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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - October 2017



  • Were the original Houston Colt 45's (now Astros) named after the gun or the malt liquor? 
  • Sometimes in sports, especially in baseball, we talk about a player air-mailing a throw, pass, shot. Is air-mail still even a thing?
  • Somebody needs to write an app that shocks people when they say "like" or "whatever" or "you know" or "I mean". Other obnoxious phrases to be added as needed. 
  • Most popular does not mean BEST.
  • I wonder which baseball player discovered you could make a double play? Was the first one a traditional 6-4-3 or was it a line drive that caught the runner off the base?
  • I hate it when a website won't display the price of an item or event until you get most of the way through the checkout process. Show me the price upfront.
  • Where and how do you think those Taco Bell fried egg "taco shells" are made? A perfect but off-center yolk.
  • I think the baseball "championship" celebrations have become too staged and predictable. It used to be spontaneous and mostly beer. Now it is champagne, goggles, plastic draped locker rooms, cameras, and preprinted t-shirts and hats. Plus, we now have division, wildcard, wildcard game win, divisional series, championship series and finally the World Series celebrations. That's a lot of champagne.
  • I get crazy about the righteous indignation of politicians, both Republicans and Democrats. 
  • When I was a kid, my Mom would tell me not to pick at scabs. Didn't work then and I still do it today.
  • Wouldn't it be nice if TV broadcasts turned down the background noise so that we could hear the people speaking? Sports are the worse, but not the only offenders. Old ears have trouble separating background from foreground. 
  • OK Apple. We now have the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X (10). Where is the iPhone 9?
  • I just opened a bottle of cheap wine to be used in a recipe. It is OK for cooking, but you wouldn't really want to drink a bottle. Largely displayed on the label is 600+ Medals Won. Doesn't say what color or who awarded them. Marketing BS.
  • There are two baseball stadiums named for orange juice companies. The Astros Minute Maid Park in Houston and the Rays Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay). Has anyone ever actually drank orange juice at a ballpark? Now Coors Field and Miller Park make perfect sense. 
  • Remember that old commercial for the United Negro College Fund? The tagline was "A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste"I often think I have been wasteful. 
  • Oxymoron - The Korean demilitarized zone is heavily militarized.
  • Does every damn 30 second video on a webpage full of advertisements have to have a 15 second video advertisement?
  • Why is it that sometimes I can point the remote directly at the TV/cable box and it doesn't work? Other times I can barely touch it while it is pointing in the wrong direction and the channel changes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Opposition


Anybody who has followed this blog knows I am a fan of late night comedy TV. One of the latest entries is The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. It airs on Comedy Central right after The Daily Show.

I guess you could consider this as a spinoff. Klepper was one of the fake correspondents on the Daily Show, usually playing a counterpoint to the opinions expressed on the show. He was the establishment white guy although always with tongue firmly in cheek. Some of his pieces during the 2016 campaign were very good. 

His new show is supposed to be a satire on today's right-wing conspiracy theory media. Much like the old Colbert Report was a take-off on Fox News shows with their pompous, bombastic hosts. Colbert primarily used The O'Reilly Factor as a model. The Opposition seems to be a toned down satire of Infowars with Alex Jones. Lots of conspiracy theory, fake news, and lies. 

The show is not as over the top or as loud as Alex Jones. In fact, I'm not exactly sure what it is. I suspect the show's producers, writers, and stars don't know exactly what it is yet. Sometimes it is an outright satire of the wacko right and sometimes it seems like another version of The Daily Show.

Jordan Klepper is a funny guy. He did good work on The Daily Show and does some good bits on The OppositionUnfortunately, the supporting cast is very weak. As mentioned, the writing and focus are disjointed. 

I've watched eight or ten episodes and they are not getting any better or more consistent. If it remains on the air, I'll check it out again in a couple of months. I realize that some new shows need to find their voice. Right now, I don't think it is worth the ½ hour investment four nights a week. 

After the first couple of weeks, I have to rate this show a C-. If we are lucky it will find it's footing and get better.


wjh

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

When Is The Right Time?


It seems to me that whenever something controversial shows up in the news, at least one side says "now is not the time to discuss or debate" whatever the issue is.

The most recent was the horrible terrorist attack by a wacko in Las Vegas with a large cache of automatic weapons and ammunition. But this is not the appropriate time to talk about our gun laws. It wasn't the right time after Orlando, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Columbine, and dozens of other tragic shootings. 

When NFL players knelt or sat during our national anthem, that was not the proper time or venue to protest.

When unarmed people, usually Black males, are killed by police, we shouldn't rush to judgment and protest.

When you protest the glorification of Confederate leader's statues all over the South, you are trying to obliterate (white) history.  

We can go back decades on this issue. When Rosa Parks wouldn't give up her seat on the bus, that was the wrong approach. Blacks should never have disrupted the white lunch patrons at the Woolworth's lunch counter by doing a sit-in. Martin Luther King should never have marched in southern, segregated, cities. The students at Kent State University deserved to be killed for protesting the Vietnam War and refusing to follow National Guard directions. The protesters at the Democratic convention in Chicago were just asking to be clubbed by out of control police.

It seems to always be the protester's fault. They just don't seem to know when, where, or how to protest. Of course, the real issue is that they are protesting something that is not actually a real problem.

Here's the deal, if the majority of the country agreed with the protesters, there would probably be no need to protest. If most of the country thought racial discrimination was a problem and wrong in 1960, MLK wouldn't have needed to march. Rosa Parks wouldn't have had to defy the bus driver. If many Black athletes didn't feel the system was still prejudiced they wouldn't be kneeling during the national anthem.

The LGBT community shouldn't show up at Columbus Day or St. Patrick's parades because they are traditional events and family-friendly celebrations. Apparently, LGBT people don't have families or as some think, shouldn't be allowed to have families. 

The only way protesters get any attention is when they make a large segment of the population uncomfortable or inconvenience them. Sitting at the Woolworth's counter wouldn't have much impact at midnight. Rosa Parks would never have caused a stir except that it was evening rush hour and white folks wanted a seat. You have to get people's attention. The NFL players got traction because millions watch the games on Sundays and then Trump personally challenged them. 

Some protests get out of hand and cause damage or injuries. That is just like what is being protested, the protested actions sometimes cause damage and injuries, often times deaths.

If you are on the protesting side of the issue, it is almost always the right time and place to protest. If you don't agree, there is no appropriate time, place, or venue for the protests. In fact, there is no reason to be protesting.

This country was founded on protest. The second amendment supporters say they need their weapons in case the government gets out of hand. The Confederate states protested against the Union and many still honor their effort. 

As long as we are a free speech country, there will always be protests. There is no right or appropriate time, just as there is no wrong or inappropriate time. The protesters get to decide. That is the free speech part of the equation.

If you see injustices, now is the right time to protest in whatever way you feel appropriate. My way today is to publish a blog.

wjh

Monday, October 2, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - September 2017



  • I'm pretty sure that almost every TV action series of the 1950's and 60's had at least one "quick sand" episode. A mostly fake peril created by TV & movie writers.
  • Same deal, every old western had a cholera/typhoid fever episode.  
  • Just saw an episode of 77 Sunset Strip. The bellhops and cabbies were tipped with coins. Don't try that now.
  • I've noticed on the late night product advertisements that the latest marketing slogan is "atomic". We have atomic lanterns, atomic flashlights, atomic security lights, atomic gloves, even atomic wallets. A couple of months ago, everything was bamboo. Next up, atomic bamboo.
  • If I'm a person in the DACA program, I would not have any confidence that Congress will have a resolution in six months or six years. 
  • I find it funny that some businesses brag about being established in 2005 or some other relatively recent year. As the saying goes, "I have ties older than that".
  • Is it just my old ears or are there way more annoying voices on TV these days?
  • Does anybody really want that flap of rib meat attached to chicken breasts bought at the grocery store? 
  • There apparently are designated bad driving days. The other day, I had to avoid a couple of bad drivers on the road, then in the parking lot, and finally shopping cart drivers in the grocery store. 
  • The old TV show Highway Patrol is back in rotation on MeTV. What a terrible show with even worse scripts and acting. Still fun to watch. Mid 1950's cars, old phones, etc. They drive Oldsmobiles and Buicks. 1955-6 Buicks to be exact, the model we had when I learned to drive. They were tanks.
  • If the North Korean mess results in a hot war, we, or at least history and our descendants, will look back and say, "this could have been avoided". Just like every other major conflict in the past 100+ years. Let's avoid it now and be on the right side of history.
  • A sign of the times. On 9/12, the new iPhone X, 8, & 8+ received more news coverage than Irma, Harvey, North Korea, and other important news stories.
  • How come a familiar word is suddenly impossible to spell?
  • Or, when spelled correctly it looks wrong?
  • Why in the hell does Twitter recommend that I follow Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift?
  • When something is advertised as under $100, best case scenario is it is $99.97 instead of $99.99.
  • Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the first amendment. Even if you don't agree with the speech. Actually, especially if the majority disagrees.
  • Weather folks on TV always introduce themselves as meteorologist so and so. Should the rest of the TV news people follow that practice? Hi, I'm news anchor Bob Smith or I'm news reporter Suzie Jones or I'm sports reporter Biff Ballgame. 
  • It is very hard to be tolerant of those who are intolerant of those who are different or have different views.
  • Why is it not OK to kneel during our National Anthem but it is OK to honor the Confederate flag? A flag that represents those who wanted to dissolve our country. I'm confused.
  • Leave it to Americans to find a new issue to disagree on when the hot topic begins to cool. Statues give way to the National Anthem.
  • What exactly is the proper and appropriate way to protest?
wjh

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cinépolis


We went to the new Cinépolis movie theater in Euless the other night. This is the first Cinépolis in Texas. The chain has theaters in California, Florida, and the northeast. It is located in the Glade Parks shopping center close to Dave and Buster's. The complex has twelve screens, a concession stand with a varied menu, and a full bar. I'll get to the food/bar in a little bit.

Being brand new, the whole place is very clean and has that new car smell. The auditorium we were in had what has become a fairly standard configuration. There are a few rows close to the screen, a large aisle where you enter the auditorium then several rows on a steeper angle to the back. We usually choose seats in the second or third row above the large dividing aisle. It is all reserved seating. The seats are comfortable recliners with electronic controls to adjust the recline and footrest. I'm not sure if the seats are leather or faux leather. They are very comfortable and have a swinging tray and cup holders in the arms.  

The lobby is spacious but rather stark and cold with several ticket kiosks on one end. I did not see a traditional manned box office or counter. There may be one, maybe at the concession stand but I wasn't looking for it since I bought our tickets online at their website. They have their own ticket website and do not use another site like Fandango. One problem I see is that you get one barcode sent to your phone (or to print) for the whole order. In our case, that was not a problem since it was only for two tickets and we arrived together. I'm not sure how that would work for a party of four or more who maybe show up at slightly different times but are on one ticket purchase order. I guess the whole group would have to congregate in the lobby before proceeding to the screening auditoriums. Keep that in mind when going with a group.

On the other end of the lobby are the concession stand and bar. There are also several tables in this area. We didn't go to the concession stand, but it looked like there were several ordering/cashier stations. The bar is rather small, maybe 10 stools. There were about 1½ bartenders. That wasn't a problem when we first arrived, but when I went for refills, there was a significant wait to be served. 


Here's the problem, although they have a decent food selection and a full bar, there is no wait service in the auditoriums. You have to go out to the lobby to get your food or drink. That's damn inconvenient if you want something after your movie starts. Especially if it takes some time to get through the line. I'm also not sure how they will control access to the screening area. Do you have to remember to take your ticket or phone with you when you go for a popcorn refill?

This is a new establishment, so maybe they'll work out some of my concerns. It is a nice place to watch a movie. It will be interesting to see what first run movies Cinépolis shows. One of my gripes now is that the two closest theaters usually show the same movies while other hits are at more distant or crappier theaters.

Here is our conclusion for at least the time being. If the movie we want to see is playing at the Bedford Movie Tavern or the Colleyville Studio Movie Grill, we'll go there first. They both have in theater servers that bring the order right to your seat. No missing parts of the movie while you get a refill or completely new order. Prices are comparable, the facilities are at least as nice if not nicer, the food and drink selections are about the same and the seats are just as plush. All three cinemas have multiple dining choices close by if you want to eat before or after the movie.  

Cinépolis is a nice addition to the area and if they show different movies than our favorite places, I'm sure we'll go again. 

wjh

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Home Again

We went to see Home Again. For those who know me, you realize this was not my choice. It is officially a chick flick. All I knew going in is that Reese Witherspoon was the star and that it was about a single mom and kids moving from New York City to Los Angeles. 

It was probably best that is all I knew. I had no clue that the three twenty-something housemate guys were an integral part of the story. It was a nice twist on the usual recently separated couple saga.

Reese is the single mom, Candace Bergan is Reeses mom and grandmother to the kids,   

The three young guys were a writer, actor, and director/promoter trying to sell their short film as the basis for a full-length feature. After a wild 40th birthday night out for Reese, everybody crashes at her house. They wind up enchanting Candace who suggests that they stay in Reese's guest house while trying to get established in Hollywood. After initial objections, the three guys become part of the family. One becomes Reese's lover despite, or maybe because of, a 13 year age difference. They all bond with the kids. 

Eventually, the separated husband, Michael Sheen, shows up and the mayhem ensues. There are also a few other side stories. One includes a weird, self-absorbed Lake Bell which I'm sure was easy for her to play. 

Here is the trailer. Many of the best lines are contained in these 2½ minutes. 


This is not a bad film, but it certainly isn't a great film. I think the operative word would be cute. My companion liked it more than I did but she didn't think it was great either. In fact, she thought it was cute. I would give it a C+ grade. 
wjh

Monday, September 4, 2017

Bedford Blues & BBQ -2017


I spent the last two evenings at the Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival. I’ve been going to this festival for several years. Thankfully, I usually get to share it with great friends. The music is always great, top line acts and always good openers. This year turned out like most others. Sunday night is the climax of the three day Labor Day weekend festival and is supposed to be the biggest name. On Saturdays and Sundays, there are acts starting around 2:00 and continuing onto about 11:00. That will cost you whopping $10 at the gate, a couple of bucks less in advance online. No better music bargain around. The mild weather was a bonus this year.

This year, Buddy Guy was the Sunday headliner. Buddy is an icon of blues and guitarists. He has influenced many of the Rock/Blues era greats, including Clapton, Hendrix, Page, etc. As has been the case for several years, the Sunday headliner is not the best performance. Buddy is good, but he is old and has tricks to extend his performance. I think he may have had a few beverages or other substances prior to going on stage. He was pretty profane and spent much time rambling and talking about the who, what, where, and when of his career. When he decided to play, it was fine, although others in his band often led. At best a good, not great performance. I've seen Buddy several times and this was probably his worst. 


Now let's get to the really good stuff. Prior to Buddy Guy on the main stage, was Marcia Ball. She is a born in Texas, raised in Louisiana musician, a solid Blues singer, and pianist. Her set was very good and probably my companion's favorite performance of the weekend. She had a solid backing band. I have seen Marcia before, as has my festival mate. She put on a great performance.

My favorite performance was the night before. Ronnie Earl was the co-headliner. His set was good. I'm not sure who she was, but the featured vocalist was great. She had a Janis Joplin quality on some songs, a little gospel on others. Good stuff.


My favorite of the weekend was Delbert McClintock. He wrapped up the Saturday lineup. As I wrote in a brief post, Delbert's voice was a little rough for the first couple of songs. Then he found his stride. His band was outstanding. A piano, two guitars, bass, drums, sax, and trumpet. Delbert added harmonica on some songs. The set was tight, very little if any talk between songs. This good ole Texas boy can still bring it. Glad I got to see this performance.

This year's BluesFest pretty much matched the other years I've been going. The Sunday night "headliner" has always been good, but never the best performance. Sometimes the highlight comes from the Saturday headliner, sometimes it comes from the Saturday of Sunday 7:00 act. 

There was one new wrinkle this year, around 8:30 on Sunday, the food vendors began to run out of food. Worse yet, a couple of the beer stands ran out of beer. That is serious. For our last round, I had to walk across the festival grounds for the only beer stand with product. It was a very good crowd on both Saturday and Sunday, but it didn't seem that much larger than other years when food and beer were not in short supply. Did I underestimate the crowd or did everybody just drink and eat more? Glad to see the vendors did well.

The Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival is always a great weekend. The music, food, and beer are always good. The crowd is friendly. Just don't only go see the Sunday headliner. Besides missing the best performances, you may have a limited choice of food and beverages.

Hope to see you there in 2018. 

wjh