Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26

From my diary, December 26, 2008

I am back in the office today after a lovely Christmas. The roads are, for the first morning since Wednesday the 17th, relatively clear and free of ice and snow. At least along my commute, which is not to say it’s the same everywhere around the Sound.

From my diary, December 26, 2009

Everyone was in a foul mood this morning. No water. No heat. A pipe burst yesterday and we had water everywhere, including into the heating and air system. Caryn and Harper went off to wash and dry the towels and blankets she used to mop up the mess(and to keep the waters from flowing into the living room), and I went to the folks and showered. Dad followed me back and we went to work. We stripped insulation from the ducting in the basement, which poured water, insulation under the floor, drained the ducting, ripped out drywall and managed to fix the broken pipe (after three trips to Lowe's) and then I broke the water line to the kitchen faucet, which still needs to be fixed. But we have heat, and water, except to the kitchen sink and dishwasher.

The joys of the holidays! What a difference a year makes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Memory 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Memory 2008

Christmas 2008 was my last Christmas in Seattle, though I did not know it at the time. It snowed nearly every day the week before Christmas, and commuting to the office was a bear. But the white Christmas was nice.

I was at Fred Meyer with my daughter in the weeks leading up to Christmas and she decided we needed an outdoor display, something besides the old fashioned lights I hung on the roof and around the front door and window.

While I was browsing in the store, she proceeded to rearrange the Christmas display items in the middle of a large aisle and informed me that I was to purchase a Christmas pig and some illuminated presents. What's a father to say? The photo here is an exact recreation of her Fred Meyer display.

The Christmas pig is back this year, but adorning another lawn in another state far, far away from the snows of Seattle, Washington.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Christmas Memory 2004

This is one of my favorite photographs, taken during a Christmas snowfall in 2004. The kid in the tree strikes me as some strange winter bird.

We loved the snow in Seattle, and my daughter loved playing outside as the flakes fell while my wife made warn cocoa for our return indoors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Memory 2006

In 2006 my daughter served as a Santa's helper and passed out the Christmas gifts that were under the tree. She wore an elf costume that has a history going back to 1973, when I wore the very same elf costume in a Christmas parade. I remember our mothers made these elf costumes from a pattern. My old buddy Chris was in the parade with me, similarly attired, and there are, somewhere, some Super-8 movies of the two of us in our elf costumes frolicking in his kitchen prior to the parade.

I am told that the day of that parade in 1973 was cold and sleeting, but I don't remember much about it. But that was my one shot at playing elf in a parade. And it was good.

It was great to see the old elf costume get some use after 33 years packed away with the holiday bric-a-brack. I am surprised it was still around. Perhaps it will last long enough to be worn some Christmas by my grandchild.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Memory 2003

Pictured: me, George and Alan Greenbeans.

We were all a little less gray.

We all had different residences then.

We were younger.

Our kids were smaller.

We were naive and carefree then. Well, maybe not carefree. That would have been 1983. Even then...

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Memory 2001

My sister visited us in Seattle for Christmas 2001, a time marked by the sad departure of Toonces, the driving cat, whose hospitalization in the vet's ICU forced us to abandon our mountain cabin for an extended family gathering in our small apartment so that I could be near the suffering patient. But we had to let her go a few days before Christmas, and it was a sad time for me.

But having family in town was nice, and our daughter, not quite a year old, really racked up!

A day or two before Christmas my buddy Mike (Mixmaster DJ MC) dropped in with his daughter, who was about 20 months old at the time, and they are pictured here with my daughter (11 months) and my sister (age not disclosed).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Christmas Memory 1999

Another Christmas in the Emerald City: 1999 was a good year and a memorable Christmas. That year I received from my wife a Weber grill which I still use today. It was on the lanai Christmas morning, along with the appropriate grilling implements.

We developed a ritual of Christmas shopping down town each year, one we kept as long as we lived in Seattle. We would buy a few gifts at the Pike Place Market (pictured) each year, though we would often buy fresh seafood and produce at the market year round.

In 1999 we were two DINKs living in the city in the city without many responsibilities. A year later, my wife would be very pregnant with our first child, and after the baby arrived Christmastime changed, but not in a bad way. We transitioned well from celebrating Christmas as a couple to looking at the season through the eyes of a child. I would not change a thing, but I do recall those Christmases before our daughter was born with great fondness.

That was another life.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Christmas Memory 1998

1998 was my first Christmas as a married couple, living in Seattle. It was an exciting time for the both of us, newlyweds falling in love with the Emerald City.

That Christmas we spent in Seattle, without our families who lived far away. And it snowed that Christmas Day.

My parents had given us a DVD player for Christmas, which we opened on Christmas day. DVD's were new at the time, and I had three, and now we had a player to play them on.

The day after Christmas I proceeded to hook up the player and discovered that our TV, and old Magnavox, had only a coaxial input, and would not connect with the DVD player. I was devastated!

But it was the day after Christmas after all, and many stores were offering their after Christmas discounts. So I walked the four blocks to Fred Meyer and bought a new TV, but realized it was too big for me to carry home. (We lived in the city in those days).

I had to leave my ID with the store in order to borrow a hand truck to cart the TV home, and with great anticipation we unpacked it, giddy at the prospect of watching a movie on DVD.

But the TV, larger than our old Magnavox, did not fit into our entertainment center. It was too big!

Needless to say, we found ourselves purchasing and assembling a new entertainment center in order to have room for the new TV we bought in order to play a DVD on the new player we had received that Christmas in 1998. That player turned out to be the most costly Christmas present I have ever received.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Christmas Memory 1997

In 1997 I departed from my usual collection of tawdry Christmas ornaments, and allowed my friend Tim's wife (not pictured) to design my Christmas tree that year.

The theme was Independence Day, and the tree featured numerous red, white and blue ornaments with the occasional holiday-adorned Uncle Sam. The lights were, as one might assume, flashing red, white and blue, a virtual 4th of July fireworks display in my own home.

Needless to say, I have not used the 4th of July theme since, though I have contemplated an Easter theme over the years, which has not yet won approval from the wife.

Picturead are Tim and Madison, preparing to leave my apartment after a little holiday celebration among friends.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Christmas Memory 1995

Christmas is a special time for me. I enjoy the festive atmosphere, sending Christmas cards, the tree and candles and associated decorations that adorn my home at Christmastime.

During Christmas of 1995 I was living in Greenville, SC. As is my custom, I deck the halls, as much as I can.

Many of the ornaments I accumulated during my bachelor days are still on our Christmas tree today.

The Christmas tree pictured was christened "Leonard," in honor of my friend Chuck.

It occurs to me, incidentally, that the same sad angel atop the tree in this photograph rests atop my Christmas tree this year. She still cannot stand up straight.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Breakfast Brunch Bunch

On Saturday, November 28, 2009, the annual gathering of the Brunch Bunch took place in South Carolina. Attendees gathered from all points and enjoyed a nice meal and fellowship with one another. There were even a few laughs, as evidenced here in this video documenting the occasion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


With the West Coast Chapter of the Steve Johnson Fan Club sadly gone the way of the dodo, I can only hope the renewed efforts to increase the East Coast Chapter membership will bear much fruit. We'll be recruiting new members on Friday. Wish us well.
In the mean time, enjoy this photo from the 2006 convention pool tournament, taken from the SJFC archives.
And of course, remember Steve on his birthday Sunday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adventures on Ebay

I have found over the past several years that one can sell just about anything on eBay. It’s not a matter of having something someone else wants, though that helps. It’s all about salesmanship, creating demand for your listing to anyone who manages to come across it.

Early on in my eBay experience I was dismayed to find useful items of reasonable (or better) quality that I had listed on eBay end up with no bids after seven days at auction. It’s frustrating and dismaying, particularly in instances where the item was something I myself might have purchased. But I learned that how I listed the items owed much to the measure of my success.

I soon learned that any manner of junk or bric-a-brac could be sold on eBay if I was careful in how I listed the item. This realization dawned on me several years ago after cleaning out the garage and ending up with a box of items destined for Goodwill or eBay. I had organized several plastic bins of cords: power supply cords, telephone cords, RCA cables and all manner of SCSI, mini-DIN and USB computer and printer cables. At last there remained a tangled pile of various cords and cables that I could not assign a function to. They had perhaps come packaged with electronics and remained unneeded or unused or were for cell phones or PALM pilots I no longer owned.

As I was listing a number of items on eBay (children’s clothes, CD’s and books, and unused house wares), I began to giggle thinking about the tangle of mystery cables in my garage, and, if only to amuse myself, listed them as “My Grab-Bag Pile of Mystery Cables,” imploring someone to take them off my hands but warning prospective bidders, “You don’t know what you may get in my Grab-Bag Pile of Mystery Cables.”

I sold the tangle of mystery cables and received positive feedback.

A week ago I went through a similar exercise in the garage, a seven-year-long process of reducing the amount of junk so that I can actually use the two-car garage for two cars instead of one. (I should admit at this point that it was my wife who, after cleaning the garage while I was on a business trip three or four years ago, managed to squeeze both cars into the garage, a situation which lasted perhaps a week until we started a remodel project. We’ve not achieved two-car status since then). Among the miscellany in the discard box was a small toy that should have been merely thrown out: three-inch high ghost that would waddle a foot or two across the floor when wound up. Most likely it was something that came home in my child’s Trick-or-Treat bucket many years before, and it was now among the miscellany preventing my wife’s Jeep from spending its nights out of the weather.

Instead of throwing it out, I put it up on eBay.
I received three bids and I ship it out tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Cast Reunion

Recently there was a cast reunion worth mentioning.

No, I am not writing about the Seinfeld reunion that is the subject of this season's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO.

Think more David O. Selzenick and less Larry David.

To honor the 70th anniversary of Gone With the Wind, surviving cast members gathered at a tribute event outside Atlanta recently. With Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh being off-planet, the cast reunion comprised actors who played children and babies and Beau Wilkes at various childhood ages in the classic 1939 film.

I don't suppose there was much reminiscing going on at this reunion. But for those surviving performers in attendance , it must be marvelous to know that each was a part of such a remarkable feat of cinematic grandeur the likes of which are long gone in American motion pictures.

I think I'll add Gone With the Wind to my Netflix queue. It's been a while for me, too.

Oh, and George is divorced and is trying to get back with this ex-wife, in case you were wondering.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Good Morning, Captain

What's going on with Captain Crunch these days? Am I the only one who has noticed his transformation? Did he get a makeover? He looks more airbrushed, less...saltier.

There was a time when the good captain was truly a man of the sea, rugged and tough, a seadog who knew the stars and could navigate a sloop safely around the Cape of Good Hope with his eyes closed. And he could sniff out a ripe berry on a crunchberry vine from fifty paces and served up a cereal so crispy in milk that he was the envy of every galley on the seven seas. The look in his lined eyes bespoke a dignity becoming a seasoned seaman, and his smile was a knowing one, distinct and mature, suggesting a nobility that few of his peers (Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, the Trix Rabbit, Fred and Barney, to name a few) would ever come close to achieving.

Now he looks like an idiot. His eyebrows are on his hat. He sports a grin that suggests frenzied derangement and an ineptitude and incompetence so pervasive that I hesitate even opening the box. And what's with that salute? The old Captain Crunch would never stoop so low to hawk cereal using a proper naval salute. Sure, he'd salute in the presence of an admiral, or to return a salute from one of his trusted crew. But to him, a salute was a vital part of seafaring decorum that seems now lost upon him.

I understand he's been a Commodore since 2004. Whoever at Quaker is in charge of his publicity is doing a terrible job.

There really are only two conclusions one can draw from this most absurd transformation: either the Captain we all know and love is dead, and Quaker has replaced him with a poor imitation of the great man, or the Captain has gone truly insane.

I must contact the folks at Quaker, and eagerly await a reply.
Top: The Captain after his transformation; Botton: The good Captain as we remember him.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I'm not much for Halloween, not since I tried going to George's Halloween party in 1985 as a pumpkin head. That's a nasty costume, wearing a hollowed out pumpkin on your head. I had to regroup at the last moment and go as Caesar: a sheet, some ivy in the hair, good to go.

This year we had some fun trying on masks at the store, and attended a production of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in the outdoor theater down by the river. It was enjoyable. My daughter was pleased to meet the horseman after the show. When I did my imitation of the horseman, she corrected me and reminded me that without a head, he had no mouth and therefore could not speak. I stood corrected.

The true fright this Halloween was the Tennessee game. What a horror that was.
Now, on to Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Visiting Paradise

I recently returned from a trip to Guatemala which has provided me with a deeper perspective on my life and on the culture in which we live here in the United States.
Our hosts at Iglasia Shalom were wonderful people, and it was a pleasure to get to know a number of people during my visit to Guatemala City and Antigua.

In visiting a few families in the steep and hilly slum area of Guatemala City called Paradise (pictured), I was humbled to realize how blessed a person I am, and how much I have. Most of these families live a life with little hope for anything, and merely subsist in tiny concrete block and corrugated tin dwellings stacked precariously on top of one another.

Meeting many of the children was a joy. Despite living in poverty they are still children, and a smile, or a hug, goes a long way. I spent some time with my new friend, Christopher, who never knew his father and at some point lost his mother (I am not clear on the details). Although he spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish, we had a great time playing together, and sharing a meal together. We had a particularly terrific time making sculptures out of candy, each of us trying to outdo the other. Already I miss Christopher, and look forward to seeing him again someday.

On Monday we spent the day providing new shoes and socks for more than four hundred of these children. I spent the entire day washing filthy, sometimes sore-ridden feet. This, too, was a humbling experience, but the smiles on some of these kids provided me with priceless moments of joy, particularly when washing the feet of the ticklish ones.

Visiting Antigua was one of the highlights of the trip. An old Spanish town in a valley surrounded by smoldering volcanoes and high mountains on which coffee and avocados are grown, Antigua has been destroyed a number of times but still manages to thrive.

Did I mention the coffee? Mmmmm.... good coffee.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Annotated Beach Photo

In order to provide you with the most for your entertainment dollar, I include below an annotataed version of the beach photo I posted in my little-viewed post, "Indian Summer." In the annotated version of the photo, I reference a broken toe. I must, however, reliquish the Golden Digit Award for blogs about toes to my friend George, who, because of my last-minute trip to the coast, I failed to entertain. See more on George's toe here and here.

Indian Summer

After a series of challenges in nailing down dates for an extended family trip to the coast this summer, we managed to schedule and then re-schedule a family weekend to the beach in October! After a few missteps we managed to get things together at the last moment as the trip meant much to our daughter, and we'd had to bag it back during Labor Day Weekend due to logistical concerns.

For me, the weekend was nice, relaxing, mindless. We enjoyed some good food, courtesy of Papa Jim (always game for a nice seafood dinner, where as Mom elected, as is her custom at fine seafood restaurants across this great nation, to order the chicken sandwich) and time for just...well, doing nothing. Which we all need, now and again.

I spent some extended time on the beach, during which I carefully applied SPF 30 to all exposed parts of my body except the bridge of my nose, a splotch on my forehead and a place on my cheek, all of which are rather red. There are two lines down my forearms which did not receive the sunscreen, and those places are bright red as well, given I spent a couple of hours holding my book up in order to block out the sun.

Saturday was 90 degrees, very warm and muggy, and frolicking in the surf was the order of the day. I managed to read the 1920 novel "The Mysterious Affair at Styles," by Agatha Christie, her first novel and the first appearance of her famed detective Hercule Poirot. (Incidentally, the final Poirot novel, "Curtain," is also set at Styles, an English estate, and narrated by the same character, Hastings. "Curtain" was published in 1975 but, interestingly enough, written during the 1930's).

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I don't know why she complains about taking out the garbage. It's a very easy job. I can think of few tasks which are simpler - bag the garbage, take it to the curb, bag the garbage and take it to the curb.

I guess some kids are lightweights and not cut out for work.

Although, in her defense, we do seem to produce a lot of trash.

Friday, October 02, 2009

In Support of Alan Grayson

With his audacious remarks about the Republican health care bill calling for a quick death to all Americans who are diagnosed with a cold or a gall bladder infection, Democratic Florida Congressman Alan Grayson has proved several things that I don’t think come as a surprise to anyone:

• that the House Democrats and its leadership continue to demonstrate an unparallel level of hypocrisy;
• that the House democrats participate in as much hate-mongering as the Republicans;
• and that Grayson, like many of his colleagues on the left and the right, makes headlines telling lies.

It doesn’t matter that the Republicans don’t have a heath care bill up for debate, nor does it matter than this imaginary plan to which Grayson refers supports an American “Holocaust.” (Nice word, Mr. Grayson). But so what? Grayson has as much a right to his opinion as Representative Joe Wilson. And in this free country of ours, he is welcome to express it through whatever means are available to him. And in Grayson’s (and Wilson’s) case, those "means" are the floor of the House of Representatives.

And Rep. Grayson is welcome to lie, if so he chooses. That's fine with me. And in Grayson's case I use the word “lie” because I don’t think Grayson is demented enough to actually believe his own statements. But I could be wrong.

Yes, Rep. Grayson's words are incendiary, far more incendiary than Wilson’s. And perhaps they are stupid, poorly chosen and uncalled-for. But that’s what we get in a country with a constitutional protection of speech. It’s up to each of us to determine whether or not Grayson is an insightful political genius or an utter boob. The media can give this idiot airplay, or ignore this savvy orator all together. Regardless, Grayson has a position, an opinion, and has as much right to express that as anyone. If there are consequences, so be it. That’s something else we take on in a free society—the ability to speak our minds and the responsibility to accept any consequences our words may have.

In light of his comments I am left wondering whether the Republicans will respond to Grayson in the manner in which Democrats responded to Wilson. Will the Republicans work as hard as Democrats to stifle and suppress free speech? Will the right go on and on demanding pointless, meaningless apologies while the work of the people is placed on a back burner? Will the Republicans resort to the sort of ad hominem arguments the democrats got elected on, while the important issues linger on without proactive analysis and debate?

I don’t doubt it for a moment.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Toaster

This is my toaster. I have had it for eleven years. I share it with my wife and child. It was a gift from my friend Jelly, and his wife, Mrs. Jelly. Thank you!

We make toast on it. It can make two slices of toast at once. It is very versatile. Bread goes in, hot toast comes out. It is not very hard to use.

Once the toast pops out, we apply butter. Also, other toppings may be used.

The toast pops out on its own, when it is ready. There is no need to do anything. If you make it pop out yourself, the toast will fly out of the toaster and (hopefully) land on your plate. Aim is important.

Sometimes it may land on the floor. If so, I am not worried: the dog is right there.

In England, some toasters can pick up BBC-1. This is not the case in America. I have tried to tune in NPR on my toaster on a number of occasions, but the best I could do was an AM urban adult contemporary station broadcasting out of Biloxi.

I practice safety whenever I use my toaster. I am OSHA certified. Here are a few toaster safety tips, in case you are planning on getting a toaster of your own:

• Never put a toaster in a dishwasher. It will leave your toast damp and colorless.
• Never use a toaster in the shower, for the same reason. Having your coffee maker in the shower with you every morning requires multi-tasking enough without having to worry about getting shampoo in your raspberry jam.
• Never stick a fork or knife into a working toaster for any reason, unless you are attempting to loosen a bagel that is stuck and beginning to smolder.
• Never dry socks or underwear in a pop-up toaster. A microwave oven works best for this particular application.
• If making cheese toast, use an oven, as the cheese tends to melt in a pop-up toaster and will gum up the works. Also, it makes your kitchen smell really rank for about three days.
• If your toaster cord is worn or frayed, or if the copper conductors are exposed, wrap the exposed area with a wet nap and tie securely in place. This will provide you with years of continued enjoyment of your toaster.

I like to keep my toaster clean and shiny. A little Windex does the trick, but Formula 409 works in a pinch. Avoid the use of harsh abrasives, as they may have a tendency of give you hives.

My toaster has many exciting settings from which to choose: ultra-light, light, medium-light, tan, dun, medium, dark, dark and crispy, extra-dark, black-and-crunchy and slightly singed.

In addition to the many exciting settings available on my toaster, its versatility as a small kitchen appliance is second to none. I have put the following in my toaster: white bread, bagels, pop-tarts, apple slices, croissant, sourdough, coffee crumb cake, brioche, cottage loaf, chicken fingers, scones, biscuit halves, naan, toaster strudel, oatmeal raison cookies, matzo, baklava, bologna (sliced), tortilla, Burmese kippers, chapatti, pecan-maple Danish, bear claw and lemon pie.

What makes the best toast? White bread (make it Wonder Bread, please!), multi-grain and Roman Meal.

What makes the worst toast? Barbari bread, olive loaf and sliced Tapir runt bread.

I enjoy my toaster, and recommend pop-up toasters to all of my readers. If you don’t have one, many community banks will provide you one free of charge with an initial deposit of only $100.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Blast from the Past - 1995

My old high school bud and former roomie returns from Japan with his lovely wife in tow.

He and I corresponded during his four years in the Air Force, and I treasure one particular letter he wrote me from boot camp while sitting in the latrine after "lights out."

He was, of course, caught by his sergeant, and was duly punished.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Looks Like It's Eggplant for Dinner Tonight

This afternoon we gathered a few things from the garden. Here is a picture of what we gathered today.

There are sunflowers in the garden, and they seem to attract lots of little flying bugs. I like the look of sunflowers from a distance, but up close I think they are nasty.

The leaves on the pepper plants are wilting. Not surprising, of course, as I rarely water the garden. We have not gotten enough rain to keep the garden healthy, yet I have an expectation that the vegetables will be bountiful and will keep coming until the first frost lights upon the trees.

At least the tomatoes are delicious. There is nothing better than a fully ripe tomato, vine picked and served and consumed that same day.

Now to scrape up a recipe for eggplant Parmesan.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Pacific Grits is Enjoying the 2009 Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon

Since 1952 Jerry Lewis has served as chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and again this year, at 83, he is back as host of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

The years are catching up with Jerry Lewis. He is suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease, and his movie career is behind him. But he presses on, and it's great to see him yet again raising money to fight neuro-muscular diseases.

I always enjoy watching the telethon, and have fond memories of watching it during the 1970's when the likes of Frank Sinatra or Sammy Davis, Jr. would drop by. In latter years Jerry's MDA co-host has been America's favorite second banana, Ed McMahon, who died in June.

In opening this year's telethon, Lewis spoke fondly of McMahon, recalling McMahon's professionalism, generosity and compassion.

In a reflective moment Lewis added, “But I sure as hell hope that wherever he is, he’s got his booze.”

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Steel Married After All of These Years

It is our wedding anniversary today – the “steel” anniversary, number 11. As I have always chosen anniversary gifts based on tradition, I had been hoping for a break this year, still reeling after last year’s “tin” anniversary. But I think I managed tin (ten) all right, when it occurred to me that I could get away with putting a real gift (jewelry) into an antique tea tin.

This year I blew it. I bought my wife a Jeep just before discovering that the 11th anniversary gift was steel. I bought a lot of steel just last month, and upon consultation with people who know such things, one cannot retroactively re-give a given gift.

So the Jeep is out as a wedding gift, and I don’t know where to buy girders. Perhaps someone out there has a bridge for sale.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

In the News - More from Japan

Incoming Japanese first lady Yukio Hatoyama has come forward with the startling revelation that she and American actor Tom Cruise are longtime friends—from a past life.

"I was with him then,” she reported, referring to his past incarnation as a Japanese man. “So he would recognize me when I see him and say 'long time, no see!'"

She claimed that she and Cruise, after they are reunited, will star in a film together. “This film will change your values,” she boasted. “I will win the Oscar for sure.”

She did not comment on whether she had confused a "past life" with a screening of The Last Samurai.

Also, no comment from Cruise, who, as a Scientologist, may have traveled to the planet Venus on a triangular UFO while he slept.

In the News

Yukio Hatoyama, the incoming first lady of Japan, reported that she traveled to the planet Venus in a triangular UFO while she slept.

The incident is chronicled in her book, Very Strange Things I’ve Encountered.

Failing to mention the crater-mottled volcanic plains, clouds of sulfur dioxide and a poisonous carbon dioxide atmosphere with a surface pressure 92 times that of Earth, she described Venus as “a very beautiful place and very green.” Venusian surface temperatures of over 850 °F apparently failed to affect her pale complexion.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Disney Buys Marvel

I guess it's no surprise that Disney is snatching up the Marvel universe for a cool $4 billion. But do we really need to get Donald Duck and Howard the Duck together? That spells trouble as far as I am concerned. (Though seeing Namor the Sub-Mariner romance Ariel might be intriguing.)

And what does this mean for Disneyland? Some lame Hulk-themed ride through a dark tunnel?

I have to say I have a soft spot for Marvel comics. I started reading the Fantastic Four in the late 70's, and who doesn't love Spider-Man? Perhaps they'll make a good fit for Disney. Pixar, the animation studio, was a smart acquisition on Disney's part, mainly because over the past few years the family fare released under the Disney banner has been pretty lame.

This is a sad comment: the best Walt Disney movie in the past couple of years has been Hannah Montana.

What might they do for Spider-Man 4?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Belated Travel Log - Day Nine

Eufaula, Alabama, is one of those charming little southern towns with great antebellum homes and charming shops and restaurants. We breakfasted at the Country Kitchen and Cakery, which had been, in days gone by, the stables for the adjoining hotel, which is currently being restored to its original Southern glory with a grant from someone. At any rate, they prepared my eggs the way I like them, one scrambled, one over easy. And the biscuits and sawmill gravy were fantastic. We had to ask for more, though later on we regretted that last biscuit. We were stuffed.

From Eufaula it was on to Atlanta, home of the Braves and Coca-Cola, and the end of our time together. My traveling companion, mixmaster DJ MC went on to a Microsoft event there, and I headed east, into an uncertain future.

Belated Travel Log - Day Eight

Did I mention that somewhere in Alabama, at a place called the Santa Fe, we saw the biggest ceiling fan we had ever seen? It was like something out of Texas. My part time driver, mixmaster DJ MC, now releived of his duties following the unspeakable confrontation with the Texas Highway Patrol, said of the Santa Fe, "Tonight we eat like kings." And we did. It was affordable and delicious. And the service was supurb. We drove from the Santa Fe (wherever it was) through some Alabama backroads. Beautiful state, truly. We arrived in Eufaula, Alabama for a night of rest and relaxation a couple of hours later.

Belated Travel Log - Where Not To Stay in Texas

I cannot recommend the Pest Westeri Hotel off of I-10 in Texas. It is a sleazy place run by cattle theives. Please avoid this place at all costs. They have cockroaches there the size of cattle dogs, and the armadillo crawling around the room are armed and very aggressive.

The Texas Highway Patrol in this same area are also armed and rather unsympathetic to out-of-state travelers. They are hung up about some crazy "nighttime only" speed limits. This concept is insane. These troopers have Texas-sized citation booklets and use terms like "negative" when you try and have a friendly conversation. You have been warned.
Photo at left: either an agressive armadillo or a Texas state trooper. Maybe both.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Belated Travel Log - New Orleans Note

It was nice to find Ignatius J. Reilly immoralized in bronze in the Big Easy. For those that know and love him, this may have meaning. Jolly Tyler, this means you. Everyone else may disregard this post.

Belated Travel Log - Day Seven and Eight

New Orleans proved to be a nice resting spot on the journey from Pacific to Atlantic, particularly after driving across the state of Texas. That state is a bear of a drive. I don't care what people say about driving across Montana. I've driven Montanta. Piece of cake. Texas, that's a man's drive. And my part time driver, mixmaster DJ MC, has the citation from the Texas Highway Patrol to prove it.

The Big Easy provided us with exceptional accommodations at the Astor Hotel, as well as great cajun food and drink. Gumbo at the Gumbo Shop. Hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's. Beignets and chicory coffee and Cafe Du Monde. Mmmmm. Oh, did I mention Aunt Sally's pralines? I bought a box for my daughter. And one or two for me. Sublime.

We also took in a bit of history, considering that Andrew "Action" Jackson whipped some British tail there back in 1814.

Belated Travel Log - Day Six

San Antonio was another bright spot along the journey. I was surprised at how much I liked the city, or at least the parts of it that I saw. The Riverwalk was really amazing, and seeing the Alamo, now a shrine, was moving. I was always fond of the 1960 John Wayne (also the director!) film, with Richard Widmark, about the battle of the Alamo. There were only a handul of survivors, women and children. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna gave them blankets and pesos and sent them away, encouraging them to warn all to remember what happened there that perilous day. I learned that the battle cry "Remember the Alamo" was taken quite seriously by General Sam Houston, who proceeded to engage and subsequently defeat Santa Anna's formidable army in only 18 minutes.

Near the Alamo is the lovely Hotel Menger, inside of which is a very nice bar which was constructed to emulate the bar in the House of Lords in England. I put my finger in two bullet holes in the bar that were made by Teddy Roosevelt, who recruited many of his famous "Rough Riders" there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Belated Travel Log - Day Five

Outside of El Paso my traveling companion, mixmaster DJ MC, and I detoured off I-10 and drove through a little border town a stone's throw from Mexico seeking sustenance. The place was very poor; ramshackle buildings and long-closed businesses lined the main street. We found the only open restaurant, Taco Tina's, and consumed some tasty tacos. There was no indoor dining, only a small table outside. The food was good, but the heat and the swarms of flies sullied our dining experience.

In the photo below, the young waiter fills our lemonade cups next to Taco Tina's one table.

Belated Travel Log - Day Four

California was nice and sunny for the most part, and one of the highlights of the trip. (The miserable traffic through L.A. being the exception, but is anyone surprised?) Early in day four, we enjoyed a nice breakfast in Solvang (first photo), an odd little Danish town, before spending some time in Santa Barbara, where we had trouble distinguishing the mission there for a mere church.
In the second photo I am driving through Santa Barbara enjoying the scenery and the mild climate. Things became a bit hotter once we rolled into Palm Springs (bottom photo). But in the desert east of Palm Desert the heat was oppressive. Even the wind was as if it was emanating from a roaster. It must have been 115 out there.