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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Godless


I just finished watching the final episode of Godless, the Netflix original series. 

This western has two main themes. One is about a mining town, LaBelle, that is almost entirely populated by women since the mine explosion killed most of the men. The other is about a powerful, charismatic and delusional outlaw and his gang and his search for his lost adoptive son. Of course, the two stories converge at the series climax.

There are several side stories also going on. Some love stories, some revenge stories, some growing of age, plus a few others. I found it a little difficult to keep them all straight or even why some were included.

The series has beautiful scenery and photography. Several of the characters are over the top and one dimensional. Some are a little hard to believe. All are colorful.

The biggest and most known star is Jeff Daniels, he plays the bad guy and does OK. Michelle Dockery and Jack O'Connell are probably considered the main stars and are excellent although their story does not dominate the series. Merritt Wever is one tough broad. Others are also good. I feel the performances were better than the script or execution.

I found the series a little slow moving at times and somewhat disjointed. There were several long scenes of just people or scenery with music playing, no dialogue. Looked like filler to me.

My suggestion, if you are impatient and like action would be to watch enough of the first couple of episodes to get the story and then skip to the last two episodes when the real action takes place. The last episode is particularly action-packed and very violent. Spoiler alert, everybody doesn't live happily ever after. In fact, many don't live at all.

If you like gritty westerns with substantial violence, give it a look. I rate it a B- (B minus). 
wjh

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?


Why is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Why is it in Cleveland? The Hall was established in 1983 and opened in 1986. There are certainly rock & roll artists, groups, and contributors in the Hall but there are certainly other genres represented too. More so recently.

Most of the performers in those other genres were outstanding and I have no problem with them being recognized for their achievements, but they were not rock & roll performers.

I also realize that rock and roll does not have a specific definition. In general, rock, soul, blues, and derivatives are OK. It's probably a given that your definition of rock an roll does not match mine. I consider blues, 50's rock and roll, doo-wop, surf, most British invasion, soul/Motown, psychedelic, Southern, glam, hard, long-haired, metal and a couple of other branches of rock and roll. It comes from many places, Memphis, Detroit, Liverpool, San Francisco, southern California, Jacksonville and Macon, Atlanta, and many others. I also have no problem with influential non-performers being inducted. Alan Freed, a DJ, belongs. Berry Gordy, founder of Motown belongs. Songwriters belong. Studio musicians belong.

In my opinion, folk, country, and rap do not belong in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame any more than classical or big band music does.   

Members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame include many of the early greats like Chuck Berry, James Brown, Buddy Holly, Elvis and more. The hall has continued to add great performers. 

The Hall stayed pretty true to rock and roll for the first several years although I probably wouldn't have chosen some of them, at least not in the same order. Others may not belong at all. Johnny Cash in 1992 is a stretch for me. Brenda Lee and Chet Atkins were also stretches in 2002. Miles Davis, a great Jazz musician, is in the Hall. Then in 2013 Public Enemy was inducted. A real rock and roll stretch. In fact, a real music stretch. NWA and Run-D.M.C. are in. This year Tupac Shakur got in. Yet, the Doobie Brothers are not in or nominated. LL Cool J has been nominated again year. This year, Dire Straits and The Zombies are nominees. How is it that they are not already inductees?

There are currently 317 members of the Hall, including non-performers such as producers, record executives, songwriters, etc. 

One other bitch. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland yet the induction ceremonies usually take place in NYC. Either move the museum to New York or move the ceremonies to Cleveland. To be honest, neither New York or Cleveland is famous for spawning rock and roll.

Truth in advertising. I do not like or listen to rap (music?) and very little hip-hop. I'm sure some of it is wonderful. So let's celebrate it in the Rap and/or Hip-Hop of Hall Fame. Folk music should be celebrated in the Folk Hall of Fame. Jazz in the Jazz Hall. Country music already has their Halls. If someone wants to start an all-inclusive Music Hall of Fame, that's fine too.  

We have two choices here in my opinion. Either rename the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the Some Music Since the Second Half of the 20th Century Hall of Fame, quite a mouthful, or create a Rap/Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. I really don't care which as long as we correct the Hall's misnomer title. My preference is to keep the Rock and Roll name and charter. 

I love rock & roll or whatever we call it now. It is the music of my youth and still plays in my ear and head several hours a day. 

BTW, how in the hell does Tupac get in before The Doobie Brothers or Dire Straits?

Long live Rock and Roll!

wjh 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SPNN - Sexual Predators News Network

SPNN

With all the fallout from the recent sexual harassment and assault cases in the news business, it occurred to me that those predators need a new employer. So, I propose the creation of the Sexual Predators News Network. We could refer to it as SPiNN. 

After all, most of those guys only made a few million dollars a year for several years. They also made vast quantities of money outside their day jobs. There were book deals, speaking engagement fees, and other moneymaking opportunities. Now, most of that has dried up. 

Let's look at the potential lineup for SPNN. First up, we have, ironically, Mr. No-Spin, Bill O'Reilly. He was finally fired by Fox News Network. O'Reilly was accused by several women over several years of very inappropriate sexual behavior. While he still denies the allegations, he and Fox paid out millions of dollars to settle out of court. On his new internet No Spin News show, he even told God or was it just Jesus that he was angry at Him for putting him through this. Afterall, Bill is a good Catholic, why would God punish him for inappropriate behavior? Besides his daily program on Fox, O'Reilly has co-written several bestsellers and sold O'Reilly Factor junk on his website. Surely his little internet show does not pay as much as his Fox News gig which was estimated to be around $20 million per year. His estimated net worth is around $85 million. It would be much higher if he didn't have to pay millions to women to not sue him. So, you can clearly see that Bill needs a new job although he may get (has gotten?) a $25 million severance package from Fox. How many more women will get some of that money to settle?

Next up we have Charlie Rose. He was co-host of CBS This Morning and host of The Charlie Rose Show on PBS. He also contributed to 60 Minutes and sometimes sat in as anchor for The CBS Evening News. Charlie was on TV all the time. First one, then others, came forward to say he was a creep. Someone who made sexual advances and put them in uncomfortable situations. Rose is a relative pauper with a net worth of only $25 million. He has now lost his estimated $8 million CBS salary plus whatever he made from his PBS show which his company also produced. 

The latest and maybe biggest TV star to fall is longtime NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer. He also did several Olympics and specials for NBC. It is estimated that he was the highest paid TV newsperson at $25 million a year. His net worth is estimated at $60 million although some believe it is much more. Of course, Lauer and NBC are working on a severance package that may be worth as much as $30 million.

The new SPNN could also hire political journalist Mark Halperin to add commentary and analysis. Mark lost his jobs at MSNBC, Showtime, and Bloomberg. He also lost a book and HBO mini-series deals. Marks net worth is estimated at $30 million with an annual income of $4 million. 

I expect there will be more high profile casualties in the news industry to fill out the new network roster. In order to cut down on the big money settlements, no women will be allowed to work for the network. Since all the underlings will be men, no gay male predator stars will be hired. Sorry, Kevin Spacey. 

It's hard to predict how large an audience SPNN will draw. There are plenty of sexual predators out there so the ratings could be good. We know Roy Moore, John Conyers, Donald Trump, and Harvey Weinstein will be watching. It's a birds of a feather thing. It should also get pretty good ratings in Alabama. 

It may be that there will be enough movie and entertainment TV industry people, stars, directors, and producers, to start an entertainment branch of SPNN. Bill Cosby and Louie CK could do comedy specials or sitcoms. Kevin Spacey's new drama show will be House of Gropes or a TV movie version of The Usual Suspects. They could then go with just Sexual Predators Network, SPN, as the name. Even better for the SPiN pronunciation.

Watch closely for the launch of SPNN &/or SPN on your cable, satellite or streaming provider. All those poor predators need a place to land. 

wjh 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Where Teams Play


There are many professional sports teams in this country. How many teams home court, home field or home stadium is not located in the city they are named for? I'll look at the three major sports, baseball, basketball, and football. Others can examine hockey and soccer.

Let's start with basketball. There are 30 teams in the NBA. Since they play basketball indoors in arenas that seat about 20,000, there shouldn't be much need to go outside the downtown area of the host city. That is primarily the case. There are a couple of ambiguous names. The Golden State Warriors play in downtown Oakland. The Minnesota Timberwolves play in downtown Minneapolis. The Utah Jazz arena is in Salt Lake City. An aside is that the Utah Jazz is one of the most inappropriately named teams. Jazz and Salt Lake City have nothing in common. The franchise was originally the New Orleans Jazz before it was moved to Utah. The NBA should have required the nickname be changed. New Orleans now has another NBA team, the Pelicans. It should be named Jazz. The Salt Lake City team should be called the Mormons. The remaining 27 NBA teams actually play in the city whose name they carry. 

There are also 30 MLB teams. Baseball stadiums require considerably more land than a basketball arena. That makes it more difficult to find a location in some downtown areas. Although tax incentives rather than available land is more often the reason some teams threaten to build outside their namesake city. As with basketball, there are a few ambiguous teams. My favorite Texas Rangers play in Arlington, TX. The Arizona Diamondbacks are based in Phoenix. The Minnesota Twins stadium is in Minneapolis. The Colorado Rockies play in Denver. The Tampa Bay Rays are located in St. Petersburg. Those are all OK. Many people probably think that the Texas Rangers are in Dallas and the Tampa Bay Rays play in Tampa, but their names are technically correct. The Atlanta Braves recently moved to SunTrust Park which is northwest of downtown Atlanta in unincorporated Cobb County. While still in the metropolitan Atlanta area, it is not within the Atlanta borders and in fact is not even in the same county as most of Atlanta. Now we come to the longest and most confusing team name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The team does play in Anaheim and were once named the Anaheim Angels. They were originally named the California Angels when they actually played in Los Angeles. 

The NFL has a whopping 32 teams. Like baseball, they require enough land for huge stadiums plus parking. The NFL is currently the most popular and high profile major sport. Competition for their stadiums and training facilities is intense The NFL also has its geographical area named teams. There are the Minnesota Vikings who play in Minneapolis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in Tampa (not St. Petersburg). The Arizona Cardinals play in Glendale, AZ. The Tennessee Titans settled in Nashville after a year in Memphis. The Carolina Panthers are located in Charlotte, NC. The New England Patriots expanded beyond a single state to encompass a whole section of the country. They were originally the Boston Patriots but had the decency to change their name when they moved out of the city. Their home field now is located in Foxborough, Mass., halfway between Boston and Providence, RI.  

The NFL is the most notorious league to actually play outside the city limits of their namesake. The two New York City teams, the Giants and Jets, not only don't play in that city, they don't even play in New York state. Both teams share MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The Buffalo Bills play in Orchard Park, NY. The Miami Dolphins play in Miami Gardens. The recently moved LA Chargers play in Carson, CA. The Washington team plays in Landover, MD. The San Francisco 49's stadium is located in Santa Clara. The local Dallas Cowboys haven't played in Dallas since 1971. They were in Irving, TX until 2008 and are now in Arlington, TX. As of now, the remaining teams play in the city they are named after.

If you have enough land and can pull off public financing and tax incentives, you may be able to get the next new major sports venue. No need to actually be in the city the team is supposedly named for. 

So, don't always believe the name on the hat or jersey. You can use Google maps to find your favorite team's stadium. It may not be where you expected. Let's all root for the Arlington Cowboys or the New Jersey Giants (or Jets) or maybe the Carson Chargers. 

wjh

Monday, December 4, 2017

College Football Bowls 2017-18

Here we are about to start the College Football Silly Season, aka bowl season. For the past few years, I have written a post at the beginning of the bowl season. It is usually tongue in cheek with some observations and criticisms. Let's look at this year's bowl picture.

There will be 40 division one college bowl games this season. The championship game is between two teams that have already played a bowl game. That leaves 39 games needing 78 teams. There are 130 division one college football programs. That means approximately 62% of the teams get a bowl invitation, not a very exclusive honor. A team must win six games during the season to be bowl eligible. This year there were 81 eligible teams, so only three drew the short stick. The ACC won the prize this year with 10 teams in the bowls. Almost all the games are televised by ESPN/ABC including all the playoff games and the other major bowls in the College Football Playoff mix. In fact, ESPN created and produces several of the bowl games. They needed college football content during December. The bowls start on December 16th and end with the championship game on January 8th. Wikipedia has a good recap of the games here. 

Of the 40 bowl games, exactly three of them have a real meaning. So about 92% of the games are just exhibitions, "friendlies" in soccer terms. Some people keep track of how the various conferences fair. Maybe that matters a little. The bowls are a way for cities to spur tourism and an economic boost, sponsors to get publicity, ESPN and other networks to have content, provide events for vacant venues, and maybe provide a perk for teams with mediocre seasons.   

This year, my favorite team, the Florida Gators, is not playing in a bowl. My alma mater, USF Bulls, is playing in the Birmingham Bowl on 12/23. The Bulls at 9-2 will play the 6-6 Texas Tech Red Raiders. My local favorite, TCU, will play 12/28 in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The #15 Horned Frogs will play the #13 Stanford Cardinal. Which team do you think will have the bigger fan support.  

There are always some fun facts and figures involved in this mostly silly season. Here are a few: 

  • The Bahamas Bowl is played in a 15,000 seat soccer stadium in a country that has no idea what American football is. We have larger and better high school stadiums here in Texas.
  • The Goodyear Cotton Bowl is played at AT&T Stadium (Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington Texas. 
  • The Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl is played in the actual Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
  • There are some very long bowl names as they try to squeeze in the sponsor name, city and bowl. Some examples are:
  • There is a heated contest this year for the funniest bowl name:
Most of the games are of little interest to the majority of us football fans and the country. I'll watch a few. Obviously, the three playoff games are of interest. I'll watch the USF and TCU games. I'll probably watch the Peach Bowl where UCF plays Auburn. I'm interested to see how the undefeated American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion stacks up against a good SEC team. Other games will mostly depend on what else I have to do when they air. 

The Bowls are a tradition so I'm sure they will continue. I'm old enough to remember when there were fewer than 10 bowls and it was an honor to be invited to play in one. They also rarely decided a real national champion. Some years there was more than one #1 team depending on which poll you read.  

The current playoff system is an improvement, but the rest of the bowls are still mostly inconsequential. I personally think we need to expand the playoffs to eight teams although six with the top two getting first-round byes would be OK too. Let's at least get all the power five conference champions into the mix. 

So, get the remote, snacks, and beverages ready. Bowl season starts 12/16. Let the games begin.

wjh 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - November 2017

  • Remember back when cars broke down fairly regularly? Remember how exciting it was to tow or be towed by your buddy with a rope or chain? What a delicate dance between two cars. 
  • I find it amazing the places inanimate objects can find to hide when we are looking for them.
  • Another overused plot for old Westerns, the hero gets bit by a rattlesnake while he had the bad guy in custody out on the trail. 
  • Just saw a restaurant food description of "stuffed ravioli". Aren't all ravioli stuffed?
  • I wonder how much time and effort goes into those "messy/disheveled" hairdos, both men, and women?
  • Our jails and prisons are referred to as correctional institutions or the correctional system. What exactly do they "correct"? Punishment institutions would probably be a more accurate name.  
  • Who were those people asking for the return of the McRib?
  • Is churchkey still a term? When I was much younger it was a combination bottle/can opener and a required tool. We never left home without one. A beer can opener, not a can of Campbell's soup can opener. Twist-off caps and pop-tops have made them almost obsolete. 
     
  • What's the tipping point on how many victims need to come forward for us to believe accusations against a sexual predator? It certainly seems to be more than one or two. Especially for politicians.
  • Technology needed to read a printed book, eyeballs and a light source. 
  • On the ABC This Week program, the talking heads sit at a square table for the "Roundtable" discussions. 
  • Just because a person spouts religious or moral platitudes doesn't mean they live by them. 
  • Oxymoron -
wjh

Wonder


We went to see Wonder on a Thursday night after it had been out for a couple of weeks. The crowd in the theater was between 10 and 15. It was worth the trip to the local cinema.

Based on a true story, it is about a home-schooled kid who is going to a real school with other kids for the first time in the fifth grade. There is one major problem, Augie, the boy has a disfigured face. How will he be accepted or not accepted? That and how his family dynamics play out are the main topics.

It was an enjoyable movie with some real tearjerker moments. It is mostly predictable but there are a few surprises. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play the parents. Not bad, but nothing special. Mandy Patinkin plays the too perfect principal of the school. In fact, all the teachers in the school are a little too perfect. 

The kids carry this movie. Jacob Tremblay is outstanding as the main character Augie. He is completely believable as the deformed kid. His acting is spot on. His character goes through all the emotions. The makeup is remarkable. 

His schoolmates all do a good job. Some are good kids trying to befriend Augie. Others are jerks who bully and ridicule Augie. Just like in a real school situation. Fifth graders are not yet fully formed. they are all trying to find their place in the pecking order of the school and the world. Izabela Vidovic does well as the mostly ignored big sister. She has a subplot that also teaches some lessons. 

This is a quiet movie. With the exception of a few video games being played, there are no explosions, car chases, killings, or maiming. It is rated PG and I see no reason that most kids 10 and up can't attend this movie. In fact, I would strongly suggest that preteens and teenagers watch this film. Maybe they will learn something either from Augie's grade school experiences or older sister Via's high school travails.  

A very worthwhile movie. It is not perfect, the outcomes are predictable, some of the characters are one dimensional, and the ending is a little pat. Nevertheless, we both enjoyed it. I would give it a solid B grade.

wjh


Monday, November 27, 2017

Charlie Rose


Charlie Rose has been accused by several women of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. He has admitted indiscretions and apologized although he has said some of the allegations are inaccurate or false. Rose has been fired by CBS and his PBS show has been taken off the air. Bloomberg has also canceled the reruns on its network.

This post is not primarily about the current sexual harassment and assault issues we are now going through. I will say that it is a real problem and the culture needs to change. I feel bad for the women he took advantage of. I feel bad for all the people who worked on his PBS program and production company. I feel bad for his CBS This Morning colleagues, especially  Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King. They were truly surprised and upset by the revelations. 

I am personally pissed at Charlie Rose. He has been a regular part of my day for many years. Back in the 80's, he was the host/anchor of CBS News Nightwatch. Having often worked night shifts or irregular hours, I would be up during that show. In the 90's, Charlie started his interview show on PBS. I would often watch that show over the years. During the last five years, I have tuned into the CBS This Morning show when I have watched morning TV. I have also been recording The Charlie Rose Show on PBS. I would either watch it live at midnight or the next day. That means I have invited Charlie into my home for anywhere from one to three hours a day. Then there were also the segments he did for 60 Minutes or substituting on the CBS Evening News. I guess I've regained some time in my day now that he is gone.

Here is why I am pissed. It's not because I feel sorry for Rose, it is because his PBS show was a rare oasis in the bombastic, loud, ill-informed desert of what passes for news, commentary, analysis, and discussion on TV. He was prepared and informed for the interviews. When there were discussion panels, there was no shouting or talking over others. He had the best and the brightest guests. The show or segment topics were very diverse. It was not just a news or political show. Charlie's guests included, besides the usual news reporters and talking heads, authors, scientists, medical professionals, actors, directors, foreign journalists, diplomats, heads of state and on and on. The show was interesting, informative, and educational. That's a rare combination on today's TV landscape. It was an adult show.

Will someone or some show come along to fill that void? Maybe, but it is not a given considering the current state of TV news. Maybe there is already another host/show doing the same thing. At the least, I have to scour the channels and look for another adult show. At the worst, there is no other show like Charlie's. That's why I'm pissed at Charlie Rose. Because he couldn't keep his hands to himself and his dick in his pants, we lose an accomplished journalist. His TV career is over.

There will be more fallout from this shift in how we deal with sexual harassment. The shift is long overdue but it will be painful. 

In conclusion, thank you, Charlie Rose, for all the good work on TV over the years. Fuck you for being a derelict behind the scenes. 

wjh

Monday, November 20, 2017

Climate Change


My biggest problem with climate change deniers is, if they are wrong and we continue to pollute and abuse the environment, we may be doomed. If on the other hand, those who embrace climate change are wrong, there is no longterm harm done. Their programs to slow, halt, or reverse the effects of man on the climate have no real downsides.

Some of us are old enough to remember when air pollution, especially in major cities, was pretty common. Los Angeles actually did have a "brown LA haze". My hometown of Jacksonville often had a terrible stink from the paper mills. The DFW area still has ozone alert days but not as many. I'm sure many of you can remember other areas where air pollution was a problem. 

The climate change deniers claim that the measures needed to reduce carbon emissions are financially crippling. That financial strain will be more severe for the US than others, particularly China and India. In fact, the renewable power industries create thousands of jobs. The technology research also has benefits in other industries. Solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, thermal, and other energy sources are already competitive with most fossil fuels. Coal is no longer financially viable for new plants and most older coal plants have been or are being shuttered. The biggest problem with the new energy sources is the lack of infrastructure to get the energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed. We have been building pipelines and railroads to deliver coal, oil, and gas for decades. Our solar and wind generation sites are new and not as well connected. 

The scientists and climate change believers have mostly done a terrible job of convincing the populace of the real dangers. The main problem is that it is complicated and slow moving. The raw data is solid and mostly undisputed. The problems arise when the historic and current data are put into the numerous models. It is almost impossible to precisely predict when, where or how much that the climate change will affect the Earth in general and specific locations. It is also difficult or impossible to determine what percentage of our current warming is due to mankind and what percentage is normal climate fluctuations. It is not impossible to measure and predict trends.

We also have the alarmists and doomsday faction who think the world will end next week if we don't stop all carbon emissions immediately. They are no more useful to the discussion than the climate change deniers. Hyperbole is very rarely useful or convincing in the long run.

As usual, those in the middle of the discussion have the best chance to come to a workable agreement. Those who question (not deny) climate change must be willing to accept that the data indicates our global temperatures are rising. They must also be willing to accept that the polar ice caps are shrinking and the oceans are rising. Those are provable facts from measurements and photographs. The debate might be about what caused this and is it a trend or a climatic cycle. It can also be debated what part man played in this. 

Neither side can continue to summarily deny science that does not fully support their views. Any study funded by a person, group or institution that has a financial or political stake in how we deal with climate change must be taken with many grains of salt and skepticism. That goes for studies funded by the fossil fuel industry, by alternative energy companies, and even by the Sierra Club. Claims about the benefits of "clean coal" by the coal industry are suspect, just as the benefits of wind power by a wind turbine company are. 

As I've mentioned in other opinion pieces about current behavior and its effect on the future. Except for maybe nuclear war, none of these issues will directly affect me. I'm too old for climate change to destroy the planet before I'm gone. I do have children and grandchildren. I would like them to have a long, healthy, and happy life. I hope they don't look back on our generation and blame us for ruining the environment and wonder what in the hell we were thinking.

Let's give cleaner energy and other anti-pollution measures a chance. What could it hurt?

wjh

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