Friday, November 18, 2016

Culture, L.A. Style

We enjoyed the Pacific Opera Project adaptation of a Mozart opera to a Star Trek theme so much (so much that we saw it twice!) that we decided to try another one: "The Barber of Seville"

The only thing we knew about the opera is what we had seen as kids when Bugs Bunny performed part of it in the classic "Rabbit of Seville".  Ah, culture!

What we knew of this POP effort is that the show is updated to modern Los Angeles with young stars in love, a hairdresser to the celebrities (Figaro),  the controlling agent, the coked out aging rock star, the LAPD, and more!  

The show was done in a hundred year old ladies club building so the setting would be called 'intimate'.  The cast came and went through the audience giving us a chance to briefly interact with Figaro at one point!

Young Son was more than skeptical about the event but indulged us and came along.  After the first of two intermissions he was smiling broadly and agreeing that the show wasn't too bad after all!

The songs were in Italian but very loose translations were projected above the stage, and I seriously doubt that many of the Italian lyrics matched what was frequently projected in English!

The cast was great: great singers, great actors with great comic timing!  The sole musical accompaniment was from a four handed piano and those two guys were fantastic and tireless.

As always the depth of talent in people amazes me.  Not just the ability to sing opera but to be funny while doing it and looking good too!

Another unique L.A. event that we will miss when we move on eventually.  Thanks Pacific Opera Project!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Easy Rider 2016

Young Daughter dropped by Grouch Estate for an afternoon visit today.  She arrived on her latest motorcycle, a 2014 HD Low Rider that she saw and fell in love with when she was at an AF school in Texas recently.   The small creature on her back is her miniature poodle Kipling or 'Kip'.

Lookin' good!

Cool goggles

Off they go to home!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veteran's day!

Happy Veteran's day to family and friends who served the nation.  The Grouch family on both sides have served from the Civil war (we were on the winning side) to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle.

I carry a backpack to work that has a velcro patch to attach a name tape so I have one of my GI name tapes on it so I know the bag belongs to me.  As I was waiting at the train door to exit as we approached the station a young man standing behind me asked if I was a veteran.  I confirmed that I was indeed and he proceeded to thank me and give me a hearty handshake.  It was a nice gesture sincerely given and I appreciated it much.  It was a long way from my days in Army ROTC in the 70s and getting abuse from fellow students when I wore my uniform on campus.  Some things have changed for the worse in this country over  the decades but the treatment of its service members and veterans has improved considerably and for that I thank one and all.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Breaking up is so very hard to do...

In about three years or so, Mr and Mrs Grouch will be leaving Los Angeles, aka L.A. aka La-La land for North Carolina.

We came to L.A. some 28 years ago for the same reasons that so many others traveled here: a new opportunity, the excitement of Hollywood, the wonderful weather.  We found all of that and more.

We found new friends and stunning scenery.  We found fun and excitement in the many performance venues and movie studios.  We found the desert and Big Bear mountain, Che-Che's ranch and the Ventura beach.  We found hiking in the nearby hills and Hart mansion.  Magic Mountain, Disneyland, and Knott's Berry Farm.  The Saugus marching band, jazz nights at Vincenzo's and the pumpkin patch at Lombardi's farm.  AYSO soccer on Saturday and Roscoe's agility trials.  Molly winning Nuts for Mutts by jumping for a fly swatter!  The quilting guild and quilt shows, weekend off roading and 'the trip from hell' that terrified the Missus.

Young son was born here and our granddaughter was born here too.  Family members and  friends passed away while we lived here.  Car crashes were survived here and the much loved black Aztek was totaled on the freeway but saved my life here.

Two Grouch children left for the military from here and one of them went off to war and returned to here.

So much Grouch history revolves around L.A.

But our time here is like a passionate relationship that ultimately cools.  The excitement and the thrill of being here has been overwhelmed by the dark side of Los Angeles:  the horrible traffic that steals weeks from our lives; the absurd financial expense of living here; the nanny state government that insinuates into every facet of our lives; the crowds of 'special people' who don't have to follow the rules because they are after all 'special people'... I could go on but I won't.

But even with all of that, I still love L.A. and always will.   I saw the trailer for the  upcoming movie "La-La Land" and it brought tears to my eyes, not because it was bad but because it showed so many of the places that we have been and loved and that I know I will miss.  The movie looks to be great fun and the male star looks a lot like Older Son!

(Click the link below for the movie trailer - sorry about the mandatory commercial but the Adobe one is amusing)

I imagine leaving L.A. will be like leaving a relationship with someone you once loved; you remember the fun and good times and leave the bad times behind.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Zombie Huntin'!

A friend of mine emailed me in September and wrote 'let's go zombie hunting!'.  At first I thought she was talking about the people stumbling around with their I-phones hunting electronic Pokemon thingies but then I read on and realized she was talking about a train ride where you get to really shoot zombies!   I mean, what could be better than a train ride with moving targets and all perfectly legal?

I said sign me up! 

The Fillmore railroad is a creaky collection of old railcars and locomotives that runs on a short section of track between Fillmore and Santa Paula.  It's a must for anyone who likes old trains and for families with small kids who have never ridden a train.  

Two couples, Young Daughter, and I all met in Fillmore at the appointed day and time last weekend to have dinner and then board the train for our zombie outing.  The train cleverly included a bar car so that by the time we were ready to actually shoot the zombies some of the marksmen were so inebriated they couldn't hit the ground outside the train let alone the zombies.

We rode in enclosed cars until we found the field where the zombies were wandering.  We were called out to the open flatcars where our paintball guns sat, ready to bring mayhem and paint to the shambling zombies.

Even the most reluctant participants quickly became death-dealing gunners, lighting up the zombies with paint balls and carrying on like they were singlehandedly stopping the zombie horde from overrunning the train.  Silly people, couldn't they see that I was the person stopping the zombies all by myself?

It was great fun and something that I can now say that I have done once in my life.

Young Daughter is attacked by a floating ghoul while I look on.  I know the ghoul is going to lose.

She wasn't a zombie but she did seem to have some sort of problem - maybe too much zombie hunting?

Gunners to the left, guns to the right.

Young Daughter waits in anticipation of the upcoming horde

Ready on the left?  Ready on the right?  The firing line is ready...
Young Daughter shows her war face

There they are, get 'em!

Watch out, it's trying to climb on the train!

Nice of the zombie to wear bright yellow!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Citizen Grouch book review: "Alone Orphaned on the Ocean"

The other day I saw a reference on the internet to a drama at sea that occurred in 1961 in which an 11 year old girl was found floating in a float in the ocean and was rescued by a Greek freighter.  The picture of the girl in the tiny cork float intrigued me and I needed to find out about the whole story.

The story of Terry Joe Duperrault and the murder of her family while on a sailing vacation around the Bahamas is told in "Alone: orphaned on the ocean" by Richard Logan and Tere (Terry Joe) Duperrault Fassbender.

The book is a slim publication and can be read in a couple of hours.  I was able to find it at the city library.

The book tells the story of a sailing vacation that turned into a murderous nightmare when the captain of the hired sailing schooner killed his wife who was also on the schooner, the parents of Terry Joe, and her two siblings leaving Terry Joe to go down with the ship when the captain scuttled it to hide the evidence of his crime.  She survived (as did he) and floated alone for 4 days on a cork life float meant to act the same as a life ring and not as a raft before being rescued by a passing cargo ship.  Terry Jo was near death and even another hour may have been the end of her.  Only her survival kept the murder from getting away with his crime.

The book isn't especially well written but the story it tells of the captain Julian Harvey, WW2 pilot and decorated hero and the Duperarrault family is engrossing no matter the skill of the author.  The trauma that Terry Jo suffered after her rescue and the number of failed marriages that she went through as an adult are sad to read of.

An amazing connection for me when reading the book was to learn that Harvey, during his WW2 service was the pilot of a B-24 bomber that was intentionally ditched in a river to determine the bomber's ability to withstand a water landing, something very common during the war, particularly in the Pacific theater.  The image of the bomber ditching test is rather famous and I had recently viewed it in a book about the B-24 that the Missus gave me.

That the pilot of this aircraft went on to murder at 7 people in his lifetime is unfathomable.

Another interesting bit of information that came from the book is that because of the Terry Jo going unnoticed by search aircraft who cris-crossed over her as she drifted on a white float that blended with the ocean's whitecaps, all personal floatation devices have since then been rescue orange in color.  Prior to that they could be any color that the manufacturer decided.

I recommend this book as an amazing tale of a young girl's determination to survive and her struggle and ultimate success to find peace and lasting love in her life.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison"

The Missus is doing her annual Fright Night weekend job at the local amusement park which gives me a chance to watch old movies on TV.

Tonight I watched "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison"  starring the original bad boy Robert Mitchum and radiantly beautiful Deborah Kerr in a WW2 tale of a shipwrecked Marine who washes up on a south Pacific island inhabited by one Irish nun.

It is a great two person movie and well worth watching.  I first saw it with my parents on prime time TV when movies were frequently shown - keeping in mind that there was no DVD player or HBO to access movies away from the theater.

I caught it on Netflixs and if you find some time on your hands, it is worth seeing.  Another two persons trapped on a south seas WW2 island movie worth seeing but firmly in the comedy camp is "Father Goose" with Cary Grant (his last appearance in the movies) and Leslie Caron.

Treat yourself and see them both!