Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ah, the beach

No words needed.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Christmas in July

Slow and easy in the horrible heat. Things are just dragging along. So, to cheer myself up I took another look at Preston Sturge's comedy Christmas in July, from 1940. Dick Powell stars as an office clerk mistakenly thinking he's won a coffee slogan contest and starts buying everything in sight on credit. Short(just over an hour), hilarious, and full of heart.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Conan Doyle and Houdini

While revisiting some favorite Conan Doyle stories recently I became intrigued with his thoughts on Spiritualism. It lead to this article Houdini and Conan Doyle: The Story of a Strange Friendship.
"They were both profoundly interested in the subject of Spiritualism; however, their views differed completely. Houdini was the skeptic, the exposer of psychic frauds; Doyle the believer, the St. Paul of Spiritualism. How could these two persons have become affectionated friends and then bitter enemies is a fascinating tale which deserves telling."

Fascinating stuff! Credit to A Study in Sherlock for the link.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


"Books are the food of youth, the delight of old age; the ornament of prosperity, the refuge and comfort of adversity; a delight at home, and no hindrance abroad; companions by night, in traveling, in the country".


Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Greatest Adventure

The band conductor announced during a concert on a hot Summer night from my youth that Apollo 11 had landed. There was polite applause from the audience. I was 10 years old and sitting in the 2nd saxophone seat. I wasn't good enough to be in the first seat, but like Buzz Aldrin, I might have qualified to be in the first seat.
They skipped their rest period and climbed down the ladder a couple hours after we got home. I'll never forget how excited I was glued to the tv watching in astonishment with my family. The perfect Summer for a 10 year old.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

His True Love

a story of an endearing and enduring love....

Somewhere hidden down deep in the thick sauce Barney figured he might just be able to find a little meat. He mumbled to himself as he fished around the platter with his fork, then on to his spoon. He loathed anything in a heavy sauce and thought why did the bus have to break down near the Copper Kettle Restaurant? Copper? Is that what the taste was in his mouth now? He did see the cook walk out the front door earlier. Maybe he climbed up to the roof and chipped off some copper flakes from the ornamental kettle and mixed ‘em right in with the meat and onion ‘special.’

The bus made it back from Raleigh and halted in Mt. Pilot with ‘mee-canical’ problems. That’s how the driver pronounced it as each person exited the beached whale. Eleven miles from home is where Barney’s return from vacation washed ashore. He’d had a great time in Raleigh though. Getting all dressed up, watching the ping pong matches and attending another lecture on cleanliness. He knew how to spend all of fifteen dollars to have a grand time.

“Enjoying your meal, Bernie?”
In a way he was glad to see Skippy as his waitress. She looked good in her tight light blue uniform and crooked white name tag.

“Oh, yes, fit for a King,” he deadpanned.

She horse laughed, repeated it to Daphne behind the counter and asked:

“Can I get you anything else, Bernie?”

“It’s Barney. I’ll take a dish of soft ice cream if fifteen cents’ll cover it,” he said as he was sorting out the rest of his leftover cash.

“You’re a big spender, Charlie,” she horse laughed again as she slapped him on the back.

Al was at the counter flirting with Daphne and when he crossed the line and she yelled ‘don’t,’ that deep baritone of hers made the silver ware on Barney’s table vibrate. He wished he had walked a little ways down the street to the up scale Klein’s Coffeehouse. That’s where the bus driver with the big belly said he was headed while the bus was being towed and repaired. Big-bellied bus drivers wearing a shirt with their names stitched in can be relied upon to sniff out good eats. Barney shook his head slowly and grimaced as he thought of it.

The bus was fixed and they were ready to roll again as it was getting dark. A brisk February breeze had kicked up and Barney had both hands holding on his signature white hat as he sprinted towards the bus almost missing it. How could this day get any worse he thought. This topped cousin Virgil’s misadventure for sure. At least he knew his suitcase was aboard. He settled back into the seat and took a deep breath thankful he was heading to Mayberry. About five miles out he checked the time but his watch was gone. He rummaged quickly through all his pockets to no avail. His heart sunk. The anniversary watch was lost. He rubbed his skinny wrist where it should’ve been. He was pretty sure it was in the washroom at the Copper Kettle but the well-fed bus driver refused to go back.

Thinking about that watch reminded Barney of a better day. He leaned back and closed his eyes remembering that small gathering at the ‘five’ party and his thoughts drifted towards her. She was there wasn’t she? Whenever he was tense he could think of his girl and his problems would drown like a bad meal in a heavy sauce. Her full red lips brushing softly on his cheek or pressing sweetly on his lips. Her skin the shade of the lighter petals of the sulphur rose. Her cinnamon-colored hair swept back and fastened with a silver pin once belonging to her Grandmother. The Soul of Sweetness. He let out a deep sigh and opened his eyes.

“Thelma Lou,” he whispered. She was there.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Juggler

I suffer from vertigo. A couple years ago, as part of self-help therapy, I took up juggling to help me work on my balance. I taught myself by watching W. C. Fields in "The Old-Fashioned Way", from 1934.
Fields plays The Great McGonigle, leader of a troupe in the early 1900's travelling from town to town just one step ahead of the last town's sheriff who's chasing them for unpaid bills.
It's a film full of great comedic moments, not just by Fields, but also by Jan Duggan as a town's rich widow, Cleopatra Pepperday, horribly singing "The Sea Shell Song" for an audition.
After the troupe performs 'The Drunkard' to a captive small-town audience, Fields closes the show with a juggling routine which is incredible. The years he juggled in vaudeville comes to life in a great sequence with balls, sticks, and cigar boxes. A real joy.

You can't kill a hero

Mickey Spillane

Sunday, July 16, 2006

real good

So Dan Rather joins Mark Cuban's HDTV Network. Will he be relegated to the 6 to 6:15am spot doing the Farm Report with a chicken as his sidekick? I'd rather see the old "SCTV" version in high def called Farm Film Report, with Big Jim McBob and Billy Saul Hurok (John Candy and Joe Flaherty), who would review films based on how things got "blowed up real good." Sometimes they'd have a guest in the studio like Neil Sedaka (Eugene Levy), and make him sing higher and higher 'til he "blowed up real good."
Now that would be fun in HD.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Film of the day

Classic by Hitch. Based on the book by John Buchan (also quite a good read), this movie seems to be the template for every 'wrong man' thriller made today.

The 39 Steps

Friday, July 14, 2006

Father & Son

It was warm and so perfect….Such a perfect day after the hard rain from the previous night when the thunder had kept the boy awake and afraid. He had crept into his father’s bed for safety. Now, in the warmth, the father and son walked the lake side path near the pines. The slight breeze off the lake brought the smell of the woods. The son picked up a rock and skipped it into Myer’s at a clearing between the trees. He looked back at his father and he smiled and said ‘hmmm MMMM.’ Out in the boat, the son wore his father’s hat. Too big and it creased his ears but he was happy to have on his father’s hat. He felt safe under its brim, like when he had crept under the covers of his father’s bed. He made a funny face at his father, smiling and pointing at his missing tooth. He watched his father cast.
“Like this, son.” His father knew because he was the best.
“Ok, pa.” He imitated his father and his father smiled his approval. The son noticed his father had a perfect-toothed smile. The father was right about just wetting a toothbrush.
The son liked fishing with his buddies, but he loved it more with his father. His father knew the best spots and knew when to keep quiet. They had such great luck and fun together. The father did not have this luxury when he was a youngin.’ He had no father when he was his son’s age and now he was so glad to teach his son all the tricks. They were adrift on this warm, perfect day and they were so happy together.
The father reeled in a big one.
“Looky there!”
But the son was not having any luck and he seemed to be getting sadder now. The father could sense it with no more than a glance and he thought for a moment. He said:
“Did I ever tell you about the time Barney and me were fishing in this very boat and she sprung a leak?”
“No, pa, what happened?”, the son said leaning forward.
“I said, Barney, I said, we best make another hole quick to let the water out!”
“Ohhh, pa,” the son said giggling as the father reached over and tickled his side.
The father cast a line in the son’s memory.The son was happy and could reel it in later if he needed to.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


The journey begins to find the road home, winding along through stories, photos, and rambling vignettes.

Bring a dog along.

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