Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ocean's 8

It's the #1 movie right now but if you go to an early afternoon showing on a Tuesday, the theater is nearly empty. There is also a chance to be the youngest folks in the audience. Not a normal occurrence at my age.

Briefly, this is a movie about a complicated big payoff heist in the fashion of the other Ocean's films that started with the original Rat Pack Ocean's 11 in 1960 and was revived starting in 2001 by the George Clooney Ocean's 11, 12, & 13. The twist here is that it is an all-female team of criminals.

In this movie, Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, the sister of the maybe deceased Danny Ocean (George Clooney). She has just been paroled from prison. During her five-plus years in the slammer, she comes up with the perfect crime, a diamond heist in the $150 million range. Of course, she needs help so she recruits a couple of old friends and some new specialists. Originally six others to make a band of seven and then an eighth at the end, hence Ocean's 8.

It's a very involved plan that of course has it's hiccups in spite of the five years of planning. The movie is only a little over halfway through when the robbery is successfully executed. The aftermath and investigation are as interesting and complicated as the crime. There is a surprise ending that I will not divulge. If you figure it out beforehand, you are a better sleuth than we were. 

Most of the cast is very good. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are the main characters. A couple of the headliners don't seem to have enough to do, Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina in particular and Sarah Paulson to some extent. I thought Rihanna was very good. I also thoroughly enjoyed James Corden as the insurance investigator. 

Since the caper takes place at a Metropolitan Museum gala, there were several cameos by the "beautiful people". 

I guess technically this is a chick flick and I was with a chick who liked it, but I enjoyed it too. It was worth the time and money. I'd rate it a B+


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Very Random Thoughts - May 2018

  • Why can't we find drugs to carry out death sentences painlessly? 
  • Is the Donald Trump/Stormy Daniels/Michael Cohen non-disclosure agreement the most disclosed non-disclosure ever?
  • Apparently May the 4th be with you is now a big shopping day. I got several marketing emails pushing kitschy products. Amazing how much Star Wars crap there is.
  • I made a bike run to the liquor store and made an astute observation. The grocery store and liquor store are almost exactly the same distance from home. That proves alcohol is as important as food. 
  • Is there any way to prepare, serve or eat quinoa without getting it all over the place? Those little suckers scatter.
  • What's the correct name for those old Woolworth's type stores? 5&10, five & dime, dime store, 5-10-25? Any others?
  • It seems ironic that the word lisp has an S in it.
  • I'm thankful that in my old age, bathroom breaks while watching TV are now scheduled by the pause button on my remote and not the commercials.
  • Politicians and talking head experts on TV spout their opinions as facts. Very few actually are factual.
  • Being a Democrat or a Republican does not constitute a conflict of interest. 
  • "Clinically Tested"  or "Clinically Proven" have no actual meaning when used in an advertisement. What clinic, which tests?
  • The media needs to stop publishing names and pictures of mass shooters. Deny them their 15 minutes of fame.
  • It appears that Dos Equis has abandoned "the most interesting man in the world" commercials. Never did care for the new guy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Colonial 2018

I love The Colonial golf tournament and the Colonial course. This year it is called the Fort Worth Invitational and has no signature sponsor. For the past few years, it has had several sponsors. Sometimes it was named The Colonial sponsored by (insert corporate name) and other years it was named the (insert corporate name) Invitational or Tournament at Colonial. Then finally, it was the (insert corporate name) Invitational, no mention of Colonial. For over 60 years it was The Colonial Invitational, the tournament started in 1946, the country club and course began in 1936. That's what it should be called regardless of the sponsor(s). It is also what I and everyone I know calls it. On Friday, May 25th, my son and I went to "The Colonial". I have been many years and he first went last year. He's hooked too. 

Most years it was a fairly easy choice between the Byron Nelson and the Colonial golf tournaments. For years they have been held back to back. The Nelson was OK if you had an invite to a corporate tent and didn't really care about the golf. The Colonial was far less corporate and was played on a course that is beautiful and conducive to watching golf. Both had a party atmosphere, the Nelson during the golf rounds, the Colonial during the afterparty. 

So, now the Nelson has moved to a new venue. The Colonial is still at its original 1946 home. The old girl is holding up very well. 

May weather in Texas is a crap shoot. It may be rainy, it may be hot, it can even be cool. Some years it is even perfect. This year and last have been of the hot variety. Temperatures reached into the mid 90's with little wind. The great thing about Colonial is that there are about a million trees. Many are giant oaks that are hundreds of years old. You can find shade. 

This year we went on a Friday so we got to see the whole field. We wandered around the front nine when we got there. After a quick lunch at the Main Street pavilion, we met up with some friends at the area around the 12th and 13th holes. The 13th has always been a party hole, it is a par three over water. It used to be the site of the famous caddy races which are now banned by the PGA. Over the years, it has become a major gathering spot with multiple concession stands and corporate tents plus giant covered bleachers at the 13th green. As the day wound down, we ran through the pro shop on the way out. It's not an official trip to The Colonial without spending a few bucks on stuff we don't need. It was then the ride back to the mid-cities and a sit-down dinner in an air-conditioned restaurant. I had no trouble falling asleep that night.  

Another fun and successful day of golf and beer at a Fort Worth tradition. I'm ready for 2019. Hope you will join us. Fore.


Monday, May 21, 2018

The Byron Nelson Tournament

My son and I went to the Byron Nelson golf tournament on Saturday, 5/19. It was the 50th anniversary of the tournament. It was also the inaugural year for a brand new venue. For the last 35 or so years, the tournament was held at the TPC Four Seasons in Irving, TX. The new course is Trinity Forest in southeast Dallas. 

The Nelson has never had adequate nearby parking and that problem continues. When in Irving, the parking was at the old Texas Stadium location. Now, parking is at a big Fair Park parking lot. The good news is that parking and the shuttle buses to the course are still free. It seemed like a somewhat longer bus ride, but not bad. 

I am glad they moved the tournament. I never liked Four Seasons. It was a mediocre course that was terrible for the spectators. There were very few places on the course to actually see golf. No locations where you could see multiple holes. 

The new Trinity Forest location is a bit strange. It has only been open for about a year and a half. Although it is actually located in a large forest, the course itself doesn't have a single tree. No, the golf architects didn't clear-cut the site. It was formerly a garbage landfill that has been reclaimed. It is a links style course that features wide fairways, large greens, a lot of traps, and a few areas of very tall native grass rough. 
Trinity Forest Golf Course, Dallas, TX

It is a great venue for watching golf. There are a couple of shared greens and tees. Because there are no trees, it is easy to see several holes from one location. A big improvement over the old location. The downside is that there is little natural shade and a late May in Dallas can be hot and sunny. The day we went started out mostly cloudy with temps in the 80's. It got sunnier and hotter later, but not too bad. That's what sunscreen and beer are for. There are several enclosed, air-conditioned places on the course although most require some kind of sponsorship connection or an additional fee, a couple are open to the general public. If you just want to go to a party, I would suggest upgrading to one of the premium venues. The same goes if you require adult beverages other than beer and wine. If you actually want to watch golf and drink beer or wine, there is no need. 

The other thing about the course is that it is different from almost every other course the pros play here in the States. Think the British Open courses like St. Andrews vs the tree-lined courses like Augusta National, home of The Masters. 
Augusta National Golf Course
We walked most of the course and found several vantage points to comfortably watch a lot of golf. We walked over 6 miles during the day since we wanted to check out the whole place. 

My biggest concern for the course going forward is the scoring. The cut was -4 and the winner, rookie Aaron White, was at -23. Thirty-one players finished at -10 or better. Links courses can be fairly easy when there is no wind and rain softens up the greens. That turned out to be the conditions for most of the rounds. Saturday, the day we were there was the toughest since the winds were blowing. The PGA is making several changes to the 2019 tournament schedule. It will be interesting to see where the Byron Nelson falls. Will the new dates make the course a little harder? I hope so. I think 23 under par is too much. 

Overall, the new Trinity Forest venue is a big improvement. It is a farther drive to get to for those of us west of Dallas. That is more than made up for by a better course. 

I'm ready to go back next year. Until then, here in DFW, we have the Colonial coming up this week in Ft. Worth. That has always been a favorite course and tournament of mine. From the very new Trinity Forest links course to the very old Colonial tight tree lined location. We'll be there again this year. 


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bubby's BBQ

I went to local restaurant Buddy’s BBQ the other day. I then wrote a Yelp review. The owner didn’t like my review and replied. He started out apologetic but quickly got very defensive and eventually sarcastic. The whole review and ensuing conversation follow. My Yelp screen name is Billy H.
Your review of Buddy’s BBQ
2 Stars
-2018-05-18 22:11:38

This place is close to home and I’d read good reviews. I was disappointed. We went for lunch on a Friday. We arrived around 1:15, after the normal lunch rush. No crowd, only a couple of guys and they were waiting for take-out. First up, my companion ordered the daily special that was on a small blackboard near the entrance. Turns out that was actually Thursday’s special. The woman at the counter said she hadn’t gotten around to changing it. We both ordered the actual Friday special which was a 2 meat, 2 sides plate. We each got a beer also. When I went to pay, the woman said their credit card reader was down, had been for 2 days. So, I had to pay with cash. OK, on to an empty table, which was dirty, to wait for our order. We bussed it and wiped it off. About 10 minutes later, the guy from the kitchen came out to tell me the pulled pork, one of the meats I ordered, wasn’t ready. I asked for sausage instead. Between us, we had the sausage, ribs and sliced brisket. Ribs were good, sausage was average store-bought links, brisket tasted OK but was dry and fatty, a hard combination. The BBQ sauce, which was needed for the dry brisket, was also very average. The okra and slaw sides were average. Overall the food isn’t bad but it certainly doesn’t warrant a rave rating. The operational mess pulls the rating down too. There is no excuse to have several unbussed tables when the place was almost empty. The kitchen should tell the person taking the orders when they run out of an item (the pulled pork). If the credit card system isn’t working, there should be a sign informing the customers it is cash only. First impressions count, and Buddy’s didn’t make a very good one on us. The food is not outstanding enough to overcome the other problems.
The Yelp message conversation follows, my responses in blue italics:
Buddy H.
5/19/2018 My apologies Billy. We have had once again some employee issues. One of them hasn’t been on time which put things behind which are not hard things. I expect the place to be ready at 11:00 and it was not. I tried to give these guys a chance. Ended up they both walked out on a Friday lunch and left my wife to finish by herself until I arrived , and the kitchen a disaster. We locked the door. There was pulled pork ready , I smoked it that morning. The tables are inexcusable and that is a big deal to me. The brisket I’m not sure what they gave you , but brisket I dont make dry or AVERAGE. The sausage is not store bought , but I’m working on a different sausage , one that has that wow to it. These guys are gone. I’m having to get tech support on the credit card machine , not sure when that will happen , hopefully tomorrow. I would appreciate it if you would come back and let me get you a plate of bbq that you will enjoy , and your friend. Give me a heads up first. I may not open tomorrow , I have no employees. But I have couple of caterings so I will have bbq cooking if you come them. Once again I apologize for your experience. No excuse for that. Thanks Buddy
5/19/2018, 1:31 AM
Buddy H.
The bbq sauce is not average , must have been your beer. How many tables were unbussed ?There is a trash can close by. Come on back. With a review like that surely you would want a decent bbq meal for free
My reply  
5/19/2018, 2:22 AM
At least three tables were unbussed. The first empty table we found had caked on average BBQ sauce. I appreciate the apology, but the food I had was not better than average. Please don’t blame the BBQ sauce on the one beer (Shiner’s) that came from your cooler. Maybe you and your restaurant did just have a bad day but that is not my fault. The door was not locked and the “Open” sign was in the window when we got there. BTW, we used the nearby trash can to bus the table when we left.
5/19/2018, 2:44 AM
Buddy H.
I didnt blame you for anything. Caked on average bbq sauce. I will have to look into that. Yes we had a very bad day. A bad week actually. The whole crew gone. I cant seem to find people who can follow instructions and show up on time. Common sence… forget it. So come get your free meal then. Tell me what sausage you like. Send me some employees. One was late and hungover and the other came for 2 hours and walked out. My wife ran the register , trying to figure out the credit card issue , help the helpless in the kitchen and clean tables. Should’ve shut it down. So come on , I’m closed today but I will open the door for you. Appreciate ya using the trash can. Quite the opposite on the sauce , I blame the beer on the bbq sauce. You coming??
My reply

5/19/2018, 7:18 AM
No, I have other plans for today.
5/19/2018, 8:40 AM
Buddy H.
All day ? Well mon or Tues then. I’m sure you can work it in sometime. Dont be scared , you might like it. Maybe your A helper. If you see a place with good reviews obviously all those people weren’t drunk when they ate. Something had to be right. So you go in and it’s not even close , then something was obviously wrong. Would you think , hmm they must be having a bad day ? Maybe give a low score and say I didnt think it was that great. Or maybe try again another time. But it was your duty to let everybody know in detail , what a crappy place , and be the one to save from being lured in and wasting their money by this trap they call Buddys bbq. Everything from crumbs on the table to lousy sauce to the “special of the day sign” ,and that we should have had a sign out front about the credit card machine. Maybe we should have had a sign by the street so people dont waste gas turning in. Jeeze . Ok well since your the one that saved these people from let down , you deserve a free meal. We had a bad day man , good lord. I thank you for teaching me a lesson about running a restaurant, by taking some of that business away. Tell me your ready for your meal.I got ya hooked up.
I did not reply and further engage with this owner who is obviously very defensive and in denial. It is not my fault that I picked a “bad day” to stop by his restaurant. I was willing to give the place a second chance until Buddy went overboard with the excuses and sarcasm. I will not be returning and will now spread the word that this is a poor choice when looking for a place to eat. There were other things wrong with the place that I did not mention in my review. Sanitation was questionable. One of the kitchen workers had black oil/grease all over both arms. It looked like he had just been working on a car engine. In my opinion, this is not the way to respond to criticism and encourage future patronage.  

Monday, May 14, 2018


First Lady Melania Trump has kicked off her BE BEST campaign. The goals are described as:
The mission of BE BEST is to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to BE BEST in their individual paths, while also teaching them the importance of social, emotional, and physical health. BE BEST will concentrate on three main pillars: well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse. 
 Part of the initiative is to deal with social media, to help children avoid negative social media interaction. The social media section of the campaign announcement says:
When children learn positive online behaviors early-on, social media can be used in productive ways and can effect positive change. Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices—whether verbally or online—they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.
Does anyone else find it ironic that Melania is advocating online respect and compassion? It would seem like she has a lot of work to do at home. I don't mean with Barron, I'm referring to her hubby Donald. He is one of the least respectful, most impolite, least compassionate, biggest bullies on the internet. With over 50 million Twitter followers, he has a much bigger impact on social media behavior than Melania will ever have. Adult examples of good behavior matter. So do examples of bad behavior. 

This is a good cause and I wish Melania much success. Her biggest challenge appears to be with one of those she shares the White House residence quarters with. Again, I don't mean Barron. 

For her sake and the sake of her initiative, she probably should have picked a different objective. I fear this one will forever be stigmatized and undermined by Donald's antics. 

Good luck Melania.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Very Random Thoughts - April 2018

  • Reflecting on the MLK assassination 50th anniversary, we should have made more progress by now.
  • Remember phone party lines? Did you ever listen in?
  • Atomic seems to still be the goto name for those late night product commercials. The latest is an Atomic Bulletproof Pad that you can slip into a backpack, briefcase, or (very big) handbag. Only $99 plus S&H. I'm not sure what part of it is atomic but be careful of radioactive exposure. 
  •  Seems about every other week we get a new recommendation about consumption of coffee/caffeine, alcohol or something else. Consume more or less to increase or decrease your health and life expectancy.
  • Being an inveterate night owl and insomniac, I see a lot of old TV reruns in the wee hours. Some series hold up pretty well and some are laughable. Probably just like today's TV. 
  • It is very hard to remember the names and exact locations of the bars and restaurants I frequented in the 70's. Perhaps alcohol was involved. 
  • Whatever happened to Lifebuoy soap? I grew up with that orange (officially coral) block in the shower. The fact that it contained toxic phenol/carbolic acid may have hastened its demise.
  • Same deal with Lavoris mouthwash. The original cinnamon flavor would pucker you up.  
  • So, I take two vitamins a day, both at the same time. The package states there is an even number in the bottle. I get to the end and there is one left. What do you think, did I get one more or one less than advertised?
  • When a page in a document or book says "Page intentionally left blank" it no longer is.
  • Sorry, I don't care that the UK royal family had another baby. Apparently, a lot of folks do. 
  • A standing ovation is no longer anything special. Every performer now gets one for just coming on stage. 
  • How many people comment on a Facebook post without really reading it? Lots.
  • There are a ton of talent competition shows on TV like The Voice, American Idol, America's Got Talent, etc. Do we really need more singers, dancers, jugglers...
  • Not a joke, there is now an American Cornhole League (ACL) and it is on ESPN. The napping league is coming next. 
  • Shouldn't childproof lids actually be called old proof lids? Every little kid can open them in five seconds and I can't.
  • Related, sometimes the guy in charge of gluing the foil tops on things like yogurt containers gets carried away. Then the top comes off in several small pieces.