Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hopeful Signs...

...that spring may actually arrive this year.

Here's another one:
Things are finally blooming, though there's still way too much cold and cloudy going on.

Another sign...
Was standing outside by the garage Friday night when Baby Bunny came hopping by...spotted me and hunkered down in a small depression near the cement by the pool...kept the cats inside for the rest of the night, just in case...he was gone in the morning.

Friday night we went retro and watched a Marilyn movie..."Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', a huge hit from 1953.  Funny to think Jane Russel was the "big star" in this one...top billing and $200,000 salary while Marilyn was making $500 a week and stealing every scene.  As she told a reporter, "I may not be the star, but I am the blonde".  Was she ever...she was popular before this film; she was a bona fide Hollywood superstar after.

The rest of the weekend was quiet, just the way I like them....weather was ok, not great, so we still haven't really done much in the backyard.  We are opening the pool this week, so summer fun can't be too far away...I hope...

Saturday night we watched "Outlander", but I think I'm done with that...they're into the second season where we start delving into the emotional sickness of the author...I get it that her fascination with homosexual rape and sadism has made her millions, but that doesn't mean I have to watch it vomited up on my tv screen.

To cleanse my mind after that I watched the 1936 original version of Mr. Deeds Goes To Town starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, and directed by Frank Capra, for which he won his second Oscar as Best Director.

Adam Sandler did his usual crappy job of a remake years later, so if that's the only version you've seen, do yourself a favor and watch the original...no comparison.

Actually had some sunshine this morning...
Here's a more proportionate view of yours truly:
It's hell getting old...
Later, mcm fans...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The View...

...from the top...of my loft stairs, that is.  Every time I climb the stairs to my loft, this is the first thing I see...three upside down monster heads and a pair of Frankenstein boots...waiting for All Hallows Eve...

Tried a different brand of cigars this weekend...
La Aurora Preferidos #3...they're double perfectos, cameroon wrapper, about 4" with a 50 ring...medium strength.  I really like the double perfecto shape and these are good cigars from the Dominican Republic...pricey, but a pleasing smoke.  They're probably not going to replace my favorites - Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Stories - but still a quality cigar to enjoy with a good glass of rye whiskey.

Christmas was four months ago and I finally got my train set back together in my loft:

...last seen circling my aluminum Christmas tree during the holiday season...all aboard...

Karen's kids were scattered hither and yon over the weekend...the two older ones traveled with their brain dead sperm donor up north; Sarah went on a class trip to New York City...so Karen and I experienced some rare alone time.

On Friday night we watched Cinderella Man, a Ron Howard film from 2005 about James J Braddock.  This is a great film about an inspirational story during the depths of the Depression in the 1930's.
He had been a light heavyweight contender during the 1920's, but seemed washed up and over the hill after a series of injuries and losses.  Struggling like many Americans during the Depression, Braddock was offered a fight against a ranked heavyweight contender ("Corn" Griffin) with only two days notice for a purse of $250.  He was supposed to be fodder, a tomato can for Griffin to knock out on his way to a title fight, but Braddock shocked the world by knocking out Griffin in the 3rd round.  That earned him the right to keep fighting, and against staggering odds he defeated two more ranked opponents and earned a title shot against Max Baer ("Jethro"s dad, for all of you Beverly Hillbillies fans from the 1960's).  A 10 to 1 underdog, Braddock took Baer to 15 rounds and won a unanimous decision, a victory Damon Runyon pronounced "the greatest fistic upset since the defeat of John L Sullivan by James J Corbett".

The movie stars Russell Crowe as Braddock, with Paul Giamatti as his manager, Joe Gould.  A great and inspiring movie, based on actual events.  Definitely worth a look if you haven't seen it.

From great movie to amateur night...for those of you with nothing interesting to do, here's a brief snippet of the immortal classic, "A Day In The Life...of a Vintage Toy..."


Think tall, green, and formerly deceased...

Might have to change my blog name to Art Deco Cafe...seems like most of my interests have drifted back in time to that era...

Later, mcm fans...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Rocketeer...

...one of my all time favorite movies.  This pic is taken right off my tv screen...the scene near the end of the movie at the Griffith's Observatory where he's just about to fly up to the Zephyr and save Jennie.

Here's a better pic of the same scene...

Yeah, it's totally art deco...set in 1938, featuring Gee Bee racing planes...
...and an iconic Bulldog Diner...
...it's a throwback film with a clean plot and well drawn characters that are either the good guys or the bad guys...no wishy washy anti-heroes or ambiguous gray areas.  The closest the film comes to conflicted moral values is when great character actor Paul Sorvino as gangster Eddie Valentine stands shoulder to shoulder with an FBI agent as they both square off against the evil Nazi sympathizing villain, Timothy Dalton as Hollywood actor, Neville Sinclair.  The two combatants on opposite sides of the law exchange a meaningful glance, then resume their battle against the common foe.  As Eddie Valentine says, "I may not make an honest buck but I'm 100% American."

So I watched this film late Saturday night and believe it or not, that was probably the high point of my weekend...I've been in sort of a blue funk since we got back from New Orleans.  I usually leave a buffer day after vacation before I return to work, but not this time...so it was home late on Wednesday night and in early to work on Thursday...stumbled through Friday and collapsed into the weekend, oversleeping both Saturday and Sunday mornings...usually up by 6 am, but didn't roll out of the rack until 7 both days.

I'm recovered now...it was a beautiful sunny day and we put out some of the spring time stuff in the backyard and in general enjoyed the sunshine and warmer temps.

Did enjoy some solitude Saturday morning...
...and had the second fire of the season in the chiminea...

Now it's back into the salt mines on Monday...

Later, mcm fans...


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Connectivity...

...at 31,000 feet...I find this amazing...

We are currently winging our way home from New Orleans on United flight 685 and I hope it doesn't last a minute longer than absolutely necessary.  In the terminal we watched a young couple with two kids...you know the kind...they're enamored of their little angels and they're positive everyone else is, too.  Joy of joys, they're seated directly in front of us...

Ah, there's nothing like the sound of screaming children to evoke those raw, human, emotions of murderous rage and unbridled aggression...

Have I mentioned that I hate flying?  How are the TSA and all their mindless zealots not a violation of my 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure?  Tell me the terrorists haven't won...

But alas, the train is not an option for the return trip for reasons we shan't discuss here so here we are...I'm so happy I could spit.

Should be home by 8 tonight, then it's back to work tomorrow...really need to publish that best seller soon...
This blog entry published at 31,000 feet, courtesy of the Friendly Skies...
Do stewardi still give you a "come hither" look with bedroom eyes?  Maybe in the Mad Men era from whence cometh this ad, but no more...
 
Later, mcm fans...



Preservation Hall...

...and Mr. Leroy Jones.  We're starting with the highlights of our stay in The Big Easy...and this was definitely a high point...everything you read and hear about Preservation Hall is true...it's a small, hot, humble, ramshackle venue on St. Peter's street, about half a block from Bourbon St...

...but the live jazz music played there is "must experience in person" stuff.  Leroy Jones, jazz trumpeter extraordinaire, who toured with Harry Connick Jr's band as his lead soloist, was the leader of the band Monday night and what a treat.  It was a fabulous show put on before an enthusiastic crowd, truly the highlight of this trip.  Marcellus was thrilled to find out he'd be listening to Leroy Jones in person, and the night was everything we hoped it would be and more.

Another highlight was listening to Marcellus playing his trumpet from the observation deck of our hotel against the backdrop of the night time skyline...
it don't mean a thing if ain't got that swing and the saints came marchin' in our last night at the hotel...
The lad is good and I told him he may have a talent the world needs to hear, so keep that in mind while pursuing his jazz dreams.

In general it was fun walking the area...lots of art and street musicians of varying quality and talent, but all with an open venue to practice their craft and vie for tips from passersby.

We stopped at the Jazz Park, which is really just a room with not a lot to see...it's performance based, and they have artists stop by several times a week.

I did get a pic of Marcellus with Satchmo...

...and we did tour the beautiful outdoor Louis Armstrong park and its various statues of Jazz greats...
a slightly larger version of the great Louis Armstrong...
Sidney Bechet
Charles "Buddy" Bolden
Switching gears a bit, New Orleans is known for its food almost as much as its Jazz...

Don't normally see alligator and jambalaya on menus back home.  Marcellus did try 'gator - he said it was ok - and there are lots of "Alligator - the other white meat" t-shirts for sale everywhere.

We steered clear of the more exotic fare since we didn't have a week or two to fight the gastrointestinal battles of acclimation to local cuisine.

A famous restaurant everyone lines up for is the Cafe du Monde...
they line up every day for their world famous beignets and coffee...
We tried the faster, less crowded, less expensive version of the beignet - a deep fried pastry with tons of powdered sugar - at a little place a half block away...dee-lish...

Breakfast was in room and traditional...
Delicious - the coffee at the Omni Royal Orleans hotel is excellent - but like all food in this tourist town, incredibly expensive.

Dinner was out and about at various restaurants...
By the time our stay was finished, I'd made a couple of mortgage payments on food for the four of us.  Yikes.

And of course, no visit to the French Quarter would be complete without the requisite visit to Bourbon Street and the surrounding area...

the infamous rue bourbon...

you can bet patrons of this hotel don't get to sleep before 3 am...

encouraging message, but only applies at night...walk in groups or get mugged...

did not buy any zombie cigars...made with real brains, I assume...
the town is obsessed with voodoo and mystics...
scraping the bottom of the barrel on Bourbon Street...
So that was our stay in the Big Easy for a couple of days...flying home this afternoon and back in the saddle tomorrow...

later, mcm fans...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter...

...on The City Of New Orleans...Praise God, He is risen.  Our sins have been paid for; all that remains is for us to put our faith in God's Son who died for us, and rose again.

I love overnights on the train, but I'll be honest...I don't sleep all that much...more like doze off and on...but it's great waking up and feeling the rhythm of the rails, hearing the sound of the train horn, the wind rushing by as we cross this great country...then doze again for a while.

Up at 5 am central time to shower, but there's too much motion to attempt shaving...I'm not that brave to risk the effects of a sudden lurch with a straight razor on my throat...by 5:30 we were ahead of schedule and approaching Memphis, Tennessee...

...arrived a few minutes later as the new day dawned...
a chilly morning in Memphis
Did my usual "check on work" routine from the observation car, then sat down to a good scrambled eggs breakfast with three friendly strangers...they seat you 4 to a booth for meals whenever possible.

The rest of the day was rolling through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana...
tired travelers, somewhere in Mississippi...
...we did pass a sobering sight...there were large work crews with heavy equipment working in muddy conditions, cleaning up the after effects of a train derailment...by the time we realized what it was and I could pull out my camera, we were almost completely by the scene...
to the far left is the last of several damaged train cars from the derailment...
We rolled into the New Orleans station a little ahead of schedule...I really like NOL (the station letters in the Amtrak system)...new, wide open spaces, marble floors, and cool pics and murals on the walls:

From there we took a cab to the Omni Royal Orleans hotel...
palm trees...cool...
...and settled in to our rooms...Marcellus and I in one, Karen and Sarah in the other.

Marcellus and I got a workout done in the 7th floor fitness center, then all of us enjoyed the view from the top of the hotel, overlooking the French Quarter...


this is a panographic view of the harbor and bridge in the distance
the view at night...
We were all tired from our travels, so we just hoofed across the street and enjoyed a good but overpriced meal at...
...crowded and noisy, exactly as you'd expect in the French Quarter, I suppose...

More to come, mcm fans...