Jeffery Oliver

Working through art and life, often on a bicycle.

These Things: A Poem, A Song, and WTF?

Springtime in Winter. Feb. 2018. Boise, Idaho.

“We were together. I forget the rest.” – Walt Whitman

So, in the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day here are these things:

To Hold

By Li-Young Lee. This poem is one of my favorite contemporary love poems and can be found in his collection of poems, “Behind My Eyes.” You can hear me reading this poem on SoundCloud.

So we’re dust. In the meantime, my wife and I
make the bed. Holding opposite edges of the sheet,
we raise it, billowing, then pull it tight,
measuring by eye as it falls into alignment
between us. We tug, fold, tuck. And if I’m lucky,
she’ll remember a recent dream and tell me.

One day we’ll lie down and not get up.
One day, all we guard will be surrendered.

Until then, we’ll go on learning to recognize
what we love, and what it takes
to tend what isn’t for our having.
So often, fear has led me
to abandon what I know I must relinquish
in time. But for the moment,
I’ll listen to her dream,
and she to mine, our mutual hearing calling
more and more detail into the light
of a joint and fragile keeping.

Alone

By the new-grass band Trampled by Turtles. This is one of the simplest and beautiful love songs I know. You can listen to “Alone” here.

You come into the world alone—
and you go out of the world alone—
but in between, there’s you and me—

The summer breezes blow so tall—
and the winter nights are cold and so long—
in between the falling leaves—

The days and nights are killing me.
The light and dark are still in me.
But there’s and anchor on the beach,
so let the wind blow hard,
and bring a falling star.

maybe I could eat blades of grass

WTF is this video? This title reminded me of Walt Whitman’s book of course, but it’s nothing like Walt Whitman, or love, or a love poem, or Saint Valentine. It’s only one minute though.

maybe i could eat blades of grass
Hi, I’m damien maymdien.
i know what you’re probably thinking.
i’ve heard it 100 times.
people come up to me and they say,
“hey damien, why is everything
so dumb and stupid?”
well that’s a great question
and i’ll answer it for you.
first, let’s plant some trees.
ok, what was your question?

…and it continues but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Go ahead, take a moment.

I hope you have a great day,

Jeff O.


Feeling inspired? Feel free to share these things. If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

These Things: Growing Toward the Beauty

The Bashful Super Blue Blood Moon above Boise, Idaho

Mushrooms Gonna Save the World

You may know I have a thing for mushrooms that began when I heard a lecture by Paul Stamets at the Anchorage Public Library in April 2009. Here’s a TED Talk by Stamets which is the 20 minute version of the two-hour lecture we heard on “Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.” If you’re interested, Stamet’s book, “Mycelium Running” goes into (extreme) detail on his ideas about mycoremediation in forestry and ecological cleanup as well as how to grow gourmet/medicinal mushrooms. If you believe in cancer, you need to watch his talk on TEDMED too.

Lightning Stimulates Mushroom Growth

So, in my trying to understand how to grow mushrooms inside (because winter), I ran across this article, “Effect of Electrical Stimulation on Fruit Body Formation in Cultivating Mushrooms,” that basically shows how lightning stimulates mushroom growth. It gets geeky fast but to bring it into the kitchen, Lentinula edodes is the Latin name for Shiitake. I know, it’s TLDR but interesting to consider.

The Social Lives of Trees (Because Mycelium)

Evidently trees talk to one another through their root systems (and likely through mycelial mats (mycelium is the plant that mushrooms are the fruits of)).

If You Love Riding a Bicycle, Get on a Bicycle

Like trying to grow mushrooms outside, riding a bike in the winter is tough. But, I found this article on year-round cycling to be really helpful not only for winter riding, but riding in the rain, and riding in the dark. For me it’s all about routine (ok, and studded bicycle tires here in Idaho).

Of course, if biking isn’t your thing, there are indoor options for staying active like heading to a gym or yoga studio. If you’re in the Boise area, I have huge respect for the wholistic approach to nutrition and fitness mentored by Brett Denton and his team at Kvell Fitness.

You Smell of a Thing Growing Toward the Light

Ok, this was included because it sounds like part of mushroom cultivation but it’s really a line from the poem “Niece” from Broadsided Press. Broadsided is a project run by a couple of poetry alumni from the University of Alaska Anchorage (my alma mater). Their idea is to match poets and visual artists and publish a PDF of this partnership on their website so that ordinary folks like you and I can become “vectors” by printing these and posting them around town. One of the most inspired projects that fully capitalizes on the interactivity of the web along with literally bridging the digital divide.

Grow toward the beauty,

Jeff O.

PS – Several folks have asked, and yes, please send this to anyone you think may enjoy it.


If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

These Things: Finding Joy in the Routine

These Things - a culture blog by Jeffery Oliver

Ok, I don’t know about you, but what a difficult time of year to get into and find joy in healthy routine. But, I understand the power of solstice, and especially the winter solstice as a time of the birth of light (life).

In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions:

  • I’m fascinated that the Japanese have a word for living your intention, your “what you are,” it’s called ikigai (short article and 1 minute video).
  • The number one rule to make exercise a (good) habit is to do something you enjoy. I ride a bike to work everyday because I love riding a bicycle. Here are nine more really great tactics to stay in your exer-groove.
  • The Science of Hiking” Nothing more to say other than go hiking or read this article and then go hiking. And if it’s something you like to do, you’re already close to making it part of your exer-groove routine.
  • Speaking of routines, I can’t quit listening to the band Tamikrest, especially their tune Dihad Tedoun Itran on YouTube. They describe themselves as “one of the best blues bands to come out of the Sahara.”
  • Jennifer and I are going to Iceland (and we’re making plans). I love these photos of Iceland by photographer Luca Tombolini.

Remember, “there’s a sunny day beyond the clouds” (thanks Bailey H).

Jeff O.

Oh! My buddy Chris Hargrave responded to me about the intermittent fasting article in the last edition of “These Things” with some great info on how to do this healthfully. He’s a nutrition and physical trainer who can help you fast healthfully.

Check out Life Spice Health Coaching on Facebook or on his website. Super cool dude.


If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

TexFest17 – A Tiny Film Festival

TexFest17 - a tiny film festival curated by jeffery oliver

TexFest 17 was a tiny film festival (now virtual) presented at Marcia and Terri’s place in the St. Beulah Valley, Texas on Dec. 27, 2017

PART I

Funnel – 7:05

When a man’s car breaks down, he finds himself on a quest for a funnel. Written, directed, and starring Andre Hyland. Official selection in 2014 at Sundance, SXSW, and others.

Historia del Desierto – 6:06

Written, directed and animated by Celia Galán from Barcelona based on a short story by Ceferino Galán. Winner at Cannes Film Fest 2003.

Focus – 5:21

Black and white short about a man who loses focus of his girlfriend. By Ari Kruger of Cape Town, South Africa.

Floppy Disk – 0:47

Animated short by illustrator Markus Magnusson of Kiev, Ukraine.

Ocean Gravity – 3:38

By Guillaume Nery and Julie Gautier and shot in an underwater straight in French Polynesia. Their idea was to create the visual effect of a body in orbit around a star. Since it was shot underwater, they were able to shoot unconventionally without regard to typical camera movement and framing.

Bottle – 5:25

Stop-motion animation by Kirsten Lepore.


PART II

No Bikini – 8:28

Directed by Claudia Morgado based on a short story by Ivan Coyote. A woman tells us the story of a defining event that happened in her life when she was seven years old.

Marry Up – 0:58

A very short Italian film on marriage by Matteo Polo, Marco Serpenti, Matteo Zanin.

Curfew – 19:42

2013 Academy Award winning short by Shawn Christensen. This is a dark family drama.


PART III

Stuck – 2:18

By Benoit Mannequin. A man runs into issues trying to leave work.

She’s All That and the Power of Transformation – 3:55

A film essay by Kentucker Audley on the 1999 high-school drama film “She’s All That.”
A film essay by Kentucker Audley on the 1999 high-school drama film “She’s All That.” I particularly love his dry and ironic approach to this film.

(rough cut) – 2:30

A TIFF selection directed by co-writer Walter Woodman and produced, written, and stars Sidney Leeder–the woman we see in the film.

A.D. 1363, the End of Chivalry – 2:35

New Zealand-based filmmaker Jake Mahaffy presents a depiction of the historical catastrophe which led to the end of the heroic era of chivalry.

The Stutterer – 13:04

The story of a man whose lush inner thoughts are rendered mute by his crippling stutter. Written and directed by Benjamin Cleary and a 2016 Academy Award-winning short film.

These Things: Post Classical Music and Fasting

Boise Greenbelt Bicycle Trail with Snow - January 2018

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones. – John Cage

Cage also said, “If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.” Happy new year!

Where does music come from? Jennifer and I talked at dinner recently about where do we run across new music and how radio still plays a huge part of that for us, especially via the syndicated-on-many-public-radio-stations-program Echoes (thank you Ethan).

Echoes primarily plays post-rock, ambient, and electronic music but we’ve also heard some music that fits somewhere between post-rock and art music–what we used to call “classical music”–which many refer to now as post classical. Here are some of our recent favorites:

Post Classical Favorites

  • I love the sound of “The Lotus Eaters” by Sarah Kirkland Snider. She mixes orchestral chamber music with electronic music and you can hear about her composition process in this short interview. Snider is also co-founder of the artist management and record company, New Amsterdam Records which is one to listen for if you enjoy the post-classical sound.
  • Composer Olafur Arnalds and pianist Sara Alice Ott remix and perform Chopin in “Eyes Shut” from their album “The Chopin Project” which was recorded live in cafes to subvert the standardized sound of perfectly-played-and-recorded Chopin.
  • This animation of Steve Reich’s oldie-but-goodie “Piano Phase” that shows how this music works. The same melody is played by two pianos only at different tempos (speeds) which creates incidental rhythms and harmonies. Talk about subverting the ego.
  • Did I mention David Lang’s “Just After Song of Songs“?

Not So Post-Classical Recent Favorites

Fasting

  • It’s that time of year when some go on “diets” and so here’s another approach: intermittent fasting. Other than losing weight, having more energy, and sleeping better, here are five other things that happened when this dude tried fasting a couple of days a week.

I’m listening to a live radio recording of a concert Olafur Arnalds performed in Iceland as I’m writing this. It’s cozy and warm and the music is lovely.

I hope you can fall into something here,

Jeff O.


If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

These Things: A Solstice Music Playlist, Meditations on Vibration,…

These Things - Winter Solstice 2017

Winter Solstice–a moment the earth stands still before approaching perihelion, its coming closest to Earth–the magnetic magnitude fully felt–when electricity shifts and wind, and we turn slowly again toward the light. Reminds me of that Walt Whitman poem from “Leaves of Grass”:

I am he that aches with amorous love;
Does the earth gravitate? Does not all matter,
aching, attract all matter?
So the Body of me, to all I meet, or know.

The term solstice is derived from the Latin scientific term solstitium. Containing the Latin sol- meaning “the sun” and sistere meaning “to make stand.”

Happy Holidays,

Jeff O.


If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

These Things: Octopi, the Denver Airport, and Celebrating Those Around Us

Night photo of North Concord BART station parking lot

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”—Hans Hofmann

Hofmann is talking about art process here, but I’m wondering if I can’t learn to apply this idea toward this holiday season?

The People Around Us

Travel Season

Holidays on Ice

  • My sister gave me a copy of David Sedaris’s book, “Holidays on Ice,” a million years ago. It’s a fun read this time of year if you’re looking for some affirmation of the mix of emotions associated with friends, family, and the beginning of winter holidays.

Happiness is happiness,

Jeff O.


If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

These Things: Gourds, Gratitude, and Surrealist Cookbooks

Combining the Separations

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.”

– Gertrude Stein

I love this quote from Ms Stein and accept it as a reminder to tell at least one person today how much I appreciate them. And so:

A Practice of Gratitude

The Table is Set

  • It’s Decorative Gourd Season Motherfuckers!” That’s the tone of this super short essaymerical rant. If you’re captivated by the title, you’ll likely enjoy this short read on McSweeny’s website.
  • For the day where many of us traditionally celebrate food: Salvador Dali always wanted to be a chef and published a surrealist cookbook, “Les Diners de Gala,” in 1973. The recipes are as exotic as his paintings and often include ingredients from opposite ends of the planet. He followed up in 1978 with an eccentric treatise on wine he wrote for his wife titled, “The Wines of Gala.”

And Then After Dinner

  • The Life-changing Magic of Taking Long Walks” This covers it from sleeping better, to having great ideas, to help against Alzheimer’s. “It’s the process that’s doing the work.”
  • Film Fest Forty-Seven (FF47). I like to call these curated film lists tiny film festivals. FF47 includes the comedy of Andre Hyland, stop-motion animation from Spain, some exquisite underwater cinematography, and more stories of living as a human.

Have a lovely day of Thanksgiving,

Jeff O.


If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

Film Fest Forty-Seven (FF47)

Film Festival Forty-Seven (FF47)

Film Festival Forty-Seven (FF47) was a tiny film fest presented at Sunset Grove on Nov. 18, 2017.

PART I

Funnel – 7:05

When a man’s car breaks down, he finds himself on a quest for a funnel. Official selection in 2014 at Sundance, SXSW, AFI, and LAFF. Won best comedy at Heart of Gold Film Fest.

The Foley Artist – 3:35

In film, foley sound is the reproduction of the everyday sounds we hear in a finished film like footsteps, keys jingling, doors opening, etc. This art originated in radio and is named for Jack Foley who produced these sounds for radio shows until 1914 when he went to work for Universal Studios on the 1927 film The Jazz Singer which was the first feature-length film to incorporate synchronous sound. This short film shows a foley artist at work on a fashion film. So, a film inside a film.

Historia del Desierto – 6:06

Written, directed and animated by Celia Galán as her graduation film from the Royal College of Art in London in 2002. Based on a short story by her brother or cousin Ceferino Galán.

Ocean Gravity – 3:38

By Guillaume Nery and Julie Gautier and shot in Tiputa Pass, an underwater straight in French Polynesia. Guillaume says, “suddenly, I have this idea: to use the strong current during the rising tide to create the visual effect of a body in orbit around a star.” Julie adds, “I decided to film without considering the elementary framing rules. I was no longer limited by the idea of top and bottom, like in space. In those conditions, I was able to create the natural illusion of a curved planet. The big challenge was to avoid filming the abundant sea life (sharks, dolphins and numerous fish) to maintain a spatial and non-marine atmosphere.”

Dive – 13:11

Selection at Telluride, Palm Springs, and other film festivals. Written and directed by Matthew Saville. His logline is, “Facing yourself has never been so hard…”


PART II

This is a Generic Love Story – 3:12

By Marissa K who assembled this short from stock video clips. She states, “I started by compiling as much footage featuring the main actors as I could find, then cut random sequences together until a story began to emerge. I didn’t have a clear idea of what it would become, but this was the end result.” The company Dissolve liked the film so much they gave her rights to the clips for festival use.

Ma mémorie sale – 5:09

By Julien Lahmi using what’s called the mashup technique of filmmaking where a filmmaker uses scenes from existing films to create new films. The title roughly translates to “my dirty memory.”

The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal – 16:02

(Available for rent on the Fandor website.)

By Matt McCormick and narrated by performance artist and filmmaker Miranda July makes the tongue-in-cheek argument that municipal efforts by Portland, Oregon to mask and erase graffiti is an important new movement in modern art. Ironically, this film is the impetus for this film festival and it’s no longer available online. So it goes.

PART III

A.D. 1363, the End of Chivalry – 2:35

The Battle of Poyang, the largest naval battle ever fought, happened in October of 1363 but I don’t think that has anything to do with this film.

(rough cut) – 2:30

Written by Sidney Leeder and Walter Woodman. Directed by Woodman and starring Leeder. The log line: A director pressures an actress into full nudity on the morning of her first sex scene.

She’s All That and the Power of Transformation – 3:55

A film essay by Kentucker Audley on the 1999 high-school drama film “She’s All That.”

111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 – 3:53

A film by Benny Wonka featuring Maximus Thor. Watch more Maximus Thor on YouTube.

The Stutterer – 13:04

Written and directed by Benjamin Cleary. Logline: A man whose lush inner thoughts are rendered mute by a crippling stutter feels isolated from the world despite a flourishing online relationship.

These Things: Persimmons and Chanterelles

Molly testing for her black belt in karate

I gave him the persimmons, / swelled, heavy as sadness, / and sweet as love.

– from Li-Young Lee’s “Persimmons”

We’ve just passed that time of year when the spirit world and what we perceive as “reality” are at their closest–when persimmons and chanterelles are ready to be harvested–when time slows and the electricity in the air becomes more precise in its nature. Halloween, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, El Dia de los Muertos. This fascinates me–to know, and sometimes feel, so close to this reality I’m learning to accept rather than believe. I love autumn. It is for me what the poet Charles Wright describes as, “the silence that turns the silence off.”

Elsewhere: My niece Molly tested for her black belt in karate last weekend in Davis, California and it was truly inspiring to watch this 15-year-old woman do sit ups, spar hand to hand, and defend against various attacks for three hours without any real break on Friday night. And then again on Saturday afternoon. The photo above was taken on Saturday after she had run a few miles and done a couple hundred sit ups and then she was still able to stand up and kick the bag so hard an instructor had to eventually come over to help hold Will steady. It’s not what we believe, it’s what we do that inspires others.

But you’re here:

I sincerely hope you find something today that reminds you that you’re beautiful.


If you want “These Things” delivered to your inbox, you can sign up here. It’s an email I send out every other week–no spam and no selling your email address. Just things that inspire me.

« Older posts

© 2018 Jeffery Oliver

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑