Friday, April 29, 2016

Kevin Spacey rocks!

Just a musing, if you don't mind.
I've been watching Kevin Spacey portray a ruthless, callous, murderous, devious politician with such electrifying aplomb and bottomless sincerity that I cannot but love his character, despite his horrible, soulless behavior.
"House of Cards" is without question, the most entertaining and intense story about our nation's government, and the peculiar people who populate the hallways, offices, and chambers of national power, that I've ever seen!
Netflix was an obscure media outlet to me until a dear friend tipped me to "House of Cards. Since the first episode I watched, about five months ago, I've found myself returning again and again to the show like a child who loves sweets anticipating a new, sickly-sweet desert, and it has not disappointed.
The elegant multiple story lines, so well written but not so complex as to spur headaches, keep my mind engaged and my face smirking and grinning with glee.
But be warned ye uninitiated, at its heart "House of Cards" lives in the deepest, darkest corners of imagination, and it can challenge one's own moral certitude, no matter what one believes.
My tip.
Be well.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Finest Hours

I went to see "The Finest Hours" tonight and I was thoroughly entertained!
The film is a well-crafted nostalgia piece based on a tragedy that occurred in 1952 in Massachusetts, where a young Coast Guard lieutenant falls head-over-heels in love with a sweet, pretty woman who finds herself intrigued by the handsome young officer's naiveté and innocence.
Just as the romance has reached a boil, and a wedding date is discussed and decided on, a terrible storm slams into the Atlantic Ocean, focused off the coastline of Mass.
As a result, two tankers are split in two, bisected from port to starboard, requiring a rescue attempt by the Coast Guard.
The cinematography and special effects are amazing (especially in 3-D).
I saw it on an iMax screen and I was blown away by the realism and stomach-churning sensations that the artful photography evoked! Wind-driven sea foam splatters into your face; the prow of the boat slides down the face of a 6-story wave and submerges, all the while transporting viewers into the scene and creating a visceral experience that elevates the heart-pounding suspense.
The plot is a simple - men in harm's way trying to overcome enormous odds to survive  -  and battling one another at moments when time is critical and men shouting at one another about the best course of action is a deadly waste of time.
As you can tell, I was much taken by the film. The cast, including Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, and a beautiful actress whose name eludes me at the moment, was in codmmand of their characterizations, each turning in a noteworthy performance.
I think that many younger moviegoers may have bypassed this offering because of its simple plot - a rescue attempt against impossible odds - and the sincerity of the actors in portraying people who lived in a simpler time (1950s), and during a period in the U.S. when we still had our innocence and belief in the "goodness" of doing right - even when doing right was unpopular and potentially fatal.
I give it 4 stars our of five, and even that's subjective (ain't it all?)!
Well worth a the hour and 45 minute immersion.

Monday, May 25, 2015

What difference does it make?

MOST MOMENTS pass unnoticed in this life. Simply slipping into the mists of the past, the done, the overlooked, and the inconsequential.
What moments are noticed?
Who the hell knows? Lots! Lately, I find myself noticing the way pigeons take off and land, and how stupid they are when it comes to egg laying. They drop their eggs on the ledge of the library building and, because there's a slight slant to the ledge, the slightest breeze sets the eggs to rolling and, SPLAT!
They appear to be the dumbest bunch of birds in creation, but they're not.
Lately I find myself wondering what a line of ants is transmitting to each single ant in the nest; what messages are transmitted by that short-lived touch of wiggling antennae as they pass each other?
Some days I wonder what people think about life, and space, and the sun, and time.
Like I said, most moments go unnoticed, but the ones that don't tend to perplex more than they ease my mind.
My back and my arteries tell me I'm getting old. I'm 64 (like the McCartney song mentions), and sometimes I think my body is a good one, as physical bodies go. It's been through hellish and brutal encounters, that's for sure, but it's still giving me moments of pleasure and, of course, pain.
But the alternative is not appealing at this moment.
Lately time slaps me in the back of the head, sneaking up on me and startling me with its sudden in-rush of reality. Where just a second ago I was focused on a color or a shape, next thing I know, BAM! I'm planning what to do tomorrow, and I feel frustrated and foolish for not paying attention to those all important details - tomorrow.
If the lord could extend me a favor, I'd ask for another 25 years of life, just to find out what happens next.
But I know that the lord doesn't have the power to grant favors; nor is he inclined in that direction.
God plays his cards close the vest, so you'll never know what hand's about to be laid down in front of you. Most times you don't even know what you've bet, so it can be truly life-altering when you lose a poker hand to god, believe me. I know!

Friday, April 03, 2015

College loan blues are killng me!

Get an education, that's what we're all told right?
It takes that sheepskin to climb the ladder of success, no matter what field of endeavor you enter. But that sheepskin costs big bucks, and most of us plebians don't have the wherewithal to pay out-of-pocket for the privilege of earning a degree.
So I, like millions of Americans, took out loans to supplement the tiny Pell Grant that I qualified for from the start.
And those loans pile up quickly!
My college education (a bachelor's degree in journalism) cost nearly $100,000.00. Add to that a second stint in a two-year "job skills" college - about $20,000 - and I'm in the hole from the moment those degrees are imprinted with my name.
They become albatrosses that lay across my neck every year.
Forebearances and deferments carried me through the first few years of repayment; and then an income-based repayment schedule made it possible to carry the monthly 'vig' for the past couple of years.
Now, somehow Navient (the loan managing bureaucracy that took over from Sallie Mae) has somehow decided that I make more than $6,000 per month and, therefore, wants me to pay $913 every month for the next 144 months. Problem is, I don't make nearly that amount. In fact, $913 if about 45.24 percent of my take home pay, which will put in the poor house really quickly.
So now I must get on the phone (by 8 p.m. EST on Fridays - thank you) and thrash out this situation  with a Navient representative - someone who, I'm sure, is an expert in public relations and fiscal calculations, as well as someone who has the authority to enter a code in my computer account file to recalculate my monthly payments to actually FIT my income.
Somehow I have my doubts about that rosy scenario.
My experience tells me that this phone call I'll be making tomorrow is going to be an emotionally wrenching, spiritually crushing, psychologically debilitating experience that, in the end, will find me in the docks at a debtors prison somewhere in Iowa, or South Dakota.
Student loans are a glimmer of hope when one begins the process of pursuing a college degree.
But they quickly become a voracious, implacable, flesh-eating shark if you fall afoul of the rules and regulations - which, by the way, are a shifting, moving target.
So to all you youngsters out there who're thinking of taking a student loan to pay for a college degree - think twice, think three times - think some more before you sign that document that puts your soul in hock for the rest of your life.
Do you really want to earn an extra $10,000 a year with a degree only to have 50 percent of it paid to the loan holder in interest fees?
Please hear me.
Don't do it. It's a soul-sucking mud pit.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Arctic blast blankets West Texas!

Jeez! We just got over a teeth-rattling winter storm, complete with ice, snow, sub-freezing wind chills, etc.
And here comes another one just two days later. Only thing is, there's not enough snow when these arctic air masses roll over us here in the West Texas High Plains, and I find it disconcerting and disappointing.
I like snow. I like how sounds when it's falling through the bare branches of the Cottonwood tree out back. I like how it looks when it floats, or flies sideways in the wind. And I like how the landscape looks after a foot or two of snow piles up, creating surrealistic shapes and whimsical characters out of whatever lies beneath the blanket of white crystals.
I especially like snow when snowflakes are silver dollar-sized and so thick that it's difficult to breathe if you have to walk through the curtain of fat flakes for any distance.
Weird, I know. But it's true.
But we've had two or three "winter storms" here, and none has produced any appreciable snowfalls; just these weak, thin bands of tiny flakes that, while beautiful in their own right, are underwhelming and barely enough to cover the ground, let alone pile up enough to create drifts and banks along the fence line, and cover the roads in crunchy cushions of icy whiteness.
Oh well. We take what we get and thank Mother Nature for her creativity (although, truth be told, I grumble about the lack of "MASS" when it comes to disappointing accumulations of the white stuff.
Appears we have a two-day window this time to catch a substantive snowfall, so I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best, according to my POV.
Really, all I want is a snow day vacation from work. Just one, Lord. Whaddaya say?
That's not so much to ask, right?
So come on snow! Bring it, Mother Nature! Show me your "good" stuff.
And thanks.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Zebras in Pats/Ravens game are blind idiots!!!

Another blown call by the group of referees calling the Patriots/Ravens game.
Every call that's blown goes AGAINST the Patriots. What's up with that???
No call on two OBVIOUS pass interference plays; no call on a knee to Tom Brady's face by a Ravens defender; a fumble called on the Pats when clearly there was NO FUMBLE!
How many of these blatantly BAD calls do we have to endure before there's some type of penalty for the zebras?
Somebody please do something.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Texas Tech Red Raiders defense eaten alive by Hogs!

Sad to watch a hapless Texas Tech defense choke against a simple, straight-ahead running game. No razzle-dazzle, no trick offensive plays - just simple hand the ball to the Arkansas running back (primarily Williams) and let him rumble for 6, 7, 10, or 12 yards. Every other Arkansas play led to a first down.
Tech's defensive players looked bewildered, inept, and completely outclassed.
Clearly, the Red Raider defensive team is not ready to compete against an offense like Arkansas, or any team that has two or three running plays.
Two running plays - that's all that was needed to confuse and overwhelm Tech's defense.
The Hogs running backs manhandled them, like velociraptors against puppies!
Two plays! That's all! But tackles were in short supply. Not one Arkansas running play failed - not one!
That's a sad commentary on the state of Texas Tech defensive football.
I'm afraid that, given the rest of the 2014 schedule, Tech won it's last game of the season last week.
Every team that watched this game today now knows that Tech's defense is a pushover, a steaming pile of mush, and a disorganized, inexperienced group of easy pickings for running backs.
Too bad. The hometown fans had high hopes for this year, but it looks like it's going to be tough for Tech to win any more games.
Maybe Texas, maybe TCU - but I doubt it.
Red Raiders, hold your head up high and take it like a good loser should. Humbly, and with lots of teeth gnashing and tears.
Guns up! Crow pie down! Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!