Dec 21, 2013

A Creative Life


Two-thousand and thirteen started in an unusual way when a piece of firewood in the wood pile caught my attention. It had curves. I plucked it from the pile and examined it. Somehow I could see a figure within. I found a sharp knife and started to carve. The floor of my office soon began piling thick with wood shavings, and within a couple of days this slowly diminishing piece of cedar took life as a fat figure, then a thinner figure. It was feminine, so feminine. I sanded it for a soft finish. The most difficult part of the carving was her neck. It needed to be carved carefully and I didn't want my sharp knife to slip and decapitate her. I left the face blank, not carving it at all. I really need more experience with faces. The wood slowly came to life as a small statuette about the size of an Oscar. I call her Eve. She's the first, full woodcarving I have ever done, and I'm very proud of her.

Carving is not easy. Every new experience takes concentration. Next, I carved ten wood spirit faces that stare down on us from the living room wall, each with their own personality, but after carving a couple of wooden kitchen spoons and spatulas, and a futile effort at a Madonna and child, I stopped. I had destroyed two good sweaters with my sharp knife and almost sliced off an extremity or two. Too dangerous for this rusty carver.

In the spring I bought a new small sketch book, a set of pencils, an eraser and a sharpener, and I began to draw anything that I found interesting. The sketcher in me re-emerged, and soon, the water-colour artist. It's now been a year of sketchbooks and water-colour books filled with my new drawings and paintings, and they all sit proudly on my office shelf. I am now just about to complete my first full, all water-colour book of urban art. There is only one of these books. Like Eve. They are products of the creative energy that flows though and drives each of us, and it gives me such a sense of accomplishment.

We all have it in us to do something creative. We are all born creative. The world itself is a work of art, this great, perfect ball of blue and life. Or, as the Beatles song says, "Because the world is round it turns me on." Well, the world of creativity and art turns me on. It always has.  And, I have made it my calling to live in this creative world since I was a child. I was also very fortunate to have made my career in the artistic world of cinema and television. Funny thing is, there has been no one who has been able to dissuade me of the pleasure of creating something, although some have tried.

Creativity and art are the essence of who we are as human beings. Everything we take for granted in this manufactured world has been created by innovators and artists, and people who were no smarter than anyone else. What hasn't been created by us? We have the basics of the flush toilet and plumbing, the light bulb and electricity, the car and the mechanical engine, the computer and world wide communication. Everything we use that gets us through our day was invented and created by someone or a group of innovators and artists. So why isn't art, creativity and innovation the top subjects taught in schools?

To create something from raw beginnings and bring forth an emotive or practical entity, is us. A painting could bring awe, a melody could tugs at heart strings, a motion picture could tell a story that may connect and influence others, a well designed building could function as a structure that enhances a street scape and evokes a culture, a knitted sweater could keep you warm.

For me, I have experimented with many arts and creative endeavors. I've written songs, short stories, film scripts and poetry. I was a choir boy, I play music, I've acted in plays, directed and photographed films, photographed super models, sketched portraits, carved statues, designed apartments and coffee houses, and have photographed many major cities from helicopters. I have created businesses that create. But there are many things I still have yet to do; perhaps write a novel, paint a masterpiece, build a house, write a new Christmas song, help elect a government that holds our environment as sacred.

Society likes to define people in a singular word, a sentence or an elevator pitch. However, people are not that shallow; never have been, never will be. We are all multi-dimensional and multi-talented creatures who must continue to grow, evolve and transform our world.

No matter what age you are:
Don't be passive. DO!
Do something, build something, create something.
Don't let the grass grow under your feet.
Build life and live it.
Embrace an art and CREATE something.

Create an emotion for someone. Even my little statue Eve has brought smiles to people's faces.

"Being is not just a thing you are, it is also a thing you do."
- Seamus Heaney

"I can't think of a case where poems change the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.
- Seamus Heaney

"All I have, really, is my creativity."
- Jack Abramoff

Sep 13, 2013

Island Sketching

Grenville Bridge  Vancouver BC

Through out my life, I was always finding ways to be creative. It seemed to be in my nature. I didn't always succeed with everything I tried, but whenever there was an opportunity in front of me, I jumped.

In my younger years, I used to have fun with drawing and sketching, 
among other things. But that was before I got really busy in the film business. Then, I'd jokingly tell film producers I could film, photograph or sketch their scripts, but they never took me up on the offer to sketch.

Now as I age into antiquity, the film business has slowed for me, so I started sketching again. It started with simple drawings. One a day. Then I became the "mad sketcher," filling small sketchbooks with pencil drawings, pen & ink and water-colour creations. I began to search the Internet for other artists and sketchers who loved the art like me, and I was really inspired when I found the Urban Sketchers group from Seattle. This is a group started by an illustrator/reporter, Gabriel Campanario who works for the Seattle Times. He has inspired a world of closeted artists to go out, find their "tribe" and sketch together.

I didn't know there was such a pent-up demand for something like this, but it certainly inspired me. You don't have to be a really good sketcher to join the group. But, as with most things, the more you practice something, the better you get. The Urban Sketchers website now has a huge following around the world.

So, I was looking for an associate group in my city, Victoria; but I found none. Victoria is a wonderful little city filled with artists and artisans of all kinds, but there was no group that regularly met together to sketch. However, I did find a Vancouver group. They are loosely associated with Urban Sketchers, and I noticed that the organizer had a familiar name.

Sigrid was a classmate of mine at a teachers college in Vancouver. We hadn't seen each other for a couple of years, but I emailed her anyway and asked for advise on how to start a sketching group. She told me that I really didn't have to be associated with Urban Sketchers: I could start a unique Vancouver Island group through a website called Meetup.

It was three months ago I started "Island Sketching." Three months and eight sketching meet-ups later we have twenty-six members and counting, and it's slowly growing, with about half of them being regulars. Victoria is filled with great places to sketch, so we have no problem finding interesting locations for the group, i.e. Fisherman's Wharf, St Annes Academy, Craigdarrock Castle, Cadboro Bay, etc. The list for future locations is endless.

Island Sketching group members range from expert, seasoned artists to total beginners. We all learn from each other and the many drawings that emerge from this group show a wonderful, artistic range. Artists can look at the same thing, but the variations in artistic work are amazing. People are having fun and we arrange to have a creative discussion after each sketching at a local coffee house. Here, we comment on each other's work and take photographs for the website. It truly is a great feeling to have started something that people of all ages and vocations can enjoy together.

Sigrid is our Guru and sends us encouragement across the Straights of Georgia from time to time. Her group in Vancouver is so successful that it has now grown to more than 300 members. I recently asked her what she would do if all 300 showed up at once. "Head for the hills," she told me.

Sketching is a meditation, a mind clearing, a "NOW" activity. And to be around others who just like to draw is very refreshing. Here you see artists in their raw state, at the beginning of their art. Most artists are introverts and work very easily on their own. Then, there are individuals who will hesitantly join groups like ours and enjoy being in the company of like-minded people. It's about being a part of something bigger than yourself that recognizes you. It's about getting up, getting out, leaving your egos at the door and doing.

As Woody Allen said, "Eighty percent of success is in just showing up."

"Just Do It" - Nike

"Every artist was first an amateur."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Make art into a regular part of your everyday life."
- Danny Gregory

Island Sketching:
My sketches:

Urban Sketchers:
Seattle Sketcher:

Vancouver Urban Sketchers:
Sigrid's personal website:

Jul 8, 2013

Santiago El Grande

One moment I was walking into a small unassuming art gallery, the next I was startled and surprised to be confronted by an awe inspiring, artistic, emotional volcano.

I was on a working assignment in the provincial capital city of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and had a couple of hours to myself. I decided to go for a walk and immediately found the Beaverbrook Art Gallery next door to the hotel. It is a quiet, low-lying structure, in no way artistic in it's design. But, to my mind, any art gallery is worth a look. I opened the door and wandered in.
Salvador Dali - Santiago El Grande of 1957.

There it stood before me. Seducing me. This magical gigantic oil painting filling a large wall. But this is no ordinary painting. This is a true masterpiece:  Santiago El Grande by Salvador Dali.

Never before had I been stopped in my track so dramatically by such an overwhelming feeling given to me by a painting. An almost 15ft tall canvas.

In the painting, Dali pays tribute to Santiago El Grande or Saint James the Great, the Patron Saint of Spain. James is riding a gigantic life-like, white horse rearing up out of the sea surrounded by a huge dome-like structure. Hanging over James is Jesus Christ on the cross ascending into heaven, while angels are depicted flying around the horse's head. Gala, Dali's wife, stands as a cloaked figure in the bottom right corner. The vivid colours of blues, whites and warm skin tones are dramatic.

Salvador Dali was a classical artist with a major twist of surrealism. He was quirky and funny. He was astonishingly finely detailed and wild at heart. Each of his creations is totally original and it is a wonderful fascination for those who suddenly discover another Dali to explore. Dali is just as new and vibrant today as he has ever been. He fills the void of a population yearning for something new, something more. And he fills it with each fresh glance at his work. This painting fulfills all that Dali was and is: A master of fine art.

It was originally painted for the Spanish Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World Fair. Then, it was offered to the Church of Spain, only to be refused. Dali then sold it to his friends, Canadian financier Sir James Dunn and Lady Dunn, who eventually donated it to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

This is not one of the most well known of Salvador Dali's creations, but of all the Dali compositions that I have seen, and I am a Dali fan, this is the most magnificent and awe inspiring. And, it has been said, "This could be one of the best works of art ever painted."

Do your artistic passions a favour and visit 
Santiago El Grande at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. 

Apr 15, 2013

Memorial Speech for Mother

Hello, my name is Brian. Pauline is my mother. She always will be.

As a remembrance, 
I'd like to thank her for some of the things she gave me.

First ...  how to giggle. 
I have giggled more in my life with my mother than with any other human being. We'd be in "gut-wrenching" stitches over some of the most trivial things. I remember at one time setting up a camera to take our picture together. The camera was in place and the timer was set to trigger the shutter. The picture was going to be perfect. I was to run in and take my place beside her, and smile. We were the only ones on the beach and the setting was so picturesque.

I pushed the shutter, 
then ran to get in the picture before it triggered. As I got beside her, I slipped and bumped her, almost pushing her over. Well ...  all of a sudden she started to giggle. I didn't know why, 
I didn't think anything was funny. Perhaps it was my seriousness she found so funny. Somehow her giggle got to me and we laughed and laughed and we couldn't stop. We were in stitches and it continued long after the picture snapped. Each was spurring the other on, and we must have laughed for fifteen minutes: You know, those giggles you just can't get out of.

She was a very, very funny lady.

She taught me to be silly. Silliness is one of the most wonderfully insane ways of sustaining your sanity.

She sang us songs: Songs like "Three old ladies locked in a lavatory," and "There was an old farmer had an old sow," which she sang in a Devonshire accent. She was born and brought up in Devon, you know.

She taught me many life sustaining things, like the fight to find culture in everything. She introduced me to the arts, the symphony, the opera, painting and the theatre. And we went sailing. We went to museums, art galleries, castles, countrysides and we crossed the ocean. She even sent me on a school trip to Switzerland when she couldn't afford it.

When I was a teenager she sat me down and pointed the finger at me.
"I'm worried about you, what are you going to do with your life?" she said.
I was a dreamer. I wanted to see the world, maybe be a beach bum. I never really wanted to work.
I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't know," I said.

She then said one of the most important things a parent can say to a kid.
"What do you like doing?"
I knew this was an important question. I needed to find an important answer. I finally said,
"I kinda like taking pictures."

She helped me to get my first job in photography, which led to a lifetime career as a photographer, a cinematographer and a film maker.

I did travel the world but I never became a beach bum; the work's too hard.

I have been at one with the arts and creativity all my life, thanks to my mother's push and inspiration.

People wanting a tickle might think of entertainers, but Mum could make us laugh, and she tried to entertain us throughout her life. And that smile: Oh that smile that was so infectious.

When she was lying in her hospital bed, very ill after a stroke, and was very slow to respond, I leaned in and whispered to her,
"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
With out a hesitation came the response,
"To get to the other side."

She never lost it.

I have a quote by George Bernard Shaw, who said:

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."

Thank you Mum.
Keep em laughing

Mar 1, 2013

Fingal's Cave

From a very young age the music of Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave) has haunted me, mainly because of my love for the sea. I was born by the sea, lived by the sea and I love the sounds, smells and the sights of the undulating rhythms and the unrestricted wildness of the ocean. Just sitting and watching huge waves crash onto rocks fills me with euphoria: Truly a magnificent part of nature to be unquestionably respected.

Mendelssohn's music can paint a picture of the emotion itself. Within the music, one can hear the rolling ocean, white caps on the waves and breakers crashing onto cliffs and rocks. One also gets a sense of the majesty and grandeur of a great cave filled with strange rocks, like organ pipes pointing to heaven. Composer Johannes Brahams said of the music, "I would sacrifice all my works to have been able to compose an overture like it."

Many years ago, when planning a trip to Scotland, I was excited by the idea of taking a trip to the site of Mendelssohn's inspiration for the Fingal's Cave Overture.

The cave is situated on the small island of Staffa, near Mull in the Western Isles of Scotland. The name commemorates the third century Irish hero Fionn MacCoul who had his headquarters on Staffa and supposedly defended the Hebrides against pirate attacks.

My traveling companion hadn't visited Britain before, and Scotland was her introduction. Happily, she also loved Mendelssohn's music, for the Western Isles in rough weather can be quite a miserable experience. One needs a purpose to be there.

The ferry to the island of Mull departed Oban in the West Highlands at 8.00am. Loaded with mail, fresh supplies, locals going home and visitors like ourselves on the last guided "Three Island Trip" of the season to Mull, Iona and Staffa.

As the ferry boat motored out of Oban Harbour in the cool morning mist, the sea breeze and salt air was fresh on our faces. Out past the breakwater and the ever-flashing lighthouse we steamed, the strange sight of a Parthenon (McCraig's Tower) looking down on us from high on the hill over Oban, sitting like a crown on the head of an ancient Scottish King.

After a 45-minute crossing to the Island of Mull, the ship's bow broke the calm waters of the Firth of Lorn, an inlet off the fierce North Atlantic ocean. The weather was fine, but the forecast was not.

From high a rocky outcrop and dominating the barren landscape, Duart Castle kept guard on the approach to Mull as we sailed through the misty rain. Many battles were fought here, as with all the castles in Scotland. This day the cannons were silent.

As we landed at Craignure, a strange mixture of Scottish and Scandinavian accents filled the air as we waited for our bus for the drive over the moors to the far western shore of Mull. A retired group of blond and white-haired Swedes were here; not to rape, pillage and settle these shores, as their ancestors the Vikings had done. Today, I presumed, they were here as music lovers.

The bus bumped and weaved across the cold, wet, barren moors picking up the odd resident or two and dropping them off a couple miles later, then picking up some more.

The steady rain blended with the scenery and a raw atmosphere of foreboding clawed the mountain tops. This was definitely the place where ghost stories originate, where large crags protrude from massive bald highlands that tower high into the enveloping low clouds. My imagination could see visions of Highlanders charging through the valleys dressed in their kilts, waving sabers to ward off the encroaching enemy.

At Fionnphort, we jumped aboard the M.V. Laird of Staffa for our nautical journey out to Fingal's Cave. Putt...putt...putt. It was an older motor boat struggling under the helm of a young, but experienced Captain navigating the protected passage between the islands of Mull and Iona. To our left lay the famous Iona burial ground of 65 Kings of Scotland and Norway, including William Shakespeare's characters, Macbeth and Duncan.

The ocean was noticeably rougher out past the shelter of the islands as the tiny vessel heaved as graceful as a horse in slow motion. It was full of tourists, about twenty five, including the group from Sweden and a couple of young men who were seated at the stern. They, too, must have been music lovers because I heard one turn to the other and say, "I wonder if they'll play the tune when we get there?"

The rain held, but not for long. Staffa was a 45-minute journey, and we rode up and down and over the sea like a cork. In the distance we could barely make out the dark shape of the island. It got colder and more blustery and the sea's swells were getting larger; the wind strengthened and the rain returned.

Somehow the music was there with me. I knew the piece so well. Of course Mendelssohn had been inspired by the same kind of weather. You could hear it in the music, and it kept playing over and over again in my head. Then the cave loomed ahead and I could see the waves building up from the west and heading for the Island to crash onto the rocks as breakers. 

The Captain's voice came over the small speaker telling us that it would be too dangerous to land everyone at the cave today; the seas were rough and people could be swept away by rogue waves. He had thought of landing at an other part of the island, but decided not to as the weather was getting worse; the tide was rising and the sea was getting rougher. This was the scene that the music portrayed so perfectly.

There it was looming over us, the open mouth of a large, cavernous shape carved by earth's upheaval and centuries of heavy pounding by the Atlantic Ocean. The island of Staffa is made of basaltic columns caused by the steady cooling of lava as it came into contact with the cold bedrock. As we studied nature's rugged work, we were being bounced. The waves would roll under the boat, lifting us high, then continue and break on the nearby rock columns with an energy of magnificent proportions.

(Fingal's Cave, Island of Staffa  by Thomas Moran)

The Gaelic name for the cave is An Uamh Binn, "The Melodious Cave:" Particularly appropriate on hearing the thunderous sounds emanating from the cave's mouth, as the water hit the inside walls.

Mendelssohn's music described this agitated place perfectly. In fact, when the twenty-year-old composer visited the cave in 1829, he became quite sea sick. Not a healthy experience, but one to make a lasting impression.

Our Captain decided for the safety of everyone, to turn the boat around and head back to the sheltered passageway between Mull and Iona.

Now we were heading into the wind; the spray was worse than a heavy rain storm, as the small boat rode the large waves. All were huddled in the bottom of the boat. Many were sick and all were quiet as the journey back took twice as long as the passage out.

I kept looking behind at the cave and the lonely island. "The Lonely Island" was Mendelssohn's first title for his music, but what caught my eye were the two young men sitting at the stern of the boat, getting the full force of the wind and salt water in their faces. They were reveling in the experience.

My companion and I felt a little sick and were soaked to the skin, but this was truly living the experience. 
Now, every time I listen to Mendelssohn's overture, I re-live the thrilling experience. A moment I'll never forgotten.

Art is the great connector. We, as individuals, are moved by the creative spirit. Creativity is something we are all born with and it makes us find life in a most profound way. Whether we inspire others through something we have created; art, music, painting, theatre, or one of the other great mediums, or we are inspired by someone else's creation, art gives us a new way of looking at life. In art and creativity we find the experience of being alive.

Edited parts of this essay were originally published in The Toronto Star travel section - 1987

"In order to make you understand how extraordinarily The Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there."
- Felix Mendelssohn

(From a 1829 letter to his sister Fanny, in which he included a musical sketch of the opening notes of The Hebrides)

"Many composers, before and since, have used music to depict the physical world, but in Fingal's Cave, Mendelssohn set an example that has never been equaled."
- Geoff Kuenning

"Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God."
- Felix Mendelssohn

"Without music life would be a mistake."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life."
- Ludwig van Beethoven

This is my favorite rendition of this wonderful piece of music.

"Moods of the Sea" -1941
A cinematic tone poem of seascape set to the music of Mendelsshon's Hebrides Overture 

Jan 4, 2013

Disco Pacific

Ever hear of an "Earworm?"

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia describes earworm as "a piece of music that sticks in one's mind so that one seems to hear it, even when it's not being played." It's a haunting melody, a hard to shake tune, something you just can't get out of your head. Well, this is the story of one such earworm, or an album of earworms, which caught the world by storm.

It was March 1978, the movie "Saturday Night Fever" had been released a few months earlier, and flying at thirty-nine thousand feet, high above the clouds en-route to Tahiti, my headphones were rolling to the sounds of "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees. Once more the disco era, the beat, the dancing, the melodies had taken the world by storm. Songs from the new movie were being played almost everywhere in the world and this became the soundtrack for my South Pacific jaunt. 

I was on route to an assignment in the Solomon Islands to meet up with a crew to film a documentary for the CBC. Back at home-base, in the bureaucratic offices of the Corporation, the accountants were being insistent that I use up my stacked vacation days or they would pay me for them. I'd rather have the days off, so I asked to take a week off in Tahiti en route to the assignment. Of course, the women in the office, who themselves couldn't stop listening to the music of "Saturday Night Fever," were immediately jealous.

After landing at Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, and walking through the airport, the earworm was in full swing as I was drawn to the taxi driver who did the best marketing of all. He was swinging and singing along to "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. Then, his soul was on display as we drove along Papeete's picturesque waterfront, looking across at the island of Moorea. With "Boogie Shoes" by K.C. and the Sunshine Band blaring, my cab dodged road obstacles of cycles, dogs, tourists and buses. This was hectic.

Three songs had played before we pulled up to the mid-range hotel where we were met by the bellman who danced toward us singing "Disco Inferno" by the Tramps. This was my introduction to the South Pacific, and so far the trip reminded me of a musical. No, not the popular Rogers and Hammerstein musical, "South Pacific," which was set in this wonderful place; but this new, crazy dance scene.

The movie soundtrack was a compilation of old and new (1977) Bee Gees songs mingled with a few other danceable tunes from groups like The Tramps, Tavares, M.F.S.B. and K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Each group made a lot of money and sold endless tickets for what was, in this viewer's opinion, a very mediocre film. But the album became the most successful soundtrack of all time.

The next day a sign caught my eye. I had been whistling my way down a main street to the tune of the Bee Gees song "More than a Woman," emanating from a local breakfast joint, when I was stopped in my tracks. The Club Med on Bora Bora was having a three-day special. Flight, hotel and all meals, including dancing. I was on the next plane.

It was a spectacular flight along the French Polynesian string of mountainous islands rising up from the dark Pacific, surrounded by turquoise atolls, warm lagoons and white sandy beaches. This was paradise. So, too, was the Bora Bora airport, sitting on the outer reef. I climbed down from the small inter-island plane and my jaw dropped at the sight of the pure-white sand and the turquoise lagoon stretching toward the island mountain. Could there be a better place on earth? Beside me stood a young woman, also heading for Club Med, who had just taken off her head phones to gaze. The sound coming from those mini speakers was "Jive Talkin'" by the Bee Gees. Somehow I wanted to hear the old classic "Sleepy Lagoon." But that wasn't of the day.

The earworms of BeeGees and the other artists songs on "Saturday Night Fever" were everywhere, and when not being listened to, they were swirling around in the heads of almost everyone I met. I could tell by the smiles and the internal beat that everyone seemed to have. 

A speedboat ride to the island, and we were met by a Club Med mini-bus playing "Night on Disco Mountain" by David Shire on the van tape deck. Even an island at the far reaches of the world was connected to the latest culture.

My room was a grass hut and one of many built on stilts out onto the lagoon. This I had to share with another male traveler, as the rooms were only twin accommodation. My room mate was from Fresno, California, and he liked Disco; especially, the Bee Gees. 

"Saturday Night Fever" disco ruled everywhere Club Med went, from the white-sand, coco-loco picnics to dance floor crazies. But the most memorable use of this music was as background to crab races. A long box was placed on the dance floor with six individual, separate runs numbered one to six, and each had arrows pointing 'this way.' All this so Club Medders could bet on which crab finished the race first. 

To the music of "Disco Inferno" and narrated by French Club Med organizers, six large crabs, each with numbers taped on their backs, were placed in the tracks and expected to race to the finish. Crabs walk sideways, but I wasn't so sure the Club Med people knew that. Some crabs seem to know what to do, while others were placed in the wrong way and, of course, they ran backwards. They were quickly turned around to run, or saunter, to the finish line. Some crabs climbed into the next run so there were two crabs competing. Thank goodness the songs lasted as the races were quite slow and "Disco Inferno" didn't hurry them up one bit. The dance floor was then cleared and the disco was in full swing with people jumping and bumping to the music from "Saturday Night Fever," repeated over and over again. Far from the idyllic and serene paradise lagoon resort during the day, the location became a totally vibrant, rockin' world at night.

That was the year I discoed around the South Pacific. Somehow it got into my soul. I'll always remember those white, sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, and disco crab races. When I eventually met the film crew in the Solomon Islands the next week, it seemed that they, too, were spinning to "Saturday Night Fever," as every now and again someone would blurt out "burn baby burn" or "oh oh oh oh stayin' alive, stayin' alive." It was so unnatural, but somehow it all seemed natural.

And today? Yes, those great Bee Gee classics still surface in my head from time to time to give me a spin, a shuffle and a hand in the air, disco style. Earworm indeed.

Recently the Club Med property on Bora Bora was for sale. It sold for 10 million dollars. If only I had known. If I only had 10 million dollars to spare. For this is probably the most beautiful place on the planet, earworms or not.

"Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else."
- Lawrence Block

"I never really did any disco dancing." 
- Barry Gibb

"A ticket to Tahiti please." 
- my mother

"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and I remember more than I have seen."
- Benjamin Disraeli

"It's one of the most beautiful places on Earth."
- Clive Palmer - Australian billionaire businessman who recently bought the property that used to be the Club Med on Bora Bora.