Sunday, November 22, 2020

On Repeat: Hollywood Beauties (Part 1)

Going through my media collection and hitting the repeat function so the film play continually all day long.  Here are some thoughts on lesser known works in the public domain.

Lady of Burlesque: An interesting 'who done it' and an enlightening look at the past and what passed for entertainment.  Basically the equivalent of an "R" rated film in the 1930s, where a fledgling Hollywood was using up older vaudeville acts to put on film.  Racy for its day, it seems cute now.

A Strange Woman: Strange indeed.  A psychopathic narcissistic woman wrecks havoc on the small town in Maine where she grew up.  More of a morality tale of how women were NOT supposed to act.  The viewer has a hard time believing that any woman could look as good as Heddy Lamar does in 18th century New England.

Sundown:  White men in Africa, selling guns to the natives.  Overly stylized with religious and political undertones.  Again, Gene Tierney looks totally glamorous and out of place in this romanticized romp through the dark continent.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Hypocrisy Store


I went to Hobby Lobby this afternoon with my wife. I don’t often go here, but they do have some interesting things from time to time that give me some creative ideas. However, I try not to shop here because I dont agree with the religious beliefs of its owners.

If you are one of the lucky few that have not been to Hobby Lobby, it is a Christian based chain of craft stores. There are bibles of all shapes and sizes at the checkout counters right next to all those candy bars and trinkets for the kids. 

The owners refused to offer employees any family planning coverage (read abortion) on their employee healthcare policy based on religious grounds. They took this argument all the way to the supreme court, and won their case.  Fair enough, that is their right.

They are not open on Sundays, stating on their corporate website that they believe that employees should be spending time with family and going to church on the sabbath. Fair enough, it is their store. 

However, since this is an outlet that leans toward the conservative side of politics, I am assuming that there may be some connection with the current administration, since both are claiming the mantle of the Evangelical right. 

So I was rather amused and shocked, that as I walked through the store waiting for my wife to finish her shopping, every item I picked up to examine proclaimed it was ‘Made in China’. I mean, EVERYTHING (90% of the merchandise) was made in China. Cute signs that read “Home Sweet Home”, “God Bless This Mess”, cups, mugs, plates, door knobs, all made in China. The cherry on top of all this were those Bibles at checkout...all PRINTED in China. 

So here is a store that claims to preach and practice good Christian values, where most of their profit is made from the sale of merchandise that comes halfway across the world, from a godless communist country. 

So when the current occupant of the White House claims that all our problems and health risks are from China, they are basically saying that Hobby Lobby needs to be put out of business. Because, I can assure you, there aren’t enough Americans that demand a minimum wage of $14/hour who are willing to make all these knick-knacks for the same price as the Chinese. 

It isn’t Hobby Lobby, it is the China Outlet Store. When it comes to politics and religion, you have to remember to follow the money.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Not The World I Want....

So, I took my car in for a recall this past week.   No big deal, it was a software update for the transmission.  Took about an hour.  To kill some time I walked down the street to Home Depot and the Sierra Vista Mall. 

I assumed that the mall would be deserted, due to the pandemic.  The Sears and Dillard's anchor stores have gone out of business and only a Best Buy and the Cinemas are keeping it open.  A sign on the window indicated that the hours of operation were 11am to 5pm on weekdays.  It was around 9:30am when I arrived.

I brought my camera along to take some pictures of what I assumed would be a stark and empty post pandemic landscape.  The mall had not opened yet, so there was no one around, or so I assumed.  As I meandered around the mall heading toward Home Depot I was approached by two gentlemen who asked what I was doing. 

The heavy set gentlemen was apparently the property manager of the mall, his companion was an armed and uniformed security officer. They questioned what I was doing, and then told me that taking pictures of the buildings was not allowed.  I was a bit stunned.  I apologized for 'breaking their rules' and headed off the property, although there were no signs or warnings indicating that what I was doing was improper or illegal. 


As I walked out of the parking lot, I started to chuckle at the whole experience.  From my work experience in social work and insurance, I understood their logic.  I could have been an attorney taking pictures of a slip and fall claim location, or a city employee documenting zoning code violations.  With that mindset you would want to minimize your risk.  However....this is a public space.  A space that would be open to the public within the hour. 

What they were not considering, was that I could put a GoPro camera in my hat and take all the pictures I wanted, or I could wait until they opened in an hour and walk into the (deserted) food court and snap-away.  Never mind the fact that I might have been a paying customer waiting to attend the cinema, who was chased off by badass security dude and his henchmen.   

This is the world I find myself in.  One where distrust and control are paramount and interactions are always suspect.  I don't know if their limited mindset could have fathomed my walking across the street and using a telephoto lens, or god forbid I had a drone in my car that could fly over the buildings.  Fear rules now-a-days and everyone is suspicious of everyone else.  Hardly the society that my parents envisioned or the one in which I want to live. 


Friday, August 14, 2020

Things Old Guys Do - The Catio


The wife and I are pet people.  We have always had dogs and cats.  They are our kids and we tend to spoil them from time to time.  

One of the things that Sue has always wanted was an outdoor enclosure for our cats so that they could go 'outside' but still be safe from all the nasty things that come after cats.  Sue nagged me for one of these until I finally gave in and said 'fine'.  You find a contractor and have one built. 

Sue went through four different contractors, all of whom never got back to her with an estimate. Most of the 'handymen' in town sort of saw a crazy lady that wanted to build a cat-condo.  So, in the end, I realized that if I was ever going to shut Sue up about this project, I would have to build it myself.  I agreed with the condition that I would have full creative control and budget authority.  This really irked Sue, but at this point, I held all the cards.

The project took about four months to complete and had to meet several parameters which included; it had to be free standing (the Catio does not touch the house), it had to conform to the design and look of the 115 year old house, it had to be accessible for cleaning, and it had to be off the ground due to weather / water and vermin (bugs and skunks).

The end result is a three tiered enclosure that is primarily made of metal with a wooden facade.  Almost all of the wood was re-purposed from other projects that we had around the houses.  The Catio was incorporated into the spiral staircase that I build which replaced the rotted stairway that came with the house.

The lamp post was left over from when we lived in Phoenix.  It was purchased for our home in Encanto/Palmcroft and never used.  Eight years later it was finally taken out of the box and placed on the corner of the porch. It is wired with the original knob and tube porcelain fixtures that were still on the outside of the house. 

The cats access the catio through a tunnel that leads from the enclosed sun-porch off the master bedroom, under a bench and onto the catio itself.  At the end of the catio is an enclosed area were the litter boxes are placed and can be accessed from the outside (no more indoor litter boxes). 

The cats are still figuring it out, but most have realized that there are a lot more birds to watch from the catio perches than through the windows in the house.  I have yet to show Sue what the bill is for the labor involved.  It won't be cheap.  Did I mention that we spoil our pets?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Poindexter's Swan Song

Hey!   Howdy!

Thanks for taking the time to find me.  My name is Poindexter and I was a member of the Johnson Pack for 10 years.  Talk about a life!  Whew, it was wild and crazy and fun!  

Let me tell you a little about myself since you went to all the trouble to get here. 

I don't recall much of my first days.  I remember getting lost and being alone in Phoenix, Arizona one night in a strip mall parking lot.  I sort of assumed that was the end.  Life had been good up to that point, but I was still just a puppy, so I didn't really know much.  

On that  dark night with cars whizzing by I first caught a glimpse of the pack leaders.  They saw me huddled in a doorway, looked at me, and started having an intense conversation.  I didn't know what they were going to do, but they were huge.  Finally, the big one, who I will call HIM (apparently the pack leader), reached down, put out his hand and scooped me up.  I was so tired and weak that anyplace would have been better than that parking lot.  

HIM and HER carried me to a huge truck and drove away.  I was just hoping that they wouldn't hurt me.  I was clueless.  Looking back, it was the BEST day of my life. 

They brought me to the pack den where I was surprised to find out that they had other pack members as well.  THREE of them and one was HUGE.   I had never seen another dog that big.  They kept calling her 'Dane' and 'Chella'. 

The leaders let me sleep in their bed with them that night.  There were other small creatures there as well, not dogs, but small animals that purred.  I curled up and went to sleep.  It was the first quiet place I had known in days.  

I later found out that HER had stated that if I barked to much, they wouldn't accept me into the pack.  I am glad I kept my mouth shut that night.  

So started my life with the Johnson Pack.  Many others came and went.  Some stayed for a few days, others are still there.  It was always a busy a pack den and there was always something to do. 

I can't recall all the pack-mates I had; Bacchus, Max, Chella, Thunder, Lightning, Peanut, Moxy, Ava, Henry, Iris and those were just the dogs.  I didn't interact with the non-pack purring crowd much.  They were sort of aloof. 

It took a few days to learn the pack routine and pecking order.  We all got along pretty well most of the time. I quickly learned that Chella was my buddy, since nobody messed with her.  I also learned where to go and not to go and what not to do.  Teething on power cords was one of things not do.  120 volts going through a small dog is not fun!

The pack initially lived in a park where all of us would run and frolic each morning and we would wrestle on the living room floor each night. 

Then there were trips to other pack dens, huge forests, the beach (ow the smells) and long car rides. One of the perks of being the smallest dog was 'Lap Time'.  I always got the front seat, while the rest of the pack had to sit in back....SWEET!. 

After a few years, we moved far south to the mountains.  Different smells and different trees and plants.  There was always something new and different in the Johnson Pack.   And I gotta tell ya, the FOOD was excellent.  I don't how other dogs survive on what they get.  But HER made the best food twice a day.  Needless to say, I was never really a 'thin' dog. 

This lasted for almost 10 human years.  I was pushing 70 dog years at the end.  It was a wild ride.  One that I am so glad I got to go on and I hope you all get a similar chance.  My time with the Johnson Pack taught me a few things: 

  • Don't loose hope, it is usually darkest before the dawn.
  • Size really does not matter, its the size of your heart that matters. 
  • Big dogs aren't as tough as they look 
  • Big dogs get big bones, little dogs get the passenger seat and the bed
  • If it is a good pack, they will NEVER leave you behind. 
  • ....and don't chew on power cords. 

Hope you all have a wonderful life!  I know I did.  Good Luck!

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Cinema Cycle - National Geographic: Miniature Miracle, The Computer Chip

National Geographic
Friday, 03.20.2020



Bruce Johnson


Miniature Miracle: The Computer Chip

  1. Alexander Scourby could narrate the phone book and I'd listen
  2. Computers, pre internet
  3. Early early pioneers, historical
  4. Many of these people aren't around to see what their work became.
  5. Totally missed the internet and it's quantifying multiplier
  6. Focus on biomedical potential, not Surveillance / A.I.
  7. Ni eve, they ONLY saw the good.

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 14 miles
  • 57  minutes
  • Odometer =  11806.8 miles  

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Cinema Cycle - The World At War / Volume 5 / Pincers

The World At War - Pincers
Thursday, 03.11.2020



Bruce Johnson


  1. Seen this many times, but always a great documentary
  2. The series focuses on the tragedy of war, not the glory. 
  3. The best laid plans…...

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 9.5 miles
  • 52 minutes
  • Odometer =  11803.3 miles  

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Cinema Cycle - Sex and the City / Season 2 - Episode 4 (They Shoot Single People Don't They?)

Sex and the City
Thursday, 03.9.2020



Bruce Johnson

Season 2 / Episode4

They shoot single people don't they?
  1. Good looking wealthy women and the pitfalls of faking relationships / orgasams
  2. If I had a 12 year old son, I would require him to watch this series.  So he knew what to expect in his future. 
  3. A somber episode, with Cynthia Nixon as a quasi-porn star, but it is funny. 

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 5.6 miles
  • 25 minutes
  • Odometer =  11798.4 miles  

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Cinema Cycle - Horowitz in Moscow

Horowitz in Moscow 
Thursday, 03.6.2020



Bruce Johnson


  1. Apparently, Vlad only plays a Steinway
  2. Vlad...Moscow rock star
  3. Very, very somber opening, you could hear a fart in this music hall.
  4. Horowitz, eyes closed, all the notes from memory.  EGAD. He is in his 70s here.
  5. At about 30 minutes he really starts tinkling those ivories 
  6. Vlad needs a bathroom break, Audience says NO WAY.
  7. Based on pans of the audience,  uni-brows were pretty common on women in the old Soviet Union.
  8. In the interview sections Vlad is pretty hard to understand.
  9. I can't believe that anyone can have that much dexterity in their fingers at the age of 70.

Cinema Cycle Notes
  • 20.7 miles
  • 100  minutes
  • Odometer =  11,813.5 miles  

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Cinema Cycle - Lena's Holiday

Lena's Holiday
Thursday, 03.4.2020



Bruce Johnson


  1. Odd opening, thrown into a foreign situation.
  2. Apparently star vehicle for the lead actress, who I have never heard of.
  3. So far ignorant foreigner lost in 1990s L.A.
  4. Emphasis on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the liberation of East Germany.
  5. It appears that Lena wears less and less clothes as the film progresses.
  6. This movie has flow issues, follow on scenes are not plausible. 
  7. Chis Lemmon is a dead ringer for his father.
  8. Less clothes is right!
  9. Sort of like Dorothy from East Berlin, visits Ozziewood.
  10. There is good production value here.
  11. I could use a bit less stock footage with music overlay.  
  12. Definite fantasy, no one in LA lives like this

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 19.8 miles
  • 100 minutes
  • Odometer =  11,812.6 miles  

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Cinema Cycle - Scenes from a Mall

Scenes from a Mall
Thursday, 02.28.2020



Bruce Johnson


  1. Life in 1990 Los Angeles
  2. Woody and Bette dialogue can be hard to take.
  3. In the time before cell phones, every phone has a cord!
  4. Malls don't look like this anymore.
  5. So far I am underwhelmed.  To much fast Woody dialogue and personal issues. 
  6. Not movie escapism, more like movie therapy.
  7. Not enjoying this.  Tedious / not funny.
  8. Woody takes profound films by foreign directors and puts an American slant on them. 
  9. It's a sort of plagiarism. (Scenes from a Marriage)
  10. Sex scene in the theater...Really?
  11. The best thing about this film is the Mime.
  12. All the franchise mall stores that are no longer in business.
  13. Fabio in the elevator!
  14. Ideal movie for folks going through a divorce.

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 17.4 miles
  • 89 minutes
  • Odometer =  11792.8 miles 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cinema Cycle - Duck Victory

Looney Toons:
Duck Victory
Thursday, 02.26.2020



Bruce Johnson

Daffy Duck Screen Classics

  1. That classic animation
  2. Lots of gunfire
  3. All that gunfire, but no one is ever injured. Slap stick for sure, but so politically incorrect today.
  4. Lots of subtle innuendos
  5. The many incarnations of Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
  6. Road Runner / Coyote theme.  Everything made by Acme.

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 19  miles
  • 93 minutes
  • Odometer =  11774.4 miles  

Monday, February 24, 2020

Cinema Cycle - Naked City: A Hole In The City

Naked City
Thursday, 02.24.2020



Bruce Johnson

A Hole In The City

  1. First 10 minutes, armored car robbery and chase, wow.
  2. The best thing about this series are the young group of actors who went on to win Oscars. In this case Robert Duvall.
  3. A whole lot of murder going on.
  4. A young Ed Asner with hair.
  5. The simplistic idea of police work back in the day
  6. I love the cinematic style.
  7. The dream sequences in this segment are just surreal
  8. Ow no, they shot Lew Grant!
  9. ….and the ending with the classic hail of gunfire.

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 10.4 miles
  • 51 minutes
  • Odomenter =  11765.8 miles  

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Cinema Cycle - The Three Stooges / Quiz Whiz

The Three Stooges
Thursday, 02.20.2020



Bruce Johnson

Title: Quiz Whiz

  1. Stooges, the latter years.
  2. A live action cartoon.
  3. Black & White Dumb and Dumberer
  4. Filler between reels, time to visit the snack bar.
  5. Inappropriate today, but funny.

Cinema Cycle Notes

  • 3.3 miles
  • 16 minutes
  • Odometer =  11755.4 miles