"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving pizza...

...will have to wait 'til Friday.

You see, Pizza Hut will be closed on Thanksgiving day (the one convenient to me at least).   For some time now, I've favored them over others; having long considered grease an essential ingredient of a good pizza. :-)

Wasn't always so; when I first came to Houston in the mid '60s, the absolute best pizzas, bar none, were served by Shakey's, but they became history here when Hunt International bought them out in the mid '70s and closed the local restaurants (Domino's taking over most of them).

A lot of other buyouts followed, with the results that an outfit once having hundreds of locations all over the country has now been reduced to a few dozen, mostly in their home state of California.

Second best (also now history) was the Post Oak Drive-In Theater.  Instead of pulling out a frozen pizza and shoving it into the oven, they made theirs from scratch, just like a real pizzeria.

One of their toppings  was chili.  When washed down with the beer I had snuck into the the drive-in, it was fantastic. (Just had to be sure to also bring along a trash bag, a roll of paper towels, and some wipes; messy doesn't begin to describe it. :-)

Once in a while I try to duplicate that experience by adding chili to a frozen one.  Close, but somehow just ain't the same.

By now, instead of asking "What about turkey?!!!", you've probably deduced that I'm not a big turkey fan.  Give me pizza and beer, and throw in a DVD to watch (there'll probably be nothing but football on TV that day), and I'm all set.

Did I just commit blasphemy with that "there'll probably be nothing but football on TV that day" above?

Well, I've never been much of a football fan either, except for a brief shining moment in the late '70s when coach O. A. "Bum" Phillips raised what was then the Houston Oilers to superbowl material, twice actually making it to the playoffs (only to run into that steel wall called Pittsburgh).

Something I'll always remember was the wonderful welcome the team got from cheering crowds that greeted them when they came home. They had to be feeling pretty low from those defeats, and for those fans to give that kind of "Welcome Home" made me proud beyond description.

(For a while, before those playoffs, I'd considered the Oilers as mostly just their two prima donnas (Dan Pastorini and Earl Campbell). But, while on vacation with friends in New Mexico, I saw a game (don't remember who they were playing), where both of them were benched and the remaining players went out there, just like a real team, and WON!)

Unfortunately, Phillips was getting more publicity than team owner Bud Adams (worthy of his own story) and many of us felt his days were numbered.

Sure, enough, Phillips was eventually fired and went to New Orleans to coach the New Orleans Saints (at that time owned by River Oaks native (and neighbor of Bud Adams) John Mecom.  I think there was a rivalry between them worthy of a TV movie, if it hasn't already been done.)

So many Oilers' players (Campbell, Pastorini, others) followed him there, our secretary began referring to the team as the Houston Saints.

Well, I've managed to wander all over the map this time, even including one of my least favorite subjects. So, I think it's time to close this one.

Hope you have a really wonderful thanksgiving. I'm gonna give it a shot. :-)

(Recycled post, originally published 23 Nov 2010, 12:05:00 PM)

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Accountant

"Since the birth of time, humanity has endeavored to restrain evil men in prisons. But since Cain fled the murder of his brother, evil men have fled the walls of punishment.

"So, it doesn't matter if you're a badass motherf****r on the run, because you think you're better than everyone else, and somehow entitled to do what you gotta do.

"No. Because, you see, badass motherf****rs are never fast enough. In the end, they will all be accounted for."

~The Accountant (Satan's Accountant) in the movie Drive Angry (2011) ...

... a movie I truly love, but am hesitant to recommend.  You see, it is R rated for a reason. There are scenes in it that pretty well qualify as porn. But if you can get past that, you'll find that The Accountant more than makes up for that.

John Milton (Nicholas Cage) escapes from Hell (in a black Buick Riviera) to go after some men from a Satanic cult, who have murdered his daughter and taken that daughter's baby to be used as a human sacrifice when the moon is full in a few days.

Milton is pursued by The Accountant (William Fichtner, dressed like a lawyer of coarse :-) who, while never forgetting his primary mission to bring Milton back, decides to help him recover his grandchild when he learns what the cult has done and is preparing to do.

In the third scene of that clip, two young stoners happen upon a crashed car and wonder if anyone is inside, when the door flies off (kicked by The Accountant who was inside) and knocks down the Second Stoner. That scene starts when The Accountant emerges ...

First Stoner:  "Jesus!"
The Accountant:  "-Carpenter. And despite what you've heard, prefers short hair."
Second Stoner:  "You almost fuck**g killed me, man."
The Accountant:  "Not even close. I won't see you again until you're 73."
(to the First Stoner):  "You, I'll see in three months."

It's rare for Nicholas Cage to be upstaged in a movie he's starring in (the best example I can think of being "The Rock", in which he's partnered with Sean Connery) but Fichtner so owns this movie that when he's on scene, the other actors might as well have stayed home.

Now, in truth, WITHOUT Fichtner, I would have classed this movie as VERY mediocre.  But it DOES have him, and that makes all the difference in the world. 

I first saw him in "Heat", where he's mob boss Roger Van Zant, who was the owner of a lot of bearer bonds stolen by Neil McCauley (Robert de Niro). When a deal is made for him to buy them back for an amount that would be covered by insurance money, he double crosses McCauley with an ambush (figuring that the LAST thing he needs is for punks on the street to think it Ok to steal from him). After surviving that ambush, McCauley phones Van Zant to tell him, "Forget the money."
van Zant: "Forget it?!!!  What are you doing?"
McCauley: "What am I doing?  I'm talking to an empty phone.  Because there'a dead man on the other end of it."

Fichtner has been in "Contact", "The Perfect Storm", and many others, and always first class.

But, he appears to be having a real blast playing The Accountant, and admits to exactly that in one of the interviews on the DVD.  You could make a really fine movie just devoted to this character, and I suspect he would be just fine with that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Six times

When asked by the arraignment judge, “Why did you shoot the man 6 times?"

The woman replied under oath, “Because, when I pulled the trigger the 7th time, it only went click.”

Found on facebook ...

Sadly, the article ends with ...

(Yes, this is a joke. Sort of. Don’t think you can get away with purse snatching in Texas. You can’t. Our women are well-armed, know how to defend themselves, and beautiful. And it’s Texas – the law is on their side.)

Oh, Well. New Texas Urban Legend is born. :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Apologies to all for my recent whining, posted at the beginning of my "The Martian" post ...
Thanks to my accident just before Memorial Day, I don't get out to movies as often as I used to, or as often as I would like. My current situation (inoperable car, not a snowball's chance in Hell of obtaining the funds to make it usable, being half crippled and sometimes barely able to walk a couple of blocks to a bus stop) makes that arduous and painful.

Some of you know that I am definitely in a "down" right now, but I DO have options.

If I can make it to March, without doing anything drastic and final from pure despair, I might be able to do something about that car, which will be a true Godsend. Because of my age, and my income status, I will very likely get ALL of my Federal withholding tax returned, which looks like it will be a bit over $1200.00. I'm confident that THAT should be enough.

Additionally, the absolutely CRUSHING financial position I'm in right now could be relieved by doing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. I'm not real keen on THAT, as it involves the MOTHER OF ALL PAPERWORK.

But, as an alternative to my final option, it is definitely on the table.

I've had major ups and downs before - a LOT of them. And I'm STILL here.

About thirty years ago, I had such a deep bout of severe depression, I had to see a shrink to avoid losing my job.  Now, she was only doing her job, trying to lift me out of the funk I was in, when she told me that she "saw a survivor. You pulled up stakes and moved halfway across the country to start a new career. Wimps don't do that.".

I treasured that. I HAVE to survive this; if for no other reason, than to avoid proving that lady wrong.

Wish me luck  And, Thanks.  :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

War of Worlds Musical

Watching the episode of "Fargo"  I recorded last night, I found a bit of THIS music in it. Sadly, this album appears out iof print; Amazon.com listed ONE new CD at $265.00. If you're interested, you may have no alternative to downloading the music. ...

Narrated by Richard Burton, this is truly an amazing album, well worth the trouble of finding a download of the full album, if that's the ONLY way you can check it out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Martian

Thanks to my accident just before Memorial Day, I don't get out to movies as often as I used to, or as often as I would like. My current situation (inoperable car, not a snowball's chance in Hell of obtaining the funds to make it usable, being half crippled and sometimes barely able to walk a couple of blocks to a bus stop) makes that arduous and painful.

THIS movie, The Martian (2015), was WORTH the ordeal.
From polarbearstv.com

Astronaut Mark Watney is left behind, presumed dead, after a violent storm has slammed a piece of equipment onto him and forced the rest of the crew to leave before their vehicle is damaged by that storm.

But, in fact he is still alive and has the problem of remaining so for several years before a rescue mission could get there.

For the most part, the science is pretty solid (although SOME liberties are taken, most specifically in the storm that is the CAUSE of the emergency in the first place).

What I particularly liked was the professionalism of the characters in this story. Although they have disagreements, I don't recall any of the stupidity in their actions that you all too often see in movies of this sort.  In short, the movie does not insult your intelligence.

This is director Ridley Scott's best work since "Alien" and "Blade Runner".

Bottom line:  Check it out while it's on a BIG screen, in 3D if you can. :-)


Friday, October 02, 2015

Riders on the Storm ...

... by Jim Morrison and The Doors.

The things you come across when you're looking for something else. While searching for a good video of "Riders on the storm", by Jim Morrison and The Doors, I found THIS piece by Ray Manzarek, keyboardist of The Doors, about how "Riders" came to be ...


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Moby Dick":

... The inspiration.

In 1820, the whaling ship Essex was attacked and sunk by a whale. The story inspired Herman Melville to create his masterpiece, "Moby Dick".

Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea (2015) covers the Essex story ...

Originally scheduled for a March 2015 release, the studio decided to move it to 11 DEC 2015, to make it more prominent to those who make Academy Award nominations, indicating a very high degree of confidence that they have a winner here.

This is VERY definitely on my "must see" list.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

If you remember THIS song, ...

... then, BOY, are you OLD.  :-)

While the video is obviously of fairly recent vintage, the song by The Four Lads was a #1 hit in 1953)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Blow 'em up REAL good :-)

THIRTY MINUTES of blowing up buildings, bridges and other structures ...

What MORE needs sayin'?  :-)

Monday, September 14, 2015

THIS you can trust.

... the philosophy of movie director John Milius.
He was a great believer in taking care of things yourself.
Conan the Barbarian opens with the casting, forging and tempering of Conan's father's sword, and concludes with the father telling a very young Conan ...
"Fire and wind come from the sky,
"from the Gods of the sky.
"But Crom is your God,
"Crom, and he lives in the Earth."

"Once giants lived in the Earth, Conan.
"And in the darkness of chaos...
"they fooled Crom,
"and they took from him the enigma of steel."

"Crom was angered,
"and the Earth shook.
"And fire and wind struck down those giants,
"and they threw their bodies into the waters."

"But in their rage,
"the Gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield."

"And we who found it...
"are just men.
"Not Gods. Not giants.
"Just men."

"And the secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery."

"You must learn its riddle, Conan.
"You must learn its discipline."

"For no one,
"no one in this world can you trust;
"not men, not women, not beasts."

(Pointing to his sword):
"THIS you can trust."

The script for Conan is credited to Milius AND to Oliver Stone, but what I've seen of his movies tells me that speech above is pure John Milius, and describes perfectly his philosophy of life,


Saturday, September 12, 2015


Incorporating videos in my posts is new to me.  I've been blogging since October 2009. on an HP computer (the "Mack truck" of computers) that I bought around the end of 2003. Being an XP machine, with limited memory and on a dial-up connection, dealing with videos was an exercise in masochism. The old machine died a few months ago (hard drive crash).

I replaced it with a refurbished Windows 7 machine (HP of course :-) and took advantage of my apartment complex having outlets installed for Comcast/Xfinity, and got a good deal for activating high-speed internet and digital phone service. Like graduating from a Volkswagen to a Porsche.

So now, I'm learning how to incorporate youtube videos, play with the HTML code to adjust the size they appear here, and how to download those videos onto my computer (as insurance against them being pulled from youtube).

I started with 2cellos, a wonderfully insane music video.

Next came Insight from The Third Man ... , about a wonderful little speech that Orson Welles added to the movie.

And, NOW, here's my latest attempts involving the subjects of the title of this post.  Hope you enjoy.

The Brits know how to put on a show. During the Falklands War (when Argentina invaded the British Falkland Islands in 1982), one of these made an EXTREMELY long range attack down there.
 On its return, it made a demo pass over an air show outside of Houston, where I got a wonderful look at it.

The only surviving Messerschmitt BF109E-4 still flying. It was shot down and belly landed in a field during the Battle of Britain in 1940. It is currently with the Russel Aviation Group, Ontario Canada.
PS - If you like the background music, it's from DAFT PUNK's soundtrack for TRON: Legacy (2010).
On 21 September 1953 a North Korean pilot defected, flying a MIG-15 jet fighter interceptor to Seoul , South Korea. In the process the pilot collected a $100000 reward which had been offered by the United States Government. The United States Air Force quickly set about conducting flight tests to determine the capabilities, and limitations, of the Russian designed aircraft

Among the three test pilots was USAF Major Charles "Chuck" Yeager, the first man to fly faster than sound in the Bell X1 in 1947.  I remember Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff" mentioning that.


Insight from The Third Man ...

The Third Man (1949) 

Out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), arrives in post war Vienna to accept a job offer from ex-school friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), only to hear of Lime's death from a peculiar traffic accident.

Holly finds that Lime has faked his death and is involved in black market penicillin (diluted) that results in many deaths. He finds Lime and confronts him.
Based on Graham Greene's novel, the movie is faithful to it, but it was Orson Welles who added THIS little insight ...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2 cellos ...

... and now for something COMPLETELY different  ...
The absolutely incredible  2CELLOS - Thunderstruck [OFFICIAL VIDEO]  
Be patient with whatever ad that may (or may not) show up at the beginning. There might be a little one popping up in the middle, but it will have an "x" allowing you to dispose ot it. The video is worth it. :-)
(PS the image is small here, but at the lower right corner is a selection for "FULL SCREEN" - next to the youtube symbol. )
Update - 11 SEP 2015 - I edited the html to enlarge the image a bit, but the "FULL SCREEN" is still a good choice.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Death by a thousand cuts ...

... MY term for the billing practices of major hospitals.

Yesterday (Thursday, 06 AUG 2015), I made my third (and hopefully FINAL) follow-up visit to Ben Taub hospital, concerning the broken ankle and lower tibia I suffered in my accident of 23 MAY 2015, and which I wrote about in numerous previous posts going back to Sometimes, life just sucks ...

They want me to continue wearing this special boot for another week, but don't feel another visit will be required, as the bones appear to be healing just fine.

So, the major crisis in front of me is the billing system summed up by the title of this post.

When I had my broken arm accident  in late July of 2014, there were ultimately over half a dozen different accounts to deal with, as each department in the hospitals (TWO hospitals were involved in that accident recovery) and the various physicians ALL had their own  accounting services.

It took over two months after the initial invoice arrived before I had a fairly complete picture of the whole mess. Approximately $6000.00 in all.

The ONLY way I could deal with it was to make a (VERY) small payment to each every month.

This continued until the 23 MAY accident, at which point I stopped paying, as the paychecks ceased for about six weeks until I began working again.

I have NOT resumed those payments, as I was looking at a whole NEW nightmare from Ben Taub
to come.

THIS prospect had me looking at Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and I was looking at going in for a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer, to see (among other things) if I needed to wait until ALL the parties involved with Ben Taub had sent invoices, and the whole picture was clear, before filing.

But then, a circumstance involving me possibly owning a small part of rural property belonging to my late mother made it look as if a small sum might come my way and make it possible to get my car running again.

As that possible ownership would complicate the Hell out of the bankruptcy (and the bankruptcy could have an effect on the property), I temporarily took the bankruptcy off the table.

But, I've heard nothing more, and frankly doubt it's gonna happen,  So, in a few weeks I'll go in for that consultation.

This is NOT something I'm keen to do; I went through a Chapter 7 in 2000, and the paperwork is absolutely HORRIFIC. (To paraphrase a classic Jack Benny routine: "The PAPERWORK, or your LIFE!"  Reply: "I'M THINKING." )

But, I HAVE to consider this.  The financial situation threatens to absolutely DESTROY me.

There's a REASON I still have the PayPal donation button near the top left of my page.

If you feel like helping, God Bless You,.

And, Thank You.


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