Monday, November 28, 2022

Famous idiot makes stunning and brave vehicular statement

A number of celebrities have been getting their panties in a wad over Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter because apparently they equate free speech with fascism, white supremacy, and various other imagined evils that are the opposite of their warped idea of freedom. Whatever. 
The point is when self-righteous celebs get on their high horses, you just know hilarity is gonna ensue. Most of the entertainment has been provided by blue-checked types announcing their departure from Twitter, then hanging out to see the reactions rather than following up by actually, you know, departing Twitter. I just have one thing to say about that:

Seriously, if you don't want to be on Twitter, just go. I did a couple years ago because Twitter had become a one-sided cesspool. Too many interesting accounts were being banned simply due to a difference in politics and it just wasn't fun anymore. I closed my account and never missed it. When the Musk purchase was announced, I decided to give it another shot and guess what - it's fun again! If someone or something offends me, I can simply block them. It's not like you're forced to read stuff you don't want to. 

Which leads us to this: Actress Alyssa Milano decided to make a big fat statement (while still retaining her Twitter account) about how despicable Elon Musk's Twitter is by announcing that she could no longer in good conscience drive a Tesla (but still retain her Twitter account, because without it, how could she make her super-informed, holier-than-thou opinions known to the great unwashed). 

So she stunningly and bravely traded in her Tesla for a Volkswagen EV. 

Why a VW, I have no idea, but if she was trying to make a humanitarian statement (and she was) it backfired on her spectacularly. 

This is what happens when you don't study history, kids.
From Wikipedia:

So in other words...

Enjoy the comments

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


 Hope everyone has a wonderful day!


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

And gas stations, I'd sit in line all day for that...

...especially with gas prices in California.

These are some bargains I could get into.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Four down, five to go

This popped up on my Facebook feed the other day, and boy did it hit home:

There have been four occasions when I was sure Sophie was about to shuffle off to Kitty Heaven:
  • November 2020 - Just a couple of days after dental surgery, she became so lethargic that she could barely stay awake or raise her head up. It reminded me of watching my previous cat Wilma fade out at the end and I was convinced Sophie was on her way out as well. Fortunately, it turned out she was fine. She hadn't been metabolizing her post-surgery meds and as described by the vet, was "high as a kite". It was actually funny, once I realized she was okay. The vet told me that when they shined a light into her eyes, her wide open pupils didn't respond at all, prompting his assistant to ask, "Is she high?" The answer was yes. They gave her some fluids and she was back to normal by the time we got home.
  • Christmas 2021 - Sophie's first visit to the 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital in West L.A. as described here. Was better by the time we got home.
  • April 2022 - Trip to the emergency vet with the same symptoms as Christmas, except it took her about five days to really bounce back. I was pretty much resigned to her dying at this point because I couldn't imagine that she could recover after barely eating for almost a week. I'm still boggled (and greatly relieved) she got through that.
  • July 2022 - Trip to the emergency vet with the same symptoms as Christmas, bounced back quickly after vet visit.
And (knock on wood) she's been doing great ever since. I know her kidneys are crap at this point, but as long as she's acting like herself and not in distress or pain, I'll just enjoy her company. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Holy moly - "Twilight Zone" episodes as old time radio dramas!

This just popped up on my YouTube feed - a channel with Twilight Zone episodes performed as radio dramas! How have I never seen these before? And it kicks off with "To Serve Man"? AWESOME!!!

From the channel's description:

The Twilight Zone is a nationally syndicated radio drama series featuring radio play adaptations of the classic television series The Twilight Zone first produced for the British station BBC Radio 4 Extra in October 2002, with the final show released in 2012 for 176 episodes in all. 
Many of the stories are based on Rod Serling's scripts from the original Twilight Zone series, and are slightly expanded and updated to reflect contemporary technology and trends (e.g., the mention of "cell phones" and "CD-ROMs" which, of course, were not around when the television show aired in the 1960s) and the lack of a visual component. 
In addition to adapting all of the original episodes aired on the 1959-1964 TV series, the radio series has also adapted some Twilight Zone TV scripts which were never produced, scripts from other Serling TV productions, and new stories written especially for the radio series.

Stacy Keach does a wonderful job of stepping in for Rod Serling as the radio show's narrator. So far I've only listened to "To Serve Man" (Blair Underwood plays Mr. Chambers) and it did not disappoint. There is a glitch in the audio near the end, but it corrects in time for the big reveal. Check it out!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Recent reading: "Lord Edgware Dies"

Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie
Read by Hugh Fraser

Insomnia! That's how I got through this one so quickly. All in one day (and night) in fact.

American-born actress Jane Wilkinson, who thanks to her marriage to an English nobleman is also Lady Edgware, begs Poirot to persuade her husband to give her a divorce. The Edgware marriage went south quickly and now Jane has a wealthy duke willing to marry her if only she can escape her loathsome spouse who is refusing to cut her loose. But of course, things are not as they seem. Not only has his Lordship been agreeable to the divorce for some time, he quickly ends up a murder victim. There is no shortage of suspects and it's up to Poirot's famous "little grey cells" to sort it all out. And there is a lot to sort out in this one.

Bonus points for this being the first time I got to hear Fraser's impersonation of Philip Jackson's Inspector Japp, in addition to being able to continue to enjoy his terrific impression of David Suchet's Poirot. It was kind of weird though, that in the novel the trio of Poirot, Hastings, and Japp weren't as sympatico as portrayed in the series, but probably more realistic - they are three very different types. But the differences between the novels and the beloved series, they continue...

Friday, November 4, 2022

Recent reading: "Dumb Witness"

Another YouTube audio book!
Bob and his beloved ball.
Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
Read by Hugh Fraser
Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings investigate the death of an elderly woman who is initially believed to have died of a perfectly innocent illness. Everyone believes so except Poirot, who is of course correct: wealthy Emily Arundell was murdered for her fortune. But when her will is read her supposed heirs - a nephew, Charles Arundell, and two nieces, Theresa Arundell and Bella Tanios - have been disinherited in favor of Aunt Emily's mild-mannered companion, Minnie Lawson. And it will be man's best friend - Aunt Emily's pet dog Bob, the supposedly dumb witness of the title - who will help Poirot crack the case, at least in the TV version. Sadly, Bob kind of disappears from the case in the novel. Still, the resolution of this case is one of my favorite Poirot reveals.

Dumb Witness was the first ever episode of the Poirot TV series I watched. My Mom, who had been a fan for years, accidentally ended up with two DVD copies of this episode and gave one of them to me. I've been hooked ever since. It doesn't hurt that the fox terrier who played Bob in the show was untrimmed, making him adorably floofy. As mentioned before, there are differences between the novel and the episode, but in this case (unlike my dislike of the changes made to the episode of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) everything works. I also really liked that in the novel Hastings ends up with Bob, rather than leaving him with a couple of supporting characters as was done in the episode. Maybe the producers made the change so that viewers wouldn't wonder about Bob when he didn't show up in future episodes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

RIP Julie Powell

It was announced today that author and food blogger Julie Powell died October 26 at the age of 49.  Her cause of death was given as cardiac arrest.

Powell became famous in the early 2000's when she blogged her experience cooking all 500+ recipes in Julia Child's classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That blog led to a book deal and that led to the 2009 film Julie & Julia, which combined Powell's book with Child's autobiography My Life in France and is one of my all-time favorite movies.

Although the news was unexpected, apparently she had been ill, including having had COVID recently. These are recent posts from her Twitter account:

I went all the way back to April and she was having all sorts of weird issues. 

Powell's second book, Cleaved, was not a success and she hasn't published another book since. I don't know what's been going on with her in the past few years, but she complains about being depressed and broke in a lot of her tweets.

I do wonder what brought on the cardiac arrest. I assume there will be an autopsy to find out what caused it. She seems to have had undiagnosed issues going back a while, but it's just not normal for a person her age to die suddenly like this.

Monday, October 31, 2022

October Words of Wisdom

Why I post these every month:
Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for. --Socrates
Two words should be taken to heart and obeyed when exerting ourselves for good and restraining ourselves for good and restraining ourselves from evil - words that will ensure a blameless and untroubled life: persist and resist. --Epictetus 

A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. --Oscar Wilde
I'm not the hero you wanted. I'm the monster you needed. --Unknown

I just got to the point where I decided that I want to live an unbullshitafied life. --Steve Maraboli
Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Keep winning in private. Not everyone deserves to know what you are up to. --Unknown
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks. And all the sweet serenity of books. --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
I cannot comprehend how any man can want anything but the truth. --Marcus Aurelius

I learned that every mortal will taste death. But only some will taste life. --Rumi
It doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down. All that matters is you get up one more time than you were knocked down. --Roy T. Bennett

No man is free who is not master of himself. --Epictetus

If you scare people enough they will demand removal of freedom. This is the path to tyranny. --Elon Musk
It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build. --Nelson Mandela
The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. --Milton Friedman
Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something. --Plato
An independent imagination is a rare commodity in today's culture of control and group think. When agenda comes before imagination, creation becomes indoctrination. --Allen Arnold 
The deep critical thinker has become the misfit of the world, and this is not a coincidence. To maintain order and control you must isolate the intellectual, the sage, the philosopher, the savant, before their ideas awaken people. --Carl Jung 

I will never apologize for my beliefs or my love for my family and country. This is the greatest country in the world, and I want to keep it that way. --Jason Aldean

Be grateful every day for our flag, our country, and those who serve to protect our freedoms. --Johnny Cash

Sunday, October 30, 2022

All Hallow's Eve

Hope you kiddies score buckets of candy!


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Recent reading: "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" and "Murder on the Orient Express"

Well, this is gonna kill off some time I should be spending on other things. I've recently discovered YouTube accounts that not only have all the Poirot episodes from the very beginning, but also channels that have audiobooks of Agatha Christie's novels, including Poirot books read by David Suchet and Hugh Fraser. If those names don't mean anything to you then you've missed out on one of the best TV shows ever. (Suchet plays Hercule Poirot, while Fraser was Captain Hastings, Poirot's Dr. Watson in the BBC series). These were the first two I've listened to. 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Read by Hugh Fraser

Renowned for its twist ending and unreliable narrator, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of Christie's best. The British Crime Writers' Association voted it the best crime novel of all time. Unfortunately, a lot of the story was changed when they filmed this one for the BBC series, so if you've seen it you still need to read the book.

Hercule Poirot has retired to the small town of King's Abbot with no greater goal than to mind his own business and tend to his vegetable garden. But of course he's caught up when one of King's Abbot's most prominent citizens is found murdered, while his new neighbor, Dr. James Sheppard, tags along while helpfully providing Poirot with background on the locals and their back stories.

One of the things I loved about the story was Poirot admitting that he missed his sidekick Hastings, who has moved on to Argentina. His treatment of Hastings over the years didn't always reflect this kind of affection. It is this void in his life and investigation that Dr. Sheppard fills, giving him a front-row seat to Poirot's methods.

Also, one of the things that made listening to this so enjoyable, in addition to hearing Fraser's beloved voice, was his spot-on imitation of Suchet's Poirot.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Read by David Suchet

Another Christie story famous for its non-traditional ending, Murder on the Orient Express finds Poirot in a locked room mystery aboard a passenger train while traveling home to England from the Middle East. The Orient Express becomes snowbound during the night and the following morning one of the passengers is discovered stabbed to death in his cabin. With the train and its passengers stuck, Poirot examines the evidence piece by piece and questions the passengers one by one, until coming to a fantastical - but accurate - conclusion.
Next up: Dumb Witness read by Hugh Fraser. Why? Because it was the first Poirot I ever watched, and just like that I was hooked.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Recent reading: "The Fixers"

The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine
by E.J. Fleming
Starting with a history of the motion picture industry, The Fixers tells the story of how MGM executives Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling ended up in positions of massive and corrupt power during the golden age of Hollywood, and how they wielded it to protect the studio's valuable talent.  
Though both are largely forgotten today, the kind of power they had to control public exposure of their stars bad behavior during their heyday is almost incomprehensible. Their power and corruption extended well beyond MGM's Culver City lot to local law enforcement, the DA's office, and the courts. Fatal drunk driving accidents and beatings were covered up and went unreported by the media and unpunished by the law. Murders were made to look like suicides. Romances and marriages were arranged to cover the homosexuality of bankable stars. Abortions were arranged on a regular basis. Bizarre, often destructive behavior was tolerated and managed, and all of it was to protect the juggernaut that was MGM.
The final chapter covers one of the few things responsible for Eddie Mannix still being remembered today, mainly thanks to the 2006 film Hollywoodland. Somewhere around 1950-51, Mannix's wife Toni met George Reeves, a handsome and personable actor whose career had never really succeeded beyond B-flicks after a promising start in Gone With the Wind. Despite their age difference - Reeves was in his mid-thirties when they met, while Toni was still extremely attractive despite being in her mid-forties - they embarked on the proverbial passionate affair that eventually became a deep love. It was around this time that Reeves finally became a huge star thanks to scoring the title role in the TV series The Adventures of Superman.

This led to an unconventional understanding for everyone involved. The affair was conducted out in the open. Both Toni and Eddie had numerous affairs, but loved each other and accepted each other's philandering. Eddie was also twenty years her senior and by the time Toni met George, was having health problems and his career at MGM was winding down. He also had a mistress during this time and this setup seemed to work just fine for everyone involved. According to The Fixers, Eddie actually liked Reeves and the two couples would often socialize. But given Eddie's age and health, Toni was also planning for the future. Her intention was to stick with her husband 'til death did them part, then she and Reeves could marry, and for a while it looked like that's how things would play out.

However, by 1958, Toni was in her fifties and showing her age. A Superman cast member described her as "matronly" at this point. During a publicity trip to New York Reeves met Leonore Lemmon, a high-spirited, temperamental Manhattan socialite, and Reeves had a new passionate affair. According to the book, Reeves was taken by her wealth, wildness, disrespect for authority, and probably most by her nymphomania. Toni was in trouble; Leonore was a shapely 38 while she was a matronly 53.
Reeves returned to L.A. with plans to marry Lemmon. He broke the bad news to Toni and to say she didn't take it well would be a major understatement. She threatened, she stalked, she hounded, and generally behaved like a madwoman, and neither Reeves nor Mannix was happy about it. She would never recover.
Reeves died June 16, 1959 from a single gunshot wound to the head. While his death was ruled a suicide, over the years stories have circulated that Eddie Mannix had him killed. The impetus behind these stories is that either Toni, incensed at being dumped, asked Mannix to have it done, or that Mannix, unhappy that Reeves had devastated Toni, took it upon himself to order the execution. Mannix had mob ties and could have made it happened. However, Fleming looks at a number of facts that have fallen by the wayside over the years and comes to the conclusion that Reeves was shot by Lemmon, but that Mannix and Strickling used their legendary influence to push the suicide angle not to save her skin, but so that Reeves's relationship with Toni and Eddie's acceptance of it - an unusual situation even by Hollywood standards - would not be exposed.

One thing about this book that can be annoying is Fleming's non-stop claims that pretty much every performer in Hollywood had same-sex relationships - even those who were definitely straight - to the point of overkill. It seems like an obsession that warrants its own book. But I did like The Fixers a lot for the Hollywood history and the in depth examination of George Reeves's death (Hollywoodland is one of my favorite films and that makes the Reeves angle alone worth reading up on).