Monday, April 27, 2015


I know I'm late to the table but I just watched Birdman. I had a free code from Redbox and I had to go to the grocery store anyway. A couple of months ago during awards season, this movie was all over the media. I also like Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone so it seemed to be worth a look. 

Disappointed would be a good description. The only reason it won all those awards is because it is about show business and flawed actors. Another description would be pretentious and self important. The acting was mostly good but the script sucked. Too bad. It's the story of a former action hero franchise, Birdman, actor trying to make a comeback on Broadway. He picks an obscure story that he writes a stage adaption for, directs and stars in. A very ambitious undertaking for a not so great movie actor. Of course the real life comparison with Michael Keaton's stint as Batman can't be ignored although Keaton is a pretty good actor and is not washed up. Edward Norton plays the stereotypical "Broadway" actor who looks down on those who ply their trade in movies. He plays the complete ass-hole very well. Emma Stone plays Keaton's troubled daughter. Every movie about the entertainment business has to have trouble offsprings. 

I said the movie was pretentious. One gimmick was that Keaton had conversations with his fictional character, Birdman. The viewers got to see and hear those conversations. We also got to see Keaton's dreamlike episodes when he flew above New York City. The movie was also full of stereotypes. I already mentioned the washed up actor trying to make a comeback, the condescending Broadway actor and the troubled daughter. There was also the actress with no self confidence, the actress that was Keaton's conflicted lover, the agent/manager who does the dirty work and the cynical, all powerful theater critic who is a frustrated writer and/or actress. I probably missed a few other stereotypes. 

If you like artsy, talky movies that have little to do with normal folks give it a try. Otherwise I would suggest you skip it. Maybe it did deserve the awards it won but remember, those are voted on by entertainment people. 

I also had a problem with the Redbox DVD. I couldn't get the closed captioning to turn off although that may have turned out to be good since much of the dialogue was low or garbled. Also couldn't get a wide screen view either. Tried another DVD and it worked so it wasn't my player. I wasn't sure because I so rarely use the DVD player anymore. I did have to put new batteries in the DVD remote. 

In conclusion I would give Birdman an A for acting and a D for story and script. It wasn't terrible but it certainly wasn't worth a movie ticket or a $6 streaming rental. A free or $1 Redbox rental was OK.

Overall BillyJim47 rating is a 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Scattershooting 04-26-15

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

My inner child awakened tonight. I had a craving for mac and cheese. I usually have a package stashed in the back of my cupboard for just these occasions. It was the upscale Shells & Cheese variety, the one with the package of fake cheese paste instead of the fake cheese orange powder. It was delicious and there is some left in case little Billy shows up again tomorrow.
The sad part is their parents and many in the community are probably proud of them. It's the parents who taught the kids to be intolerant.

Pennsylvania High School Students Organize “Anti-Gay Day”

Well if you stay up late enough and watch Encore Westerns channel you see some strange stuff. Tonight (this morning) is was Ride 'Em Cowboy from 1942 starring Abbott & Costello, two of our great western heroes. It also had a cameo by Ella Fitzgerald. Her song was great, the rest of the movie not so much.

It's a gift. I went for a walk this afternoon and without paying any attention to the time I got home at exactly 5:00. Just in time for happy hour. Progress continues at Boys Ranch both by the wildlife and construction crews. A couple of duck families had the ducklings out for swimming lessons. Saw some goslings too for the first time. The canal in the construction photo used to be small enough to jump across and was 4 feet deep at most.

My Nexus 7 (2013) just got the Android 5.1 update now the N7 and his little brother Nexus 5 are on the same release again. Of course it appears that Android 5.1.1 is just about ready to rollout, although that is just a bug fix release except for Android Wear devices.

We are doomed. We have two weather guys, including the "Chief" meteorologist, in shirtsleeves on the 4:00 news. Big storms coming tonight. Of course it is 75° and sunny right now so they are explaining why it isn't storming now as they predicted.

I feel better now because what I thought was the CBS11 weather department or team is now the Weather Authority. We are also in a Weather Alert Day. That alert was not issued by the National Weather Service, but by CBS11. There is a weather alert bug in the upper right corner of the screen just in case you forget. Talk about self-importance.

After my posts about the terrifying weather forecasts yesterday afternoon I'm sure you will be glad to know that I survived. Turns out the weather authority and their weather alerts were just a tad off. No, we didn't get off scot-free. Very early this morning, 12 hours after the dire warnings, we endured torrential drizzle. So glad we were warned.

I tried this and it worked. Installed ARC Welder in Chrome 42 browser on a Linux Mint 17.1 system. I tried the GoComics app. Able to sign into my account. Navigation is a little awkward without a touch screen but it is possible. Give it a try.

How to Use Google’s ARC Welder to Run Android Apps in Chrome

My guess is that tough guy Bobby will soften his stance when the big money Republican folks and business people tell him to cool it. Pretending to be a discriminated against Christian conservative in Louisiana doesn't quite ring true to me.

Bobby Jindal: I’m Holding Firm Against Gay Marriage
New inflatable bike helmet. I'm for sure going to get a couple of these. I think I'll wear one already inflated most of the time because it is so stylish.

It's about time, Pete Rose is a jerk but he was a helluva ballplayer for a long time. I think he even got several hits during his career. What he did was no more harmful to the game than what all the roid boys did.

The new Late Late Show guy, James Corden is working a four day schedule. Friday nights are reruns, same as Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers. That's OK, his show isn't very good anyway. I really miss Craig Ferguson & Geoff.

Funny. I was working on my PC and listening to Pandora. The song Monday Morning by Peter, Paul & Mary came on. At some point in the song Google interpreted something as "OK Google" because the voice search screen popped up. I can assure you that nowhere in this old folk ballad do the words Google or OK appear. Check for yourself, it's a lovely song.

Yes, but then again most laws unfairly target minorities and the poor. BTW, the Dallas helmet law mentioned in the article has been repealed. They had to to make the bike-share program feasible.

Great day to be outside after yesterday's crappy weather. Nice day for a bike ride although it did get a little windy in the afternoon. Several neighborhoods are sporting brand new 65 gallon recycle carts. They were delivered today. How many empty crushed beer cans and wine bottles does it take to fill up a 65 gallon cart? The 18 gallon bins they replaced were pretty easy to fill up. I'll report back in the future with the answer. Just another of life's challenges.
I think Roku needs one of those "last" or "recall" buttons on their remote. I was trying to watch the White House Correspondents Dinner on CBSN and the Gators baseball game on SEC Network+ (ESPN3) at the same time. Solution was to put the game on my tablet. I don't need to hear a baseball game.
My opinion is that president and amateur comedian Barack Obama was better than professional comedian Cecily Strong at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. There was a reason she got kicked off the Weekend Update on SNL. A couple of decent lines but overall a very weak performance. Obama zinged several folks.

Heard this song a few days ago and it has stuck with me. For this‪ #‎SongSunday‬ we have the great Dick Dale. Dick is credited with creating surf music and the surf guitar sound. Dick actually was a surfer, unlike many of the artists and groups that jumped on the surf music bandwagon in the 60's. He was a friend of Leo Fender and one of the first to play Fender guitars. Dick also plays the guitar backwards. He is a left handed guitar player but merely turns a right handed guitar upside down rather than restringing it. Mr. Dale is still performing at age 77. Here is the surf classic Misirlou -

Here is a 1995 performance that more clearly shows Dick's guitar work.

Quick walk around Tara this afternoon. Little Bear Creek is flowing strong after Friday's storms. Saw several turtles but most wouldn't stay above water long enough for a picture. This one guy didn't move. That may be because he was drunk. The white can next to him is a Miller Lite empty. Big birthday party at Sparger Park. Lotsa kids. Thunder boomers chased me home.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Scattershooting 04-19-15

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

The new image at the top of this post is in honor of the original Scattershooter. Blackie Sherrod was still a sports columnist when I moved to D/FW. He wrote for both the The Dallas Times-Herald and later the Dallas Morning News when the Times-Herald folded. His Sunday columns always started - "Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to ..." Those columns were a collection of short thoughts, insights and observations. Blackie was a wonderful writer and his Sunday columns were always a must read highlight of the paper. He is revered by sports writers everywhere. This is the first image I have found that shows Blackie's claim to the title. I hope he doesn't mind that I stole his bit for this weekly conglomeration of my thoughts.

A very provocative scenario from Dilbert's dad. Worth considering because the technology is coming.

Human Rights for Robots

Watching the Angels-Rangers game. As usual, Mike Scioscia proves he is one of the biggest pain in the ass whiners in baseball. Must be taxing to be that pissed off all the time.

Happy Birthday Dave (4/13). He is now the same age as me. This is his last birthday as host of The Late Show. We're going to miss you.

The Letterman show had a definite Texas flavor on Monday (4/13). Dallas native and reigning Masters champion, Jordan Spieth, was a guest. Texas legend Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel were the musical guests. Good stuff.

We lost Percy Sledge today (4/14). We all know his big hit When A Man Loves A Woman. It was a #1 chart topper in 1966 and is considered a rock and R&B classic. Percy was only 74 years old, too young to die. RIP -

Apparently I have some ants that are trying to build and move into a high rise. I noticed that one of my solar garden lights was half full of dirt. First thought was that the local kids had done it since they are always knocking them over. Took the top off to empty it only to find it was an ant bed. Only a couple of ants in it. Wonder if the queen gets the penthouse.

If you owe the IRS money for 2014 and didn't file a return, you are late and they will punish you. If you did file, are due a refund or don't owe anything, have a happy April 16th.

Looks like I have an injured mourning dove on my patio. When I checked my mail I noticed some feathers in front of the bushes that line the patio. There is a disheveled looking dove on the patio table just sitting there. Hasn't moved from that spot for an hour. He does move his head and I can see him blinking. I don't want to get closer and scare him. We do have a couple of feral cats around.
Here is the mourning dove update. After a couple of hours and no major movement, I took a couple of photos. The feathers on the ground were the first sign of trouble. As you can see there is some damage on his right side. I think there was a scratch on the head too. I tried to put some water and birdseed on the table but he flew off. Hope that's a good sign and he pulls through.

Today was my bird day, besides the mourning dove saga I fed the ducks at Boys Ranch this morning. Today it was Jewish rye and tortillas. Don't know if the ducks are Jewish or Mexican or maybe Mexican Jews but they seemed to enjoy it. In related news, it was a big day at the Boys Ranch construction site. A dozen or more workers and four or five cement mixers on site. Still a long way to go.

This is a new one. I knew DWB (driving while Black) was a serious crime. I never realized that BWB (biking while Black) was also a criminal offense.

Tampa police accused of unfairly targeting black bicyclists

Here we are again at ‪#‎SongSunday‬. I watched Jersey Boys last night so of course today's selection is from the Four Seasons. I was born just across the Passaic River from Frankie Valli although a few years later so I guess I am officially a Jersey Boy too. It is impossible to pick one song. Between the group and Frankie Valli's solo efforts, they had 39 (I repeat, 39) top 40 hits. The movie isn't great, but it is interesting. The music is great. I decided to post this live medley of their early hits. Great stuff. -

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Scattershooting 04-12-15

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

Wow, after the baseball game I switched channels to watch the news only to find that The Ten Commandments movie was still on. I watched about the last 20 minutes of the movie. I haven't seen the movie in many years. To say that it doesn't hold up is an understatement. It is almost laughable. The script/dialogue/narration are terrible. The special effects are not only bad, they are very hokey. The costumes, wigs and makeup are ridiculous. Lastly the acting is atrocious. The film is almost 60 years old so I can forgive the production qualities. The script and acting have no excuses.

How can the Yankees fans cheer Alex Rodriguez? He's a 39 year old doper who can't play anymore. A self centered cheater who will let the team down in a New York minute. About $25 million for a DH batting in the 7th hole. Quite a bargain.

A new generation of ducks has appeared at Boys Ranch. Saw at least three momma ducks with ducklings. They are staying in the trees by the creek. More will be coming because I saw a duck rape too. Deputy Duck was called in to investigate the rape. They are suppose to drain the lake in a few weeks so I wonder what will happen then.

Got Android 5.1 OTA update on my Nexus 5 today (4/6). Took about 45 minutes to download, install and optimize all the apps. Nothing earth shattering. Only minor problem was it took forever for Google and Amazon to upload a couple of photos I took after the update. Looks like Google had to resync all the photos, don't know about Amazon. OneDrive had no problem. Still waiting on a Nexus 7 update.

Did you celebrate? I fulfilled my obligation. 

I have been derelict in my music duties. I missed #SongSunday, #MusicMonday and #TuneTuesday. I have no idea what to call this Wednesday entry. While checking the entertainment for this weekend's Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival I saw that Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS) is performing Saturday night. A great group from the 70's. I lived in Atlanta when they started plus a couple of the original members were formerly in The Classics IV, a group formed in Jacksonville. Here is their song about the northeast Atlanta suburban town where they worked as studio musicians and then formed the group, Doraville

41 years ago today (4/8). Hank Aaron is still the real all-time home run leader. He's also an all-time good guy.
I worked for First Nation Bank of Atlanta at the time. They sure got a million dollars worth of advertising when that historic home run went over the fence right in front of their left field billboard.

A great money saving strategy.
On this final day of the Masters golf tournament, we watch a 21 year old Dallas native try to make history in Augusta, GA. This tune seemed appropriate for ‪#‎SongSunday‬. Here is a song made famous by the legendary Ray Charles. It reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1960 and is the official state song of Georgia. Here is Georgia on My Mind -

Today (4/12) is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day and I don't have any bread. I guess I could use tortillas but that's a quesadilla. Would that count?


Very Random Thoughts - March 2015

  • Why does Al Sharpton get to be a spokesman for or included in every damn event that has even a hint of racial involvement? 
  • On that same topic, I was offended that Sharpton had powered his way to the front of the VIP group during the Bloody Sunday commemoration. I understand the president being in that first group, but the other spaces should have been limited to those who participated in the 1960's Civil Rights struggles. 
  • With props to Dilbert's dad - 
  • It is impossible for the cook to serve bacon without snitching at least one strip for herself/himself.
  • How I wish I had interviewed my parents, grandparents and other relatives about their lives and the family histories.
  • The other day I described a U.S. Senator at technically ignorant. I apologize for being redundant and verbose. The correct term should have been simply Senator. 
  • Is there any actual history on History Channel any longer? Pawn Stars and Swamp People don't count.
  • Another example of language bloat - "score the basketball". A phrase used by many of the basketball analysts. What the hell else are they supposed to score, their Nikes, their jockstraps, their tattoos? 
  • Bought a washcloth and a towel. The washcloth was $5 and the towel was $7. Towels are way bigger. My question, are washcloths overpriced or are towels underpriced?
  • Remember when people in public, like performers, tried to look as good as possible. Maybe put on a nice outfit. Seems that paradigm has radically changed. 
  • I am really tired of the over enthusiastic studio audiences on TV shows. Extended applause, standing ovations, false laughter. It all obliterates several minutes of the actual show. 
  • Have college fraternities outlived any reason for their existence? Was there ever a good reason for their existence.  
  • How can the white, Christian majority play the persecution card with a straight face? Have they forgotten all the people they actually persecuted over the years?
  • Do those who pass laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, forget that we went through this same battle in the 1960's. It was Blacks (Negroes or Colored at the time) then, but the same principle. Many religious folks and religions thought serving Blacks was an affront to their religious freedoms. 
  • I often jot down a cryptic note and upon later review have no idea what it means. This blog would be great if I could remember all my wonderful ideas. Those notes were brilliant.
  • It used to be I'd make a reference to something and say, kids ask your parents to explain. Now I'm finding I have to say, kids ask your grandparents. Remember, some people born in the 1990's are now parents.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Late Late Show with James Corden

The new guy in late night TV has started his run. It is The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS. The program follows Letterman for now and Colbert in a few months. James is replacing Craig Ferguson who hosted Late Late for ten years. 

I have been watching Late Late in all it's incarnations since Tom Snyder was the host starting in 1995. Tom was great, it was usually a one-on-one interview. He often had political guests and it was not a comedy show. Craig Kilborn followed Snyder and turned the show into a more traditional late night talk program. There was the usual monologue, some chatter at the desk with a few recurring bits and guests mostly from the entertainment business. It was basically the same as Letterman and Leno. After about five years Craig Ferguson took over. He mostly continued the same basic talk show format for the next ten years with a few twists. Now it is James Corden's turn.

The premier show was on Monday, March 23rd. The show has a small band which none of the previous versions had. The band leader is Reggie Watts, a wild haired keyboard player. Reggie also serves as the show's announcer/sidekick. I have never heard of him, but he seems OK so far. There is also a new set for the show. There is still the standard monologue. There is a traditional desk and a couch. The couch is to Corden's left (viewer's right) which is the opposite of the other late night talk shows. He also comes out from behind the desk to sit next to the couch for the interviews. I don't know if this will be the norm but for the first three shows he has had the two or three guests come out at the same time. It turns into a three or four way conversation rather than a straight interview. 

Another change is that so far there have been skits with the guests plus other produced bits. The very first opening was a piece with Jay Leno. I guess Jay has really broken his allegiance to NBC. James also did a musical sketch with Mariah Carey. 

The first show had Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis as guests. James did an elaborate and long piece with Tom that covered most of Tom's movies. The second show had Patricia Arquette and Chris Pine. They along with James did a soap opera takeoff. The third show had Will Ferrell and Chris Hart. They played some stupid game. And so it continued. David Beckam was a guest and he and Corden did a fake commercial for underwear. It was reminiscent of the classic Patrick Swayze & Chris Farley SNL Chippendale's sketch. Funny. By about the fifth show they did the whole program from somebody's house.

I thought it was strange that they debuted the show during the NCAA basketball championships. The show was on a couple of days and then off because of the basketball coverage. Same deal the second week including a rerun. It is hard to justify a rerun when a show has fewer than half a dozen episodes in the archive. That's a network snafu in my opinion, not a show problem. 

Like most new talk shows this one has some issues. Corden is not a stand-up comic and it shows. The opening monologues are awkward. He is obviously reading the cue cards. He has a nervous laugh at his own jokes. He showed a bar as part of the set that had audience members on the stools on the first show. Haven't seen the bar since. 

I noticed that the show has about a dozen writers and several producers. Maybe all these people are necessary to continue with the production pieces. I think it will be nearly impossible to keep up the pace for the long haul. Corden will eventually need to develop as an interviewer and in delivering the monologue. The all guests on the couch right away format may also need some tweeking. The interviews seem disjointed, a question of guest one, then guest two, maybe back to guest one then on to guest three. No continuity. So far there has been very little interaction among the guests, which I assume the producers were hoping for. 

James Corden is a pleasant guy but I'm finding that I like him less the more shows I watch. Not a great sign. These shows almost always take a little time to find their sea legs so I will keep on checking the progress or lack thereof. In our recent shuffling of the late night scene, Jimmy Fallon has improved some and has also  proved very popular. Seth Meyers has not and to me is mostly unwatchable. Corden seems to be more along the lines of Fallon. He loves everybody, all music, movies, TV shows or plays by his guests are the best ever. 

The new Late Late Show is significantly different than the Craig Ferguson version. That was basically an ad lib exercise every night with Craig and his robot skeleton sidekick (Josh Robert Thompson). I think by the end they had about two writers and I have no idea what they did. Craig too started his run with many skits and production bits. It was a better show when Craig and Josh did their ad lib stuff. 

So, the BillyJim jury is still out but I'm not optimistic. The new Late Late show so far is over produced, over scripted, trying too hard and maybe lacking the right talent. Maybe worst of all it hasn't been either consistently funny or informative.  

Stay tuned.