Tuesday, October 25, 2011


In less than two months a Tintin movie is going to be released and I am both excited and bummed: excited because I have been a life-long fan of Tintin and I feel protective of a cherished icon; and bummed because Hollywood is grabbing hold of this icon and I'm not sure he'll come out unscathed.

Somewhere in the mid-seventies I was introduced by friends to a comic book called "The Adventures of Tintin" that caught my attention and has held it since.

What I didn't know then was that Tintin had been around for decades, but had only recently been introduced into the United States. Tintin was the creation of a Belgian artist named Hergé who began Tintin in the late 1920's as a serialized newspaper strip. Eventually the strips were collected into book form and became standardized at some point at 62 page editions each.

Tintin is nominally a reporter, but in fact is a sort of pure-hearted adventurer and explorer who seems to find endless reason to travel to some compelling spot around the world. He and his cohorts even made a spectacular trip to the moon roughly 10 years before the historic Apollo 11 flight happened. He is accompanied by his trusty dog Snowy and often joined by the loveable but troubled Captain Haddock (known for his amazing curses, such as "Billions of blistering blue barnacles!!"). There are many other characters that are part of the work, but they are the central focus of the stories.

I love these books for a number of reasons. Maybe it is a case of the whole being greater then the sum of the parts. The draftsmanship, the artwork, and expression in the line drawings, the globe traveling range of adventure, the drama and humor, the loyalty amongst the characters. The list goes on, but, suffice to say, I get as much joy re-reading a Tintin book today as I did back in the 1970's when I first encountered them.

When Hergé died, it was his will that no more Tintins should be produced, so the story ended there, and I suppose that is probably a good thing, although it would be fun if the stories kept coming. Although this film is taken from the books, it'll be fun to have a fresh interpretation of Tintin, and from the little I've read, the reviews are generally positive (the film is out in Europe).

So, I worry that Tintin will become a mass-market commodity and lose a little in the process, but I guess the books will always be what they've always been and that won't change.

The video is a beautiful animation of images and icons from the many stories.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boston Run

This afternoon I pedaled up from Milton (a town about 10 miles south of the city) up to Boston.

I worked and went to school in the Back Bay area for a few years and for no real reason it was sort of a place to go, so that's where I went. I gotta say, there isn't any real decent way for a cyclist to get from Milton to Boston without either braving some heinous roadways or travelling through some semi-sketchy areas. Seeing as I was straddling the twilight I decided for challenging traffic rather than an iffy unfamiliar area.

I was hoping to get an impression of cycling in the city, but really didn't have time to take much in. I think I'd need a couple of days to really start to see where things are at, but even at a glance I noticed a few fun and encouraging items: A pedicab travelling up Newbury street; a vintage Peugeot set up in full mid-century constructeur-style with fenders, lights and a front rack; a delivery bike with a large cargo container; and a bunch of colorful fixies. Lots of Brooks saddles and painted fenders as well.

At the top of Newbury I saw the Boston version of the bike-for-hire scheme. My first exposure to this was the Montreal Bixi bikes and these seem to be the very same bikes, just rebranded as the "Hubway" for Boston. With their built in hub generator lights they are easy to spot and I saw a few as I biked around the Back Bay area.

I wish I got to travel further around the city, but it was fun nonetheless to drop in for a few minutes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Warm Showers

Caroline and Liz ready to head out for the day

Last night we hosted our first guests via www.warmshowers.org, which is an online hub for pairing cycling tourists up with people willing to host them.

When I first heard about the idea I thought it was cool, but it took me a while to actually get around to investigating it and signing up. Last month I received an email asking if we'd be willing to be hosts and we said yes.

Our guests for the evening were Caroline from Montreal and her friend Liz, from Amherst, MA. They spent the holiday weekend doing a tour from Burlington down to Middlebury;  Middlebury to us here in Waitsfield; and then rounding it off with the trip back up to Burlington via Rt. 2 and the River Road up through Richmond.  They couldn't have picked a more perfect weekend to do a cycling tour around central Vermont; the weather has been incredible and the leaves are quite something.

Caroline and Liz arrived somewhere between 5-6 and we of course availed them of our warm shower and bath, which they gladly took advantage of.  We cooked up some flatbreads and they helped out and we had a nice dinner together. The cool thing is that simply by being cyclists on a trip, we've got quite a lot in common, so it was easy to make conversation.

On Mondays and Wednesdays Nancy and I normally commute to Red Hen together (I turn around in Moretown and double back home). This morning we were joined by our new friends and it offered a nice twist to our routine. It was also cool to share a bit of a trip with them.

I look forward to both hosting folks in the future, but also taking advantage of this cool resource as a cyclo-tourist.  Vive la internet!