Saturday, August 5, 2017

Movie Review: "Their Finest"

We've been wanting to see the new movie "Dunkirk" that is getting outstanding reviews.  Young Son saw it and gave it four stars.  We hoped to see it last night, but as usual my 12 hour a day job (I love my job!) prevented me from getting home in time to see it.

Instead we rented "Their Finest" a British comedy from 2016 about the making of a propaganda movie about Dunkirk (see the connection?) that against all odds, turns into a touching story of heroism and love about Dunkirk - and the movie is too.

The heroism is demonstrated by the unstoppable Mrs. Cole who powers through the male dominated movie making biz and the bureaucratic obstacles of the Ministry of Propaganda to help write the successful script for the movie.

It was a funny movie in a sophisticated way with a nice developing love story, some pathos, and a triumph.  I loved the Welsh accent of Catrin Cole being someone who is courious about the origins of peoples's accents.  I had seen this movie advertised on PBS during the series "Home Fires" where another woman had the same accent which I couldn't identify.   Mystery solved.

We enjoyed it and I recommend it.  It was a fun night of movie watching but we still need to see "Dunkirk".   If nothing else, I'd like to see how it compares with the 1958 version that I saw on late-night TV many years ago.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Grouch Goes Flying! Part II

Before the T-6 ride I had the opportunity to see Fifi, one of two flying B-29 bombers in the world today.  It flew in for rides to those lucky enough to have the dough for a hop in this great aircraft.  the other B-29 known as 'Doc' was also recovered from China Lake.  Both had survived decades as targets for aerial bombing, neither having been hit in all that time.  I'd like to think that the Navy pilots intentionally missed the planes.

My friends and I visited 'Doc' in Inyokern many years ago when it had just been dragged through the desert from China Lake, prior to its restoration.  It is great to have two of these aircraft flying again!

Fifi waiting for the next group of eager passengers

This person must have enjoyed the ride!

The Missus was getting some walking in while waiting for Young Daughter to show up for my T-6 hop.  I'm being confident of my masculinity and watching her purse while she went for a walk.

Starting the engines is quite a production!

Also giving rides was this C-45, a variant of the AT-11 that my Dad flew in when testing Norden bombsights.  He talked fondly of the plane.   The day that he died a C-45 flew low over me as I walked in the mountains.  I like to think it was his spirit winging his way to heaven and to my Mom and Sister.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

the Grouch goes flying! Part I

Over a year ago the Missus and Grouch kids banded together to buy me a rear seat ride in a P-51 Mustang WW2 fighter for my 62nd birthday.  I was so excited and greatful!

I called the airfield to arrange the ride only to find out the engine had crapped out on the plane.  I was told it was going to be a couple of months before the plane would be ready for flight.   A couple of months turned into a year and it still wasn't ready.  I wanted to take a ride before fate intervened in some manner and I missed out on a ride altogher so I opted for plan B:  A ride in a T-6 Texan WW2 advanced trainer.

We see T-6s overhead at Grouch estates frequently.  There are some that fly out of Van Nuys and others come from airfields around Los Angeles.  It is a popular warbird with so many made during WW2 and so many surviving to this day.  Some T-6s flew in military service outside the U.S. until the 80s.  South Africa flew large numbers as advanced pilot trainers until then and may have been the last government to do so.

SAAF high-jinks in a T-6, 1964

I picked my birthday weekend as the time for my ride.  It happened to correspond with the arrival of one of two operable B-29s 'Fifi', as well as a host of other WW2 aircraft.  I was in heaven!

I met my pilot who is a corporate pilot in his day job and flies for the CAF - Camarillo on the weekends.  A great guy, full of personality and fun stories.  

It was time for the ride!

During the ride the pilot let me do some gentle turns.  He rolled the plane twice and then we did some low level flying along a ridge.  What a blast!

'My' T-6 waiting for me with Fifi taxing past

Meeting the pilot

Getting in wasn't easy.  Imagine getting in with a flying suit and seat parachute dangling beneath your butt!

The pilot telling me not to jump out of the airplane if the engine quits.  

Ready to go!

Wheels up

Time to come back

I had a blast!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mr. and Mrs. Grouch Head South Part V

All right then!  Picking up where I left off a couple months ago, the last day of our time in the Palm Springs area saw us visiting an earthquake fault and doing a bit of late afternoon off-roading.

We visited a park near the city that covers an earthquake fault that traps and channels water in a very dry landscape.  Because of this, giant palms have crowded into the two areas where the water pools.

At the park entrance, a vintage home with furnishings serves as the park office.  A path loops from the first oasis to the second, where fish can be seen in the pond.  

The video is from someone who visited the area in 2010 but it seems to still be the same in 2017 when we visited.

The giant palms at the first oasis

A nice bridge over the first pond

The palm oasis and the terrain between.

At the second oasis and pond

Actual fish!

Now for some off-roading!

We finished our day with off roading into the evening and then headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the long drive back to Los Angeles.  Another successful trip!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Still here!

Hey Grouches and Grouchettes!  

Yes, I am still in the blog biz but various events have conspired against me to limit my recent postings.

Some are good:  a ride in a WW2 trainer, a wedding, a wonderful cruise.  Others not so good:  loss of job, minor illnesses, etc.

My job of seven years was eliminated in a restructuring and I had a month find another one.  I was very lucky and did find another one but the process was fast paced and time consuming.

Then, the Missus and I went on a 12 day cruise, I returned to my new work to find that a key member of my new team had quit while I was gone.  I'm working 11 hour days plus commuting so my energy cells are a bit depleted.

I hope to get back into blogging soon, I have a lot to share so keep checking for updates!

Citizen Grouch.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mr. and Mrs. Grouch Head South Part IV

After we finished with Slab City and the Salton Sea we headed back to Palm Springs for a ride on the aerial tramway to the top of a very high mountain.  It was cool-ish, about in the 60s at the bottom of the lift and below freezing at the top.  Of course I forgot to bring my hat and gloves!

The Missus and  I rode the tram back in the day on a Labor day weekend trip to Palm Springs.  It was over a hundred at the bottom and in the 70s at the top. We hiked for miles before riding back down.  In those days the tram was just a tram but now it spins 360 degrees to be sure everyone gets a good view.  Unfortunately the rain clouds kept visibility pretty low on the ride up.

The Missus and I have been passengers in cable tramways such as this in other places too:, the Zugspitz in Germany and Table Mountain in South Africa for example.  They are always a thrill.

We bought tickets for a round trip and dinner at the lodge at the top.  It is an experience I certainly recommend!

This is our ride heading into the station

The anticipation grows!

Up on top and it is darn cold!

I would love to go snow shoeing or just walk in the snow but no time for that foolishness

Headed down to at least stand in the snow

Yay, I made it!

People having fun in the snow

Palm Springs is down there somewhere.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Interlude - The Grouch family visits a Tin Goose!

Young daughter contacted me shortly after we returned from our southern adventure to tell me that a genuine 1920s Ford Trimotor airliner, know as the Tin Goose would be visiting Camarillo airport and did I want to see it?

Did I?  You bet!!  So Young Son and I traveled to Camarillo to meet Young Daughter and view the Tin Goose in all of her glory.

I was feeling cheap that day and didn't buy tickets for the Grouchs but now I wish I had.  

Once the plane landed a discharged its passengers we were able to walk up to the plane and check it out.  Amazing that this plane is still flying so many years after its production.

I remember seeing a movie made in the 50s about Forest Service smoke jumpers who flew to the fires in a Ford Tin Goose.  What a way to travel!

The Tin Goose on approach

This chap owns a restored M151 MUTT (not a Jeep) and I was able to talk with him about it.  I drove these minus the mounted gun when I was in the Army

Waiting for the next load of passengers

Fueling her up before the next flight.  They are watching a P-51 Mustang fly past at low altitude

Young Daughter checks out the exposed radial engines

Watch your head getting in!

When we were having lunch at Wendy's nearby the airfield, the Tin Goose passed overhead