Monday, November 30, 2015
One of my favorite women of all time, June Pointer, born November 30, 1953, was the baby sister of the Pointer Sisters. She and her sisters Ruth and Anita started singing in the late 1960's but enjoyed huge success in the 80's with albums such as Break Out and Hot Together.
Unfortunately, June left us way too early. She passed away at 52 from cancer on April 11, 2006. Their album Break Out was released November 1983.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
First, let me say I really liked this book. The paranormal aspect of the story is what caught my attention, of course, being an author of novels with similar themes. In "Third Eye", Cayce (as in Edgar Cayce?) D’Amico, single gay father of Luke, gains strange abilities during a severe thunderstorm. While looking for Luke, Cayce is struck by a falling branch when lightning strikes a tree next to him.
Recovering in the hospital, Cayce begins to have ‘visions’. Two teenage girls have vanished from the small town of Fawcettville, Pennsylvania and the police are baffled.
Reluctantly, Cayce has to admit to himself the visions he sees in his heads are of the missing girls. He contacts the local police detective with less than satisfactory results. He decides to get in touch with one of the missing girls’ family with an even more disastrous outcome. Not knowing what to do next, Cayce is surprised when the family of the second missing girl contacts him.
After much back and forth, Cayce leads the mother to the shallow grave of her daughter. Soon after, Cayce’s son Luke is kidnapped and Cayce thinks he has to use his new-found abilities to save his son.
I found this to be the only downer of the story, (spoiler alert) Cayce’s clairvoyance did not lead him to his son. It would have made for a more exciting climax to have him lead the police to Luke and become the hero to his son.
I’m not complaining about the final scene which the reader will find out for themselves, but the gay aspect seemed subdued and almost an afterthought. However, one can easily empathize and relate Cayce and his current love situation. We’ve all had those long dry spells and we’re afraid of losing our sanity.
The final scene also hints at a sequel. I hope there is.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Mariner 4, launched November 28, 1965, was the first spacecraft to perform a flyby past Mars, answering the burning questions about life on the Red Planet. Mariner performed the flyby July 14-15, 1965, passing within 9,846 km from the surface of Mars. Communications were terminated with the spacecraft on December 21, 1967.
The first close-up picture of the surface of Mars, courtesy Mariner 4.
After reading “The Squire’s Tale”, I was a little disappointed because it almost felt as if Margaret Frazer had given up. The novel was slow and predictable. Reluctantly, I read the next book in her Dame Frevisse series, set in the 1400’s during the reign of Henry VI.
“The Clerk’s Tale” restored my faith in Frazer. The mystery is set within the first few pages and doesn’t slow down. The novel opens with the murder of Master Montfort, crowner and frequent thorn in Frevisse’s side. He’s found stabbed in the cloister garden of St. Mary’s where Domina Elisabeth and Frevisse are visiting the prioress’ dying cousin.
Since Master Montfort and Frevisse butted heads every time they met (and she was always right), she finds it difficult to be sorrowful, but soon discovers no one else is, either. To her big surprise, Montfort’s son Christopher, the new crowner, is nothing like his father. He is more interested in finding the truth, rather than making a rash, simple decision. His methodical, not greedy. He and Frevisse quickly form an alliance to discover who killed his father.
At the heart of the problem is the legitimacy of Master Stephen, grandson of Lady Agnes. His inheritance of her vast fortune is being brought into question by the boy’s aunt, who is convinced he is not her sister’s son. There doesn’t seem to be any connection between the murdered crowner and the contentious family.
Frevisse, Christopher Montfort and the clerk John Gruesby persevere, questioning everybody and doing heavy footwork. Their tenacity pays off. Unlike the previous novel which was rather predictable and slow, Frazer has some surprises for her readers.
“The Clerk’s Tale” is head and shoulders above “The Squire’s Tale”. Frazer returns to the old school sleuthing that we’re used to.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
One of the best movies with the cast from the original Star Trek series was released November 26, 1986. It contained a powerful message about protecting our indigenous wildlife, and only man would be arrogant enough to believe he was the only intelligent life on earth.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Noel Neill, born November 25, 1920, is probably best known for her portrayal of Lois Lane in "The Adventures of Superman" which ran from 1952 to 1958. She replaced Phyllis Coates who starred in the role from 1952-1953. Both Neill and Coates starred in "Invasion USA", a wonderfully forgettable sci-fi movie about the Soviets invading the USA. Joel and the bots conducted a battle of the Lois Lanes when they featured "Invasion" on "Mystery Science Theatre 3000".
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
I’ve enjoyed reading the Adventures of Scot Harvath, super-spy, by Brad Thor, so the setting of his novel, The Athena Project, appeared to be interesting change from his main character. Instead of one guy acting alone, this novel features a team of four women in pretty much the same role as Scot. They are smart, beautiful and deadly.
The book basically sends out two messages: one, men have one track minds and two, a sexy woman in a little black dress can open any door. ANY door, because of message number one.
Thor’s story has several humorous sections where the women, Megan Rhodes, Gretchen Casey, Julie Ericsson and Alex Cooper laugh at how easily they can manipulate men with a pretty smile, cleavage, a bottle of booze and the promise of a good time.
Their first adventure is sneaking into a private party in Venice, thrown by a known weapons dealer responsible for procuring the explosives that killed many Americans. Their seduction of the dirty, old man is interrupted and they must shoot their way out. Which they have to do several more times. But they always get their man.
The main plot is that Nazi scientists were working on mind-blowing experiments when WWII ended. The USSR worked to get those scientists into the Russia, but the US was more interested in their work. In some cases, laboratories were destroyed but in other cases, they were flooded or booby-trapped and the entrances caved in.
One experiment involved teleportation. The Nazis experimented on Jewish people with disastrous results. They never perfected it but the laboratory where the research was conducted had been rumored to be discovered. The Athena team is sent in to ascertain if the technology was actually hidden in a cave in the Czech Republic. If so, America’s enemies could teleport electromagnetic disrupting bombs all over the country, paralyzing it.
There is plenty of action to keep the book interesting without being overwhelmed by violence. Thor gives his team plenty of seemingly impossible missions but never becoming so overtly incredible that they become unbelievable.
The only downside to the book was the plot thread involving Denver International Airport. It almost seemed an afterthought to lengthen the story but it just ended without much resolution.
Despite that tangential thread, I hope Thor continues this series.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Alexander Siddig (or Siddig El Fadil), born November 21 1965, played Dr. Julian Bashir on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". After the show wrapped, he's been busy starring in "Primeval" and "Game of Thrones". Malcolm McDowell is his uncle.
Friday, November 20, 2015
It is ironic that this episode of "The Twilight Zone" has been a topic of group discussion earlier this week on another website, since the original aired November 20, 1959. A friend on Writing.com mentioned that she had to get her glasses fixed before she could continue writing and this episode was invoked.
Burgess Meredith stars as Henry Bemis, a man in love with books in a time when reading is frowned upon. During a lunch break, he sneaks into a bank vault to read a few pages and thusly, survives a (very brief but) all-out nuclear war. Now he has 'time enough to last' to read his books. But Fate has one more cruel trick to pull...
Thursday, November 19, 2015
I’m not a big fan of werewolf literature but I picked up “Cursed” because of the gay aspect of it. And I enjoy a good sex scene but Rhianne Aile lays it on thick. It seems as if the novel was too short so she inserted numerous sex scenes just to lengthen it.
Basically the story is rather ho-hum. Tristan’s ancestors cursed Benjamin’s ancestors and now Tristan is trying to remove the curse. He casts a spell to separate Benjamin from his wolf. It succeeds but it turns out to be a bad thing. So he has to reverse the spell.
Aile’s writing style is difficult to follow since she head-hops from one character to another, to a third and sometimes to a fourth by paragraphs, instead of separating points of view by scene changes. The reader gets confused at who is thinking what and when. I found myself re-reading passages to clear up my confusion.
The characters are not well-developed either. The reader gets a glimpse of their pasts and personalities but not enough to connect with them. Instead of connecting with them, the reader becomes a voyeur in a sense. Mary the housekeeper, is the only female in the story beyond the prologue. She is a delightful character but totally cliché.
Then there are the sex scenes. From the middle of the book to the end, they are so frequent they become tedious. I found myself flipping through the pages to skip over the last few. Only one or two of them advance the plot. The rest are just filler.
If explicit porn is your thing, you may enjoy this book. However, if you desire something with a little more substance, look elsewhere.
Robert Beltran, born November 19, 1953, is probably best known for his role as Commander Chakotay in "Star Trek: Voyager". I always thought he was the coolest second in command since Spock, but he was totally under-utilized on the show, especially after Seven-of-Nine came on board.
I couldn't find a good clip of him on "Star Trek: Voyager" so I had to settle for clips from an interview with him during the last season of the show.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Okies behaving nicely for once?
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a non-biological parent, in this case a woman whose same-sex relationship ended, can have a say in the custody of her son. Charlene Ramey and Kimberly Sutton separated after an 8-year relationship, two years before Oklahoma was ordered by the U.S. courts to recognize same-sex marriages.
Earlier this year the Oklahoma County District Court dismissed Ramey's case. Special Judge Howard Haralson wrote:
“When the parent and step-parent separate or divorce there is no statutory provision for the step-parent to remain a part of the child's life. What about a nanny who has more interaction with a child than the parents, will the nanny be able to assert rights to the child?”
The Oklahoma Supreme Court stated:
“Ramey is not a mere ‘third party’ like a nanny, friend, or relative, as suggested by the district court. On the contrary, Ramey has been intimately involved in the conception, birth and parenting of their child, at the request and invitation of Sutton."
My man Billy Joel hit #1 November 18, 1978 with his awesome album, "52nd Street", his sixth release. It won two Grammys, one for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance - Male. I couldn't find videos for my favorites "Until the Night" and "Stiletto" but here is "Big Shot".
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Another one of my favorite bands, the Alan Parsons Project, released "The Turn of a Friendly Card" in November 1980, their fifth album.
"The Gold Bug" is an instrumental piece from the album with Chris Rainbow on backup vocals.
Monday, November 16, 2015
November 16, 1993, the Pointer Sisters released their 15th studio album, "Only Sisters Can Do That". It would be their last studio recording, but it is an awesome album. It has a slower vibe to it that previous albums but the soft sounds still resonate and pull at the heart strings. My favorite is the rambunctious "Sex, Love or Money"!
"Don't Walk Away" was recorded with Michael McDonald and contains some good messages.
The American Bison
The Pioneer Woman statue
Despite that (and tornadoes), she's still what I call home.
I've enjoyed watching "Where the Bears Are", a comedy series about 3 roommates solving murders in Los Angeles' bear community. I wanted to learn more about the show and then found out the actor Rick Copp, who plays Reggie, is also a writer. And I had one of his books in my library.
"An Actor's Guide to Murder" reads like an episode of "Bears", a mystery laced with a mix of action and comedy. Jarrod Jarvis, a former child star, is trying to make a come-back, auditioning for bit parts and walk-ons. At one such audition, he bumps into an old flame, another former child star, Willard. When they were in their teens, their love affair went public and snuffed out their successful careers.
They reconnect and Jarrod decides to throw Willard a birthday party but his former lover dies just before the celebration. Everyone, even Jarrod's current boyfriend Charles, a detective for LAPD, says it was an accident. Willard got drunk, tripped and feel into his pool, and drowned.
Jarrod believes differently. He is convinced Willard's death was no accident. Despite popular opinion and overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Jarrod presses on. Soon he is attacked and threatened, and only then, people begin to take notice.
Copp peppers his story with sarcasm, wit and plenty of pop culture references to keep the reader entertained and interested. I devoured it, reading most of it in one afternoon. I could see it easily becoming an episode of "Where the Bears Are", campy, funny and sexy men. Despite the comedy, it is a good cozy mystery. I'd definitely read more of his works.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Ed White II, born November 14, 1930, was the first man to walk in space during the 4 day Gemini IV mission in June 1965. He received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal for his flight in Gemini IV.
White was chosen for Apollo 1 along with Command Pilot Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Pilot Roger Chaffee, scheduled to launch February 21, 1967. During a test of the capsule on January 27, all three men died when a fire broke out in the pure oxygen atmosphere.
After the devastating fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988, Chip Davis wanted to honor the beauty of the park and help maintain its loveliness for future generations. Mannheim Steamroller released "Yellowstone: The Music of Nature" November 14. 1989. A portion of the proceeds from this album go to the recovery and maintenance of Yellowstone.
Friday, November 13, 2015
I purchased "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex" by Nathaniel Philbrick, years ago but didn’t pick it up to read it until I saw it had been made into a movie, to be released December 2015. It is an interesting book and an easy read, if not uneasy at times. The true tragedy of the story starts after a sperm whale rams and sinks the Essex. The men scramble to salvage what they can from the damaged vessel before she is completely lost.
Nathaniel Philbrick relies heavily on the eyewitness account of Thomas Nickerson, the cabin boy on the Essex, discovered in 1980. Owen Chase, the first mate, published his story with the help of a ghostwriter only nine months after being rescued. Other survivors also wrote their accounts but they aren’t as well-written, lacking the “authority and scope” of Chase’s account.
Philbrick doesn’t pull any punches when describing the suffering and overwhelming despair of the survivors as they have to resort to eating the corpses of their dead comrades, and then living with that memory for the rest of their lives. Some of the details get gruesome but it is the reality of their story, disgusting or not.
The author notes at the beginning of the book that this is the true story that inspired Herman Melville's "Moby Dick", but where Melville's story ends, with the whale sinking the ship, Philbrick's story begins. I haven't read "Moby Dick" yet, but I'm sure he didn't include the amount of murder and cannibalism Philbrick did.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Voyager 1, the second spacecraft sent to study Saturn (the first being Pioneer 11), passed by the gas giant on November 12, 1980. Launched on September 5, 1977 (my birthday!), it took advantage of a rare planetary alignment and used gravity to swing by one planet (Jupiter) to the next without a large propulsion system.
Voyager 1 found three new Saturnine moons (Prometheus, Pandora and Atlas), hundreds of new rings and a thick atmosphere on Titan.
In August 2012, Voyager entered interstellar space, making it the most distant human-made object in space. It carries a gold record that contains 115 analog images, greetings in 55 languages, 35 natural and man-made sounds and portions of 27 musical pieces.
Voyager 1 should operate until 2020 and send back data to Earth periodically.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The fifth flight of the Super Shuttle program and the fifth flight for Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center on November 11, 1982. The crew consisted of four members:
Commander Vance Brand
Pilot Robert Overmyer
Specialist 1 John P. Allen
Specialist 2 William B. Lenoir
The crew deployed two commercial communications satellites and planned a space walk. However, Lenoir got sick and two of the space suits developed problems so the EVA was cancelled.
They returned to Earth November 16.
Space Shuttle Columbia deploying a commercial communications satellite.
Gemini XII, the last mission of the Gemini project, launched on November 11, 1966 with astronauts "Buzz" Aldrin and Jim Lovell. They splashed down on November 15 and NASA moved onto the Apollo missions.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
But at least we weren't at the very bottom of the list - rank: 40th. The Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity gave Oklahoma an 'F' in a nationwide study. Oklahoma was one of eleven states to receive failing grade. Only three states, Alaska, California and Connecticut, scored above D+.
Apparently, the researchers found out that money talks! For example, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert filed their divorce petition in Pottawatomie County. The County Associate District Judge John Gardner sealed the divorce "at the request of their attorney" even though those are public records.
Governor Mary Failing was sued in 2014 after a news outlet was denied access to records after the state botched an execution. Then media and attorneys have to wait longer than six months normally to have records requests filled by Failing and the AG's office. The law requires requests to be filled in a "prompt and reasonable" manner.
Of course, this is what we've come to expect from Oklahoma's government.
Monday, November 9, 2015
Seth Green in "Party Monster"
We've all seen the depictions of gay men with lisps, limp wrists and effeminate characteristics (and maybe some of us are) but it is still an offensive, negative stereotype. According to an article on Scencemag.org, studies have not succeeded in finding that a lisp is more prevalent in gay men rather than straight men.
A speech scientist at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities has shown how patterns of speech do correlate with gender and sexual orientation.
The article talks about how gay men produce a crisper "s" sound, the level of crispiness falling somewhere between straight men and women. To research this further, Benjamin Munson, the speech scientist studied 34 boys from ages 5 to 13 years old, diagnosed with gender dystopia, a condition in which a child feels a "distressing mismatch between the gender they experienced and the one assigned them at birth."
The delivery doctors see a penis and "assign" the baby as male. And somehow this is flawed?
Also diagnosing a mental health disorder to a 5-year old because his parents perceive Little Johnny as being less macho than the other kindergarteners is simply tragic.
Sometimes I wonder if authors who write a series of novels run out of ideas or get to appoint they have nothing left to offer their readers. Such is the case for The Squire’s Tale, the tenth in Margaret Frazer’s Dame Frevisse series. In The Maiden’s Tale, we got a glimpse of the intrigue of King Henry VI’s reign. In The Reeve’s Tale, we saw how convoluted land ownership could be by family ties, who bequeathed what to whom, who has the most money, etc.
In The Squire’s Tale, Frazer attempts to show us how disputes were settled without turning to lawyers or some form of government, but it's mostly a family feud. Fully three-fourths of the novel passes before the mystery starts. Up to that Point, Dame Frevisse and Sister Claire have been asked to escort a young lady back to her guardian, Sir Robert Fenner, whom Frevisse met in Frazer’s first novel of this series. Robert had been wounded when family members who have a quarrel with his wife attacked him to confiscate his ward and force her into marriage. Katherine is sent to St. Frideswide for protection.
When she is recalled back to the manor, Frevisse and Claire accompany her. For most of the novel, Frevisse watches the drama around her, wishing she wasn’t there, wishing she didn’t have to see everything, and hear everything. The story tends to bog down.
I enjoy reading Frazer’s works but this one is far from her best output.
In 1973, Clive Davis signs Billy Joel to a contract with Columbia Records and Billy records "Piano Man", releasing the album on November 9. The song is his first top 20 single and the album is his first Gold!
Friday, November 6, 2015
Trace Beaulieu, born November 6, 1958, played Crow T. Robot and the evil Dr. Clayton Forrester on Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of the best shows on television. I really miss that show!
Ashley Nell Tipton (cast in this season's role of 'underdog') took home the top prize in Project Runway's Season 14 finale, and for once, the judges made the right decision. They crowned the contestant with the least amount of attitude, cattiness and bitchiness, as they have in the past (i.e. Jeffrey, Christian, Gretchen, Irina). For a refreshing change, none of the last four contestants had attitude problems. No backstabbing, name-calling, or mean-spiritedness.
The award could easily have gone to Kelly Dempsey (in the role of 'quirky girl'), Candace Cuoco (in the role of 'goth chick') or uber-sexy Edmund Newton (in the role of 'macho straight guy'), all of whom maintained a comfortable level of professionalism. They concentrated on their craft instead of ripping apart one another.
The win vindicates Ashley since her fellow contestants never gave her the credit she deserved. After winning two challenges, she was the last one picked for the team challenge. Heidi scolded them for that. When asked during another challenge, all of the ones on the chopping block said Ashley should be eliminated. When the judges were paring four down to three, they asked the contestants who should go to Fashion Week with them. None of them chose Ashley.
Ashley had challenges on the runway last night that other contestants did not have to face - her models had breasts. Few of the other runway models had any curves at all.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Well, bless his little heart! The most high-and-mighty, untouchable group of employees in the world aren't being treated fairly.
Well, boo f***ing hoo!
He complains that the head of NFL Officiating doesn't have the on-field experience necessary for making the final call on plays. Who needs a replay when Ed "All About Me" Hochuli botches a call, admits it, and does nothing to rectify it? Anyone else would have been fired!
Jeff Fisher criticizes the officiating after a notoriously bad game and HE gets fined.
A referee tells a Buffalo Bills player before a game that he doesn't like the coach or the team. Surprise. The Bills lose that game.
In this article Green states: "Officials who miss calls should be downgraded, and if mistakes are repeatedly made over time, the official should be released."
Loosely translated, they can make mistakes without fear of retribution. Oh, so maybe they don't get to officiate a play-off game but so what? They're back next year.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Yesterday, NewsOK.com reported Washington-based Public Justice and the Oklahoma Sierra Club plan to sue SandRidge Energy Inc., Devon Energy Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and New Dominion LLC. They're filling the lawsuit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which allows citizens to sue over hazardous waste.
The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma have skyrocketed over the past few years, and is on track to experience over 900 earthquakes this year, putting it ahead of California. Several studies have shown 'fracking' the process of injecting the soil with toxic chemicals to recover oil is most likely the reason for the increased seismicity.
Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, dismisses the suit as unnecessary and unwarranted, saying the environmentalists are out to "completely destroy the production of oil and natural gas in the United States"
Seriously, Chad-eroo? That's the only reason you can think of? Granted the environmentalists might not have claim to any monetary rewards, but think of all the people who have had homes damaged from dozens of earthquakes. What happens if fracking is allowed to continue? With the crust of the Earth being cracked and drilled in a relatively small area, it's liable to fail at some point. Yes, we understand you are listening(?) to the Oklahoma Geological Survey and you claim "the actions taken by the commission have been strong, decisive and based on good science". Don't you mean 'in spite of good science'?
The actions have been to continue business as usual. But 900 earthquakes per year is not usual.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Laika, the first animal in space, was launched aboard Sputnik 3, November 3, 1957. Laika proved that humans could survive the launch process but the Soviets had not devised a return to Earth and recovery method (did they care?) so Laika died in orbit.
The adorable little mongrel was found wandering the streets of Moscow so Soviet scientists figured she had already experienced extreme cold and hunger. (I suppose they did care. A little.) Laida has been described as 'quiet and charming'. Of course, she was. She thought she had been rescued from the streets, not knowing she was going to be sacrificed to science.
The description "quiet and charming" has not been written about the second of her kind in space, Valentina Tereshkova. Read James Oberg's "Red Star in Orbit" about the Soviet space program, for some fascinating and funny facts about Val. A hero, she ain't.
When Sputnik 3 achieved orbit, some of the thermal insulation was torn away when the nose cone jettisoned. This prevented the thermal control system from operating properly. The temperature in the spacecraft rose to 104° F. Five to seven hours into the flight, no life signs were detected from the capsule.
A monument to Laika, unveiled in 2008, more than fifty years after her death.
The original movie "Godzilla" was released November 3, 1954 from Toho Film Co. Ltd. American audiences had to wait until 1955 to get a glimpse of the G-Man. At the time, it was one of the most costliest movies to be produced. According to imdb.com, "Godzilla" was nominated for the Japanese Academy Awards for Best Picture, but lost to "Seven Samurai", also a Toho Film production. "Godzilla" did win an award for best visual effects.
Monday, November 2, 2015
The husband of the mayor of this tiny town west of Enid, Oklahoma and his friends dressed up as member of the Ku Klux Klan "because they believed the prank would be funny."
No one is laughing.
Cary Sharp, the mayor's husband said "no harm was meant."
“This is ridiculous, really,” Cary Sharp said. “It was a Halloween night.”
Does that make it all right, Cary? No, it's insensitive and racist. What happens next year? Are you going to wear a German WWII uniform with a swastika? That must have been some powerful weed you were smoking.
Theresa Sharp, mayor of Lahoma, was in another part of town (what, two or three blocks away?), trick-or-treating with their son. She has criticized his actions.
Unfortunately, no arrests were made since Sharp and fellow idiots had not actually broken any laws. Just exhibited extremely poor taste.
Back to zero days since Oklahoma has been an embarrassment to the world.