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Jim’s Picks: Park Marina Below Cypress, Dry Branch & 127 Hours

I’m pleased the Cypress Avenue Bridge has been widened and reopened with safe, separated pedestrian and bicycle lanes.

Finally we can drive under the Cypress Bridge again!

But I’m even more thrilled that Park Marina Drive below the Cypress Bridge has finally reopened. Losing that route for years was a drag and it seemed like empires rose and fell during the time it was closed.

We figured out how to adapt — like waiting to cross Cypress on Athens Avenue, or doing the squeeze to East Street past Safeway and Buz’s Crab. But, really, for those in South Redding, the Park Marina cut under is sweet in terms of getting to places like Turtle Bay/Sundial Bridge/Highway 44 or the businesses anywhere along Park Marina/Locust/Athens area.

Maybe it’s a small thing, but small things add up. It’s no small thing that cycling routes just improved greatly with the opening of the Cypress and Highway 44 bridge lanes. All kinds of traffic should be flowing better now.

As for the lighted sconces (or snow cones) on the Cypress Bridge, I guess I’m happy they included an artful element. I don’t hate them. Maybe I’m saying I kind of like them. They seem kind of German moderne or something. Would they fit in in Frankfurt in the late 1950s?

Do they do tricks? Spew fireworks? Double as Olympic torches? Your thoughts?

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If you dig quality bluegrass and you like to laugh, make sure to catch the Oaksong Society’s concert of the Dry Branch Fire Squad at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.) Saturday (Feb. 12) at Old City Hall (1313 Market St.) in Redding.

When you first hear bandleader Ron Thomason’s southern drawl you think, “Really? You’re kidding, right?” But it doesn’t take long to realize that half the show is Thomason’s hilarious dumb-like-a-fox banter. Every once and a while he shuts up and the band plays something killer.

The group has played major festivals all over the U.S.; Thomason started the group in 1976.

For ticket information and more, click here or view an entry on A News Cafe here.

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Just caught “127 Hours” and what an intense, amazing film it is. Directed by Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and starring James Franco, it tells the story of Aron Ralston’s misadventure near Blue John Canyon in southeastern Utah.

 

I knew Ralston’s story well, following it in Outside Magazine and in other publications and the film could have botched it big time in bringing it to the big screen.

They did just the opposite and turned it into a true gem that honors the intensity of Ralston’s sheer will to live in an situation that would have killed most human beings. Certainly (without giving it away if you don’t know the story), there are times when I had to look away from the screen.

But the cinematography and screenplay are stellar. It honors the reasons we long to escape the city and explore the wild backcountry, while exposing the nearly fatal flaws of Ralston’s rockstar approach to the outdoors. I loved the various camera angles and special-effects view of things, like the inside of a hydration tube or water bottle.

Franco is amazing and his performance seems Oscar worthy to me. His hilarious self-dialogue scene was so well done and almost creepy in how I related to it — I’ve had those kinds of conversations with myself (at a little less drastic moments) many times before.

Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.