Thursday, July 31, 2014

California Republican Candidate Poses as a Homeless Person

It really is an intriguing story, how Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for governor of California, lived for a week as a homeless person recently.  Kashkari is barely recognized in the golden state where Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown often makes headlines.  Like it or not, Brown has an appeal to Californians.  He's down to Earth in ways other state leaders are not.  It's something that has carried over from his first round as governor decades ago.  However, I doubt Brown would ever go homeless in his quest for re-election.

You can see a local news story on the happening here.  I actually think it's neat that Kashkari did this, if only because it creates discussion.  People have a lot of fabricated ideas about people on the street; many don't realize just how easy it is to get there.

So much for politics.  Now I'm going back to watching a vintage episode of "Daniel Boone" that has been sitting on my DVR for a couple of weeks.  I miss the old westerns and this one was pretty decent, even though now that I'm older I'm more aware of some of the show politics that went on between the cast members.  I guess it's just part of humanity; still, I recently learned that it was essentially Patricia Blair that forced Veronica Cartwright off the series.  Cartwright talked about it an interview that I saw.  Apparently, with the youthful actress growing up and starting to be paired romantically with characters, Blair felt threatened that she was made to be older.  Actresses are sadly vain like that all too often, and it's a shame since the redhead was a very beautiful woman.

And with that, I revive my Orry's Orations blog, at least to some degree for now.  Anyone out there?  Have a great day!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Early Morning Reflections of Friendships Gone By - Part 3

It's hard to realize that you have no one to call, not if your car breaks down, you want to go to a movie, you're sick and need medicine, or just to chat.  That may be hard for some to realize, that there are people who have not a single soul they could call up, not for an emergency or for recreation, but it happens.  In some cases, friends live in other states or countries.  Sometimes there is simply no one.  It is a very sad and lonely feeling to know that is your situation.  As I reflect back on life and friendships come and gone, there are a lot of different reasons for finding myself in the situation I'm in.

As I've written in the last couple of posts, my insecurities started as a young child.  Though I'm actually confident in my abilities, I live in this strange dichotomy where I'm also very insecure at the same time.  I think I'm good, but maybe not good enough.  My friends have covered the gamut in interests and personalities and a lot of them have been very intelligent.  While I'm no dummy and actually have an above average IQ, they're smarter and, perhaps more importantly, they've done more with their lives.  It is one reason why I'll never go to a class reunion, that and the physical equation.

When junior high rolled around, most of my friends from elementary school ended up doing their own thing.  I didn't really see them as much as before.  Junior high for my group meant 7th and 8th grades with high school being years 9-12.  It was in 8th grade when I met a gal who quickly became my best friend of that era.  We met at the water fountain at the back of a school room.  Her name was Beryl, but she was called Babs.  She had long red hair and a great smile.  That's how I remember her -- smiling.

There are many different religious beliefs and even back then I believed in a pre-existence and an after life.  Babs is the only person I've ever met who I really felt like I'd known in the pre-existence.  It wasn't just that we clicked right away, but I truly felt like I knew her already.  It was strange.  I thought about it a lot even as our friendship was taking shape.

We had great fun.  Her mom was British, and I just loved listening to her talk.  She and I got along well, and I truly enjoyed spending hours upon hours with her and Babs at their apartment.  They had a cute little dog, too.  Babs' dad was in the military and stationed in Vietnam.  That was the first time I'd known anyone in that situation and frankly, it was scary.  I didn't know him, but I worried about his safety a lot.

Babs loved horses and the TV show, Alias Smith and Jones.  I loved it, too.  We used to quote dialog to each other.  I still remember a portion of one of our favorite bits, though I haven't watched the episode in quite a while now.  The character of Hannibal Heyes is trying to calm down his partner, Kid Curry, who has been told not to wear his gun in town.  Curry objects and he's insisting to Heyes that he's hungry, is going to go out, and will be wearing his gun.  The more mellow and mild type Heyes threatens something to the extent of “Take another step and I'll flatten ya.”  Curry's retort is “Before breakfast?”  We'd laugh our heads off at that exchange.

In the show, Heyes was played by Pete Duel, a wonderful actor who sadly took his own life during the Christmas holidays.  We were so saddened.  One night at her apartment, we conducted a seance.  It was so cool, especially when we got responses.  Oh geez.  We screamed and laughed.  Was Pete Duel really listening to us?  It's a crazy memory, one that lives on brightly as part of my friendship with Babs.

Unfortunately, when Babs' father returned, he was transferred back east almost immediately.  It was really hard to watch my best friend leave, but we stayed in touch.  We wrote each other all the time and then somewhere along the line we started corresponding via cassette audiotapes.  We acted like DJs practically, including favorite songs and even singing along to them.  In between the songs, we chatted about whatever was going on or how we felt about this and that.  Somewhere in my tape collection, I still have a couple of those tapes.  Babs even came up with our own secret code and sometimes we'd write notes using that code.  I actually have the master code in my papers somewhere.

Eventually, Babs' father retired from the military and the family moved to Texas.  Phone calls, tapes, letters: they all continued through high school and into college. They slowed down from the rapid fire of our younger days, but it was still constant.  As time passed, she graduated from college and went on to get a couple of pretty good jobs.  Like I said, she was smart.

On the other hand, my career never panned out.  My dreams of becoming a teacher just never happened, and I had financial woes that necessitated a change in colleges.  That change turned into a disaster when the new college wouldn't accept all the credits and wanted me to take specific courses that had a bunch of prerequisites that I didn't want to take.  It messed me up royally and ultimately, it ended up adding to my self-esteem issues.  She was doing so well; I wasn't.

I attribute the falling away of our friendship to me.  As I recall, I didn't respond as fast as I had been and I think I let too much time go by.  The truth was that it was one of those bad times where I didn't feel like I had anything to contribute.  At this stage, I don't know who wrote the last letter or made the last phone call, but the time came when there was just no more contact.  We had only seen each other one time after her father's return.  They were on a trip and made a point to drop by.  We had a fun night together.

All of this was before the Internet, but once I had a computer, at some point I did look her up.  At least, I think it was her.  I did write, but never had a response.  I can't say she got it because it was only a guess as to whether or not the person I found was actually her.

Again, I take the blame.  I know I slowed down and I think it was probably me who never wrote again.  It's so hard being in a bad place emotionally.  I just believed she was happier and doing so much better professionally that I stopped.  That's how I think it was.  That said, of all my friends from my past, the one whose picture remains on my shelf is Babs.  It's one she had taken at her office from one of her jobs.  It's just so her and brings back those fun times.  She was a great best friend.  I wish I'd been up to the task.

In truth, I have the same problem today.  I don't feel like I do anything interesting and just can't compare to those I care about.  Their lives seem so much more fulfilling.  I can't live up to them, not to Todd, not to Peggy, and not to Babs.  Certainly, with my circumstances today, I pale alongside most anyone I know, online and offline.

Far from the days when I could rely on those three and others, the world today is more quiet for me, but I will always cherish that year that Babs was here and we had so much fun together.  I'll relish forever the letters and tapes, not to mention the crazy phone calls, including those times when I asked to speak to her mom just so I could hear her accent.

As I type this now, I also think we did have one more odd connection, decades after our last communication.  I can't swear to it because too much time has passed, but I think her dad went to work for a major department store and now that I think about, I believe it's the same one I ended up working for many years later.  I hadn't thought about that until writing this text, but I think I'm right.  Just a funny tidbit, if the recollection is correct.

Babs, if you're out there, my apologies for dropping the ball.  I have all the confidence in the world that you're leading a happy and successful life, and I certainly hope you're still riding horses and maybe own one yourself.  Take care!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Early Morning Reflections of Friendships Gone By - Part 2

Due to things going on in my life, I found myself unable to sleep and reflecting back on old friendships.  Perhaps for some it would be best to use the term acquaintances.  Actually, my mind has gone all over the place, jumping back and forth in time from childhood and college years to today when most of my time is spent enjoying a British singer versus spending any time with people in the present.  The truth is that people aren't always around in your physical space.  In fact, my friends are spread out so it gets pretty lonely, and I suppose the truth is that right now there is just no one to talk to; hence, my openness here in a blog seldom read and most certainly not by anyone I actually know from my past.

In thinking back upon what was yesterday, my mind wanders to elementary school.  In my mom's day, that was a small class, one that kept in touch to their dying days -- literally.  They corresponded, phoned, and had yearly class reunions that most went to at least every few years.  In good times and bad, they were friends through the decades.  In my day, the class was much larger and the truth is that I probably wouldn't know any of my classmates if I saw them on the street today.  Still, I remember so many of them for various reasons.

Pat (as in Patrick, not Patricia) was our political wannabee.  He was always class something or another.  He actually ended up being the class president in high school.  I liked him and we had a good rapport.  A bit like Todd, who I wrote about in my previous post, the girls thought there was more there on my part.  Wrong again.  I just don't have problems being pals with the boys as much as with the girls.  I couldn't tell you a thing about him now except that he always wanted to be the leader, and I think his best friend was Russell, who was usually in the other class (there tended to be two classes in whatever level we were at as we ventured up from kindergarten through the sixth grade) and lived across the street from the school.

Trina is a gal I remember from the very early grades, though I really couldn't tell you a thing about her except that she was blonde and I remember playing at her house.  In fact, even though my brain recalls nearly nothing about her, I actually think about her every time I go by that house which is quite frequently.

My first experience with a classmate dying was with Bobby.  I recall that walking to school one day, a friend asked if I'd heard about Bobby.  I hadn't and she didn't tell me anything at all.  At school, we had just enough desks for each kid.  Everyone was there that day, except for Bobby.  The teacher told us that he had died.  Apparently, his father fell asleep at the wheel.  It was so eerie, seeing all those desks with kids sitting at them and then that one empty one.  There weren't counselors in the day to help kids deal with things like this.  The teacher said what was needed, and we moved on.  Sometime later a tree was planted and dedicated to Bobby.  The school is part of a park now.  I think the tree is still there with the plague, but whether it is or not, I still think about Bobby when I pass by.

Another gal, Liz, was my second experience with childhood death, though she didn't pass on back then.  As often happens, when you move up in grade to another school, you start to lose touch with those you'd known.  I don't really recall seeing Liz in junior high, but she was in my English class during our freshmen year of high school.  I remember being surprised at how she'd changed, personality-wise.  I had always liked her, but that year she was part of a group that really took advantage of the teacher.  It was comical in a cruel sense.  This group of students were always rattling this woman, claiming she hadn't given us homework or done this or that when I knew she had.  I truly was surprised by Liz being a part of that, and she was, quite actively, but maybe she had a reason.  As it turns out, she had leukemia and died.  At one point, early the next year, I found a pass of hers at school.  I have no clue why it was there so long after her passing or why I was the one to find it, but I think somewhere in my mounds of junk from yesteryear, I still have it.  I couldn't throw it away.  We weren't really friends, but I knew her.  She's part of that past that is hard to forget in spite of how long ago it was.

There was sadly another tragedy born of elementary school, and this one I know I will never forget.  There was one boy, Tony, who was part of our class early on.  Then his family moved to Thailand for a time, but he came back.  Another boy, Ed, I remember as being a pain in the butt.  Boys were boys, but whereas Pat, for example, had a bit more decorum in his youth, some of the other boys were just the usual brats who picked on girls.  I was picked on a lot.  I'll be kind and use the word chubby, but it resulted in my having a hard time as a youngster.  Ed was part of the teasing group.  Nico and others were part of that, too.  I suppose it was an early version of bullying, but I don't know that I'd ever use that word.  It was just kids being their cruelest.  At any rate, Ed and Tony were friends and stayed friends as I understand it.

Fast forward to high school.  I was always in the advanced English class and in one of these was another boy named Jeff.  I liked him, too.  He was nice and cordial.  I really didn't know him much outside of class, but we talked just the tiniest bit and had a good time in class.  Ed and Tony were here and there, doing their thing.  Another kid named Tim was our age and in the mix.  Then there was a new student, Steve, who I knew through the school newspaper.  If memory serves, the paper did a story on Steve as a new kid on campus.  There are two other students part of this story, but I didn't know them because they went to a Catholic school.

Well, one day I was outside in my backyard and I heard the biggest, ugliest noise.  It was horrid.  I knew.   I just knew.  I'm a few blocks away from what you would call a main street.  Four lanes of traffic, two going each direction, with a 40mph speed limit.  There had been an accident.  I was certain of it.  Part of me wanted to get in the car and go check it out, but I didn't.  I heard the sirens, lots of them.  I knew.  I just knew.

That night, I refused to watch the news.  I didn't want to know yet.  Perhaps I needed prep time.  The next morning, I went outside and picked up the morning newspaper.  Back then, newspapers reigned supreme, and we had a thriving morning and evening paper.  I took it inside and stared at it, still folded.  I knew.  I just knew that when I opened it up, I was going to see faces, faces I knew.  I was right, and I did.

Ed and Steve, idiots that they were, were drag racing down that street.  At the same time, Tony, Jeff, Tim, and the two Catholic brothers were in a stationwagon heading for a local park.  Ed's car hit them at a ridiculously high rate of speed.  Ed and Steve were fine.  They went on to live their lives, though I don't know what has become of them.  I heard that Ed's girlfriend at the time didn't want to have anything to do with him after the crash, but I don't know if that was fact or fiction.  What I do know is that only Tim survived of the boys in the stationwagon. Ed's and Steve's actions had resulted in the death of four others, including Tony.  I remember the memorial service that had people standing outside because it was so full.  The priest told us that it was easy to hate and hard to forgive.  Boy was he right.  I don't think I've ever forgiven Ed and Steve for being so irresponsible.  At the same time, Ed has to live with knowing he killed one of his best friends, and I don't know how you live with something like that.

I think about that crash and those boys often because I live so close to where it happened.  For a long time, I couldn't drive over the exact spot.  It just hurt and it took what feels like forever for the skid marks to go away.  Signs of the crash remained for a very long time, too.  It's not that I was really close to any of them, but I knew them, and I'd grown up with a couple of them.  Hopefully, Ed and Steve got their acts together and have done things to, well, they can't make up for it, but maybe to show they understand the preciousness of life now.

Bobby, Liz, and Tony: gone but not forgotten.

Then there was Peggy.  She was my best friend during those elementary school years.  I don't really know why except that we lived on the same block.  We did play and do things all the time, but she was much more intellectual than I ever was.  I used to climb the tree in front of her house, which was probably the only tree I ever climbed in my life and it was a challenge for me even then.  She loved to read.  Her family would go to the library every week and bring home boxes of books.  In class one time she had to be called several times to the reading circle because she was so involved in a book she was reading at her desk.  It was pretty funny.  We went to movies a lot together and also to the state fair every year.  In fact, one of the best days happened the year that we went to see a Doris Day film called Where Were You When the Lights Went Out.  That night we went to the fair and, yep, the lights went out and the ride we were on powered down.  We had the best time just screaming the name of that movie in the dark, and when the ride kicked on again, we had a super long ride to make up for the downtime.

Peggy's family owned a huge trailer, one of those big silver things that set in their driveway and blocked the view up and down the street.  Some folks on the block didn't like that.  I didn't care.  They would travel a lot during the summers and such, and Peggy would always write me.  I think I still have a letter she wrote when they were in Hershey, Pennsylvania one year.

It was a great time, having Peggy for a best friend back then, but we grew up.  I don't recall seeing her much in junior high, but we had a French class together in high school.  One of my big thrills was getting a better grade than she did on a test.  I laughed, but it was just one of those fun moments because she really was smarter.  She graduated a year early, went on to college, and got married from what I heard.  I only saw her one more time when she came home.  Eventually, her parents died.  Her sister lived in the house for a while and then sold it, but the house remains “Peggy's” to me.  I guess you could say that my friendship with Peggy was really my first one to be lost.  It was a childhood thing, doomed by age and interests in different areas.  Still, I can't help but wonder what she's up to, if she still married, if she had kids, and what she ended up doing as a career. I'm pretty sure it's been varied.  As I said, she was smart.

There were other kids in our class, of course.  Mike was a Jehovah Witness and never could participate in parties, except for the last one when we actually asked his parents to let him be a part of it.  They agreed, and it was fun that he was finally able to be present and enjoy one of the events.  Janice was Jewish, so we did have a class with some variables in it.  I don't think we talked about either much, and I certainly didn't think about it.  Nowadays it just makes for funny tidbits that remain in my brain.  Tierney was another one who I remember more fondly for when we were older and I used to bump into her at the grocery store.  She'd changed and for the better.  If I remember right it was the Campfire Girls or Bluebirds that Susan was involved with and that I did for a very short period of time.  Her mom was a leader, I think.  I have a picture in a frame made of popsicle sticks around here somewhere.  There was Stacey, too, who I ended up having a bit of contact with after the age of the Internet, but I don't pay for website usage so have no clue what happened to her now, either.  Other names float across my mind, curiosity present for what became of them and even how they look back upon their time in elementary school.

What's the point of all of this?  Frankly, I have no idea.  I saw some of these kids and others from our class in high school, but we all ran in different circles.  I admit to being the most curious about Pat and if he ever managed to be elected to a political office or what he did in life as well as Peggy.  She's the lost one, the first to disappear from my life, though certainly not the last.  I could call Peggy to chat, to play, to go to the movies, or do whatever it was we did back then, and she called me for the same thing.  We were back and forth at each other's homes frequently.  I miss that, having someone to call and do things with.  It's a luxury that many people take for granted.

Whether it's a childhood friendship as existed with Peggy or a young adult thing such as that with Todd, relationships should be nurtured or they dry up.  Keeping a friendship is hard work.  I used to work at them a lot, but stuff happened that disillusioned me.  I actually have become jaded quite a bit, and that was due to my own stupidity later on in life, after the addition of a computer.  It's a story I probably won't share and it may have been the most hurtful of all.  In the end, I wish some things had been different when I was a kid.  My insecurities increased with each age for all kinds of reasons.  It didn't help that I was constantly teased. If I could change something, that would probably be it.  Even so, we are who we are.  It just would have been nice to still be friends with some of those kids from way back when instead of having nothing but a vague image of who they were.

To my classmates of those innocent and early days of life, hello, and I hope all is well.  I hope we have all learned to make better choices than some of those made back then and that our awareness and tolerance is broader and stronger than some of what I experienced.  To Peggy, while I'm certain our interests and paths are and have been extremely different, it was much fun having a best friend to share life with, so thank you.

Early Morning Reflections of Friendships Gone By

Sometimes when you are lonely, your mind starts to reflect on the past, on the friendships made, lost, and displaced.  Tonight there is a lot on my mind and as has happened in the past, I've begun thinking about people in the past, those who have come and gone but who live on in some manner in my mind.  The good thing about this little blog is that no one really knows it's here or cares about it.  It's like my own little place on the web.  I guess it's like talking to a stranger in that it's easier than talking to people you know sometimes, or maybe it's talking to a blank canvas when there is no one else to listen.  I don't know, but here I am, me and my thoughts.

My current state of mind over this began with thinking about a singer I adore and his other fans.  That's a whole story in itself, but that led to me thinking about those who have an aura around them that makes folks want to be around them.  I believe this singer has that quality, so that's where that part of my mindset began this evening.  Then I started remembering a few people in my past who had that light surrounding them, the one said they were special for one reason or another and which brought others to them whether or not they beckoned.

My best example of that is probably Todd, a very popular boy from high school.  He really was super popular and sought after.  He had it all: good looks, great personality, charm, talent, intelligence, good manners, charity, belief in God.  He just was “it” back then.  By a fluke of working with him in student government, I ended up becoming good friends with him.  One of the things I learned back then is that being popular doesn't always mean you have close friends.  He never had to make a phone call.  That boy's phone rang off the hook, and yet his circle of people he considered close was not that large.  Our relationship was so much fun and quite special to me.  It had its turbulent moments, but we made it through for quite a while, even into college.  As often happens, though, as you grow up, you go in different directions.  He got married, started a family, and ended up residing in another state.

I do have to say that I recall being over the moon when he called up out of the blue one day.  This was a long time ago now, mid-eighties I believe.  We had a few lovely conversations, but that was that.  A few years ago for kicks, I looked him up in the university directory where I knew he was still employed, and I sent him an email.  He never replied back.  That was a bit of a disappointment, but life moves on, and I don't blame him for not responding.

The funny thing about adolescence is that there is so much to be learned and life is not always fair about how it's done.  I'd change a lot if I could do it over again.  The thing is not all of it was in my control.  Being Mr. Popular, most of my girlfriends were romantically interested in Todd.  I wasn't.  I only wanted his friendship.  Youth being what it is, most people couldn't accept that.  Everyone wanted it to be more than it was and because, even “just” as a friend, I was the admittedly high maintenance type, things were often misconstrued.  The only thing I was “in love” with was having such a good friend.

However, when you are surrounded by girls who wanted to be “in love” with Todd, things easily get explosive.  I remember a “good” friend who somehow became jealous of my friendship with Todd.  She called me one day and apologized.  She'd apparently been saying some very rude things about me behind my back.  She felt guilty in the end and had to come clean about it.  We made it peacefully through high school, but I have no clue what became of her after that.

Even Todd's older brother had issues with me.  I was probably too clingy.  I loved Todd as a friend and every minute was magical to me, but Bry didn't quite get it, either.  He was the intellectual type and a lot of fun to be around, too.  I actually adored him, but he didn't really think Todd should be friends with me.

There was one time when Todd and I had a disagreement over something.  Okay, I guess it was an argument.  Don't ask me what started it.  My brain doesn't retain a lot of the specifics on unpleasantness.  As it ended up, I believe it resulted in me saying I wouldn't call him again.  It would be up to him to call me.  I think Bry was part of that and it ultimately had that feeling of “talk when spoken to but not before.”.  I didn't contact Todd, but I saw him a time or two, at church, I think it was.  I was very formal.  It was hard, but I'd made a promise.  He finally called me after a week or so, although Bry hadn't wanted him to do so.  Fortunately, Todd cared a bit more about our friendship than his brother did.  We got through it.

High school ended.  He went on a mission, and surprise, he actually wrote me letters.  Writing letters wasn't really his thing, so that correspondence was always a treasure.  You know, I still have them, right where I kept them back then, in with my scriptures.  Crazy, but true.  Then came college, and we had more good times.  We went to the same college for a while and even lived at the same off-campus apartment complex.  I helped him a lot with his English papers.  I can still remember the name of one of his professors who insisted on essays being turned in on time.  Todd told me how this instructor told his students that even if you are in a car accident, hold up that English assignment and tell someone to “Get this to Thayer!”  Now that I think about it, I think I even typed one or two of those papers.  Hey, part of that “A” belongs to me!  :}

Those were the days.  We had such great talks.  Todd was a talker, and so was I.  Put us together and that equaled some very long conversations.  I miss him.  The truth is I miss him a lot, even to this day.  The odd thing about me is that I am a strange mix of confidence and insecurity.  It makes no sense, but I know I have more ability than many believe, and yet I am extremely insecure.  Perhaps it comes from my perceptions of both my mother and my sister.  They were perfectionists and a hard act to live up to.  In fact, I couldn't, and maybe that was my downfall as I grew up, never being as good as either of them.  I do know that my insecurities began as a very little girl and I've never overcome them.  It led to my high maintenance profile in friendships, which ultimately has led to the downfall of many of them, possibly including the one with Todd.

Though in the end, I think it was just moving on in different directions, I still wonder if all my over-exuberance in being Todd's friend and the inbred insecurity in my soul just caused it all to go south.  I don't know.  Maybe it just was that married folks and single folks don't compute, especially within our church and especially when separated in distance.  The last time we spoke, he was married with children and I was still me, on my own and living a totally different reality.  I remember getting a card from him saying maybe he and his family would stop by that year for Christmas because they were going to be here visiting his family, but they didn't come by and that was probably the very last communication I had with him.

I heard there was a situation with one of his kids that was quite sad, but I never heard the details.  By then I'd lost all contact with his family, though I had been super close with his mother for many years, and the information had come through my dentist.  In my mind, I'm sure Todd has been a great husband and a terrific dad.  I can't imagine him being anything different.  I see him as a bishop of his ward and probably as popular and sought after today as he was in youth.  I'm sure he's sung many times.  He has a beautiful voice and I loved it whenever he pulled out his guitar and sang a bit.  He made me a tape once that was a special gift.  I could listen to him sing all day.  His brother was musical and had a band.  They were a hoot.  The two of them sang together at a swim party I had once.  Somewhere in my hundreds of cassette tapes is one of those brothers singing that night.  It was really fun.

To be honest, back in high school, Todd's mom was the mom I'd always wanted.  Nothing against my own mother who loved me to pieces, but Kitty was different.  She was a teacher, which I'd always wanted to be, and she just took everyone in and accepted them for who they were.  I actually got to know her before Todd and I became good friends.  In fact, I remember the first time I went to Todd's house.  There was some paper he needed to have relating to an event at the high school and so, with a friend in tow, we went to his house.  His mother answered the door and I asked if Todd was home.  “No, but come on in.”  Huh?  Hey, where I live, people didn't do that.

We did go in and we were there for something like three hours.  It was insane.  Bry and a friend of his came in to say “hi” and talk.  I mean it was surreal.  I'd never known a family to do that.  Kitty made us lemonade and to this day, whenever I have lemonade, I think of Kitty and her amazing warmth and friendship.  I loved her.  She treated me like one of the family, and I felt so special, but that's how she treated everyone.  She loved life and people and she embraced anyone within her reach.  I don't know what's happened to her, if she's still living or is now with God, but even two days ago, I happened to pass by the street where the family lived and thought about her.

Todd's father was about as opposite from Kitty as you could get.  He was a gruff one, and he could be scary.  I vividly, repeat vividly, recall the first time I met him, too.  It wasn't because of his pleasant personality that it stands out but it was because he was wearing a gun.  Yikes!  Guns are foreign to me and I'd never been close to a gun-totin' man before.  I have a hunch my eyes got as wide as dollars because Kitty quickly explained that he was on the road a lot and always took a gun for protection.  Okie dokie.  Well, the truth was, he loved guns.  He was one of those “you'll have to kill me to get my guns” type, a real NRA advocate.  I believe he had his own private little arsenal in that home, but the other truth was that he was really a teddy bear.  You just had to get to know him and understand why he was the way he was.  His upbringing wasn't the kindest and when you learned his story, he was easier to understand.  I grew to love him, too.  He stopped being scary very early on.  He died after I'd lost contact with the family, but I remember reading about it.  My prayer then and now is that he found peace with God that he hadn't had on this earth.

So, in these wee morning hours when I write this first reflective entry, I am thinking of Todd and our wayward friendship.  While I wonder about his family, both the one he grew up with and the one he's made with his wife, it is Todd himself that I wonder about the most.  There are so many little things that touched my heart and echo in my mind, things that continue to make him special to me.  I lament how my insecurities and subsequent clingy and high maintenance qualities affected our relationship, though I don't know if changing it would have made a difference in whether or not we'd still be in touch.  I also wish other people could have just left us alone to be friends and not put that romantic thing into play.  It didn't affect me, but I know it was a factor with him.  He was often “worried” I cared about him more than he wanted me to, and I believe that was more from the influences of others who said things to him.  At any rate, with the decades that have passed, I wonder if I'm even a footnote in his memory.  I rather doubt that I am, simply because I am confident he is living a life that is full and blessed.  He has a strong faith and a good heart.  I wish I could match what he has in that regard, but I know I don't, far from it, in fact.

Somewhere, maybe still at that university, there is a man named Todd who I still love, treasure, and have happy memories of from our past.  I miss him, his soft-spoken voice, how he was late for almost everything, the sound of him singing, those long talks, and the hugs.  I hadn't really known hugs until I met Todd and his family.  It was a strange thing to me, to hug a friend.  We didn't do it a lot, but I remember the goodness I felt when we did.  I could use a hug right now.  Maybe that's part of why I'm thinking about Todd and his family, because when he hugged me, it was a good hug, one you could feel, or maybe I'm just beating myself up over a misplaced friendship that was somehow squandered in the distant past.  I don't know, but I can say that this won't be the last time I think about him.  He is just too much a part of my heart to ever forget completely.

Wherever you are, I love you, Todd ... egads, as a friend. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Alfie Boe is the Best

Don't miss the great Alfie Boe on Music and the Spoken Word this Sunday.  Alfie is performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir this week in multiple concerts with news journalist Tom Brokaw also on tap.  While the annual Christmas concerts are not televised, a mini-version of them is included on the program, Music and the Spoken Word.  It airs on BYU-TV as well as the RCC channels and airs multiple times during Sunday and the days following.

Known for playing Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and Rudolfo in various La Boheme productions including Broadway for which he won a Tony Award, Boe is simply a sensational talent for our times.  He has a huge range, far beyond the normal tenor.  Once considered an opera star and classical performer, the gorgeous Boe bills himself now as a singer, a storyteller of songs, and tell stories he does and in multiple genres.  He sings it all -- rock, country, folk, blues, pop, gospel, and, of course, classical and opera which he still loves.

Catch Alfie at Deseret Book on Friday evening as well where he will also sing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bodie Goes Home

The prayers worked, and Bodie the K9 officer went home this afternoon. He looks so much better.  I am so happy for this awesome dog that he is able to go home with his handler.  I think when he jumped into the backseat of his patrol car, he felt like his old self.

The sendoff was witnessed by a slew of media and members of the public, who just warmed to Bodie right away.

This photo is courtesy of The Sacramento Bee's news site.

Also in the canine news, and this is disgusting, is a sweet daschund who was picked up by two adults in their 20s a few days ago.  They strapped an M80 explosive around his neck and, yes, decrepit people that they are, they exploded it.  The dog, now called Rocket, survived and had a lot of stitches on his neck.  He is recovering, but in the scenes on the news, you could just see him shaking.  I am so miffed that people are so cruel.  I hope that someday God gives those two animal abusers their just desserts.  I just have no tolerance for those who are cruel to animals, especially in situations like this.

On the good side, Rocket has a lot of loving homes to choose from, and the vets say he should be able to go home next week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prayers for Bodie

I have to say that I have been truly touched by a beautiful dog named Bodie.  He is a K9 police dog who was shot twice last week by a villain.  I admit that I have no remorse that Bodie's handler then shot and killed the shooter.  Bodie was shot in the paw and the jaw, nearly lacerating his tongue. He was critical condition, but his handler and the vet staff stayed with him all night.  He was upgraded to serious and now is in stable condition.  Today, Bodie had a second surgery.

My prayers and those of my city go out to Bodie, who continues to be the focus for news stories on all of our local channels.  He is just 4 years old.

You can read Bodie's story here and keep up to date here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tony Lucca Outclasses Christina Aguilera

I continue to be stunned by the total disrespect that Christina Aguilera seems to have for her fellow Mouseketeer, Tony Lucca, on The Voice.  All season long she has continued to show great immaturity and a bias against Lucca.  He is a few years older than she is and has had nothing but nice things to say about her.  She actually didn't appear to recognize him at first during the blind auditions, which is okay, but something about her reaction when she did always has felt odd to be.  The word that comes to mind is plastic, as in fake.

So, how to explain Aguilera's penchant for negativity for Luca?  She's panned him all season, called him one dimensional, and recommended to his celebrity coach that he not be chosen for the finals.  Is this jealousy?  Did she have an unrequited crush on Luca when they were kids?  Is she afraid of being usurped by yet another Mouseketeer (they both worked with Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears).

I don't know why she is being, well, a jerk, but she is.  It shows her insecurity, and I believe that may be the truth of the matter.  Aguilera's penchant for showing her assets, purchased as they have been, tends to be a sign that she has little self-worth.  She may talk a good game, but many people who act tough really have deep self-esteem problems.  Maybe that is really what is the heart of this.  She's just out-classed, in talent and esteem.

What a shame that Aguilera has shown such childish behavior.

I don't know who will win The Voice.  Chris Mann, who is Aguilera's protege for the finale, is awesome.  I adore him.  He has a wonderfully classically trained voice.  He and Lucca are actually the two I have been rooting for the most and really are the only two contestants I've cared about, so as long as one of them wins, I am happy.  Part of me wants Adam Levine to be able squash Aguilera in the judges panel since Levine is Luca's coach.  I thought he was on the verge of really telling her off in the finale last night, but he made his statement in another way.

My good wishes to Lucca and Mann, who have both shown awesome talent and dignity, and my pity to Aguilera for being so classless on national television and in real life apparently.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Michael Shanks in Saving Hope

I'm super excited about the new Canadian series, Saving Hope, starring Michael Shanks of Stargate SG-1.  His co-star is Erica Durance of Smallville fame.  In fact, these two have appeared together on both of their former shows, so there is history.  NBC is airing Saving Hope starting June 7 at 10pm.

Michael plays Charlie Harris, Chief of Surgery, who ends up in a coma and then roams the hospital.  It promises to be very cool.  I don't know how long they can keep that premise up before he needs to get out of the coma, but the first 13 episodes should be great.

The show is filming in Toronto, and they're working on episode 7 now.  Michael's become a tweeter.  I don't do social media, but following his tweets is a hoot.

Watch Saving Hope -- let's get a season 2!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The new Celtic Woman

I began to listen to Celtic Woman a few years ago. It was actually towards the end of what was probably their most well known and original formation: Chloë Agnew, Órla Fallon, Lisa Kelly, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, and Máiréad Nesbitt. Chloe, the youngest, was my instant favorite, and with continued viewing, Lisa was fun, too. I never really cottoned up to the other three. Orla and Meav left at about the same time and were replaced by Lynn Hilary and Alex Sharpe. I liked them to varying degrees and felt they made an excellent harmony with Chloe and Lisa.

Unfortunately, neither lasted long. Stated reasons are about wanting to spend more time with family and return home to Ireland. If true, I certainly applaud the choice, but didn't they have a clue what they were getting into? Why audition for an international group like this if you don't have or want to invest the time? I mean, these gals were there, at maximum, two years, and I don't think either really made it more than one year.

It took them a while, but the group finally added a new singer, Lisa Lambe, but just Lisa. This makes the one-time quartet, a trio, and it is just odd. The reason is that they are missing that low part of the register. All three of these gals do their best as sopranos. They just don't have that lower part of the scale so everything is too high pitched for my liking.

The group acts differently, which is fine. I actually like that element. Originally, they were very rigid in their stances and choreographed moves. Everything is still very choreographed, but they are more animated. These three act like buddies and they are probably closer in age than any of the other mixes (but I'm only guessing). It's fun to see them a bit looser in presentation, and goodness, they have a sweet sound. I just miss that alto for contrast. I need the variety, and so do their songs.

Now Lisa Kelly has announced she's taking time away to have another family. I'm happy for her. I suspect she's a great mom. A replacement has been announced for 2012, but I don't know how she mixes in or if she can fill that lower register gap I think the group needs. Her name is Susan McFadden.

I'll miss Lisa Kelly and I sure hope she comes back. Chloe is still my favorite. She's all grown up now. You can see the maturity on her face and the confidence in her demeanor. Young Chloe is now the veteran.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January's Value

Welcome to 2012, and more specifically January. For some it means a month of resolutions to follow, or break, and for others it means time to go skiing. Some start shopping for presents for the next holiday season, and some just want to relax and not think about anything. Then there are the football fans. For them, it's the season of the Super Bowl. NASCAR loves are enjoying Preseason Thunder in Daytona! January is so many different things to people around the world.

For me, I'm continuing with my goal to homecook meals for my dogs. After learning what is in commercial dog food, I vowed last fall to do this, and I have been. They still get some dry dog food, but it's a premium product without those harmful by-products and cannibalistic elements. I've seen a difference in their activity level, too.

I've been sick the last few days, shivering under my covers and ignoring the internet. I just finally had to get up and do something; hence, here I am, updating my sadly un-kept blog.

Today was the final episode of One Life to Live. I was impressed mostly that on the mantle of the Lord manor were photos of Lynn Benish and Lee Patterson, two performers who were my favorites back in the early days of the show. It's a shame more of the original characters didn't get some attention. With All My Children gone, that leaves General Hospital as the lone ABC soap and rumor has it, it is not secure at all.

Have a good one, folks!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Natalie Wood Case Reopened

It was shocking news yesterday when it was announced that the Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept reopened the investigation into the death of Natalie Wood. Wood died November 29, 1981, almost 30 years ago. A news conference on the subject just ended, and the man at the focus of the new investigation is the captain of the Splendour, the boat owned by Robert Wagner, Wood's husband.

This morning, I watched two interviews with Dennis Davern, the captain. On The Today Show, he was extremely evasive. On CNN, he was much more forthcoming. Also with him was the co-author of his book, Marti Rulli. What was extremely interesting to me was that Davern and Rulli both kept saying their push for this was not at all because of their book from 2009. Yet, they continually kept answering questions with "it's all in the book." Hmmm.

Davern admitted he lied to police 30 years ago. Okay, that's against the law. Let's see him get arrested for that.

Robert Wagner released a statement quickly saying he and his family support the investigation, but that they hoped the source for it was credible and not just out to cash in on the anniversary of Wood's death.

Hmmm: "It's all in the book."

I remember Wood's death vividly. I recall the news stories and the tabloid headlines. I remember well the scuttlebutt over the big fight between Wagner, Wood, and their guest on the boat, Christopher Walken. Walken has been like a zombie on the Wood death from the moment it happened. I have no clue what happened on the Splendour.

A combination of fact and conjecture says that the verbal fight was intense. Everyone had been drinking and was at the least, legally drunk. Nat was a little flirty, RJ was a little jealous. Walken was in the middle and probably enjoying the attention from the beautiful Wood. Walken went to bed and from there, who knows.

The death was ruled an accidental drowning. The debate is whether or not Wood really went to bed, was disturbed by the dingy banging against the boat, and went to tie it down and fell overboard. Or, was she attempting to leave the Splendour after all the fighting and fell in. Davern intimates that there is another 'or' in play.

I have not read his book in which all of this information is supposed to be, but in his interviews today, he asserted that it was a case of Wagner not doing all that he could. He stopped short of accusing him of murder.

No one really knows but Natalie and RJ. To me, it's just a huge tragedy. I don't know that there is anything to be gained by anything that is happening now. I have a hard time believing Wagner killed Wood, as some people do think (just read the book reviews over on Amazon). Davern insists Wood wouldn't have gone near the dingy at night because of her fear of dark water. I don't know. When people have been drinking, they aren't thinking right.

The Sheriff's Dept. says they are investigating, but that Wagner is not a suspect. They just want to talk to people to follow up on what they've learned. They may or may not go aboard the Splendour, now docked in Hawaii, and they may or may not exhume the body.

I think my biggest beef is with the uneducated media. Some of those asking questions don't even realize that Davern's book has been out for 2 years. Several of them, including some of the CNN reporters, are acting like it's a book just coming out. I noticed other discrepancies as well. It's frustrating because ten minutes on the internet could get them the real story. It's bad storytelling.

Right now, it's a tragic memory. I think they were all intoxicated, they fought, and everyone made bad choices. I firmly believe Wagner was devastated by the ordeal, and if his involvement was more than what we already know, it's a parasite that has probably eaten away at his insides for three decades.

I just want Natalie to rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Go, Go Rosie O'Donnell!

I wasn't sure that I'd like The Rosie Show, which is Rosie O'Donnell's return to the talk show genre. It airs on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. While I don't like some of the obligatory in-house guest appearances which are really designed to promote other OWN series, I have on the whole enjoyed watching Rosie again.

She grates a little from time to time, and I'm not fond of every guest, but I love the reality of the realism. Who else would take an audience guest who was unemployed and then hire them to be the show's announcer? Rosie did just that with a positive-thinking woman named Holly. I love that!

The reason for this post, however, is not really to promote Rosie's show, but rather her need to speak the truth as she sees it. Love her or hate her, she says what she thinks. Twice on Tuesday's show she said something like, "The legal department wants me to remind you that in this country, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty."

She did this because she then went on to discuss Jerry Sandusky's phone interview with Bob Costas on Monday evening's Rock Center news program with Brian Williams.

By the way, as an aside, I'm not fond of news shows as a rule, but I really do like the way Williams has put this show together. I'm watching it, and that surprises me.

If you watched Monday's show, you were probably as stunned as I was when Costas asked Sandusky if he was sexually attracted to young boys. You would think that a normal, innocent person would come out with a prompt and decisive 'no', but this man answered by stumbling, repeating the question, going around the bush and such. I was shocked. Any doubt about his guilt left my mind.

It left Rosie's, too. She timed it. It was a 16 second response. The point is, Rosie stated her opinion and really took issue with Sandusky's answer. She actually came right out and stated he was guilty, comparing him to a long ago situation in which a woman was raped and murdered in front of numerous witnesses.

Rosie is an opinionated woman. I don't always like how she acts. She's come a long way from when she was almost a fan herself more than a comedian and actress and things were lighter. Her opinions sometimes don't land well in my mind. However, on this issue, she and I agree.

Of course, in America, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Somewhere, I have to wonder if Joe Paterno is going to think it was worth it not to do more than he did. His career just nosedived in a heartbeat as a result of all of this. Respect has been lost. That's sad, but it's even sadder what happened to those boys. Football is just a game: a game. Young boys are our precious future: vulnerable human beings who deserve to play a game like football without being raped by their coaches.

Go Rosie! Keep stating your mind. I may not always agree, but I applaud your courage and willingness to call it as you see it.

Occupy Sacramento: Waste of Taxpayer Money

What a waste of taxpayer money. Several weeks ago, several Sacramentans were arrested for not leaving the park where the Occupy movement was set up. Quickly, the district attorney announced that they would not be trying any of these cases. Well, then the City attorney butted in and said she was going to prosecute.

Give me a break. How dumb and wasteful that sounded at the time, and guess what she announced today? Yes, you got it. None of the cases are going forward unless it's someone who has multiple arrests.

Now how much money has Sacramento wasted in these past weeks working on these dismissed cases?

Frankly, the city attorney needs to be dismissed for butting her nose in and not letting the district attorney to his job. It's such a joke.

Quite honestly, I believe that on the whole the governments of all the Occupy cities have overreacted. People just wanted to be heard. Now I do agree that with time they needed to go in and clean the parks or other Occupy areas, but that's what they do -- clean -- not threaten and arrest.

Dumb, dumb and dumber ... and the taxpayers are paying the price.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Save Thanksgiving from Brown Thursday!

Okay, enough is enough already. I groaned when Christmas wrappings were brought out into stores in August and September. I cringed when Target announced it was opening its stores at midnight, just as soon as Thanksgiving was officially a done deal. I was only slightly surprised when Wal-Mart had to one-up their competitor by opening up at 10pm on Thursday and now? Well, now Toys R Us, the family store, takes away just about the entire evening with their announcement that they will be opening up at 9pm on Thursday.

Are buyers that anxious to give up Thanksgiving evening with their family and friends? Is the day now nothing more than a reason to watch football and belch over a full meal?

This is ridiculous. I'll bet money (and I'm not a gambler) that another retailer will up the ante, vowing to open up at 5pm. The next thing you know, there won't be a Thanksgiving.

I urge all of you not to fall into the trap. Stand up for Thanksgiving while it's still a day of gratitude and appreciation and not one of getting the kids into bed quickly so you can go bargain hunting. If no one shows up at 9, 10 and midnight, next year, the stores will keep Black Friday on Friday and not turn turkey day into Brown Thursday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jonathan Jackson's Lucky Says Goodbye to General Hospital

I just read that the talented Jonathan Jackson is leaving General Hospital for the second time. Jackson originated the role of Lucky Spencer, son of Luke and Laura (Tony Geary and Genie Francis), in 1993 and quickly became regarded as one of the best, if not the best, youth actors in the soap opera industry.

During that time, Jackson's character teamed up with the young Elizabeth Webber (Rebecca Herbst) and were an instant hit with fans.

Jackson left the role, replaced in time by Jacob Young, who did an admirable job in the acclaimed role, and then Greg Vaughn, who in my opinion was just so-so. When Jackson agreed to return to the show, I cheered. He wanted to work with Geary and Herbst again. That was 2009.

I still remember his first scene back. It was a clever "Remember me?" moment as he rang the doorbell and Herbst answered the door.

Unfortunately, the writers chose not to reunited the Lucky and Liz characters for the long haul. That's a mistake. Every show needs a Lucky and Liz that may go through difficulties, but who you always know will reunite. On Days of our Lives, for example, it's Bo and Hope, and on the recently canceled All My Children, it was Jesse and Angie.

Jackson has had some remarkable scenes with Geary, but the problem is that Geary is the diva of soapdom. He works an odd schedule. In fact, he's rarely seen during the summer at all. So, Jackson's opportunities to work with Geary have been constrained by Geary himself. As for pairing with Herbst, reportedly, he's pleaded his case to the GH producers and was ignored and voted down.

What a shame, especially when GH needs ratings. Jackson is also tired of the darkness. GH is all about thugs now. That's a shame, too. It has made the mob the focus; there is never justice. We are told to love the killers and mob leaders, simply because they are anti-drugs and prostitution.

I like Maurice Benard, who plays Sonny, the head of the mob, and Steve Burton is a talented actor. He play's Sonny's #2, Jason, who once really was a nice boy, but who then had an accident and turned into a thug. That was horrid, but it's now the staple and norm for GH.

Jackson's return was a chance to give fans some romance of the long lasting variety. He moved his family back to LA just to resume the part.

I was once a regular viewer of GH. I began acting decades ago, but in the last several years, I have lost interest. Jackson says he's tired of the darkness. So am I, and that's why I tune in only on rare occasions, like I did for Jackson's return, and why I would have for the never-to-happen Lucky and Liz reunion.

Shame on GH, for turning GH into a mobfest and for losing the talents of the wonderful Jonathan Jackson.

Jackson's last taping is scheduled for November 17 with his last scenes to air sometime in December.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Conrad Murray is Guilty!

More justice at last! Dr. Conrad Murray has just been convicted of involuntary manslaughter. It is about time that one of these doctors to the stars takes responsibility for their actions. It's shameful that the doctors of Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith, just to name two notables, got away with their greedy roles in giving them medications.

Regardless, physicians need to put their greed second to the welfare of their patients. Murray didn't do that. As a result, his actions contributed to the death of Michael Jackson.

Justice, in some measure, has been done.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NASCAR parks Kyle Busch -- FINALLY!

I have been waiting for this for years. Since I returned to watching NASCAR circa 2005, I have been irritated by Kyle Busch, the younger brother of Kurt Busch. At the time, he was part of Hendrick Motorsports, and that made me cringe. The two worst teammates for my favorite, Jeff Gordon, have been Busch and Jimmie Johnson. Both are extremely self-serving and rationalize everything away. I watched Jeff help them and get the door slammed in his face over and over again.

Finally, Hendrick had an opportunity to expunge Busch from their presence. He landed at Joe Gibbs Racing where the religious Joe Gibbs has vowed to rein in the young driver, much as Roger Penske has done for the still vocal, but now more sensible, Kurt Busch.

The elder and arrogant Busch found himself in hot water after getting arrested and being rude, shall we say, to the Phoenix Police Department. His then car owner, Jack Roush, parked him. Between that and Penske's subtle guidance, and also with a nod to marriage, Kurt Busch has become much more likable. He's no saint and he's strongly vocal, not all in good ways, but his demeanor has changed significantly. He learned, and he's tried to teach Kyle, but the younger Busch is still leaning towards arrogance, even though he's now married as well.

Kyle Busch has claimed to be a different person now, but in the truck race Friday night, he and Ron Hornaday had a minor skirmish. Kyle totally blamed Hornaday. I was watching the incident as it happened. It was a 3-wide situation with Hornaday in the middle. He was a bit of a ping pong ball, and he was definitely loose when he and Kyle had contacted.

Here's the thing. Neither truck was all that damaged. A pit stop, and both could have gone on and finished well, perhaps even winning the race. However, with the yellow flag out, Kyle intentionally rammed Hornaday into the wall. Hornaday's truck bounced around in Kyle's, taking out both trucks.

NASCAR immediately parked Kyle's truck for the race and ordered him to the hauler after the race. They repeated that command for this morning and included the Gibbs' contingent. Then Mike Helton made the announcement: Kyle Busch would be parked for both the Nationwide race today and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday.

Well, it's about time! Like I said, I've been watching Busch's one-sided antics for years. No one denies he's a great driver; his record shows that. However, he lacks maturity and sensitivity. In short, he's a jerk, and what happened in the race proves that he has not changed a bit.

NASCAR's "have at it, boys" policy has been beneficial, but this time, Kyle crossed the line so much that the governing body had to act, and they did. More penalties may follow, and more bad things may occur for the still-arrogant Kyle Busch. After all, I've always wondered why child-friendly M&M's would want to sponsor someone like Kyle.

Who knows? Maybe now, they won't!

Regardless, this feels like sweet justice, long overdue. It took years, but finally, NASCAR responded.

Have a nice weekend, Kyle, as you watch the races at home!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Swayze Gets Waxed

On Tuesday, October 18, the wonderful Patrick Swayze was immortalized in wax at the famous Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, California. I'd love to see it in person because the likeness is incredible. He'd be impressed, just as his widow, Lisa Niemi Swayze, is with the recreation. The image is taken from the Dirty Dancing scene in which Swayze's Johnny Castle character balances across that narrow log.

This site has three terrific videos on the event and I recommend watching all three.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Arrests and Trials

Where I live, there is an Occupy movement. What bothered me about them initially is that they didn't seem to have a focus. When interviewed by local media, most people couldn't even express why they were protesting.

Still, the very foundation of America is protest. Englishmen protested excessive taxation and overseeing by a faraway government. Hence, 1776 and all that has followed.

Part of me is all for it. Corporations do have too much control. It's too much about greed, and the banking industry is a perfect example of that.

I also believe we have more power than we think. The problem is that we don't want to sacrifice. Seriously, if everyone withdrew their accounts from Bank of America and Chase, for example, those fees would stop. They'd get the message, but the reality is, not enough of us are willing to do so, for one reason or another.

What bothers me now in my city is that in these troubled financial times where the D.A. has already gone on record and said that they couldn't afford to prosecute all the crimes anymore, they are making arrests for people who refuse to leave the park where the Occupy protesters are assembling.

Now, I don't have a problem really with the arrests for after hours, but the thousands and thousands of dollars to prosecute these people just is not warranted. Keep the park safe: I'm for that, but when we don't have the manpower to keep homes safe from intruders and prostitutes are working without having to worry about being arrested, something is wrong.

The city needs to back off. Do their job in keeping that park and the surrounding area safe, but don't go overboard. Oakland went overboard last night and it almost turned into a riot. People were injured and who knows how many of thousands of dollars were spent.

This is the problem with government. Protect us, but don't do it for the sake of showing us your there.

It's a waste of money at a time when there is no money to be wasted. Worse here, after the D.A. announced here they would not be prosecuting those arrested, some overzealous, power hungry, publicity seeking city manager said they would overrule the D.A. and prosecute. Since all of these people have said they want jury trials if prosecuted, the dollars are already beyond wasteful, it's insane.

Someone needs to do something.

Common sense needs to prevail.

Here's hoping the Occupy protests help us all to realize the power we have and the peaceful ways we can affect change.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RIP, Dan Wheldon

I'm a huge NASCAR fan, and one of the things I am so glad about is how they've changed the stock cars and race tracks since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2001. Wrecks occur far less often than ever now, and when they do, it is amazing at how these drivers just walk away, mostly unscathed by it all.

I watch Formula One and Indy Car much less frequently, mainly because the F1 races are unexciting and Indy Car just hasn't caught my fancy as much. One thing I don't like about either open wheel series, though, is the tremendous danger the drivers face. These cars just fall apart when in a wreck. There's no protection for the driver.

We saw that again today, just a couple of hours ago, when on the 12th lap of the last Indy Car race of the season, driver Dan Wheldon was killed in front of our eyes. In a wreck that devoured some 15 cars, his was one of at least two that went flying through the air and into the catch-can fence. The cockpit was the part of the car that hit that fence.

The race was canceled, and the remaining 19 drivers just did a 5 lap salute to their friend and competitor. In a race that was to decide the season champion, focus on the final Indy Car race of Danica Patrick who is switching to NASCAR full time in 2012, and also celebrate the potential of Wheldon winning $5 million as well as one million for a fan, it all ended tragically with a reminder that racing is deathly serious and dangerous.

It's a sad day and racing fans join family and friends to mourn the loss of Dan Wheldon.

The checkered flag is out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Amazon is Back!

After being gone for several months, Amazon is back for those of us in California. So, I am happy to say that if you would like to support me that if you click on the banner on the top right of this page and place an order at Amazon, it will definitely help me out!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Was Miss Universe Fixed?

For me, on the west coast, the competition for Miss Universe is still airing, but I've been bothered by something all night long. Why is it that the camera knows just where to go? From the announcement of the first 15 to the next 10 and just now with the final 5, it has known exactly where to go to get the reaction of the contestant. The cameraman obviously knows where to point that camera. I have never in decades of pageant watching seen that before, and it begs the question: Is Miss Universe Fixed?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Celebrating Life: Patrick Swayze

Athlete ... Ballet Dancer ... Broadway Performer ... Actor ... Dancer ... Singer ... Equestrian ... Environmentalist ... Son ... Brother ... Husband ... Uncle ... Mentor ... Friend

The world is full of labels and the above are a few that apply to Patrick Swayze, who would have been 59 on August 18, 2011. The man was a dichotomy, something he once admitted to being himself during a TV interview with Maria Shriver. For me, that was a big part of his charm. He was the tough guy with a tender heart. He was the protector who could cry as well. In truth, you can't label Patrick, except for this one thing: human being.

His death in 2009 is still extremely painful for his family, friends, and fans. He fought so gallantly against his foe, pancreatic cancer. He gave it all he had, until there just wasn't anything left anymore. Then he passed into a place of peace, where the man who had suffered much pain on Earth is surely feeling more blessedness and freedom than ever. He's there, riding his beloved Tammen, with Cody, his faithful canine friend, trailing along his side.

On this birthday, though, it is his life that we should celebrate. He left behind a legacy of strong film roles in a variety of styles. No, they aren't all my favorites, but Patrick's choices were as diverse as anyone's. It supports the dichotomy within him. A roller skating bully, a teenage greaser, a young Marine, a Civil War general, a dirty dancer, a ghost, a surfer thief, a suicidal doctor, a legendary cowboy, a drag queen, a country bumpkin, a pained dancer, a spy, a sex-addicted golfer, a father, a lawyer, a cop ... and the list goes on, including an animated dog singer.

There are so many wonderful performances. He left us so much to remember him by. There should have been more, many more, but I am grateful for my favorites, especially North and South, City of Joy, and One Last Dance, and even those that aren't at the top of my list, because all of them are a piece of Patrick.

Patrick is in our hearts today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that. He will never be forgotten. My hope for his birthday is that all of us take a moment to remember the love and joy that he gave to us. If you can, watch one of his movies, or listen to his music, or read a chapter of his book, or just close your eyes for a few minutes and remember the man, the actor, and the friend.

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kyle Busch Busted; Hermie Sadler Says So What?

This really pops my cork. I was watching some of the NASCAR coverage today and heard Hermie Sadler, a C-rate driver in the sport, say that the media and fans were making too much of Kyle Busch's citation in Charlotte, North Carolina this past week. The man, who is one of the most successful racers in the past few years, was pulled over and cited for driving 128 mph in a 45 mph area. According to Sadler, Busch's apology and the good graces that allowed no one to be hurt in this incident should be enough. We should move on and discuss other things.

In my view, Sadler is crocked. Kyle Busch is a role model, whether or not he wants to be one. He is the spokesman for products like M&M's, and he was driving a vehicle that wasn't even his. Lexus apparently lent it to him, no doubt in hopes for some endorsement or favor.

The fact that no one was hurt was a blessing, not an excuse to let Busch off the hook. He could just as easily had hit and murdered someone from his overzealous attitude to see how the car would handle. And what about his wife, Samantha? I heard she was in the car as well. Doesn't she have any common sense either? Or is she just as crazy as he is?

Sadler is dead wrong. This needs to be talked about, and Kyle Busch needs to be made to feel as uncomfortable as possible. He needs to remember this. Maybe it could do him some good, but I doubt it.

Oddly, several years ago, his older brother, Kurt Busch, was just as arrogant as Kyle, and it was a run-in with law enforcement and being set down (as in not allowed to race) by his then team owner, Jack Roush, that finally put a dent in Kurt's honor. He had a wake up call. He got married, and he reformed. No, he's not Mr. Perfect. He still has rough edges, but that's okay: that's personality. Kurt lost the ego and attitude. Kyle still has it, and unfortunately, this incident probably won't do anything to change. He practiced today so obviously current team owner, Joe Gibbs, isn't going to take the Roush route, and Kyle probably will lawyer up and talk his way out of losing his NC license.

So, unless the media and fans continue to remind Kyle that while he may be a good driver on the track that he does not have license to risk our lives on the road. As for Sadler, he just proved that he's not a role model either. In fact, Denny Hamlin, also a Gibbs' driver, was also lent one of the vehicles. He admitted to going 10 mph over the speed limit, which probably means at least twice that. He, of course, also said it's no big deal.

Sad. Very sad. That's why so many are killed by irresponsible drivers.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thumbs Down to Carl's Jr. and a Hopeful Recovery for MTM

Winter hasn't quite left us yet. We've had nice, Spring weather for all of May until today. Temperature drop of 20 degrees and thunder to accompany the rain. It won't last, though. It should be gone and the 80's back by mid-week.

My BOO HISS for this post goes to the west coast fast food chain, Carl's Jr. They have a commercial out that states that they've included skinny models because, as the commercial states, no one wants to see a fat one. I have phoned in my complaint over this and have stopped patronizing their locales. The older I get, the more important it is that we stand up for what we believe, and I just think that ad is not what should be on the air in these days of self-image.

Link of the day to check out is my shed plans review. It's a good one for the woodworkers, pro or amateur, out there.

Finally, a shout out to Mary Tyler Moore. I just finished watching 5 years worth of superb comedy with her on The Dick Van Dyke Show. I laughed so hard, and I've seen these shows numerous times over the year. Moore just had brain surgery to remove a benign tumor that they've been watching for years. Swift recovery for Moore is my hope!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wal-Mart Ripping Off Customers with Gift Receipts

Gift givers beware! A local news station has discovered that when you buy something and give it to someone with a gift receipt so they can return it, if necessary, that the person doing the return is probably not getting the full amount back; in fact, they are probably only getting half the gift value. This was discovered when a local man returned something he had bought himself and he just took the gift receipt. For a $15 item, they wanted to return just $7.50.

The local station in Northern California then conducted an investigation and also had a sister station in Pennsylvania do the same thing. It's just shocking.

Here is the link to the initial report and here is the link to the follow up where California lawmakers are about to get involved as well as a lawyer who is considering a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

The point is, if you use a gift receipt and you or the person you give it to uses it to return, odds are they are not getting the full value. I suspect, as does the California Majority Leader, that Wal-Mart has made millions with this deceit.

Pass the word along if you are a Wal-Mart gift giver.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Michael Shanks, Richard Dean Anderson, and Weird Weather

I totally forgot to mention how awesome Michael Shanks was in the Canadian show, Endgame, which appears on that country's Showtime network. This was the third episode of the new series, and Shanks was in a good part of it. I don't want to say too much about what happens, but I thought he was awesome and consider it a 'must see' for his fans. Of course, that's harder to do for Americans, but if you can get a hold of a copy of this show, do it. He's absolutely a delight to watch.

By the same token, if you missed Richard Dean Anderson's limited but terrific appearance on USA's Fairly Legal, look for the reruns. RDA is in four of the shows. Now he's only in one scene for two of those and just in two or three in the other two, but he's a joy to watch. I really hope he gets out and does more. His daughter, Wylie, tweeted that he did a History Channel narration on what I'll all a MacGyver-ish type of show that will air on Father's Day, I believe. Gotta love Wylie. I just wonder if she's getting commission. If not, she should be.

Wrapping things up, is the weather just crazy or what? It cannot make up its mind. I heard that Colorado went from short sleeves one day to a near blizzard the next. Now that's an extreme.

Lesson from Japan and Medical Generosity

It's still Monday, and I decided to speak out on a few more happenings of late. For example, over the last 4 days locally, a massive health clinic was held. It was absolutely free to absolutely everyone. No questions asked. If people needed care, they had vision care, dental care, and medical care, including X-rays and such. It was hugely successful to the point where they had to turn away people every day, and to get in, people stayed in line all night long. Some 1,000 people were helped every day, except for the last day, which had 500 since medical personnel were more limited.

Kudos to the medical professionals who donated their time to help so many who are without insurance in this dangerous economic time.

The Japan disaster continues to worsen as far as the radiation situation from their nuclear reactor. I just have to say again that I wish the younger generation would take to heart just how dangerous nuclear energy is. Older folks remember Three Mile Island and Cherbynol. I've discovered in forums and such that the proponents of going forward with nuclear are those who weren't alive when those two events took place I pray that something positive will come from Japan's situation, that being that younger Americans will say 'no' to the advancement of nuclear energy and say 'yes' to putting our time and money into alternative energies which are safer for all.

Lastly, the new jobs report is out for my area. We're behind the nation still, so there's a long way to go. Some folks are hiring, though, including AT&T. Hope is out there; you just have to look hard for it sometimes.

Crazy Sheen, More Obama, and Celebrity Apprentice

I continue to be disappointed that America is supporting the ridiculousness of Charlie Sheen. The man is troubled and he needs help, but Americans are so sick that they are making him richer and enabling his unacceptable behavior. I feel sorry for my countrymen. I wish it was just a small portion, but it's not. How sad are we that in order to feel better about our lives we have to contribute to this growing nightmare.

Barack Obama has quietly made it official that he is running for re-election, which really is no surprise. He's done okay, but he's also made some poor choices. I don't think the Brazil trip was well thought out, for example.

Celebrity Apprentice is just insane this time around. I feel sorry in a sense for Gary Busey. He's been a product of that nasty motorcycle accident of his for years. I've known it and seen it for a very long time, but the man is still a good actor and he is a testament to survival. As for Meat Loaf, he needs to return to anger management as he was just out of line. I don't like Richard Hatch, but I didn't want to see him go last night. I wanted to see what he had to offer as the challenges moved forward. As for the women, they are truly insane, except for Marlie Matlin. I do think some of the others are underestimating LaToya Jackson. She's flaky, but she's done a lot of stuff. She'll get her nails dirty, unlike prima dona Star Jones who has gone way past her 15 minutes of fame.

Have a bright and sunny day, and thanks for dropping by Orry's Orations. Don't forget, if you shop at, please use the banners to start off your shopping trip. That really helps me out.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Genie Francis and Tristan Rogers Together Again

Now this is hot stuff and this might get me to tune in to The Young and the Restless, a soap opera that I've never really liked. I have watched a handful of episodes, most recently when Don Swayze, brother of Patrick Swayze, popped up for a few episodes. However, the news I just read actually excites me, so Y&R, I might just watch you!

Genie Francis, most well known as Laura Webber Baldwin Spencer on General Hospital, is joining
Y&R in a brand new role in which she will be teamed with Rogers, who plays Colin, father of Cane. Francis will be Cane's mom, Colin's ex-wife. Wowsa! Let me say again, Wowsa!

The thing is when Rogers first joined GH as sexy Robert Scorpio, there were people then who wondered about the chemistry between Rogers and Francis. It garnered a lot of conversation between fans. Naturally, nothing ever happened as the characters were all well involved with others, but that is exactly what makes this casting, decades later, exciting.

Francis begins in late May sometime. I just may be tuning in.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hershey Chocolate a Luxury

I love chocolate. Chocolate is yummy. It is a delight, but I've found a cure for my chocolate mania: high prices. The bad news is that it is getting worse.

When I go to the store, I've watched the prices climb to 35¢ and to 45
¢ and to 60¢ and then to 75¢. I think some have been at 89¢ for a while. Other bigger sizes have long been over a dollar. The problem is, and yes I'm giving away my age, I remember going to the grocery store and paying a whole nickle for a candy bar. What's more, that bar was bigger than anything sold today.

Now comes the news that Hershey is raising their prices by 10 percent to their wholesalers. That means our price is going up even more.

Sorry, but that makes my favorite everyday chocolate a luxury. As it is, I don't buy a regular bar unless it's on sale. I have never paid more than 50
¢ for it, and when I do, I shudder.

Woe is today for today Hershey Chocolate became a luxury I cannot afford.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maddie the Dog joins the Ghost Hunters

I just love this. It started last week on the Ghost Hunters show and it continued tonight. Personally, I hope they keep it up every week from now on. In a paranormal TV first, Maddie the dog has joined the TAPS team.

This dog apparently spent the few months preceding her debut being trained in paranormal hunts. It's just fascinating. She is a beautiful dog and fun to watch. Jason and Grant, the TAPS founders, say she's doing great. I just think she gives us something fun to look at when watching the show.

Ghost Hunters was really the first paranormal show that I'm aware of. Many others have followed like Paranormal State, Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal Cops. The first, it seems like the show may actually outlive all of its competitors. Several of these other shows have had good runs, but have ended or are in the processing of shutting down. Only Ghost Hunters is continuing, and with two spin offs even (Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy).

With Maddie along for the fun, this could go on for much longer than anyone could have imagined.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gain is not Gooder; it's as Bad as Bad Can Get

Have you seen this current marketing campaign for Gain Detergent where it uses a non-word, specifically 'gooder'? I am really upset about it because it goes against our education system. They are literally promoting the decay of our youth by putting out, and intentionally yet, a commercial that is improper grammar.

I called Gain customer service and they are getting complaints. They do have a rationale prepared to give, but it's not acceptable in my opinion.

I strongly urge anyone who believes that we need corporate operations to use better sense in and to take responsibility for their advertising. I just know kids will see that ad and the non-word 'gooder' will spread in mis-use.

Please call Gain Customer Service at:
1-800-888-4246. Voice your opinion and let's get this disrespectful ad campaign halted now!
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