father at the golf course for a day of golf together and to plan the clothing line. When she arrives, she finds out that he has already played a game of golf with business contacts and instead brings her to meet with them to discuss the business venture; or, to “close the deal” as he puts it. So she feels used and disappointed that they did not get to spend time together that day. Perhaps her father is planning to use her to make money off of her if the business successfully launches and then split and not be heard from again? This nefarious possibility may be Victoria’s concern.

Meanwhile, Clay is still suffering from blackouts and sleepwalking. Quinn has grown increasingly concerned and worried about Clay’s behavior. She follows him to find him purchasing drugs from a shady drug dealer character (who we will probably see causing more trouble later in the season). She confronts him about it and he denies it until she tells him she saw him buying the drugs and took photographs. Clay later tells her that he started taking the drugs to help with the pain after the shooting (recap: they were both shot at the end of season 7 by Sarah’s (Clay’s deceased wife) psycho look-alike). This is a plausible explanation but there seems to be more reasons for the drug use. We, the audience, are left with the impression that the reasons for his drug addiction are more complex. This remains to be seen and we will surely learn more about this in future episodes this season.

Julian is trying to rent out his recently-purchased sound stage (is this set actually an empty sound stage owned by Screen Gem Studios, where many of the interior sets of One Tree Hill are/were located?) in Tree Hill to filmmakers. He mentions the perks of shooting in Tree Hill: a historic downtown, a nearby beach, and a tax incentive; all of which, incidentally, are reasons why so many TV shows and movies have been filmed in the real Tree Hill of Wilmington, NC. He gets so stressed about not being able to find anyone to rent out his sound stage to that he becomes overwhelmed with joy when he finally gets a call from a potential client.

He agrees to meet the producer who will be flying in that afternoon and becomes so preoccupied with excitement over this potential deal that he accidentally leaves his baby, Davis, locked in his car. The weather is warm in Tree Hill in the setting of the story; probably late summer/early fall.

I would like to digress momentarily and point out that it certainly was warm in Wilmington, NC., for at least the first half of the season 9 shoot. The crew began shooting last July (shortly after getting the green light from the CW network for a 9th season) when Wilmington was experiencing a relentless heat wave. Temperatures soared and consistently hovered at the century mark for about a week at one point in the summer. Several cast members tweeted about how hot it was on set. So kudos to the cast and crew for the great work they did amidst such an intense heat wave. But was it as hot as it was when Spielberg and his crew were shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark in Tunisia? 🙂 Of course, Wilmington has very temperate and beautiful weather for much of the year but at this time the whole lower 48 United States were experiencing an unusual heat wave.

He returns in horror to find his car window shattered and EMTs putting his baby into the back of an ambulance. This scene combined with Haley thanking Dan for his help but telling him it is probably not a good idea for him to help out again (“This is Karen’s Cafe.”) and Mouth and Millie’s discussion about her outburst live on TV about Mouth’s (Lee Norris) weight make up the coda for this episode. I really like the song “Tamer Animals” by Other Lives that music supervisor Lindsay Wolfington and show creator/writer Mark Schwahn used for this scene. I don’t know which of them chose the song but she chooses most of the music and each song is given Mark’s stamp of approval. It was definitely an intense cliff hanger scene and the music gives it a great energy and tempo.

Click here for the music setlist for this episode.

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Brooke calls Julian to find out why their son, Davis, was never dropped off at daycare. Julian realizes, to his horror, that he forgot about him.

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The Descendants: Life in Hawaii Isn’t Always Paradise

In the beginning of the new film The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne, Matt King (George Clooney) remarks in a voiceover that people and family on the mainland think everyone in Hawaii just lives this tropical, blissful, lifestyle all day every day. He wryly observes that it is not all paradise all of the time. “I haven’t been on a surfboard in 15 years,” he says. Life, with all of its trouble and heartache, touches Hawaiians too. Even Honolulu is plagued with traffic at times as on the mainland. (By the way, “mainland” is the term Hawaiians use to refer to the lower 48 U.S. states in the same manner that people in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland refer to the rest of Europe as “the continent.”) Matt King’s wife is in the hospital on life support after suffering from a horrific boating accident off of Waikiki Beach. After being informed by her doctor that she will not recover, he must inform his young daughters, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller), of the tragic news.

The relationship he has with them is somewhat estranged; particularly from his older daughter Alexandra. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when he tells his daughter Alexandra that her mother is not going to live long. She goes underwater in their swimming pool to weep from the news. She in turn informs him that her mother was having an affair with another man. It is later implied that this was partly the result of Matt (George Clooney) and his wife growing apart over the years. There are little clues in the set design of the film to inform us that their marriage had grown apart and that the family is estranged like the way the backyard pool has leaves in it and is apparently seldom maintained. Once this tragic affair is revealed, the father and daughter begin a search together to find the man the woman was having an affair with. It turns out the guy is a local realtor and some of the other family members were aware of it. So even in a tropical paradise, life gets complicated and has its share of trouble. Well, of course! However, it’s easy to forget that if you don’t live in Hawaii and just think of it as a vacation getaway destination.

In the midst of this turmoil, the King family is deciding what to do with a huge piece of beautiful land that has been in their family since the 19th century. It is owned by several of the family members in a trust which expires in seven years. Should it be kept in its pristine, undeveloped, tropical state or should it be developed into golf courses and beachfront houses and resorts? Which option the family goes with will ultimately hinge on Matt King’s decision. This issue plays out against the backdrop of the family working through the tragedy of the boating accident. The Descendants is a great film because it is about some of the basic problems of human life which are universal in all parts of the world and time periods but play out uniquely in their own particular context of time and place: in this instance, that of contemporary Hawaii. A similar story could have taken place and probably has taken place in the rural midwestern United States, in England, or among an African tribe, or nearly any other part of the globe, whether in contemporary times or the distant past.

From L to R: Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), Matt (George Clooney), and Scottie (Amara Miller) overlooking the land that has been in their family for generations.

People in all times and places have dealt with the loss of loved ones in accidents, the heartbreak and anger from affairs, and wrestled over what to do with the ancient familial land that many humans are inextricably tied to. This film takes those universal problems and places them in the context of contemporary Hawaii and unmistakably so. At the same time, the film is not a travelogue commercial for the beautiful locations of Hawaii though there certainly are plenty of beautiful shots of Hawaii in the film. I enjoyed seeing familiar shots of Oahu since I was just there this past summer for my brother and now sister-in-law’s wedding. It is a great film for all of the above reasons and for the wonderful subtle performance of George Clooney. We never see him fully break down but in each scene of the film we are acutely aware of the pain and frustration his character Matt King is thinking and feeling, whether or not words are said. His scenes with all of his family members are quite compelling to watch too. Also, despite the serious subject matter, the film is not a downer and has some funny moments. Thankfully they are genuinely funny and make sense in the context of the plot and the characters. There is no cheap comic relief just thrown in randomly.

The film ends with the father and his two daughters watching March of the Penguins together cuddled up on the couch. At first it is just Scottie. He walks over with a bowl of ice cream and sits down next to her and pulls the blanket over the two of them. They share the ice cream. Soon, the older daughter Alexandra appears in the background. She walks over with a bowl of ice cream and sits down right next to her father opposite her sister on the small couch. She doesn’t need to ask him if she can sit there. She just does. Of course he doesn’t mind. She is his daughter. The father takes turns sharing the two bowls of ice cream with his daughters as they watch the movie. No words are exchanged. They have each other now and despite the loss they have been through, they are going to be okay.

Visit the official film website for The Descendants.

Buy the wonderful Hawaiian music soundtrack for the film on Amazon or iTunes.

View the trailer for the film.

Categories: Film | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Tree Hill Season 9 Episode 902: “In the Room Where You Sleep”

One Tree Hill has really delivered the dramatic goods thus far in the 9th season! Only 2 episodes in and the dramatic tension is as huge as the boulder chasing Dr. Jones in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the season premier, Chris Keller returned to Tree Hill to oversee Red Bedroom Records for Haley and began producing Alex Duprey’s (Jana Kramer) “What I Love About Your Love.” They got off to a hilarious start with Chris telling Alex point-blank that her song was “crappy.” In reality, he felt her acoustic track just needed to be produced. After laying down the other instrument tracks overnight, he played a produced version of her song for her, much to her surprise. Alex decides to take Chris’ advice and go on tour and consequently leave behind Chase. So for now, Alex Duprey has left Tree Hill and possibly this is Jana Kramer’s exit from the series. We shall find out later this season if her character returns or not.

Jamie is stoked having his grandpa around.

Nathan arrived home to find his father Dan Scott temporarily staying under his roof. Episode 901 ended excitingly with Nathan walking into his daughter Lydia’s room to find Dan holding and cuddling her. Nathan was not happy and long-time fans of the show who have watched this strained father-son relationship unfold over the seasons certainly understand why. It creates an awkward situation for the characters and wonderful dramatic tension for the audience. Jamie (Jackson Brundage) loves having his Grandpa Dan around. Haley and particularly Nathan arent’ thrilled about it. Haley agreed to let Dan stay in their house until Nathan returned home from traveling for his and Clay’s sports agency Fortitude. Now that Nathan is back, he wants Dan out.

Brooke and Julian are enjoying/suffering through the trials and tribulations of early parenthood replete with sleepless nights seemingly without end. However, one morning in the beginning of this episode, instead of the sound of baby cries, they wake up to the sound of…well, nothing! Alarmed, they jump out of bed and storm into the kitchen to find Brooke’s mother Victoria (the wonderful Daphne Zuniga) tending to the twins and making breakfast for everyone. It is a warm familial scene Julian and Brooke stumble upon, one Brooke wryly remarks was wanting in her childhood. Brooke is soon off to meet her father at the golf course for what she believes will be some quality father/daughter time and a discussion of their future business partnership in Baker Man baby clothing.

Clay was supposed to do the traveling the next time around. The plan was for Clay to go to Europe to look for potential athletes. With Clay’s drug addiction and ongoing sleepwalking problem, he is not in any position to be traveling far from home. So once again, Nathan is going to have to leave for an extended period of time. As the episode ends with Nathan driving out of sight, Dan and Jamie are standing on the front porch watching him leave. “I thought you had left,” Jamie says. “Don’t worry Jamie,” Dan replies. “I’m not going anywhere.”

What is Dan up to? He appears to have transformed into a much more caring person from the Dan Scott of earlier seasons, particularly since he murdered Keith in season 3. Is Dan up to something? This episode ends with a close-up on Dan with a knowing look in his eye, as though he knows Nathan is not going to be back any time soon. How does he know that? Has he conveniently arranged for someone to detain Nathan from returning home soon? If so, is it because he really is a nicer guy now but is doing what he feels he has to do in order to be in his grandchildren’s lives? We shall find out soon!

What I particularly enjoyed in this episode were the scenes between Dan, Nathan, Haley, and Jamie in the Scott household. Dan is back this season and I am stoked about that because as I mentioned in my review of episode 901 and my article about An Evening with One Tree Hill in L.A., Dan Scott is one of my favorite characters on One Tree Hill. He always adds a compelling dynamic tension to the drama in each plot that he plays a significant part in. As Mark Schwahn mentioned at the L.A. premiere, we will be seeing a lot of Dan this season. I also enjoyed the scenes between Victoria and Brooke quite a bit. They have been great to watch each episode and it was fascinating watching their characters go from an adversarial relationship to a happy mother/daughter relationship over since season 5. If any of my readers are fans of the show or just want to share their thoughts about this episode or the season thus far, please feel free to comment in the comment section below!

Click here for the music list for One Tree Hill episode 902!

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Skating the Santa Clarita Skatepark

I recently took notice of Santa Clarita, CA.’s public cement skatepark as I viewed one of Volcom Clothing‘s “Wild in the Parks tour” videos on YouTube. The Santa Clarita park was stop #14 on the tour. I had heard of the park but had never skated it before despite its close proximity to my hometown. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. However, after noticing how fun it looked in the video, I decided to pay it a visit. My friend Austin and I drove the short one hour drive from Bakersfield to the skatepark by Magic Mountain and arrived to find that the park did not disappoint. It has bowls, a pipe, snake runs, banks, stairs, rails, and plenty of ledges. The park is extremely clean too. The city actually washes it with high-pressure hoses on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. It also has clean public restrooms and free wifi! How many parks have either of these amenities?!

Here is a photo from when the park was under construction several years ago. This is one of my favorite sections of the park.

One of its many enticing features is the lighting for night skating. This is a huge bonus for several reasons. For one, southern California’s blistering hot summers make daytime skating much more difficult. Night sessions are a necessity for many summer days, especially for an inland Los Angeles county suburb like Santa Clarita, far removed from the ocean marine layer and cooler temperatures of, say, Santa Monica, or Orange County’s and San Diego’s respective beach cities. Another reason is that it can be difficult for older skaters to find the time to skate other than at night. Third, night skating is just fun regardless of the season. This park has the same type of lights that baseball fields have so it is very well-lit.

"Wes in Bako" skating one of the bowls at the park.

The Santa Clarita park is basically a traditional skatepark and a very nice one at that. There are basically two types of skateparks: traditional skateparks and the more recent skate plazas. The latter was pioneered by professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek beginning with the Kettering, Ohio (Dyrdek’s hometown) skate plaza built in 2005. Skate plazas were designed to mimic actual street obstacles like stairs and ledges; the kinds of places skateboarders often get kicked out of. Whether traditional or a skate plaza, skateparks provide a communal focal point for skateboarders to skate at and congregate without interruption.

Rob Dyrdek DC Skate Plaza in Kettering, Ohio

Rob Dyrdek

It is my hope that one day the city of Bakersfield will build a skatepark of equal caliber to the Santa Clarita park. Perhaps the Rob Dyrdek Foundation will consider Bakersfield for a future skate plaza. We surely need one. The decrepit Beach Park skatepark, which the city built and then abandoned (they never installed lights for night skating either for those scorching Bako summers), just does not cut it for our city’s size, nor is it easily accessible for many kids who do not yet drive. The city could have built a skatepark within the River Walk park but, alas, it was not to be.

Definitely check out the Santa Clarita skatepark if you are in the area. It’s definitely worth driving to if you are even an hour away from it like I am. Skateboarders in the Santa Clarita area are fortunate to have this nice park to go to.

 

Santa Clarita Skatepark

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Santa Clarita Skatepark

Categories: Skateboarding | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, The TSA has got to go!

I have always enjoyed airports for a number of reasons. One is the mere excitement of traveling. I enjoy watching people go to and fro in the airports as they rush to their gates. They come from all over the country and the world, especially in a major international hub like LAX. I have never been afraid to travel by airplane or out of the country. I have been to Europe several times. I have walked the streets of Munich, breathed the clean air of the Austrian alps, seen the bullet holes from the 1916 Easter Rising in the columns of the GPO building in Dublin, and stood on the Cliffs of Moher (these look like the Cliffs of Insanity from “The Princess Bride”). The world is an interesting place and far bigger than our backyards and hometowns. We forget this if we never travel beyond the confines of our localities. When we travel to other places, we realize there are other ways to live. We also learn more about history when visiting the actual places where events occured. Traveling around the country or the world is very rewarding. It is also difficult to travel very far without flying. Aside from traveling for personal enrichment or for education, many people must travel by plane for work-related reasons; often several times a week.

Traveling by plane used to be a dignified experience. People in the “baby boomer” generation and older can remember when people would dress up to travel by plane and there were no intrusive checkpoints to navigate. Take a look at vintage airline ads from about 50 years ago or more sometime. One quickly gets a feel for how much has changed. I don’t think it is necessary to dress up to fly and of course I am aware that people just dressed more formally for many occasions in previous generations of American history. The point is, air travel used to be pleasant.

However, with the ascendancy of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) over airport security during the past decade, traveling by plane has become a living hell. Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, all are now guilty until proven innocent. The TSA’s line of thought is that you just might be a terrorist even if you are elderly and wheelchair-bound.

"Ma'am, are you hiding a bomb in your bra?"

Apparently this wheelchair-bound gentleman might be planning to hijack an airplane.

Air travel passengers are subjected to all manner of invasive procedures such as body scans which take an image of your naked body or invasive body pat downs. No metal detector wand is used. Instead they feel up your whole body. Everyone is forced to take their shoes off and walk through the whole screening process in their socks or bare feet across a filthy floor traversed by countless multitudes. Imagine the athlete’s foot cases! Then you have to put your shoes in a plastic bin so it can go through the scanner. If you happen to bring a laptop, it must be removed and placed in one of those same bins that John Doe’s gym shoes were in just a minute before. All the while, the TSA employee is on a power trip yelling at everyone to throw away plastic bottles and liquids because, after all, someone just might hijack an airplane with shampoo. How much more of this insanity must we put up with? Are we really supposed to endure this treatment for all time?

Air travel today. (Illustration by the very talented artist and satirist David Dees)

People pay hundreds of dollars for their flights and deserve to be treated better than this. Furthermore, this is not becoming of an ostensibly free society. We have a common law right to be secure in our persons and our property. This right is protected by law in the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The TSA does not have warrants to search air travel passengers. Neither do they have probable cause to suspect most people are going to hijack an airplane or cause any other type of mayhem. They just search, violate, and harass everyone at will. (Police checkpoints in which everyone is stopped and checked without probable cause or warrants are also unconstitutional.). What is particularly upsetting is the way they even treat children as potential criminals. There have been egregious cases of children being “patted down” and violated by TSA (see the photo below). What about the radiation from these x-ray body scanners? That alone is reason for outrage, let alone all of the groping and violation of people’s privacy and property. When you go to the dentist and have your teeth x-rayed, the technician places a protector over your vital organs and walks out of the room before taking the x-ray. But the TSA? They just make you walk through it unprotected. The TSA employees don’t even protect themselves from the radiation! To add insult to injury, they take a highly-detailed image of your naked body. How is this acceptable?

Are we really supposed to accept having images of our naked bodies scanned like this?

What if she was your daughter? How would you feel seeing some stranger touch her like that?!

Senator Rand Paul, was even recently detained by the TSA in Nashville, Tenn. He set the metal detector off and refused to let them pat him down so they detained him for over two hours, making him miss the Senate session he was supposed to be at and the rally he was scheduled to speak at in Washington, D.C. that day. He offered to go through the metal detector again but they refused to let him. The TSA later admitted that the detectors go off randomly even when there are no metal objects on a person which is what happened to Senator Paul. They then make you go through a pat down. Senator Paul, rightfully not wanting his rights violated, did not allow them to pat him down. Really, TSA? You are going to treat a United States Senator this way?!

Sen. Rand Paul being interviewed by media after being detained by the TSA for 2 hours.

Bottom line: this has got to stop and the TSA must be removed from all transportation hubs and abolished.  If not, how long will it be before the TSA is given the go-ahead to start taking over bus terminals and other public venues? If you, dear reader, are one of the decent people stuck in the TSA because you applied to work there simply because it was a job; please, I implore you, try to find employment elsewhere. Groping people all day and standing next to cancer-inducing radiation machines cannot have a good effect on you over the long run. Let’s have airports and airlines control their own security and give the people their dignity back. Freedom of movement and being secure in your persons and property are the hallmarks of a free society and must be protected and maintained.

Categories: liberty, tyranny | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Tree Hill Season 9 Begins! Episode 901: “Know This, We’ve Noticed”

One Tree Hill ended its eighth season on a very happy note. Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) re-opened Karen’s Cafe. Nathan and Haley enjoyed the arrival of their new daughter Lydia. Julian (Austin Nichols) and Brooke got married mid-season and had twins in the finale; a welcome surprise and source of joy after anguishing over the possibility that Brooke would not be able to bear children. Chase (Stephen Colletti) and Alex (Jana Kramer) were looking forward to what lay ahead for them as they re-united after being apart for a year. All was basically well in Tree Hill for the core cast of characters. Quinn (Shantel VanSanten) and Clay (Robert Buckley) recovered from their near-fatal gunshot wounds early in season 8, which they received from the psycho Sarah look-alike in the season 7 finale and aside from a car accident off of a bridge in which Brooke and Jamie (Jackson Brundage) nearly drowned, it was a very blissful season for the characters. The season ended with a wonderful shot of Jamie bouncing his basketball across the bridge while wearing a Keith Scott Body Shop sweatshirt just like his Uncle Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) used to do. It was a nostalgic moment for fans, and potentially a perfect ending to the series, especially for those of us who have seen every episode since the pilot.

However, as with real life, these times of bliss are eventually shaken by unforeseen circumstances. Unsavory characters eventually show up to disrupt our reveries. Thus, season 9 begins on a dark note with a brilliant and chilling opening montage of chaotic scenes of non-linear future events; probably toward the end of the season, possibly even the finale. We see Dan Scott and Chris Keller loading semi-automatic handguns in a car on their way to some sort of confrontation, a blood-splattered Chase in the back of a police car, Brooke going on a rampage inside of a restaurant, and Haley identifying a body in a morgue.

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But who is under that sheet? What in the world just happened? These questions are racing through our minds as these scenes are thrown in our face and perfectly scored with “The Sun” by The Naked and Famous. I thought it was a perfect opening to the season. It was riveting to watch and it created more active participation for us as the audience. Now we have questions about why all of those scenes happen and we will be looking for the clues as the season progresses. Little by little with each passing episode the pieces of the puzzle will begin to fall in place. Mark Schwahn made a smart choice by opening the new season with non-linear scenes. It heightens the suspense and interest for us as the audience. That montage is already one of my favorite scenes from a One Tree Hill episode. There will definitely be a dark cloud, as it were, hanging over this season as we wait and watch for whatever horrible things are going to happen. We’ve tread this dark path before in past seasons such as with the school shooting episode. But One Tree Hill runs the gamut of emotions and life experiences. There are many light-hearted and hilarious moments to look forward to and even this episode is mostly on the lighter side. There are some funny scenes between Victoria (Daphne Zuniga) and Brooke’s father (Richard Burgi joins the cast this season in this role).

“Well, Well.”

The capstone is the return of Chris Keller (Tyler Hilton) who has the funniest scenes in this episode. Haley hires him via email to oversee Red Bedroom Records, not realizing it is him because of his alias. Their back and forth banter is a blast to watch with many laugh-out-loud moments. Chris Keller’s interactions with Alex (Jana Kramer) are just as funny as he begins work on producing one of her songs.

“What? I can’t hear you over this crappy song!”

I’m really glad Dan Scott (Paul Johansson) will be given more prominence this season. Dan is such a compelling character and we are never completely sure which direction he is moving in. All of the writers have done such a fabulous job writing his scenes over the past seasons and Paul has always executed (well, yes, pun sort of intended…) them perfectly. What a great role for an actor to have. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he will affect the lives of the others in Tree Hill this season. From my own perspective as just one fan, I would like to see him have some sort of reconciliation with Nathan. However, I know from past seasons of this show that whatever Mark Schwahn has decided to do with this character will be satisfying so I look forward to watching how it all plays out.

Dan approaches Haley and asks if he can stay at her home for a couple of days since his diner and home burned down. It will be interesting to find out how that happened.

I’m really glad we were given one more season of One Tree Hill. At the time the season 8 finale was written, there was uncertainty as to whether the show was going to end or get picked up by the CW for another season. For this reason, the season 8 finale has closure and does not have a cliffhanger. It was clearly written as though it were the final episode of the show. However, many of us fans wanted one more season. A couple of months later, phone calls and emails from fans to the CW network (I made a couple myself) paid off and the show was picked up for a shorter and final 9th season. Sure, many of us would have liked a full season with 22 episodes but we can’t always have what we want, now can we? Besides, there is a silver lining to having the show begin mid-season. Sometimes less is more. With only 13 episodes, Mark Schwahn and his fellow writers had to be more concise with each episode. They also knew ahead of time that this was going to be the final season. This no doubt informed every plot and character arc decision they made when they wrote each episode. I’m sure they had some intensive pre-production meetings in the late spring and early summer last year and mapped out the whole season ahead of time. All 13 episodes will probably play out like a long, epic movie.

Please see my previous article about the special event “An Evening with One Tree Hill in LA,” an advance screening of the season 9 premiere and Q&A with Mark Schwahn and the cast at the Arclight theater in Hollywood, which I attended. Just click the “previous post” button below.

To find out more about the music of One Tree Hill, visit the official One Tree Hill Music website. To get a list of the music in this week’s season 9 premiere episode (901-“Know This, We’ve Noticed”), click here.

(Note: If you are new to One Tree Hill, please go back and watch all of the previous 8 seasons on DVD. You will have a much greater appreciation for the characters when you know all of their backstories. This will greatly enhance your enjoyment since One Tree Hill is a serialized show. You can also subscribe to season 9 in iTunes now.)

Categories: One Tree Hill, television | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Evening with One Tree Hill in L.A. (Part 2)

There are some wonderful pictures of the season 9 premiere and Q&A on the One Tree Hill Facebook page. Here are a few more that I personally took in addition to the two I posted on Part 1 of this article. All photos in part 1 and part 2 of this post were taken by me.

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Everyone in the stand-by line got in to the screening!

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One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn outside of the Arclight theatre before the screening.

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Mark Schwahn

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My ticket!

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Paul Johansson (Dan Scott) and Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley) entering the theater before the screening.

This fan wore a chicken costume like the one Skills and Millie wear in the One Tree Hill season 8 finale. Paul Johansson walked over and took a photo with him.

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Mark Schwahn welcoming everyone to the event.

The photo below was taken just after the episode ended. The theater staff set up these barstool chairs for the cast to come up and sit in during the Q&A.

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Theater entrance

Arclight Hollywood put up these posters with each cast member in the hallway outside of theater 10 where OTH episode 901 was screened.

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I have a couple of video clips from the event that I put on YouTube.

1.  Click here to hear Paul Johansson and Tyler Hilton talk about their experiences on the show.

2.  Click here to hear Lee Norris’ experience as Mouth this season.

3.  Click here to hear Mark Schwahn talk about bringing back Dan Scott and Chris Keller this season.

Categories: One Tree Hill, television | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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