Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Latest Thing to Bug Me

Ok, I've got to say really bugs me when drivers have a little dog sitting on their lap.

This morning on the way back from the shooting range I had a hankering for donuts.  I think there is an ancient instinct bred into males that associates firearms and donuts.  Just look at police officers.  They carry a handgun and where do you find all the cops?  They're hanging out at the donut shop of course.

So I pulled into the parking lot where my favorite donuts are sold and where everyone knows my name, bought my bag of donuts and headed for the exit, only to encounter a van driven by a guy with a small white dog on his lap.  The guy wasn't able to fully turn the steering wheel because the dog was in the way...or maybe the dog was actually driving and the guy was just sitting there, it was hard to tell.   I had to stop short of the exit just to give this yahoo and his little white dog room enough  to jerkily swing wide into the parking lot.

Dogs on the laps of old lady drivers isn't anything new.  It isn't right, but it isn't new.  What distresses me are are the dogs on the laps of middle age men.   This is driving me nuts!  What is happening to American male-hood?  No wonder Russia is collectively sticking its tongue out at us and giving us the finger wiggles too.  They know that any nation that has men driving around with small dogs on their laps is a nation of wimps and fools.

So, it has come to this. 

The Grouch's visit Warner Brothers

The Grouch family had the pleasure of hosting some friends from the east side of the country last month and to show them a really good time in the couple days that they were to be with us, the Missus arranged for us to tour Warner Brothers studios.

Fortunately the studios are about 10 minutes from my regular place of employment, so the visitors, the Missus, and Young Son picked me up at work mid-day and spirited me off to the studios.

The Warner Brothers studios is a very historic site for movie buffs but alas because sets are used over and over, not too much remains from the movies made in the 30s to the near present.  Some of the outdoor streets and buildings appeared in various movies back in the day and carry on today for WB current group of chick-flick TV shows such as "Pretty Little Liars", "The Fosters", and others.  

The tour is via an electric tram with a guide giving a running narration.  At various points along the way the group disembarked to get close up looks at some the notable buildings.  We also got a visit to the Batman/Harry Potter studio museum and also the Batman vehicle garage.  A quick walk through the prop warehouse was very interesting.  I wish we could have lingered there.

The WB studios is very much an active filming area although most shows were on summer stand down so we didn't see anything being worked on while we were there.  The WB workers were friendly and waved and said hello as we went by.

As I've noticed previously when touring studios, it is amazing how mundane and grungy the sets and  buildings look but how nice and realistic they look on film.  Shortly after we toured the backlot buildings Young Son spotted one of the back lot street areas in the TV show we were watching.

I recommend the tour to any and all fans of the 'biz'.  It is fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes!

Our visitors arrived and departed via Amtrak. We met them at Union Station in downtown L.A.

The famous WB water tower as seen at the beginning of WB TV shows and films.  It doesn't hold water any more sadly.
The happy tourists outside the studio visitor center.

One of the many street and building sets in the WB back lot.  Most of the buildings we toured were being used for current WB chickflick TV shows which meant nothing to me but sent many of the women on the tour into fits of ectasy when "Pretty Little Liars" or "The Gilmore Girls" were mentioned.

The original "Spiderman" was filmed here.

Young Son doing the sorting hat thing in the Harry Potter studio museum.

Now it is the Missus' turn!

Young Son approves.

The subway entrance only goes down far enough to get the actor's heads below camera level when descending.

In the Batman vehicle garage.  This part was pretty interesting even though I didn't see any of the Batman movies.

Add caption

As seen in the prop room.  Who would need a pair of giraffe legs in a movie?

Citizen Grouch and friend discuss the day's events.

Friday, July 10, 2015


I love this brings a tear to my eyes but then I have become a sentimental fool in my old age.

I sometimes think of my friends from over the years that I have lost touch with.  I wonder if they think of me also.

My new favorite group "The Von Trapps"

Monday, July 6, 2015

My Latest Guilty Pleasure

Its happened again...Masterpiece Theater has snared me with a period costume soap opera.  This time it is "Poldark".  The storyline is an English veteran of the American revolutionary war returns home to find his father dead, his estate in ruins, and his girlfriend married to his best friend.

Ross Poldark is a handsome yet sensitive man with sympathies to the downtrodden.  The scenery is stunning and the women beautiful.  What more can we ask for?


In the best tradition of the Wiley E. Coyote School of Gunsmithing (WECSOG) I tackled another home amateur gunsmith job today.  I needed to remove a muzzle device from a rifle that seemed to have been installed by Arnold in his younger, fitter days.  

The trick with WECSOG, is as a medical doctor is charged:  to do no harm. Or as a boy scout troop is admonished when camping: leave it in better shape than when you arrived.

For a practitioner of WECSOG the goal is to not bend, break, or otherwise irreparably damage anything when using improved tools for home gunsmithing.

For my project I held the barrel of the rifle in a vise that was padded with an old leather dress belt.  This was to hold the piece tightly in the vise jaws and to stop the metal from being marred.  I knew that the old belt would come in handy!

The muzzle device was cut to nicely fit a 3/4" wrench.  I padded the wrench jaws with two cleaning patches.  

The muzzle device was on so tightly that simply straining at the wrench wasn't going to do anything.  Keeping in mind young Archimedes' declaration involving levers and moving the world, I realized that I needed more leverage to spin this sucker off the barrel.

Vice grip pliers suitably attached to the wrench provided the mounting point for the lever.  A much used pipe that I keep in the Jeep to add leverage to the 4 way tire tool provided the force multiplier that I needed to move the Arnold installed muzzle device.

Steady downward pressure with my mouth held just so and a look of utter determination on my face caused the piece to yield to me and start to turn.  Success!

The leather belt in its encore performance as a gunsmith tool
Archimedes would be proud of me!

The trick here is to get that thing clamped on tight!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Portraits of the Fallen Memorial

The other day the family had some time to kill before seeing a movie at the local mall.  We were walking around in plaza outside of the mall proper when we came across an exhibit in a store front titled Portraits of the Fallen.

We walked in to view an exhibit of hundreds of small painted portraits of service members killed while in theater in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

We found it to be very moving as we saw the faces of those who sacrificed their lives for us.  There was at least one soldier with the same birth year as mine, 1954.

We saw the portrait of a young Marine killed in Fallujah Iraq who was the son of a CWO that I served with in my state defense force unit.  We also saw the portrait of a CAARNG Soldier who was killed in Iraq while in a convoy with our son who was in the same unit with him.  I understood how fortunate that we were to not be seeing our son's portrait hanging on the wall with the rest.

I hope that if you have the opportunity to view the exhibit in your town, you go and spend a few minutes reflecting on the lives lost no matter what your political view may be.