Still Here.

Yeah, I haven’t fallen off the edge of the world. It’s just been a long and weird winter/spring shift. We’ve had record high daytime temperatures and record low night temps withn 24 hours of each other. I’ve been having to switch from A/C (window units) to heat, which involves a LOTTA work! (Cover over the A/C units and feed the fire during cold, then uncover the A/Cs and juggle fans around, plus the inevitable water in the basement from rains that goes right through the firewood storage, etc.). Plus I have to go to the doc every 3 months, as opposed to the previous 6, thanks to some Ohio state congressman trying to head off the opoid crisis (Here’s an idea – don’t prescribe oxycontin for a stubbed toe!), and of course, getting the lawn warfare gear ready. Lotsa work, little to show for it. And of course, my hardware is once again wrestling with me (my COMPUTER, ya filthy-minded schmucks! 😉 ). Yep, fun fun fun all day long!

But we’re all well, all 13 of us. Seems like 10 cats is a good number, no more, no less. The new-ish neighbors across the drive are a Godsend, causing no problems whatsoever (and getting more and more angry with the rental agent who always wants to war with us, so that’s a double gift), and the rednecks on the other side are terrified of us, so we got that going for us, which is good. No Email service yet, but I’ll keep an eye on these posts, so be patient, I will try to get to comments as quick as possible.

So enjoy the previous post, and I’ll catch y’all later!

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Posted in Current Events | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Nurse’s Lament (WW1)

When all around you is death
How do you live?

When all you see is sorrow
How do you rejoice?

When all there is, is insanity
How do you remain sane?

Every day is an endless parade of pain and death,
Every night is a drab montage of loss and sorrow,
Every breath is harder than the last, and yet ….

I will live, and smile, and be a rock of calm,
Not for myself.

For the boys.

Posted in Military History, Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Some Notable Losses in 2016.

While this year has been rather hard on famous people, I wanted to write some kind of year-end tribute to some lesser known folk who passed this year. And since science-fiction has been so much a part of my life, I decided to give a retrospective of people, famous and lesser-known, who figured in science-fiction performances I hold dear.

Alan Young – Remember “Mister Ed”? Yes, Alan Young was Wilbur in that show – and he appeared in “The Time Machine”, the stunning 1960 film with Rod Taylor, as his friend Filby.

Ron Glass – The wise-cracking cop in the TV show “Barney Miller”. For me, though, he’ll always be the Preacher who rode with Nathan Fillon and the rest of the crew of Serenity on the TV show “Firefly”.

Gareth Thomas – You probably don’t know him. From the British sci-fi TV show “Blakes’ 7”, a huge part of my fandom days. The only license plate my 1987 Cavalier ever carried was “TREK B7”, a tribute to the two great sci-fi shows in my life.

Yes, we just lost Carrie Fisher. But we also lost Kenny Baker, who “played” R2-D2 throughout the film series.

Alan Rickman. So many films, so much talent, such a wide variety of roles. But always, to me, his role in “Galaxy Quest”. You can read my farewell to him here: https://windycitywonderer.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/by-grabthars-hammer-by-the-suns-of-worvan/

A personal favourite of mine, Jerry Doyle, the equally tortured and hilarious security chief on “Babylon 5”. I loved the fact that Jerry brought his love of “Looney Tunes”, especially Donald Duck, into the show, and that the great J. Michael Straczynski not only permitted it but encouraged it.

And let’s not forget Van Williams who played the Green Hornet in the 1960’s show of the same name. Or Noel Neill from the TV series “Superman” in the 1950’s. While hoaky today, they were cutting-edge sci-fi in their day, and can still evoke a thrill or two even 50-60 years later.

Finally, three special notes. First, though I abhor what J.J. Abrams has done to Star Trek with his film series, I will salute Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov. He was a talented young man, lost all too soon. Second, Ronnie Corbett, of the British TV comedy show “The Two Ronnies”. Nothing to do with sci-fi, save that my PBS station in Chicago ran them for a while prior to “Doctor Who” episodes every Sunday night. I loved that show. And finally, Glen Frey. Again, nothing to do with sci-fi, but a very talented musician and a surprisingly good actor on “Miami Vice”, in the episode (for which he sang the title tune of the same name) “Smuggler’s Blues”.

This is far from a comprehensive list, but I really didn’t want to write a thousand-page post just to cover this year’s passings. Let’s hope that 2017 will be a lot easier on the world of the famous.

To close, a Happy New Year to all my readers, and a fervent hope and prayer that 2017 will turn out a lot better than 2016 for all of us. And thank you for staying with me through all my ups and downs – I’ll work on putting out stuff more frequently to properly reward your patience. Once again, thank you, and Happy New Year!

Posted in Movies and Films, Obituary, Science Fiction, TV Stars | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Like Daughter, Like Mother.

Or, please God, get 2016 over with NOW!

Yep, the grim news keeps on rolling in. One day after Carrie Fisher died, her mother Debbie Reynolds has died. From “Singin’ In The Rain” to playing Grace’s mother on “Will and Grace” and pretty much everything in between, it would take an entire server to list what Debbie Reynolds accomplished. So I’ll just keep this short and sweet, and not belabour this already sad news any further.

The night sky is brilliant tonight, for a daughter’s star has been joined by her mother’s supernova. Shine on, dear ladies, we’ll love all your works forever.

Posted in Current Events, Obituary | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Day The Music Died.

A long, long time ago, a song spoke of “the day the music died”. While that tune focused purely on American acts, I would state that for a large share of the world (the US included), Christmas Day 2016 was THE day the music died.

The day started off with grim news from half a world away. A Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154 airliner crashed in the Black Sea on its’ way from Sochi in southern Russia to a base in Syria. While the Tu-154 (which has a poor safety record) is no longer used by civilian airlines, this plane was being used to fly military personnel to Syria, most of them to give the Russian troops there a bit of home for the holidays. Among these was the world-renowned “Red Army Choir”, also known officially as the Alexandrov Ensemble, named after their first director. The Ensemble consists of an orchestra, a dance troupe, and the choir, the last group being those lost in the crash. As a former choir singer myself, I’ve always felt that you can teach a person to play an instrument or dance even if they lack some latent talent, but either you’re born to sing or you aren’t. (I barely, JUST barely, made the former category.) We may not be overly friendly with the current Russian government, but music transcends all borders and languages. This is a terrible loss, and I openly grieve with the Russian people over this tragedy.

Then, in the last few hours, I heard of the loss of George Michael. I don’t think I need explain his contributions, especially to my readers over the age of about 35. Wham! and his solo career both spawned numerous hit singles and albums, and I think most of us could recall the words and tunes of many of his biggest hits without too much effort. What a horrific end to a day that had already started with the loss of the Red Army Choir.

I’ll close with a remark repeated by a BBC anchorman. “We started 2016 with David Bowie, and end with George Michael. Enough, 2016. No more.” While we still have a week to go, I hope and pray that we lose no more of the music this year.

And as a footnote, spare a thought for Carrie Fisher. While I’ve always been a Trekkie, I remember standing on line in 1977 to see “Star Wars”, and remember the absolute awe and wonder with which I left the theatre (sorry, that should be “cinema” to be correct). While I enjoyed her part in “The Blues Brothers” (another huge favourite of mine), I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Princess Leia. Let’s all hope that she will borrow just a bit from my favourite TV and film … well, “enterprise”, and may she “live long and prosper”.

Posted in Current Events, Military, Obituary | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

A Day Of Infirmity.

Sorry folks, I had a nice post for today, just needing a few details added before posting today. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling like … Amish buggy exhaust, and just keep feeling worse. I’ll try to get that post out tomorrow, when I’ll hopefully be feeling better. Heck, I’ll take feeling less worse.

So here’s to those that lost their lives on that Sunday morning 75 years ago. Ships may rust away, planes hauled off for scrap, and buildings fallen to rubble, but the courage and sacrifice of all at Pearl Harbor, Hickam field, and other places on December 7, 1941, will remain unforgotten and unfading for all time.

Posted in Current Events, Military History | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Night Before That Infamous Day

Yes, it’s almost here, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I’ll have a special post for y’all tomorrow, but rather than dwell on the sadness and loss, I thought I’d give you some of the … less negative? more positive? … facts about that notorious December 7th. For instance:

Of the eight battleships that were docked in Pearl that morning, only two ended up being total writeoffs. Obviously, the USS Arizona  still lies on the bottom of the harbour. The USS Oklahoma capsized, and was later refloated and deemed too damaged to recover. She was hauled off for scrap, but sank while under tow, somewhere between Hawaii and San Francisco. Two other ships, USS California and USS West Virginia, sank in water shallow enough to be re-floated, repaired, and returned to service. (Personally, I would include the USS Utah, which also sank and was left on the bottom. While she was classified as a Gunnery Training Ship – AG-16 – at the time of the attack, she retained her original name at commissioning, as battleship, BB-31.)

There was a massive fuel storage facility at Pearl, as well as extensive ship repair and submarine servicing facilities. None of these were touched, allowing the remnants of the Pacific Fleet to be repaired and fueled, and most crucially, allowing the US submarine fleet to cripple the Japanese war effort by sinking their merchant shipping.

Several smaller ships, including two destroyers, were damaged so badly, the navy was going to write them off as irreparably damaged. All were repaired and brought back into service. In addition, another destroyer, USS Shaw, had her bows blown completely off the ship, but was repaired and back in service by July 1942.

Along with the fortunate ships inside Pearl that lived to fight again were the only three US aircraft carriers, who were luckily out of port on that Sunday morning. If those carriers had been lost, we would not have had the forces necessary to stop the Japanese attempting an invasion of Australia a few months later. Considering the significant support of Australia in both manpower and machines, the battle to defeat the Japanese would have been almost unimaginably more difficult.

In closing, let me just say that what I listed above should in NO way minimise the tragedy and loss during the attack. Almost half of all US casualties at Pearl Harbor were suffered by the crew of poor Arizona. I just wanted to show that, despite our grievous losses, good fortune and a cautious Japanese admiral leading the attacking fleet, not to mention truly heroic sacrifices among the American sailors, kept a terrible loss from becoming a horrific defeat. As the last of the survivors leave us, it is up to every American to carry the stories forward, and as one of the US War Bond sales drive proclaimed, “Remember Pearl Harbor!”.

Posted in Military, Military History | Tagged , | 1 Comment