Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘documentary

Moon Chasing

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Fifty years ago this month, the Eagle landed on the moon. I am thoroughly enjoying the 3-part Robert Stone documentary film, “Chasing the Moon” on the PBS program American Experience this week for its revisiting of the history that led up to that epic event of the first human setting foot on the moon.

Catch the ending tonight if you have access to the PBS programming.

I have enjoyed the portions of the first two episodes that reveal what was happening in the early years of my life before my awareness and ability to remember were formed. As the chronicle moves on to years when I was old enough to be making memories, it is interesting to see the mix of familiarity and obliviousness.

Even the astronauts admit to being out of touch with much of the turmoil of the 60s because they were so singularly focused and generally isolated by the space program. I’m not the only one who couldn’t keep track of everything that was happening at the time.

I find it striking to compare the awed engrossment in every launch and mission detail from those early days of space flight to the virtual invisibility of most trips to space now.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

How long before we find shuttling to visit Mars so unremarkable that nobody pays any attention?

If it happens within my lifetime, I probably won’t remember it very long, anyway.

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Written by johnwhays

July 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Powerful Stuff

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For the last week and a half I have been doing my best to catch the PBS broadcasts of the 10-part documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, “The Vietnam War.” It is a dizzying experience. Even though the presentation is spread over two weeks, it compresses so much history and so many perspectives into each segment that the incomprehensible reality it depicts leaves me dumbstruck in a foggy haze of then and now.

As often happens for me, the review of significant historical events that happened during my lifetime, especially about those of which I successfully accomplished an embarrassing level of blissful ignorance while they were occurring, has a way of disrupting my self perceptions. I get a real sense that I would have been a very different person in my ensuing years if I had given certain events more of my attention.

At the same time, part of me has a sense that I already am that different person I seem to be imagining. I don’t know how it works. Did I mention it is dizzying?

I was certainly old enough to perceive the war in Vietnam as pointless and unwinnable, and thus developed a negative opinion of the political and military decisions being made that prolonged our participation.

This comprehensive documentary is educating me about details of the Vietnamese struggles for independence, the US fears of communism, and the corruption on both sides of the conflict. I value highly the opportunity to hear the perspectives of participants from the other side, which this film presents.

There is one additional aspect that is contributing to an overwhelming feeling this film is giving me. There are an uncomfortable number of moments when the depictions of the drama that played out fifty years ago (plus and minus) resonates uncannily with stories in the news today.

One example being the collusion by Nixon with a foreign government to influence his being elected. Sound familiar?

How could we ever let someone get away with that again?

I wish I knew.

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Delicious Program

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I want to shout from the stove top about a brilliant three-part program PBS has dished up, “Food – Delicious Science.” It is a thrilling science story of the food on our plates and the physics, chemistry and biology that lies hidden inside every bite.

The hosts, Michael Mosley and James Wong, are wonderful, both to watch and listen to as they guide this exploration of the fascinating details about the food we eat and how our body reacts to it. Their energy for the topic is infectious and their way of describing the complex science of our everyday eating experiences comes across as a comfortable conversation with a friend.

When they taste things that cause a reaction —both good and bad— their expressions convey the experience so well, I almost need to wince or sigh right along with them.

If you eat food, and I’m betting that you do, this program is worth watching. It is informative, entertaining, inspiring, educational, and will absolutely enhance the entire experience of preparing and consuming the nutrition and fuel we need to thrive.

Be forewarned, viewing this program just might generate an insatiable urge to eat something delicious.

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Don’t Miss

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If you are a fan of popular music and the art of multi-track recording, don’t miss this documentary currently showing on PBS!

soundbreaking

aboutsoundbreakingWe stumbled upon the second episode last night and became instantly entranced. I always marvel over seeing that someone made the effort to record video —and subsequently save for later discovery— of surprisingly authentic moments of activity, like musicians working on a song.

Who thought to record video of these bands before they knew the group would turn out to be worth the effort?

This show renews my appreciation for the amount of creative manipulation behind all the recorded music we get to hear. It’s something that is too easy to take for granted.

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Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2016 at 7:00 am

Watching Amy

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We watched the documentary, “Amy” last night, about singer Amy Winehouse, and it triggered a recurring sadness for me that you can’t instantly remedy whatever it is that drives a person to make unhealthy coping choices. You can send love to those who are hurting, but if they aren’t able to love themselves, health and healing can only wait on the sidelines to be invited in.

AmyPosterI’ve had moments of grandeur where I thought the environment we have created at Wintervale, the horses, the labyrinth garden, wooded trails, and our dog & cat, combined with the life experience and emotional intelligence Cyndie and I have gained, could serve as an intrinsic salve to any and all who visit.

Reality isn’t that simple. I have had opportunity to discover my acquired peace doesn’t automatically transform others merely by proximity. I found that it is possible not only for me to be helpless about inducing healing in another, but I am as susceptible as anyone to being drawn down by contagious unhealthy energies.

Being a positive healing influence on the world is something that requires definite effort.

Detangling from a general pattern of unhealthy behaviors requires a definite choice. We have to make an informed decision to change our life for the better. It doesn’t happen by just spending some time at a healthy place.

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The movie about Amy Winehouse includes a significant amount of footage showing the frenzy of paparazzi she faced. It was tough to witness. Nobody deserves that abuse. Take a moment to cherish the anonymity that allows for normal daily life.

Cyndie and I were talking about situations of celebrity hounding and recalled the amazing surprise we felt years ago, when we spotted Eric Clapton on a street in Chicago, unnoticed by anyone but us. We were killing time on a weekday visit and strolling the shops along The Magnificent Mile, or possibly some side street just off Michigan Avenue, when two guys stepped out the door of some apparel shop.

They were carrying large bags of their purchases, which was one of the first aspects that caught my eye. Two guys on a little afternoon clothes shopping expedition? Seemed somewhat off gender-usual to me.

As my surveying glance traveled up to their faces, I wasn’t able to mask my shocked recognition at the face of one of my musical idols, just inches away. In a split second, I chose to avoid spoiling Mr. Clapton’s moment of walking the street like any anonymous bloke.

As they passed I looked at Cyndie and she was looking at me with that same wide-eyed shock over who was walking by. It didn’t seem possible. We immediately began debating our decision of not saying anything to him.

I consoled myself with the vision I will never forget: the look on Eric Clapton’s face when he saw our shocked expressions and knew he’d been recognized, …yet not hassled.

I wonder if Amy Winehouse ever enjoyed the pleasure of being recognized, but not hassled, in the brief time after her music became wildly popular.

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Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2016 at 7:00 am