Sunday, January 15, 2017

Camarillo CAF Museum

Yesterday, Young Daughter, Young Son, and I visited the Commemorative Air Force museum in Camarillo CA.   It is located at a former airbase that was active from WW2 to 1970 and has an active runway and great facilities.   I've driven past the airfield many times over the years but never stopped to visit until this weekend.

Last year on my birthday the family got together to buy me a ride in the museum's P51 Mustang two seat fighter.  Unfortunately the engine failed and has been being rebuilt ever since then.  It is supposed to be back in the plane in March.  I figured I might as well check out the P51 to see what it looked like!

The P51 that is at the museum was used in the film "Battle Hymn" starring Rock Hudson.  At the time the plane was assigned to the Texas Air National Guard.  The museum's P51 is painted to resemble the fighter flown by the person the movie was made about.

Sadly the plane does indeed seem to be missing its engine so no flight for me in the near future!

Young Son and I sitting in the museum's C-46 Commando cargo plane.  It is the largest 2 engine plane ever made and was used extensively for flying over the Himalaya mountains (the Hump) between India and China.

Another of the museum's aircraft, a late model Supermarine Spitfire.

The airfield is very active and a privately owned P-51 was doing touch and go landings while we were there.  The sound of a Packard Merlin engine is something to hear!

The P-51 is the sliver aircraft on the runway.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Some Pink Martini for New Year's eve

Once again the Missus and I visited the Disney concert hall in downtown Los Angeles on New Year's eve to see the stellar eclectic music group Pink Martini perform.

They were excellent as always and had a wide variety of guest performers but the surprise for us was the presence of Rita Moreno of West Side Story fame.  She is 85 years old and performed like she wasn't a day over 50!

It was a great show and thanks to someone in the audience who ignored the stern warning at the beginning of the show not to record the performance, I bring to you, Rita Moreno and Pink Martini!

"You Can Never Go Home Again"

I've gotten sucked into the black hole of Facebook which in turn has bounced me into parallel universes in which I'm still young, virile, and the event horizon extends to infinity.   I'm talking about revisiting my high school and my active army days via Facebook groups.

Nostalgia is fun and all but I realized today that the words of the immortal Thomas Wolfe are even more true than ever:  

 "You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."

I'm vowing right here to not become one of those old guys who talks endlessly of the world as it was when I was young.  I've caught myself doing just that recently.  

All that said, I did come across this picture of me as a young guy, 35 or so years ago.  I had no idea then of the adventures, the joy, and the sorrow that was waiting for me up the line.  

So, did I tell you about the time that I.......

Friday, December 23, 2016

Office Christmas Party afloat!

Many people get to attend a Christmas office party.  Not so many people have their holiday party on board a cruise ship!

The Missus and I were invited to board the Ruby Princess, moored at San Pedro last Saturday to join her co-workers for a really great treat. 

After boarding the ship we were treated to carolers and a tasty snack in one of the ship's buffet rooms, then we had time to tour part of the ship.

Next came a prime beef lunch (which was more like dinner and way more than we could finish), then a speech by the company president, some gifts were raffled (the Missus didn't win anything sadly) and then we got another treat: a floor show with singing, dancing, and magic, done very well I must say.

Time for a bit more ship touring and back on the dock and on our way home.

My office parties were never like this!

The carolers who sang for us at the pre-lunch snack and again at lunch.

With the Missus' co-worker and husband

I bet that pool feels good in the summer!
"Pictures or it didn't happen"

The U.S.S. Iowa moored nearby

Entertainment in the atrium - these guys were enthusiastic and good.


This should be called "death by chocolate"  It was good.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Two For One Grouch Movie Review!

This past Thursday the Missus, Young Son, and I rendezvoused at a theater in the valley to see the new Star Wars movie "Rogue One".  As Snoopy often wrote "It was a dark and stormy night" - literally.  Los Angeles was in the grip of a very infrequent heavy storm of cold wind, driving rain, and gridlocked traffic but we all made it in one piece to the theater.

If you haven't seen the original Star Wars movie, this one will only give you 75% effort as it ties into that movie.  If you have seen it, you are in for a grand ride.


The main character in this movie was a spear carrier in the original.  What's a spear carrier?  That's the person in the ranks, the anonymous soldier who doesn't get the medal and who doesn't make it to the history books like the general or the princess but has a story all of their own.

This movie cleverly extracts bits and pieces of the original movie, fits them into this spear carrier's story and shows just how the faceless troops in the backround actually help win the war.

This movie was 10 time better than last season's Star Wars movie and 10 times less sappy.  Gritty is the word that comes to mind for this one.   

If you are at all a Star Wars fan, treat yourself and see this one.  Then we can discuss it.

I'll give this one 4 stars out of 4.

Next up:  La-La land.  A modern musical about a man and a woman living in Los Angeles who want to be true to their dreams, who meet not so cute but keep running into each other until they realize that they are falling in love.  But those pesky dreams keep getting in the way...

I loved this movie, just loved it.  I loved the scenes of Los Angeles, the cast, the songs, the dancing.  I loved the story.  I so wanted this couple to get it all: fame, fortune, love.  But real life isn't like that, is it?  

Did I say that I liked this movie yet?   4 stars.

the Little Tree that Could

For decades the Grouch family had been getting the family Christmas tree from the U-cut it lot in town.  It was a family tradition to find, measure, assess, cut, transport, and set up the freshly cut tree.  We would always put down a full sheet of plywood and with much gritting of teeth and tapping of nails, set up the electric trains.  It was quite the production.

Two years ago the Grinch company that owned the land which the U-cut it tree lot leased took back the land  and the tree biz was kicked out.  No more cutting down fresh trees for us.

Last year a friend of the Missus got us a monster 8 ft tree through a school fund raiser.  The trees were cut in Oregon and raced down the coast into our hands.  The trees were so fresh and so heavy that Young Son and I struggled to get the tree set up.  In fact we had to get a plus size tree stand to handle the weight and trunk diameter of the monster tree.  It was a great tree and it supplied some good firewood for our future fireplace fires.  Alas, that was the last year for the school fund raiser.

So this year Young Son and I had to go to the tree lot at the local home improvement store to buy a tree.  A tall tree was 5 ft, and most were even shorter than that.  There were a lot of Charlie Brown type trees for sale.   We picked out the tallest and best proportioned tree we could find.  All five feet of it.

The tree was so short we skipped the usual giant piece of plywood and the electric trains and went to a small piece of plywood and some Lego train track and cars.

Only about a third of the ornaments were used and new mini lights needed to be bought and placed on the tree but when it was done it didn't look half bad.  Not bad at all!

So here it is, the little tree that could did bring Christmas cheer and happiness to the Grouch household!

Sunday, December 4, 2016