Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Oscars Re-visited

     I purposely waited until tonight to talk about the Oscars, as I wanted to see what everyone would be talking about after all the hubbub had died down.  And what were the main stories in the following days?  J Lo's supposed nipple slip and Angelina Jolie's right leg.  Really??!!  Never mind the fact that a silent movie won the best Oscar for the first time since 1929, let's talk about nipples and legs, for Pete's sake!  Sure they're cute, but come on, it isn't like we haven't seen one before.
     Over all, I enjoyed the show, even Billy Crystal, who is getting a little old to be the host of such a gala.  He had a few good jokes, but unless you were over 40 you probably didn't get them.  Acceptance speeches for the most part were tolerable and mostly non-political.  The best acceptance speech was from first time winner Octavia Spencer, who obviously was over come with emotion as she faced the crowd.  This is what I think the Oscars are about.  People who deserve the award actually appreciating it, and thanking those that got them to that point.
     Another high note for me was Christopher Plummer, who at 82, became the oldest recipient of Oscar.  "Where have you been all my life?" was a great line and the standing ovation was well deserved.  Every role I have seen Mr. Plummer in has been a delight.  I especially like him in "Dolores Claiborne", one of the better Stephen King adaptations, where he played Detective John Mackey, who doggedly pursues a case that he had never solved.  He should have won an Oscar for that role.
     Then we have Meryl Streep.  17 nominations, and now, 3 wins.  I can't say anything bad about her (Ok, I can. It's called "Death Becomes Her".  Ghastly movie.)  She is the current queen of the movies, her career spanning some 37 years, if not more.  She always brings a touch of intelligence to her roles and justly deserves the accolades given to her by her peers.  (Except for "Death Becomes Her".  Ghastly movie.)
     Who would have thought that in this day and age a silent movie would win any Oscar.  Not only did "The Artist" win Best Picture, but Jean Dujardin won for Best Actor for his role in that movie.  I thought I was back in 1929 for a moment there.  Let's just hope that Hollywood doesn't start a race to see how many silent movies they can make and hope that they can copy "The Artist".  I haven't seen "The Artist" yet, but it seems to me that it would be more of a novelty in our time than as a serious resurgent of the once great silent films, which I still occasionally watch.
     Will I watch next year's Oscars?  Probably.  But I will be more prepared next year and watch some of the box office hits and those sneaky independent films that somehow find there way onto the Academy's Oscar night bill.  Until then, here's looking at you kid.
     And don't watch "Death Becomes Her".  Ghastly movie.  Have a better one.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Horror Movies

     The horror movie.  Who doesn't love an evening at the movies with the promise of being scared out of your wits by the scenes portrayed on the big screen?  What is it about  the genre that keeps us going back for more, sometimes sitting through a total stinker of a movie hoping that you will get that adrenaline rush that brought you there in the first place.
     I remember the first movie that actually made me jump out of my seat.  That movie was "Jaws".  When the head popped out of that sunken boat, I jumped.  Wasn't expecting that at all!  That's right.  "Jaws" is a horror movie.  Not in the general sense of everyone's idea of a horror movie, where there is a upernatural entity or a masked killer lurking about, but a horror movie nonetheless.  It utilizes the genre's sense of horror and mild gore to elicit a response from its' target audience.  You and I. 
     One of the earliest horror movies was 1922's German classic, "Nosferatu".  Atmospheric and moody, it portrayed on of the earliest appearances of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", though F.W. Murnau strongly resisted the resemblence, even during the lawsuit that Stoker's wife had filed against the production company after Stoker's death.
     It was in the early 20's that the Americans began putting out there own horror movies, starting with "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" with Lon Chaney in the lead role.  Chaney also starred in "The Phantom of the Opera",  and the lesser known "London After Midnight", doing his own makeup for each role.  Unfortunately he died before doing the role that went to Bela Lugosi, who will forever be remembered as the lead in "Dracula" in 1931.
     It was the following year, 1932, when "Frankenstein" was released, starring Boris Karloff.  This rocketed Karloff to fame, and sadly, although he also appeared in the movie, eclipsed Bela Lugosi's career.  Lugosi would never again find a role that brought him into the lime light as had "Dracula".  He faded into obscuriy in the 50's, appearing in schlocky horror films such as "Plan Nine From Outer Space" and the like.  He died at age 73 and was buried in his Dracula costume. 
     But, I digress.  It's easy for me to get a little carried away talking about my favorite movie genre.  I tend to lean toward the classic horror movies and pride myself on knowing a bit about the subject.  I continue to watch horror movies as the progress through the decades.  Some are down right awful, but every now and then a gem comes along and breathes fresh life into the genre. "Army of Darkness", "Scream" and the first "Saw" move come to mind.
     I leave it to you, good reader, to choose your favorite scary movie and embrace it as you would any other passion.  Watch the movies that get your adrenalin rushing and then watch some more.  There's no such thing as too much of a good thing, after all.
     Thanks for visiting.  Have a better one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


     What would you do if a black cat crossed your path?  Would you, like millions of other people, turn around and go the other way, maybe cross yourself in the process to ward off bad luck?  Why do we do this?  It's just a cat, a creature of nature.  Maybe it's because we have been led to believe that if we don't turn around and throw a ward up, like a cross, something terrible will befall us.  Every day there is some instance where we, rational humans all of us, fall prey to the superstitions that have been around for centuries.
     Take the black cat, for instance, since I brought it up.  In ancient Egypt cats were esteemed by the pharoahs and queens dating back to 3000 B.C.  Then, in the middle ages, they became associated with witches,as it seems lonely old ladies started taking in cats as companions, and the locals who thought the old ladies were practicing black magic naturally assumed the cats were pawns of Satan.  This was the 1500's after all.  There's logic there somewhere.  Then came Halloween, and the poor beasts lost all credibility.  Heck, even the pirates in the 19th century gave black cats a wide berth.
     How about the superstition of throwing salt over your leftshoulder when you spill it?  Why would you waste such a wonderfully, tasty mineral?  It is said that the Devil sits behind our left shoulder and the Angels on the right.  Throwing salt over your left shoulder supposedly blinded the Devil, thereby distracting him.  Also, back in the day, salt was expensive, so sometimes people would change it up and throw it over their right shoulder as an offering to the Angels for good luck.  Makes perfect sense to me.
     Walking under a ladder has even more religious significance.  It was considered breaking the Holy Trinity to walk under a ladder in biblical times. A ladder leaning against a wall would form a triangle, with the ladder and wall forming two sides and the ground beneath forming the third, so naturally Christians believed that the three sides became the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and that to wald under it was sacrilege.  I just think it's smart to not walk under it because you might have something fall on your head.  But believe whaat you will.
      My favorite superstition is the fear of Friday the 13th.  Friggatriskadekaphobia.  Say that ten times fast.  Frigga was a Norse goddess after whom Friday is named after. Triskadekaphobia is the fear of the number 13.  Put them both together and you have a heck of a long word.  But to be afraid of a day, to me, seems awfully strange.  What did it ever do to you?  Sure, history says Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and there were thirteen people at The Last Supper, and doesn't it seem odd that religion keeps popping up in these superstitions?  Seems that Christians are a paranoid bunch.
     Anyway, I want to close this with an observation.  Don't break mirrors.  That's just common sense, as you might cut yourself on the glass.  There is the superstition that you will have seven years bad luck if you do break a mirror, trapping your soul in the shattered pieces, but then again, probably not.
     Thanks for reading everyone.  Have a better one.  (Knock on wood).

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Woman In Black

     Just got back from watching "The Woman in Black" starring Daniel Radcliffe, better known for his role in the many Harry Potter movies over the last 10 years.  If you are expecting to see any sort of Hogwart's magic though, you will be disappointed.  If you want a few chills and a bit of suspense, then this is the movie for you.  I loved the old Victorian atmosphere of the movie, and the setting on the moors, plus the creepiness of the Eel Marsh House.
     We went to see the movie at the drive-in on a cool Vegas evening.  Only froze one toe during the process as we were curled up on an air mattress out side the van, eating our popcorn and Whoppers.  Yummy!
     To get back to the movie, it starts out with Arthur Kipps (Daniel), being sent to the Eel Marsh House to arrange for its' sale, as the owner had died not too long ago.  (It doesn't really start that way, but I don't want to give away the opening scene). He travels by train to the town nearest the house and  immediately you get the sense that all is not right in the town of Crythin Gifford.  After spending the night in the attic of what appears to be the only inn in town, he heads out to the house the next morning, stares from children following his progress through the streets.
      Finally arriving at the Eel Marsh House, he sets about to do his job, getting paperwork in order and straightening out the affairs of the estate.  To tell you any more of the plot would give away the movie, but there are enough portents throughout the movie to keep you intrigued and watching to its', to me, satisfying conclusion. 
     The special effects were very well done, and the acting by Daniel Radcliffe was excellent.  I foresee that he will shed the Harry Potter role easily and not be typecast in his future roles.  Also, Ciaran Hinds, who played Dumbledore's brother in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part II" appears as Sam Daly, a local landowner who helps out Arthur Kipps.
     Perhaps less well known, there was a Granada Television version of "The Woman in Black" that was released on December 24, 1989.  I have this on VHS and have watched it a few times over the years, and find that, although well  made, it didn't seem to have the atmosphere that Hammer Studios' 2012 version has.  It starred Adrian Rawlins and Bernard Hepton.  I have never seen another movie that I am aware of that they were in.  If anyone else has, please let me know.
     Anyway, thanks for reading and indulging my little review.  And if I post another short story, I promise it will be better than yesterday's post.  Have a better one, ya'll.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Short Story

     Sand stretched across Dans' field of vision in all directions.  He stood up and brushed the yellow grains from his khaki trousers, knowing he would never get them all from his clothing.  His 6' 3" frame was bathed in the glow of the never setting double suns.  Stranded on this planet after his space hopper had crash landed, Dan cursed his luck.  Even the sub-space radio was out, even though he had had everything thoroughly checked before taking off from Earth, just over a week ago.
     The flight had gone well until he came out of hyperspace near the binary star system that he was now a prisoner of.  He hadn't even planned a stop here, the ship had just shut itself down, like it had a mind of his own.  At least the atmosphere on this planet was breathable.  He'd have been in a real pickle otherwise, not to mention dead.  He had done an inventory of his supplies and found that he had enough to survive for the next year if need be.  He was hoping that wouldn't be the case.
     One thing did bring a worrisome nag to his mind.  How had he lost power in the first place?  It was like all energy had been sucked out of the ship.  Was that even possible?
      Dan brushed a hand through his blond hair and decided to explore the surrounding area.  He packed up 3 bottles of water and some ready-to-eat snacks.  He didn't plan on being gone that long.  Glancing around again, he had the distinct feeling that he was being watched.  Surely not, he thought, as he hadn't even heard so much as a bird song.  For that matter, he hadn't heard anything at all.  Total absence of sound, not even the wind blowing sand around.  Odd indeed.
     He picked a direction at random, not knowing which way was north, south, east, or west, as the two suns made it impossible to get a bearing.  Dan shouldered his pack and began walking.  The sand made him move at a slow, steady pace, each foot sinking a few inches into the fine grains with every step.  Still, he wasn't going far, he told himself,  maybe just to the ridge that looked to be about a mile away, and then back to the ship. 
     He hadn't gone more than a hundred feet when he heard what sounded like a swish in the sand behind him.  Glancing around he thought he caught a glimpse of something disappearing in the dune he had just crossed, but there wasn't even a ripple in the sand.  He shrugged it off and continued on.  The ridge he had sighted fresh in his sights, he took a few more steps when he heard the sound again.  He was sure he had heard it this time.  He spun around, thinking to catch whatever it was off guard.  Nothing moved. 
     Starting to get a little paranoid, he thought.  It was the silence.  Playing tricks on his mind, nothing more.  A few more steps and the sound came again, this time to his right.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a silver sliver disappear under the sand.  Deadly silent.  Dan decided it was time to go back to the ship.  He turned to head back, and stopped in his tracks.  The ship had disappeared.  That was impossible, thought Dan.
     The sound came back again, this time on both sides of him.  Flashes of silver disappeared beneath the sand again.  Dan thought he saw what looked like a small fin on one.  He started to run towards the direction the ship had been in.  More sounds this time, behind and to the sides.  Running as fast as he could, Dan kept glancing around, always the silver flashes kept pace with him, rising and lowering in the sand, following pace with his footsteps.  The sand bogged him down and slowed his run, he was getting winded and beginning to slow.  Panic started to set in and he stumbled, sprawling face first into the sand.  A sliver of silver launched itself at him, burrowing into his back.  Dan screamed in agony, the only sound in this alien desert.  Suddenly, hundreds of the silver slivers were on him, going for the blood that was pouring from the wound.  It was over in seconds.
     Remnants of cloth fluttered in the sand as the silver beasts slid back into the sand.  Nothing else remained.  With a final flash of silver, the last of the creatures disappeared into its' home.  Here they would wait for the next victim to fall prey to their planet.  They were very patient.
     Thanks for indulging me everyone.  Have a better one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

May 25, 1977

     Where were you on May 25th, 1977?  I was a 13 year old on my way to the theater to watch a new science fiction movie that was being released that day.  That movie was STAR WARS.  I spent the next 2 hours with my eyes wide open, in awe of the scenes flying across the scene. Movies would never be the same again for me. 
     I can't count how many times over the years that I have re-watched Star Wars.  In the late 70's, you didn't have the movie come out a couple of months later on video (VHS then, and DVD or Blu-Ray now), you shelled out the ticket price for a movie again if you wanted to see it more than once.  The creator of Star Wars, in his ultimate wisdom, promised us a sequel, but we would have to wait 3 years for The Empire Strikes Back, and yet another 3 years for Return of the Jedi.  Sci-fi fans were hooked and Star Wars mania swept the country.
     What people forgot was that Star Wars original title was "Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope".  What we didn't realize at the time was that George had pre-planned to make I, II, and III, but the technology wasn't available at the time to film them in order, so we were treated to a phenomenon that started in the middle of the story.  Still, the technology he used to make the first 3 were cutting edge at the time, creating a new way of making movies.  From sound to visuals, he was a step ahead of everyone else at the time.
     After Return of the Jedi was released in 1983, George bided his time, waiting for the right moment and the advancement of computer graphics before beginning the first 3 chapters of his epic story.  In 1999 we were treated to "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace".  Another win for George Lucas.  Amazing scenes again flashing across the screen, the Pod Race being one of the most memorable.  In 2002, he then released "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones".  Armies of clones marching to war as they prepared for battle in "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" 3 years later in 2005. Awesome.  Just the scenes where Obi-Wan and Anakin are battling on the lava flow are worth the price of admission.
     I made it a point to see each of these movies in the theater, hoping to recapture the feeling that I had on that magical day of May 25th, 1977.  It always worked.  I get caught up immediately in the wonder of the moment as soon as each of the movies started.  The world around me seemed to disappear as I focused on the screen, watching all my favorite characters do their dashing deeds and saving the universe from the dreaded Sith.  Although sometimes I rooted for the bad guy.  Hey, they're just doing their job.  They just picked the wrong side.
     Anyway, Star Wars will always be one of my favorite movie series of all time.  I own all of the movies on DVD and also have some VHS stashed away for nostalgic purposes.  Who knows, maybe they'll be worth something some day.  Thanks for reading everyone.  Have a better one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


     Psychics.  The mere word brings up images of carnival stage magicians doing fantastic mind reading tricks, making predictions, and dazzling the audience with a flashy bow when their answers are correct.  Not in my world.  If there is a real creature known as a psychic, one who can predict the future and tell you when you are going to die, or what lottery numbers they should pick, I would love to meet one.   The first things I would ask them is if they knew I was coming to see them and if they could tell me my name.  That would impress me.
     The general psychic at large pulls people in with the promise that they can give you winning numbers to play at games of chance,  such as the lottery, or here in Vegas, Keno.  For $39.99 and higher, you too can become rich and happy.  Please send more if you can.  Right.  I'll get right on that.  If it was that easy, why aren't they taking advantage of this "power" and becoming rich themselves?  Their answer is that 'We are here to help our fellow man".  O...K...  Which means, that they will help their fellow a price.  if they were truly looking out for their fellow man, they would give away the information and rely on the good graces of their clients to reward them if their predictions are accurate.  That would make sense to me.
     Still, the American public shells out millions of dollars a year on the so-called psychics that make these promises.  I guess if it makes you feel good, you should do it.  I have to admit, I shelled out $40 once, just to see what it was all about.  I received an email with my lucky numbers and what days I should play these numbers, my horoscope for the rest of the year,  plus a warning that if I didn't follow these directions, bad luck would plague me for the rest of my life.  Hmm.  Reeeallly.  Needless to say, I played the numbers on one of the days I was supposed to WIN BIG.  I didn't win.  Imagine that.  I sent an email trying to get my money back, just to get one in return that said it must have been the negative influences in my life blocking the good ones.  Send more money and I'll send more good luck.  I don't think so.
     I now get emails regularly stating that large sums of money are coming to me in 2 to 3 weeks time.  This is every month that these are sent, sometimes every other week.  But I have to send money for my luck to change. I would think that if the money was coming, it would come without me having to send someone money. People will actually keep sending the money, hoping that this time the numbers will be the right ones, and that their train or ship will finally come in.  With all the money that is going to these "psychics", most people could have retired in relative comfort.  And still the scam continues.
     I do have to admit that there are some psychics that generally believe what they are selling is true and factual advice, and think they are providing a public service for their fee.  This is America, Land of Opportunity, and we do have the free enterprise system that is there for them to use.  As long as they aren't hurting anyone, more power to them.  The only problem I guess I really have is the ones that abuse the system and drain some of the "believers" for every cent they can.  That's just not right.  You may think that if the individual continues to give them money, they deserve what they get.  Maybe, but who are we to judge.
     Hmm.  I seem to have gotten a little serious with this blog, but ya can't have fun all the time.  Thanks for reading everyone.  Have a better one.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Parallel Worlds

     Did you ever wonder what would have happened in your life if you had made a few different decisions as you  were going through life?  Like maybe a decision when you graduated High School.  Do I go to college, or do I go straight into the daily work force, try and land a good job, and retire at 65, maybe with a pension?  What if, during that decision making process, there was a split in the universe?  There is now a you that went to college, and a you that went to work, but in a parallel world.  That's right, 2 of you existing in 2 different worlds, timeline running pretty much the same, but 2 different lives.
     You could take it even further by assuming that every other decision you make in both of these lives, now creates another parallel world.  You could create infinite worlds throughout the course of your life, each one individual to the you on that particular world.  Mind-boggling, isn't it?  Somewhere on one of these worlds is a version of you that is happy, rich, content, and satisfied.  On the other hand, there would also be one that is poor, miserable, living in a cardboard box and generally just fed up with life.  Maybe you are happy with the life you have in this world, which is all one could wish for, and have never had a thought to what might have been. 
     I think life is like a road and that for every decision you make, there is an alternate path that opens up, and that a new world is created from just that one thought.  Somewhere there is a me that got into the Navy and has already retired as an officer and am living off my government pension.  Thank you tax payers!  Another me bought the boat in Hawaii and settled down to a comfortable life transporting small groups of people between the islands, occasionally taking them out for a sunset dinner cruise to enjoy a romantic evening.  There is probably another me that won the lottery and is just living in Hawaii, sailing around the world and just being a beach bum.  A wealthy beach bum, though.
     It's things like this that could possibly drive you mad if you think about it long enough.  So what do you do?  Think about the what ifs, or be happy with the life that YOU chose, because, in the end, the decisions you make are your own, nobody else's.  And yes, I do think about the what ifs, and yes, I may be a little crazy, but that's what makes ME happy.  If you're not happy with the decisions you have made in your life, be content in the knowledge that somewhere, on a parallel world, there is a you that is happy with their decisions and is probably wondering what would have happened if they hadn't made those decisions.
     Made ya think a little didn't I?  Sorry about that.  Anyway, thanks for reading ya'll.  Have a better one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Adam Sandler

     What can you say about the movies of Adam Sandler?  Sure, most of them have the crass, bathroom humor that today's audience seems to find hilarious, but there are flashes of brilliant comedy here and there that you can't ignore.  We just finished watching "Jack and Jill" , a movie where Adam plays both lead roles, and for the most part carries it off fairly well.  The funniest bits in the movie, for me, are the scenes with Al Pacino, playing himself and the commercial at the end of the film where he is pushing "Dunkacino", Dunkin' Donuts' new flavor.  That was worth watching the movie for in itself.
     One of Adam's first roles was Smitty, Theo Huxtable's friend on "The Cosby Show".  You probably don't remember this role and i was hard-pressed myself to bring it to mind.  This was in 1987 and Adam was just 21 years old.  He was actually doing stand-up comedy at age 17 when he was going to school and was discovered in by none other than Dennis Miller who brought him to Lorne Michaels' attention.  Adam became a writer for Saturday Night Live in 1990, becoming one of the cast regulars in 1991.  Not to shabby as Adam is fond of saying.
      His first feature film was "Airheads", playing next to Brendan Fraser.  I thought this was a pretty good movie, and if you are interested in catching Adam in his younger days, I suggest you check it out.  It really is a movie about 3 Airheads who hijack a radio station just to get their music on the air.  Of course it goes wrong and snowballs out of control.  Pretty funny, though.
     One of my favorites, but by no means his best was "Billy Madison", released in 1995.  The humor is juvenile, but if you don't think about it too much, it is pretty funny stuff.  Which is how I view most of his movies.  By 1995, Saturday Night Live had fired Adam, but his movie career was taking off and he was making a killing doing live comedy tours. 
     He had a big hit with "Waterboy", one of my personal favorites, and got to play along with one of my favorite actresses, Kathy Bates.  She played the role of his mother perfectly.  Who else could play a role straight like that and still make it funny.  He has done more serious roles, such as the one for "Punch-Drunk Love" for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award.  Unfortunately he didn't win.
     Another one of my favorites was "Just Go With It", filmed with Jennifer Anniston.  In this one he portrays a plastic surgeon who asks his office assistant (Jennifer) to pose as his wife in order to prove his honesty.  You know he's going to end up with Jennifer at the end of the movie, but getting there is half the fun.
     Adam also has a tendency to hook his friends up with bit parts in most of his movies.  David Spade appeared in drag in the aforementioned "Jack and Jill".  Even Shaquille O'neal shows up doing a commercial for a ham product.  The list is almost endless.  Even the untalented Norm Macdonald shows up every now and then.
     There is a worst Adam Sandler movie that I just have to mention, as you may want to torture yourself by watching it.  It is "Mr. Deeds", a remake of the 1936 movie "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town", which was a wonderful old comedy.  Sadly, it didn't quite work.  Winona Ryder plays the love interest.  That should tell you something.  I think she did this movie just after her arrest for shoplifting, and she acts just like she was in another movie.  It was a terrible movie.  Even Rob Schneider's bad acting was a relief in this movie.  Unfortunately it keeps popping up on TBS and other channels that like to repeat bad movies over and over, and I have a compulsion to watch a movie to it's bitter end once I pop on a channel.  Lucky me.
     Anyway, in the main, I enjoy watching Adam Sandler on the big screen, and hopefully he will make a few more in the next few years.  He is getting up there in years, almost 50, but hopefully as he matures (which I hope he never does), he will continue to put out the kind of movies that make me forget about the real world for about 1 hour and 45 minutes at a time.
     Thanks for reading everyone.  Have a better one.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


    Music makes the heart grow fonder.  Oh, wait, that's absence, isn't it?  Either way, music can make us think about a loved one, or someone you used to love, with just the first tune bringing back memories that you may have thought were forgotten.  Doesn't everyone have a favorite song or piece of music that they could listen to over and over and never get tired of listening to it?  I know I do.
     For me, it is the first side of Rush's 2112.  This was released in 1976 and in my opinion is one of the best albums ever put out.  The band itself has only 3 members, but listening to the music you would think that there was a whole orchestra behind them.  Geddy Lee, the lead singer, plays bass, acoustic guitar, and the synthesizer.  Alex Lifeson also plays acoustic guitar, plus the electric guitar.  Then there is Neil Peart, who without a doubt is the best drummer in the business.
     I had the pleasure of seeing Rush twice recently and they did the overture to the 2112 album.  The first few notes sent chills through me.  It was a wonderful experience.  This is one band that I would see over and over again.  Their music sets are almost mathematical in their rhythm, that's how precise they are.  When they do the song "Tom Sawyer", Geddy Lee plays no less than 4 instruments during it, all the while singing the lyrics and keeping perfect time as he does.
     But, although I enjoy this album, it isn't all I listen to.  I have been listening to the new country music that has been coming out latelym and found that it is actually as good, if not better in some instances than the older country, such as Conway Twitty or Johnny Cash.  One of my personal favorites is Toby Keith.  You have to love a guy that can sing a song like "Red Solo Cup" and then turn around and sing "Bullets in the Gun".  He has a long string of songs that are really easy to listen to and sing along with.  Thoroughly enjoyable!"
     I think I will wrap up this blog with a thought for you.  "If you enjoy something, embrace it."  That should be something everyone can relate to.  Until we meet again, have a better one.  And thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Area 51

     AREA 51!  The name alone brings up thoughts of alien autopsies and space ships from other worlds.  No one is really sure what goes on there, but the stories are endless.  The U.S. Government denied for years that there was a military base at the location, finally declassifying it on July 14th, 2003.  They admit to it being used for testing experimental aircraft, weapons systems and other research programs, but that's where they draw the line.  Mustn't let the general public in on the SECRET.
     It is located 83 miles north-northeast of Las Vegas, fairly close to where I live, actually.  An hour or so drive and I could check it out myself.  I never have though, as I like to think of it as the mysterious place that is shown so graphically in all of the movies and TV shows about it.  Why shouldn't there be alien space craft held in bunkers underground, and little aliens cavorting about the place, just like the Men in Black movie shows.  That would be cool. 
     Anyway, over the years, Area 51 (or Groom Lake, as it is also known) has been responsible for the testing of such craft as the U-2 reconnaissance plane in 1955, and the X-15 rocket plane in 1959.  Just 2 of the many distinguished aircraft that have come out of the most famous secret place in the world.  If the government would have just called it an Air Force Base and said they were building test planes, they would have probably never got the attention they did by denying that there was one there.  Military intelligence.  A misnomer?
     Finally in 1981, the test site took over development of the F-117, the Stealth fighter plane.  This plane was probably responsible for many UFO sightings over the next few years,as it made many test flights in and out of Area 51.  I think I saw one back in the day, but then, I was looking for UFO's.  As a hobby.  Really.
     If you happen to be in the Vegas area and want to check it out, please be prepared to be disappointed.  Visitors are not allowed and there are signs warning that trespassers will be shot.  This is the military and it is there not so secret base after all.  You can set up at a distance and wait for something cool to happen, but I'm betting if the Men in Black know you are out there, nothing will.  But you never know.  Stranger things have happened.
     Thanks for reading everyone.  Have a better one.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Oscars

     Hello, again.  I would like to take a moment and talk about the upcoming Academy Awards.  Does anybody still watch them, and if so, what is your favorite part of the proceedings?  I, myself, have not watched the Oscars, as they are called, since Jack Palance did his one-armed push-ups after winning his award in 1991 for City Slickers.  Ever since then I have felt that the awards have become a soap box for some of the stars to voice their political views and I stopped watching.
     Being a movie buff, I do miss watching the Awards, but even reading about them in the paper the next day or hearing about them on the news has been enough for me.  Many of the movies that have won for Best Picture in the past few years I haven't even watched yet.  Not sure why, as I'm sure they are fine films in their own right, but I tend to find that the critics and myself tend to disagree more than not.  The last Best Picture that I watched was Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood.  That took Best Picture in 2005.  Shows you how far behind I am.
     I wonder if regular people (blue collar workers) still throw an Oscar party every now and then?  I can remember sitting around my grandparents house in the early 70's and they would watch them and we would have snacks and such during the proceedings.  I kind of miss that.  Maybe I'll cook a pot of chili and bake some hot wings, as I did for the recent Super Bowl.  I would use any excuse to cook those yummy snacks!
     To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure who, or what pictures, are up for any of the Awards this year.  I may have to use my days to research the movies and maybe even watch a few before the Big Night.  There are a few movies that are coming out this year that I will certainly go to the theater to see, Peter Jacksons' "The Hobbit" being one of them.  From what I have seen so far, this looks to be on par with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. 
     Well, my musings are over for now.  If you have any comments to share about your experience with the Oscars, please feel free to drop me a line.  Hope you all enjoyed this and will keep reading.  Have a better one.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Day in Court

   Hey, everyone.   I just wanted to share what I think is a typical day in the Las Vegas County Court system. 
     My day started at 7 AM when my alarm went off.  I wanted to get to the court house early so I wouldn't have to wait in a long line.  I reached over and turned off the alarm and waited for my friend's alarm to go off at 7:30.  So after her alarm goes off, and she hits snooze 3 more times, I finally get up and get in the shower.  I leave the house about 8:30.  I get in the car and decide not to take the freeway because of the time of  morning.  It is usually quite packed at that time. I head down Cheyenne to Las Vegas Blvd. (otherwise known as the Strip) and make it downtown in about 15 minutes.  Quicker than the freeway, for sure.
     I valet my car at The Plaza Hotel and Casino, cheaper than parking on the side streets or the pay by hour parking lots.  A lot of people don't take advantage of this service like they should.  For a couple of bucks, you could leave your car at one of the hotels for a few days if you'd like.  They'll just think you're having a heck of a time and will eventually be back for it.
     Ok.  I get to the court house about 9:30, as I had to walk a few blocks after valeting the car.  No problem.  I get through the entrance and immediately have to take off my shoes, belt, sunglasses, and empty my pockets, just like you would at the airport.  There have been a few shootings at our court houses here and they aren't taking any chances any more.  I go to the Traffic Court waiting area and have to take a number to get my place in line.  I am number 246.  They have just called number 187.  Hmm.  Looks like the wait is on.  It is now 9:40.
     15 minutes pass and they are on number 230.  Moving pretty quickly.  I start to wonder if I am going to get the same lady that I had the first time I stopped in to get the information that brought me back today.  She was quick and efficient.  The numbers tick off quickly and wouldn't you know it, I do get that same lady again.  I bring up my paper work and ask her what do I need to do and where do I go from here.  She informs me I need to go to the lower level to court Room B.  Hmm.  Didn't know they had a lower level in the building.  It was easy to find though.  Every thing in this building is clearly marked, which is a good thing.
     I make my way to the elevators and make my way to the lower level, stopping to use the rest room on the way, as I had peeked ahead and saw that the line into the court room wasn't that long.  Oops.  when I stepped out a minute later, it looked like I had stepped into a Walmart returns line.  What the heck!  Oh, well, I had made it this far.  Unfortunately, it seemed like a real Walmart line, complete with mothers with screaming kids, teenagers playing rap music on their I-phones, and the complaints that the line was taking forever. 
     It was 10:30 before I got to enter the actual court room, handing my paper work to an obviously bored Marshall, who doesn't even glance at the papers he is handed.  Not his job, apparently.  I take my seat in what looked like church pews from days gone by and look around a bit.  The Judge is at his desk and us in the audience (?) are looking at hime through a glass wall, where you can see 6 people sitting about 15 feet from his desk, waiting to be called.  Every time a name is called, they step up, he gives them a verdict, fine or traffic school, which can be done online nowadays I guess.  Technology is great, isn't it?  After 3 people are called up.  The Marshall calls 3 more from our cast of waiting people and they enter the room and take the vacant seats.  This too is moving quickly.  The judge is averaging about 1 plaintiff every 5 minutes. 
     My turn finally comes and I walk up in front of the Judge.  He asks if I have completed the task of getting a Nevada driver's license.  I say yes.  He asks if I have proof of insurance. (These were my 2 tickets.  No valid license and no insurance.  Even though I had both at the time.)  I say yes again.  He thanks me for my time and dismisses both charges.  He tells me I am free to go.  I say thank you, Your Honor, and exit the court room.  Barely 2 hours have passed from the time I entered the Court House.  I was thinking it was going to be an all day event.  All in all, it was not a bad experience, although it is one I would not want to go through again any time soon.
     Well, thanks for reading, and if you take anything away from this, take this.  DON'T GET A TICKET IN VEGAS!  Have a better one ya'll.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Time Travel Insurance

          The time has come for the next step in insurance.  That's right.  Time travel insurance.  For only $100 a month, you too can be covered on any temporal journey you may undertake.  Just remember, if you have a time machine, the payments can be made almost negligible by going back about 75 years and putting that $100 in the bank of your choice (just make sure the bank is still operating in this century) and the interest alone will make the payment seem like nothing.  Please send all checks or money orders to me, though, as it was my idea.
     Just think, you can go back in time and fix all those little problems that seem to have kept you back all of these years.  Or, go back in time and kill Hitler before his rise to power and he does all those terrible things that made him a permanent fixture in history.  Which is why you need the insurance.  Unless you are a master spy, you won't even get close to Hitler.   You just have to remember that there is a cause and effect for everything you do while back in the past.    You wouldn't want to wipe out a relative you didn't know you had, thus wiping out your own existence.  How embarrassing would that be!  Again, you need this insurance.
     Think about who you want for your beneficiary.  Do they have access to your time machine?  Would they know how to operate it?  If so, you might want to be careful that they don't go back in time and kill you just after you have signed the insurance forms.    Greedy people do things like that.  Make sure you get that put in as a clause to your insurance, we'll call it the Death After Signing Clause. 
     Now that you are covered and are fairly certain you are safe from your beneficiary, feel free to travel where you would like, just be careful you don't cross your own timeline and screw up your own existence, as that won't be covered in the insurance.  It's just too easy to mess your own life up.  But we know that or you wouldn't be going back in time trying to fix your life, would we?  Time travel jargon can get confusing also, as you will be using past tenses before they happen and vice versa.  Would have, should have, and could have will take on a whole new meaning, as you will have and could have already done the things you will have or could have done.  Read your policy carefully, as the wording will be very confusing to those without temporal language skills.  Shucks, you may be paying me for nothing and get absolutely nothing in return.  Now that sounds like a real insurance policy to me!
     Anyway, enjoy your time travel secure in the knowledge that if anything does happen to you, that your beneficiary will enjoy the wealth that is coming to them.  Thanks for reading ya'll.  Have a better one.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


     Have you ever seen something in the sky that you couldn't identify?  Well, then, you have seen a UFO, or Unidentified Flying Object.  Now, when most people hear the term UFO, they automatically assume alien spaceships.  Millions of UFO's have been cited over the years, most explained as natural phenomena, most not explained at all.  It all depends on your beliefs and your point of view. 
     Stand in your backyard one night and spend about an hour looking up into a clear night sky.  You are bound to see objects that you cannot identify pass overhead.  Many of these are probably satellites.  There are now nearly 9000 man-made objects circling our planet.  Every now and then some will fall to Earth and burn up in our atmosphere.  This has happened a few times in just the last couple of years.
    I am always on the look out for these unidentified objects.  You never know when it might actually turn out to be an alien spaceship.  In this vast universe, do we really think we are the only intelligent life?  I hope not.  We aren't progressing to well in our little spot in this galaxy.  We are slowly killing this planet and not doing much to slow the process.  We could use a little alien intervention to put us on the right track, provided they're friendly of course.  Heck, they're probably already living amongst us, just like the books and movies say they have been.
      In 1952 a study was started that eventually became Project Bluebook.  It was officially terminated in 1970.  Over the course of its' 18 year study and over 12, 000+ UFO sightings reported in this time that it looked into, the study concluded that the majority of sightings were misidentifications of natural phenomena(clouds, stars, aircraft, etc.) and just recently that a few were of secret tests of aircraft, such as the U-2 and A-12.  I recall watching a television show in 1978 and '79 that was based on Project Bluebook (Project UFO), where they re-enacted dramatically the process of tracking down reports of UFO sightings and then proceeded to debunk them.  I don't recall the investigators ever actually not debunking the sightings.  It was probably funded by our government.
     Anyway, keep watching the skies, and if you see anything that you can't identify, pretend for a minute that it might be otherworldy.  What would you do if that object was an alien spaceship?  What if?  Keep an open mind.  Strange things occur in the world all the time.  I for one don't believe we are alone in the universe.  I'm rooting for the aliens.
     Thanks for reading, ya'll.  See ya soon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Reality Show

     I have been thinking about this for several years.  It is a reality show that would not only help the country, but the school and university systems also. 
     Here is my premise:
     The President(only he could do this, with the help of Congress) announces to the Nation that we are going back into space, this time to colonize the Moon, or maybe Mars.  But instead of the government financing this project, which would cost billions, he institutes a new reality based TV show which has groups of scientists from across the country from the top 10 colleges in the country refurbish or rebuild the shuttles that were recently decommissioned.  And further more, the show will be shown on all 4 major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and to be fair I'm adding FOX in there) on a schedule to be set up at a later date.  Who will pay for this, you might ask?  The same people that put up millions to advertise the big budget movies and the TV shows that air every night.  That's right.  Make them use all that money for something good.
     How will this help our schools and colleges?  The 10 colleges will be given tax credits for every new invention or innovation that gets their particular team closer to getting their craft into space and on its' way to its' destination.  Also, schools across the country will compete to get their students into the colleges.  Those that do will also get tax credits.  Hopefully, students will embrace this and try harder in school, as they will be given a full scholarship to one of the ten schools.  Parents might even try and help their children learn more and do better in school, as this will take the burden of them paying for college, or their child having to take out student loans that take years to pay off.
     To outfit the shuttles will take many different types of academic knowledge.  Science (obviously), physics, engineering, mathematics, hydroponics, astronomy, the list is endless, so everyone will have a chance to compete.  I mean, someone has to figure out how to make toilet paper when they get to the Moon or Mars, for Pete's sake!  It doesn't grow on trees (well, not on the Moon or Mars, as there are no trees there, yet)! 
     So far in this admittedly far-fetched writing no one is losing.  The people of the Nation don't have to pay more taxes or spend any money out of pocket to get the space program relaunched, except to buy the products that the advertisers are using to sponsor the shows.  The government isn't losing anything but a few tax breaks, which they won't need anyway if the public is buying all of the products that are being advertised.  They get taxes from that product everytime it sells.  Parents will take more pride in their childen if they are excelling in school, plus saving money by not paying for their children to go to college.  The colleges win by getting better students and the tax breaks.  The advertisers make their money back by selling their product.  Heck, the children of today may even benefit by actually learning in school.
     This is actually a simple idea.  It is probably too simple.  Whoever our next President is, hopefully he would see the benefits of this idea.  But government doesn't like to take the easy way.  There will be those that think we are entitling the more gifted people in the Nation, but that's not the case.  This should make everyone want to do a little better, push themselves to do more, learn more. 
     This reality show would run for years, because, face it, it will take longer than 1 season to get those shuttles into space.  This reality show could, in reality (pun intended), run for at least 20 years.  Think of how far we will go in that time.  The advancements in all of the sciences and other achievements.  how many geniuses will surface in that time?  Time will tell.  It always does.
     Anyway, thanks for reading.  Hope to hear from ya'll.