Friday, November 27, 2015


This week's topic comes to us from Maria.

Having recently uprooted myself and making a move from the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area to the much smaller Conover, North Carolina area it is only natural that renovations make the to-do list. And they in fact did - just not mine - unless you consider furnishing a new place renovating said place.

I moved here with nothing but some clothes. The first week I was here that loud sucking sound folks here heard was simply the money  leaving my bank account as I furnished my small 3 bedroom 2 bath mobile home. While I really have no need for a 3BR2BA place, there is a chance I may inherit  a granddaughter on a more permanent basis in the future. So until that happens, Ginger and I each have our own bedroom and there is a spare for guests. Of course Ginger insists on sleeping on my bed so I suppose we really have a pair of guest rooms.

My son Sean, on the other hand, purchased a 5BR3BA fixer upper on 1.5 acres in nearby Granite Falls. He  will be renovating for quite a while methinks. So far he has stripped and finished the hardwood floors, refurbished a bathroom and painted everything above the basement. The basement is a complete gut job  and is being demoed now. After mowing the lawn - a 2-day job with his push mower - he decided a riding mower was called for and now one sits in his garage. What was a multi-day job is now just a couple of hours. The house itself - built  around 1950 - has tons of character and is a re-modelers dream.

His original intent was to open a food truck but he has since fallen into a job  that has huge potential upside so he is giving that a try at the moment.

I - on the other hand - am very happily retired although I am exploring some part time options. The people here are very friendly. I have even met a quite attractive local lady who is an avid football (American style) fan and she currently owns bragging rights over me as her beloved Carolina Panthers devoured the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. She suggested that since I live here now I should support the local team.  Who am I to argue with such logic - LOL.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Over Spending

I have a confession to make. This weeks LBC topic is one I am very  familiar with. Shame on me.

See - making enough money has always been a fairly easy proposition for me.  That's partly because  money never really was important to me - at least amassing vast sums of it never was.  I suppose I have relatively mundane tastes and needs - although I do enjoy a nice single-malt.

 Intellectually I get that budgets are a necessity but then there is always that angel on one shoulder and devil on the other encouraging one to make the right/wrong decision.  That dang free-will thing that our old friend god gave us.  God must have a sense of humor, setting us up to fail like  that. Of  course we are told everything is god's will - part of her plan.  Or his plan - depending on your deity of choice.  It's all so confusing.

After all, it is not like we are bombarded by good examples daily - it is the political season and so we are bombarded daily with rhetoric decrying the trillions of dollars our government spends. I suggest they stop calling the budget The Budget. It is really just a set of lines that tell everyone in the government which  boundaries they can ignore. Our legislators seem to equate ignoring those budgetary lines with thinking outside the box. They all seem to be stuck on dumb.

These days I am comfortable if not well off. Family situations over the last 10 or so years prevented me from stashing sufficient cash to do whatever I want whenever I want.  I'm an easy-going guy ready to enter the next stage of my life, there's a bottle of Glenlivet and a few bottles of wine in the cabinet and some good beer in the fridge. The fridge is full, the lights are on and the mortgage is paid a month in advance. Good movies and music are a few buttons on the remote away. Ginger is sawing logs on the sofa as I type this.  All-in-all, things are looking up.

That's my take on the weekly LBC topic, offered up by Maria.

The Man from UNCLE/Mr. Holmes

I looked forward to seeing The Man From UNCLE as I was a big fan of the original television series.  The adventures of Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kury kin were always a treat to watch and there was great chemistry between Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

Sadly, the chemistry between the leads in the movie is non-existent and the movie is a complete waste of time.  What was campy and fun on television was simply boring on the big screen.Neither Henry Cavill as Solo and Armie Hammer as Kuryakin captured any of the essential suave, debonair charm of either Robert Vaughn or David McCallum. The story was unremarkable and the direction spotty and uneven - Guy Ritchie usually is much better.I rate this one 1.5 pistols out of 5. Catch the original TV series on Amazon and you'll have a more enjoyable time.

Mr. Holmes is a different story.  No matter which video version of the Holmes stories you prefer (Basil Rathbone through Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey) there is something here for you. It attacks the Holmes canon in a new and different manner as it centers on a retired Holmes circa 1947 wrestling with the affects of age on his once spectacular deductive skills. This take is as different as the Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Young Sherlock Holmes and the current CBS television series Elementary.

Ian McKellan is great as the aging detective trying to remember his final case while wrestling with the early stages of dementia.  He is spurred on by a fan - the young son of his housekeeper, much to the chagrin of the boys mother. The boy is played by a young man named Milo Parker and he too is excellent.

The story is based on Mitch Cullin’s novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind,”  Anyone that enjoys the Holmes canon should  - I think - enjoy this one, especially those of us at retirement age. I rate this one 4.5 meerschaum pipes. Just don't expect to see Holmes in his deerstalker cap.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

LBC post - Blues

This week's topic comes from Lin in Mainz Germany.

Blues Clues
The St Louis Blues
Memphis Blues
Mississippi Blues.
Blue Monday
Blue Bayou
My Blue Heaven
The Moody Blues
Blues from an Airplane
Suite Judy Blue Eyes
The Blues Magoos
The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll

Now we're getting somewhere. The Blues gave birth to rock and roll. Kids in the UK listened to American bluesmen and women and fell in love with the songs. They repackaged the music and put their own spin on it and the British Invasion was on.  Legendary bluesman Big Joe Turner got it all going here in the USA.  Here are a few examples - sit back, relax and enjoy.

Monday, November 9, 2015

American Sniper/San Andreas/Southpaw

Ah the joy of Pay-Per-View and On-Demand movies via cable.  This past weekend I managed to watch a triple-feature composed of the above named movies. One of the reasons I do not venture out to the movies often these days is I have an excellent home theater system and movies tend to appear on cable within 6 months - typically.

American Sniper excited the right-wing here in America like no movie in recent memory. Every right-wing pundit was singing the praises of the film and whart a true American hero the central character of the movie was. I guess they saw a different movie then they did. I saw a strong anti-war movie that clearly demonstrated how devastating war is for the participants and their families. Bradley Cooper gave an outstanding performance as Chris Kyle - the most prolific sniper in  US military history. Clint Eastwood offers a very clear look at the effects of war on participants and their family. I was very familiar with Kyle's story as he was killed in Texas when I lived there. I encourage anyone who has not seen this film to do so. It is excellent. Easily 5-stars out of 5.

San Andreas is what I affectionately call a popcorn flick Just sit back and relax with the beverage of your choice and a big bag of popcorn. Be prepared to have your senses assaulted by this special effects extravaganza. Check belief at the doorway to the kitchen as realism is a foreign concept in this one. This movie captured every known preconception folks have about earthquakes.  I was particularly interested in this movie because I lived on the San Andreas fault for over 30 years that I* lived in California. Jokes about "the big one" were a regular occurrence. Occasionally there was a moderately big one - the last being the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake the year the A's  and Giants played each other in the World Series, October 17, 1989.  

The affable star of this movie - Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was even born in Hayward - my home base for most of the 30+ years I live ion the Bay Area. Needless to say, The Rock saves his ex-wife and daughter in spite of the odds against him. I rate this one a 4 popcorn bag out of 5 movie. Sit back, relax and enjoy the effects. It's a fun one.

Last up is Southpaw - a boxing movie. I do enjpoy a good boxing movie. The best performance in this movie is by Forrest Whitaker - one of my favorite actors. Jake Gyllenhaal as the "hero" is OK but guilty of overacting and trying too hard to show how good he is at his craft. The story is completely predictable. It is almost saved by the boxing scenes - they are very well done. They rival the original Rocky for their excitement and action.

If you're a fan of boxing films you'll probably enjoy this one. I rate it 2.5 gloves out of 5.   It certainly beat mowing the lawn.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Weekly LBC post - Sleep

This weeks topic comes from our resident Dame Quixote - Padmum. Sleep. It's something we all need and do.

Sleep has typically always come easy for me. Oh sure - there have been occasions when I have been unable to sleep and they do happen a bit more often as I age but I have been a good sleeper most of my life.

Wikipedia says "Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles, and reduced interactions with surroundings" That works for me. The best part of sleep for me is dreaming. It's when I get to interact with my late wife among other things. I sweem to have little or no trouble remembering dreams - good or bad,

And then there is my sleeping partner of the last several years - my 60+ pound basset hound/collie mix Ginger. She has her own dreams chasing something or other nearly every night. She seems to enjoy that.

Need  a break from the rigors of daily life? Try a nap. I find my attitude about naps in general has changed as I age.  I suspect my grandkids are sleep experts. They have the uncanny ability to sleep the day away with regularity. I don't recall having that ability at their age.

That's my take on this weeks LBC topic, save for this last musical addition.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gray hair - LBC post

This week's LBC topic comes to us from Ramana. Gray hair. That stuff most men happily shout "better gray than gone!".

My hair started turning gray at about 18. It started with my sideburns - just touches of gray. Cool! I could order drinks in bars and restaurants from then on. And so I happily ordered Zombies and Singapore Slings along with beer. Coors was my favorite - after all, I did grow up in Pueblo Colorado. Well - allegedly grew up any way. My international beer quest began shortly thereafter - what the heck - it's always beer:30 somewhere!

The hair is a genetic gift from my mother's family - the Higgins' of New Mexico. We've all been blessed with manes of white hair. That'd be the Cadillac of gray hair IMHO. In fact when I reconnected with my great-aunt Blanch about 20 years ago, she looked at me and started laughing and proclaimed "You have to be Butch - laughing loudly. You're fat, have psoriasis and white hair. Your knees will go bad too. You're definitely a Higgins." The last time she'd seen me I was a normal 9-year old kid.

The genes make it tough to say I've earned every one of my white hairs but I'll say it anyway. And if gray hair is a sign of wisdom then I am a bloody genius. Ahem. OK -not so much. But until I trimmed my beard down to next to nothing just about every little kid looked at me in awe from Thanksgiving until Christmas. I've often wondered if that is why I never fell into that Happy Holidays political correctness trap here. It has always been and always will be Merry Christmas to me regardless of my religious views (or lack there of).

What eles is there to say about gray/silver/white hair? Well - Helen Mirren sure does rock it - as do James Brolin an Mark Harmon but I think I'll see what the other LBC bloggers think.

See ya next week - same bat time, same bat channel for another LBC post. And who knows what may show up between now and then.