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!

Customer Service Hell

One of my regular doctors (this is how I know that I am getting old:  I have more than one doctor and they are all regular i.e. repeat visits) gave me a referral to see yet another doctor which meant I had to call for an appointment.

In the good old days one would call the doctor's office and speak to the nurse/receptionist and make an appointment but not anymore.  These days we are all so modern that we call a 'call center' that is full of people in front of computer screens who we are required to interact with.

So, I called the number, worked my way through the much hated automated phone options until I got to a real person who professed to be ready and able to help me.  Just three problems:  (1) her Spanish accent was so heavy I could barely understand her (she was probably thinking, this guy's Anglo accent is so heavy I can barely understand him - wait, that was a real problem too!), (2) she could not understand that I was not in fact Young Son who had visited their office sometime in the past, and (3) the background roar of other customer service reps talking to all of their callers so so loud and the first two problems were trivial in comparison.

Why oh why would a call center be designed to allow so much noise to exist to the extent that nether the CSR (customer service rep - don't you love it when I write jargon?) or the customer (me) could really hear each other.  The whole thing  quickly dissolved  into a modern Abbott and Costello farce of 'who, what, and when' misunderstandings and requests to repeat by both of us that the routine would have done Saturday Night Live proud.

In the end we managed to make an appointment for me...unless it is actually for Young Son.  I'll just answer in the affirmative to whatever name they expect me to answer to.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"The Pacific"

I just finished episode 10 and the last episode of the series "The Pacific" originally seen on HBO.  I watched it via Amazon Prime.

"The Pacific"  does for the Marines in the south Pacific what "Band of Brothers" did for the Army in Europe.  Based on the true stories of individual Marines who fought in the horrendous campaigns of island hopping during WW2, it followes the lives of a group of men and women who went through the war from Guadalcanal to VJ day to adjusting to life at home after the war.

The battle scenes are about as gruesome as has been seen on TV ever but they show what these men went through.  The final episode shows the wrenching adjustment that the Marines went through, killing one day and six months later back at home in the same bedroom that they had left as teen-agers at the beginning of the war.  If someone can watch this episode without a handkerchief in hand then they have a heart of stone.

As a kid growing up, men like these were the dads of my friends, the scout master, the little league coach.  It is a miracle and a testament to them that they were able to go on with life with no outward effect on them.  I remember a man in the neighborhood who couldn't work or hold a job and who sat outside of his house most of the day smoking cigarettes.  I wonder now if he was suffering from crippling PTSD from the war as he was of that age.   I know now how lucky my family was that my father was pulled from the levy that was shipping replacements to Europe in the summer of '44 and was allowed to stay in the U.S.  Who know how he would have fared?

Not an easy show to watch but the story that it tells of a vanishing generation is one that deserves to be seen.