Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

The Summit A Chronicle Of Stones to SerenityThe Summit: A Chronicle Of Stones to Serenity (2009) is a beautiful film.  It is a movie that showcases why adventures go beyond the possible and make the improbable a reality.

The panoramic images of snow clad mountains surrounded by a sea of clouds painted in sunsets is what many outdoor enthusiasts yearn to see; the movie is more than the contrast of the beauty and danger of mountaineering.  It is about the whys of several men during the Meiji era go to Mount Tsurugidake, an unexplored peak in the Hida Mountains, located in the eastern area of Toyama Prefecture, Japan in 1907 .  The story is based on the novel by Jiro Nitta.

On the surface it is a story of explorers risking their lives in an endeavor to survey an area that was never explored and chart the region for national security purposes; moreover, there is a second reason the government needs this undocumented location mapped.  It is to save the government’s honor in preventing a group of civilian armatures in climbing a mountain that the Army has failed in the past to climb.  But like clouds covering mountains, there are other hidden reasons to why the men of the Japanese Army Survey unit go exploring.  Furthermore, their reasons are in humbling to why the local guide goes, and the purpose of the Japanese Alpine Club.

Beyond the imagery and dialog I’m captivated by the gear used in 1907.  The heavy supplies, and the physically demanding costs, and the contrast of traditional and modern gear.  The local guide and survey unit gear choices are primitive compared to the modern gear the Alpine team uses.

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Japanese Army Survey unit

During the first exchange between the two teams a 1955 Swedish-made Svea 123 makes an appearance when Yoshitaro Shibasaki of the Japanese Army Survey unit speaks with Usui Kojima of the Japanese Alpine Club team; the appearance of the stove is interesting because the movie is based in 1907.  Regardless of the gear time line mix up (and it is possible I am wrong in identifying the stove used), we see how extravagant gear can be and traditional supplies can be looked down upon.  Even today some of us have fallen into the trap of envying someone who has new gear or chuckled at a person’s old, heavy, and tattered gear.

After seeing this movie you will be hard pressed not to want to discover someplace new.  And to borrow a quote from the film “nature is eternal but life is fleeting”.  There is no time like the present to start your adventure.

– Jeffrey

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Japanese Alpine Club team

Japanese Alpine News

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I have a solution if you want to have a rocking good time in scaring your friends into becoming environmental aware.  This is how you can set the stage.  Go overnight kayaking or camping with a portable dvd player and two films to set the stage.  If you can hook up a digital presenter and throw its image onto a blanket you are good as gold.  Then it’s time for the popcorn, baked apples, and drink a good brew.

frontline poisoned watersYou could start the evening by showing a film like the April 21, 2009 PBS Frontline documentary “Poisoned Waters“.  After a few more drinks then it is time to show your feature film “The Bay“.  Get ready, this is an Environmental Science Fiction Horror film and it defiantly is a disturbing form of entertainment.  “The Bay” is a genre of film that blends environmental activism with entertainment and results in an Environmental Science Fiction Horror film.  It is a fictional documentary about the Chesapeake Bay,  directed by Barry Levinson.  Curiously, some of the content of the film appears to be based on some facts from “Poisoned Waters“.  Thus this setup is a knockout.

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the bayBarry Levinson uses a kaleidoscope of digital recording devices to tell a cohesive story in “The Bay” about the town of Claridge in Maryland on July 4th 2009.  The tall tale tells the story of local people becoming sick and dieing within a day’s time.  Due to the unique cinematic choices the Eco-Horror story takes the form of a documentary created by the local people documenting their confusion, frustration, and fear as some discover that everyone is infested with isopod larva that have changed due to pollution.

At the end of the night you and your friends will be scratching, nervously wanting to boil water, and wondering could “The Bay” actually happen.

The reality is “The Bay” is today’s “Godzilla”; “Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear detonations and a metaphor for nuclear weapons.”  Today’s environmental fear is not nuclear weapons it is water or more specifically non point source (NPS) pollution.  Can pollution alter isopods to become monsters, probably not.  But monster isopods do become a good metaphor for illustrating our fear.

– Jeff

Well it is now less than seven weeks to Christmas and I am starting to look around for gifts for friends and family. Of course while shopping for them I am beginning to assemble my own list, just in case someone asks. Unfortunately not all of the items I discover make it to my list, some just get bought (lol!).

So with that confession let me recommend a great DVD called Simplifying the Roll with Helen Wilson from Greenlandorbust.org. Although I paddle a Euro blade and while the DVD does concentrate on layback rolls and advanced rolls using a Greenland paddle, it offers excellent advice for anyone who is trying to learn to roll or is trying to troubleshoot their on again / off again roll. In the section “Troubleshooting the Roll” Helen Wilson does a great job at pointing out some of the obvious mistakes we make and some of the not so obvious ones that cause our roll to fail. The techniques in this section of the DVD are applicable to both disciplines of paddles.

This DVD is available directly from Greenlandorbust.org or if you are in the Tampa Bay area, from Sweetwater Kayaks at 727-570-4844.

Happy Rolling, Chad M.

It is almost Halloween.  The upcoming weekend is a time to have fun.  It is a time to take our kids out trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, go to costume parties, and tell thrilling tails around a campfire.

Telling stories around the campfire is a great way to express creativity and to enjoy the rush of being scared. It is the pounding of the heart lets us know that we are alive.

If you cannot get on the water and curl up to a campfire with friends to tell stories then I have the movie for you.  Recently I viewed an environmental movie that will put you in a realistic fight or flight sensation of foreboding anxiety and panic. When you cannot go kayaking because the water is frozen go skiing with two of your closest friends.

Frozen (2010) is an environmental thriller that takes place at a ski resort.  Three friends go skiing and get stuck on the chair lift.  There is no supernatural forces at play.  The writers did not put a villain into this movie.  The protagonist is the snow, darkness, and the fear of being stuck 50 feet above the ground.

“thankfully, [ Frozen ] does not conform to the recent trends of low budget horror films.  It is a small-scale story that explores a commonplace fear that could literally happen to just about anyone.  There is no ‘Well I would have done things differently and made it out OK.’  The list of possible outcomes for this scenario is extremely short, no matter how you tackle it.  When one is hoping that the characters of this film make it out alright, what they’re really hoping is that it never happens to them.”  (screencrave.com Jan 26, 2010 – By Brendan Walsh)

Is there a happy ending to this movie?  My wife and I say no; however, Sean says “it sort of has a positive ending”.  I will let you decide.

– Jeff