Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bob Marley, Jamaica and Reggae

Reggae has a beat that calls to most of us. Perhaps it would not have become as popular and cemented in
the music genre if Bob Marley had failed to state his beliefs with persistence.

The beat pervades the atmosphere and sounds around the world. Drummers surrounded by equipment, listeners using their hands and lightly slapping desks, CEOs with toes tapping against floors and drivers using their fingers against the steering wheel in the pattern feel the spirit of reggae. A vigorous, intense rhythm in Reggae exemplifies that found in African music, although missing from Asian and European music. Take the standard 4/4 beat and visualize the waltz. Steps 2 and 4 have backbeat flair. Step 3 packs a punch with a kick. In the case of Reggae drummers, it is a kick to the bass drum. 

Bob Marley was just another young man in the Jamaican ghetto who felt the music pouring forth from the radio. Tradition was in a state of flux in the 1960s and 1970s and authority challenged by many young people. Ska and rock steady inspired growth to the development of reggae and its universal acceptance, but it took years to reach that pinnacle. If Marley had been born even a decade earlier, a swift silence would have occurred. Instead, his beliefs and practices were common to that of others in his age group, a strong vocal concentration of world citizens embarked on a voyage towards change.

The future of Jamaica and her citizens stirred the creative caliber in Marley’s music. Political unrest received recognition through the message of his music. Rock and roll, developing a culture of its own, fit into his incredible talent in writing and performing music. Two albums by Bob Marley and The Wailers pushed the group from local popularity to international acknowledgment. Catch a Fire, released in 1972, was quickly followed by Burnin’ in 1973, which included the song “I Shot the Sheriff.” Eric Clapton recorded and released the song in 1974 resulting in a number one hit and more focus on Marley. The band changed shortly after and his wife Rita stepped in with her band to keep the music flowing.  Natty Dread, released in 1975, was the group’s first album to hit the US charts. Believed by many to be his best album, Legend defined rebellion mixed with hope, stressing the slower, yet insistent reggae beat.

It was time to think of the value of human beings. Rather than senseless killing, a plea for all to talk, discuss and think went forth. Again, the use of marijuana, part of his religious beliefs as a Rastafarian, was widely accepted among those in his generation. Whether or not it enhanced his enlightenment is irrelevant. The fact is that he believed religion had an important place in politics and interaction with one another. He was extremely vocal about the need for Jamaican leaders to work towards a solid Jamaica, not just their own desires. Weapons resolved conflict and he was aware of his own danger because of his following. Much of his music described the hardship of life under Jamaican politics. In an attempt to stop a concert scheduled to follow a political rally in Kingston, an assassination attempt occurred December 3, 1976 on Marley, Rita and the band mangers. Shot twice, Marley and the band performed the concert on the scheduled date of December 5. Marley, his family and the band left for England after the concert. His songs, such as “No Woman, No Cry” and “Redemption Song” continued to remind the world that political and cultural controversy still reigned around the world and in his homeland.

In 1976, Rolling Stone magazine honored Bob Marley & The Wailers as Band of the Year. Marley received the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations in June 1978. February 1981 saw Marley receive Jamaica’s third highest honor, the Jamaican Order of Merit. Gone too soon, Marley died at age 36 from cancer on the way home to Jamaica, the homeland he loved and continued to urge forward to a better life. One of his statements describes the purpose of his music, “Every song is a sign.” In his eulogy May 21, 1981, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga remarked on Marley being an experience. A tribute written by singer and songwriter Robert Palmer in 1984 for Marley’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction recognized his musical legacy and social impact. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Litany of Star Trek

Life without Star Trek is illogical. Fortunately, reruns continue to air, with a sprinkling of movies appearing from time to time. We may never see the entire future as shown through this sci-fi adventure. However, our communicators are in the form of cell phones; who knows what other products await in this lifetime?
From nearly any television show or movie about Star Trek, one hears Captain Kirk demanding, "Give it all she's got, Scotty!" or "Status, Mr. Sulu." Even with four different series (Star Trek, Star Trek - The Next Generation, Star Trek - Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek - Voyager) and an assortment of movies, I crave more stories, even re-told ones, about my favorite characters and their adventures around the universe. As an avid reader, I have many books to feed my need. My favorite science fiction collection of short stories is Star Trek ® The Classic Episodes 3, which put into print twenty-four shows comprising the final season.

Adapted by James Blish with J. A. Lawrence, and printed by Bantam Books in 1991, this collection consists of the best of the series. By this time, a generation knew the characters on Star Trek, including snatches of their family history, what their childhood was like, how their cities and planets had evolved since the 20th century, and which planets and people were friend, foe, or neutral. It restored a drive for scientific study, as the idea of so many marvelous things being taken for granted in Kirk's time touched a yearning within the souls of many.
My favorite story is "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", written by Rik Vollaerts. Primarily centered on Dr. "Bones" McCoy, the story begins with the discovery by the doctor that he's got a rare terminal blood disease, Xenopolycythemia, and has less than a year to live. When one reviews all the medical technology in Dr. McCoy's Sick Bay and recalls the many things he's done to save lives in prior episodes, it is a surprise that he accepts certain death rather than racing right for the lab to create a cure.
Setting the Stage
A barrage of archaic missiles (over 10,000 years old) were fired at the Enterprise and destroyed. Kirk and Spock discover an asteroid, which is really a powered spaceship with no apparent life forms. Bound on a collision course with an inhabited planet, Daran V, it must be stopped. Beaming to the internal surface of the ship, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy find plants, mountains, rubble, and cylinders. Not showing signs of life, they pass by, but are attacked by men swarming out to overtake the Enterprise officers. Oh, dear! I forgot to mention the beautiful woman. Star Trek taught us that different shapes, colors, and characteristics of life forms could be beautiful, even as those which are most familiar can be evil and frightening. Natira, the High Priestess of the People of Yonada, saved the crew from further injury or death by stopping the trouncing. However, McCoy is hurt very badly when Kirk assures Natira they come in friendship and the three crewmembers are felled by an intense charge of electricity.
Tell Me, For I Want to Know
Placed in confinement, the men are approached by an older man who asks to be told of the outside, as he is ignorant. He tells them how he climbed the mountains years ago, even though forbidden. In response to why it's forbidden to climb the mountains, he replies he isn't sure, but he knows things aren't as they've been told, "for the world is hollow and I have touched the sky."(page 258) The man is killed by some force for revealing what he knows.
Natira has guards gently remove the man. She appears to be quite taken with McCoy, who gets some good-natured ribbing from Spock and Kirk. She tells them the Oracle wants them treated like honored guests, and gives Spock and Kirk permission to meet the People while she stays with McCoy.
Love can Strike at Any Time
Natira's proposal to McCoy is no surprise. He tells her of his fatal disease; she tells him of the future, when they will reach a new home. Kirk and Spock, enter the room of the Oracle (Spock memorized the code from earlier). Natira comes in shortly thereafter to request the Oracle's permission to marry McCoy. The Oracle has no human form, but seems to know what is going on. He approves if McCoy becomes one of the people, which includes getting an obedience insert in his head. Discovered in the room, Kirk and Spock are sentenced to death. McCoy, however, has thought about his lonely life, and tells Natira he will marry her if she lets his friends return to the Enterprise. He assures Kirk of the love he's found, and the happiness in knowing his last days won't be alone.
Sometimes knowledge can almost kill you
McCoy is shown the Book of the People, which can only be opened and read when their final destination is reached. Contacting the Enterprise to make them aware of its existence, he is nearly killed for being disobedient. Returning to Yonada, Kirk and Spock materialize in Natira's room, where she is holding the dying McCoy. Spock removes McCoy's insert, and when the Oracle nearly destroys Natira after she demands to know the truth, McCoy removes hers.
Loyalty to Who You Are

Choices are difficult to make at the best of times. Natira felt duty-bound to stay with her people till the end of the journey. Spock, after repairing and recalibrating the ship, recorded the entire history of the Fabrini people, who built the traveling asteroid and sent some of their best people on a voyage across space to survival. McCoy, having changed Natira's life forever, returned to the Enterprise with Kirk and Spock, where Spock found the cure for McCoy's disease on the history scan, created the formula, and saved McCoy's life. Kirk, glad to have his dear friend and comrade back again, hinted to McCoy that he'd see the Enterprise in their vicinity when Yonada and Natira reached their destination.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Plan an Inexpensive Daycation Viewing Fall Foliage

I was a bit surprised to learn that some areas collect fees from people wishing to see fall foliage. Homes in the suburbs have changed the natural habitat over the past six decades. Native trees and vegetation were ripped from the grounds and replaced by single-family homes, apartments, townhouse, and condominiums. Families either have to visit a state or national park to get a view of the colors of fall or depend on others to let them know where to see glorious leaves of gold, bronze, and crimson.

Driving along Hwy 80W between Fernley and Reno, Nevada presents a wonderful opportunity to see the vegetation ready itself for winter. It is about a 60 mile drive on well-maintained highway. Plan a daycation by packing a lunch, some bottles of water, and a digital camera. 

Exit off the highway and park along the side of the road while you take pictures. You'll find small communities where visitors are welcome to stroll the lanes and admire the scenery. Dogs are allowed to roam free, so don't venture too far away from your vehicle.

Sagebrush is the official state flower of Nevada. It provides a golden color to the hills and much of the flat acreage in Northern Nevada. Lilacs, apricots, maples, and cottonwoods begin their impressive change, as do the vines that entwine with tree branches and climb fences. Long green pods turn brown and burst open to drop seeds on the ground for next year's growth. 

Beautiful climbing vines gradually changes to russet, copper, and red, highlighting the deep green of the leaves that have yet to change. Edit your pictures for easy posting in blogs, FB, and emails. Friends around the world may return the favor by sharing a view of their autumn foliage with you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Keep Special Seniors Warm this Winter

School is back in session, a sure sign that the temperatures will start dropping as late fall approaches and turns into winter. As the body ages, it becomes more vulnerable to the chill of the air. In a weakened condition the body can't fight the germs that cause sickness, starting with colds through pneumonia and flu. 

Anyone affected by Alzheimer's or dementia might not realize a drop in body temperature (hypothermia).
Mild cases of hypothermia can occur from a breeze, fan, or cooling system in the house. Keep a shawl or sweater where the senior will easily find it and put it on or around their shoulders to ward off the cold. If you are a senior citizen follow these four steps to protect yourself. Caregivers can follow these tips to protect their loved one or friend from the cold.

1. Look at the weather forecast for the week ahead to plan days out. Stay inside on windy and cold days. If you go out, wear warm clothing, gloves, and a hat.

2. Avoid cold places and stay aware of how other people are reacting to the environment. Age reduces your body's awareness of cold, so if others are dressed for chilly weather, put your winter gear back on.

3. Wear layers. Loose clothing traps warm air between each layer and reduces the risk of hypothermia.

4. Carry a thermal blanket in the car. It will keep you warm while waiting for help if the car has a flat tire or other problem while you are out on the road.

Contact your local Senior Center for other tips on staying healthy and safe during the cool months ahead.