Friday, October 17, 2014

Gone Girl - the movie

The Missus is still working Friday nights and weekends so I took myself to the movies and saw "Gone Girl".  I read the book and thought it was down-right chilling and the movie was equally so.  It was true to the book so no surprises for me but it was done well and done right.  At the end of the movie the audience filed out quietly, pretty much stunned by the ending.  It was a bit too heavy for some I think.

It was sad and scary and though provoking.

Not a movie to take your date to see for sure!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Grouch Goes East - Part VII: A visit to the U.S.S. North Carolina

The last part of the Grouch's trip to the eastern seaboard ends with a visit to my brother and his wife in Wilmington N.C.   They live downtown in a genuine historic house that is big, beautiful, and full of southern charm.  We were there to visit with them and then to go to another family reunion, this time at the beach north of Wilmington.

I couldn't visit Wilmington without touring the battleship U.S.S. North Carolina, so I made some time to do just that!

Most of the ship is open to tour, from the bridge to the engine room.  It was hot inside in the July heat, but that was to be expected.  Be sure to allow at least 3 hours to see everything.

The Missus with my brother and sister in law on the waterfront at Wilmington

The Missus looking beautiful and charming as always!

The North Carolina, known as Showboat, nicknamed that by Walter Winchell.  

The ship is just too large to fit it all into my camera frame
Those are some big guns!  16" to be exact

Down below one of the 16" gun turrets

Looking down into the powder hoist
Looking up at the base of the turret

A sign that all of the sailors were sure to be interested in!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Musical interlude - The Lady of Shalott

Alright Grouch fans, time for some classical education and a beautiful song.  This song was my introduction to Loreena McKennett, a Canadian songstress with a Celtic flavor.  I first heard her being interviewed on NPR radio when I was driving to work at least 20 years ago.  After she was interviewed they played this song and I was hooked.

I hope you like it as well.  "The Lady of Shalott" written by Alfred Lord Tennyson and put to music and sung by Loreena McKennett

Lone Survivor - the movie

The Missus and Young Son are at their annual Fright Fest employment every weekend this month and I am on my own.  After dinner I rented "Lone Survivor" on pay-per-view.

 When it was in the theaters the Missus did not want to see it.  She said it was like "Titanic" and other movies made about a real life situation with a sad ending: you can't change what happened and it is too sad to watch.

The movie details a mission by Navy SEALS to capture or kill a senior Taliban officer.  The mission goes awry when the SEALS are discovered by Afghan goat herders.  The subsequent battle cost the lives of numerous Navy and Army personnel. The movie is factual in its overall content but of course it is a movie so some things may have been dramatized for effect.

The movie shows each wound and each traumatic injury suffered by the SEALS in the ridiculously steep and rugged Afghan terrain in vivid and excruciating detail.  The suspense, despite knowing how it ends, was agonizing and seeing each Sailor give his all for his teammates was heartbreaking.  Each American's death was not just his but like ripples in a pond, would wash outwards to strike sweethearts, wives, children, parents, siblings.

I am glad that I didn't see it in the theater or with the Missus at home because I had tears running down my face at the end of the movie.  I would have embarrassed myself.   Where we find such brave men and women who do so much for a mostly unappreciative country is beyond my understanding.

Everyone in this country should see this movie to see to what extremes we put our servicemen and women to.  Many won't, but they should.

If you are brave enough and want to see what they do for us, then see this movie.

"People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men (and women) stand ready to do violence on their behalf"  George Orwell

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I want one of these!

I made it through my middle age crisis years without buying a convertible nor having an affair but now that I am safely through that danger zone I've decided that I can't live without owning one of these:

A Russian Ural two wheel drive motorcycle!  Based on the WW2 German BMW military motorcycle but updated with fuel injection for the engine and disk brakes to stop.  It can carry over 1,000 pounds, has a reverse gear and with a tug on a lever, you can connect the side car axle to get drive to both rear wheels!  How cool is that?

I can't think of anything more fun than a motorcycle with side car.  It is so dorky it is cool.  

It ain't cheap but I feel that it is the real me.  Someone in my town has one and it looks like Indiana Jones has stepped into the 21st century when it chugs by.   If I get one maybe we can form a side car gang!

Please talk to the Missus and convince her to get me one!

The Grouch Heads East - Part VI: Headed to Carolina

It was time to head to North Carolina and the next gathering of Grouch relatives.  This leg of the journey had only the Missus and Little Ladybug or LLB for short.  We drove through West Virginia and Virginia on the way to North Carolina.  West Virginia was stunning.  Very beautiful and the interstate in perfect condition.  We had rain on and off for a lot of the trip through the state.

As we drove along we saw signs for the New River gorge and bridge and being suckers for great views and unique visiting spots we decided that we had to stop and see what there was to see.

When I was in college I knew several people who did white water rafting on the New river, so I was aware of it but had never been there myself.  Apparently my overly brave brother in law has parachuted from the bridge.  This is yet another extreme sport that I am happy not to participate in!

Yay!  We cross the line from PA to WVA

We decided to have our lunch at the visitor center for the New river gorge.  When I was a lad and my family drove to Florida from Pittsburgh each summer we had our lunch each day at roadside picnic benches.  Some of them were so close to the road that we were in danger of our sandwiches getting blown out of our hands by the passing trucks!  Another time the idyllic looking spot was swarming with flies and we had to beat a retreat to the station wagon and drive on.  Those were the good old days!

These folks were from Canada.  Those are impressive trailers to haul behind a motorcycle

A view of the gorge

Outside the visitor center

A wooden path leads all the way to the bottom of the gorge.  Unfortunately we didn't have time to go very far on it.  Maybe next time!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Musical Interlude - The Highwayman

A great poem and a beautiful musical adaptation of it by Loreena McKennitt