Tag Archives: blog

Maureen O’Hara – Don’t Think You’re Gonna Get Rid of Me That Easy Gone at 95

Maureen O'Hara in McLintock!

When I was a child, I firmly believed that Maureen O’Hara was married to John Wayne. Not only did the two fit, but she was the only female who could have stood so tall against the Duke.  As I was convinced the flame haired beauty was Wayne’s wife, in real life, versus, reel life, when Disney’s The Parent Trap came on television it culminated in a moment of confusion, Brian Keith was not the Duke.

O’Hara worked with Wayne on a number of films, each time playing either wife, or (in the case of The Quiet Man 1952) romantic interest and then wife. In each film Maureen played the head strong and formidable female who stood head to toe, metaphorically at least, with her big strong husband.

The news that she died October 24, at the age of 95, in her sleep, stunned me. O’Hara seemed ageless. A woman for all seasons who would live to be 100, herself’s professed goal.   The actress, born in Dublin, Ireland, spent her life playing strong positive role models. In a time when feminists were not even contemplating burning a bra, her characters stood up to and ruled the menfolk in many of her films.

Her Mary Kate Danaher, who believes her new husband to be a coward, stands up to him when he “manhandles” her back to fight the bullying brother (Victor McLaglen). The red-haired colleen takes a mighty swing at Sean Thornton but misses.  

It was her role in the 1963 comedy western McLintock! (which was retelling of Kiss Me Kate with a cowboy setting) produced by Wayne’s son Michael and directed by Andrew V. McLaughlin where O’Hara proved that not only could she stand up to Duke, but she was adept at comedy.  Her bossy, and hilariously gruff, Katherine Gilhooley McLintock ruled the roost.

Her scenes with Chills Wills, who Duke obviously forgave for his tasteless 1960  Best Supporting Actor Oscar campaign for his role as the beekeeper in The Alamo, are brilliantly funny.

Katherine to Drago: “Shut up and do as you’re told.”

Drago: “This here Douglas feller…”

Katherine: “DRAGO!”

O’Hara could deliver these orders as only she could. With a tone that allowed no argument and gave no quarter.  As Barry Fitzgerald’s character Michaleen Oge Flynn the Matchmaker says of Maureen’s Mary Kate, “She’s the tongue of an adder.”

It was with complete delight that I introduced my, then, young daughter to the magic that was Maureen O’Hara when an old friend found a VHS copy of McLintock! and posted it to us in England. Despite the fact that the film is quite chauvinistic in its belief that women secretly want a man to either a) spank them, or b) “man-handle”  them, it works precisely because it is a comedic rendering of the Cole Porter adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

The plot, of McLintock! deals with a cattle baron being “bullied” by his wife for a crime (lipstick on his collar) for years. When their daughter returns home to the town of McLintock and her father’s 200 square mile spread, Katherine Gilhooley McLintock increases her assault on George Washington “GW” McLintock her husband.

Featuring Patrick Wayne as the love interest of a young Stephanie Powers, the film is a favorite of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara fans alike.  While the movie “condone’s violence toward’s women and the message is very old fashioned, the entire thing is made more palatable by the ending.

After an epic town-long chase, with Katherine being doggedly followed by GW, the two end up at the blacksmith’s, where McLintock spanks Kate with a coal shovel. After tumbling the woman off his lap he tells her, “Now get your divorce.”

Drago, the hired hand, comes up with a wagon and the two men head back to the ranch. Katherine, rubbing her tender nether region, points  up at her husband on wagon and shouts:

“Don’t think You’re gonna get rid of me that easy!”

Katherine then runs after the buggy and grabs hold, riding the thing back to the ranch. The film ends shortly after with the two reconciled at last.  The scene works, not just because of the writing but because of Maureen O’Hara’s conviction and performance. On screen, the actress was bigger than life.

She was one of a kind and it is all too easy to believe that until she went to sleep at age 95, Maureen must have told the “big fella” that he was not going to get rid of her that easily, as “herself” had plans to stick around another five years.

Maureen O’Hara, actress, star, businesswoman, mother and the onscreen wife of another legend in five films has passed on.  I sat and watched McLintock! on Sunday appreciating once more the talent and performance of Ms. O’Hara.  Watching the featurette’s afterward, Stephanie Powers revealed that Maureen showed her how to keep the bright lights (used “back in the day” for filming) from affecting her performance. Maureen was a professional as they come and, sadly, there will be no replacement now that she is gone.

Mary Kate Danaher Thornton, Katherine Gilhooley McLintock, Mrs. Kathleen York, Min Wead, Martha McCandles, Martha Price, Olivia Spencer and even Doris Walker (Miracle on 34th Street) were all strong, passionate women who were unforgettable as was Maureen O’Hara herself. All will allow Maureen to live on.

RIP Ms. O’Hara the world will not be the same without you.

Burger King Application: Have it Your Way…Not Poor Customer Service

Burger King Application for smartphones

There are very few customer service issues that cannot be handled with a phone call or maybe two. In the case where the service is so poor, then obviously leaving that particular company is the answer. Sometimes, things are not so cut and dried. Take smartphone apps for example.  In the case of the Burger King smartphone application? Well, it is just as well that the company ditched their old slogan of “have it your way.”

Most applications work fine, but some, for whatever reason, go off into the digital wasteland that I like to think of as the Twilight Zone. Yesterday, my BK application stopped taking my password/email combination. A little frustrated, I retyped my email and asked to reset my password.  Hitting submit, I was assured that an email reset was sent.

It was.

I reset my password and…

Nope.

The message that my “login failed” because of an “incorrect email/password” combination pops up on my iPhone screen once again.  Nothing breeds annoyance so quickly as a password problem on a smartphone.  Since losing my glasses, I sometimes have to re-enter my password, and occasionally my email, because my fingers are quite a bit bigger than my iPhone onscreen keypad. (And before some smart arse comes back with “make the screen bigger” I’ll relate that the BK app stays frozen in that one size no matter what I do with the screen size controls, you also cannot “roll” the screen on its side, which also makes the keyboard bigger.)

After a frustrating morning, I go onto the Internet to the BK app support site. Filling in a form, which frustratingly asks for my last 4 digits of my electronic application BK card (Note: Hey BK, if I cannot access my application and since there is nothing that tells me what the digits are apart from the application when I am on it, making this a “required” fill in is a bit…well to be blunt, f**king stupid.) and then requires a number of answers and then you can submit.

To the right of this frustrating form is a number to call, “If you have an immediate issue.” Which, this is. It is that time of month where I have no ready cash while waiting for my tiny prison service pension. Ergo, if I want to eat, and continue to use the free WiFi trouble free, I use my PayPal to fill my BK app and eat. The application has about  $15 loaded on it  that I cannot touch.

I call the “immediate” number and I am told that the application people will be in touch…in a day…or to wait a day for the change to correct itself. I explain, a bit testily, that I would like to eat over the next 24 hours and get apologies and the assurance that I will be receiving an email from the service team referencing my call.

I do, indeed get an email, which infuriatingly tells me how to recover my password. Something I already know how to do and have done so repeatedly with no success, hence the call.

I wait 24 hours, as suggested, and ring back today, 3 September 2015. I am told that due to the upcoming holiday weekend that I need to wait till Tuesday and if I have heard nothing by then to call back. I repeat that I have no other real way to access my money on the card and that their “advice” means that I will be starving until at least Tuesday.

More apologies are forthcoming.  The bottom line is this, I will, most likely, not get any response. Not till after the long “holiday” weekend.

It should probably be mentioned that PayPal also has issues in the area of customer service. Earlier in the year they “let the side down” on a Walmart purchase which was delivered to an old address (How on EARTH that came about is still beyond me.) I wound up paying for an item I never received.

I still use PayPal, I have to, and when I tried initially to get my money sorted via the company that I used to load $15 to my BK app, I was told to follow “protocol” and use the forms. The forms, however, do not include an option to get monies back paid on a “gift” card. It is always in reference to an item either not delivered or broken or not as promised.

Loading a gift card is not an item PayPal. Okay? Still that is another battle for another day.

In essence, despite the lovely people at my local BK, who tried like hell to help me out yesterday, my issue is still unresolved. I am still very annoyed, despite having gone down to the local Dollar Store and purchased a BK Crown card worth a tenner.

Why, you may ask, am I still annoyed? Well, I cannot reload this card. The Crown Card system does not take PayPal, which is the only “money” I have at the moment. So, it looks like I’ll be having to go back down to the store and buy another card…or two…if I want to eat, at least till my pension comes in.

Apart from that things are just peachy. (If one does not count the snotty response received from CBS EXPRESS who informed me that while I had access to SHOWTIME photos of shows, my little site was not important enough to get professional access from CBS, this after already being given access. Apparently my asking twice for access to videos of shows that I USED TO  recap and review was annoying enough to warrant that response.

So, how’s your week been? Anyone else planning on starving over the Labor Day weekend?

Skeleton image via Google Images
Disclaimer. While this whole thing  is annoying, I won’t really “starve” over the long weekend…I will, however, lose weight.

 

Life in the Real Desert: The Stacy Keach Lookalike or Who WAS That?

Stacy Keach at film festival
Stacy…Was that you?

Life in the Real Desert continues to be amusing, challenging, frustrating and, sometimes, really odd. A perfect example of the “odd” occurred this morning when a Stacy Keach “lookalike” had a right old go at me outside the Burger King where I write most days. It may even have been Keach, Quartzsite is very close to the California border and I have seem people who look a bit like celebs pass through this little burg. If it was Stacy? Lay off the cocaine matey, it’s not good for you and makes you act like a grade A prick. Remember London Heathrow?

The details of my little “almost” altercation with Stacy Keach or his lookalike, began with my arriving and seeing that two well built (as in spending a bit of time on the old weights) chaps were sitting in “my spot.” (I normally sit in this booth because of the electrical sockets and it allows me to see my bike, it has been tampered with.) I had a chat with my mate and then got changed.

Coming out I noticed that the two fellers were still there. I decide to put my white box back on my Schwinn and then call my mum to tell her I’d heard from my daughter Meg. As I’m waiting for the phone to ring her end, I see this “Keach-looking” chap glaring bloody murder at me through the window.

I point to my chest and mouth, “Is there a problem?” Like a red flag to a bull, my gesture and question galvanized this man and he came charging out of the Burger King, I am still on the phone with it pressed to my ear. “Are you all right mate?” I ask, “Is there some sort of problem?”

Pointing a big “muscly” finger at me as he approached, very aggressively, he growled and said, “If you take another picture of me…” I pull the phone from my ear, “I’m not taking any pictures, I’m talking on the bloody phone.” My mother is on the other end asking what is going on and he then says “Stop taking pictures.”

I move the phone away from my face, “I’m on the phone to my mum mate. I’m not taking any pictures. Now you need to back off before I call the police, yeah?” (My inner London gangster type obviously comes out when threatened.) He replied that I could do just that but he then turned tail and went back into Burger King rather quickly. His mate came out as he went in and said, rather inexplicably, “The air conditioner is on inside.”

The whole incident lasted perhaps 10 seconds. “Stacy Keach” went back in the eatery and stormed up and down for a bit, apparently ranting about the issue. In the meantime a highway patrol vehicle drove up and went through the Drive-thru window. “Stacy” comes out and struts up and down outside Burger King, ignoring me, and then after making a big show of looking around the corners of the building got back into his car, shooting me a sideways look as he closed the passenger door.

It threw the man when I was not aggressive, but matter-of-fact. I did not threaten violence, although my hand was on the pepper spray and I was ready to use it. It must have sunk through that self important brain that I was not taking pictures of any type but he still felt the need to posture and act tough.

When he was storming up and down the walk outside, I actually pulled out my spray and opened my back pack to where my old prison baton was. Had he approached too closely again, he would have been sprayed and then thumped. Luckily for him, he will soon forget the old chappy with the MikesFilmTalk.com t-shirt who almost beat the devil out of him with an old prison baton.

The next time he may not be so lucky. Whether he is someone “important” or famous or really is Stacy Keach, he needs to curb that aggression. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it can get you hurt, or even worse, it can cause someone else to be hurt. I did not say it to you chum, but I had no idea who you were, or who you even think you are. Although after our little “altercation” it is apparent that he may think he is Kanye West…

Get a grip mate.

And if that was Stacy Keach? You just lost a long time fan mate. I do not think it was Keach, the man is 74 and I just watched his performance in the teen “weepy” If I Stay. The man who almost physically accosted me, just looked like Keach but younger, like the man did around his Mike Hammer days. Even when this cat realized that no one was taking his picture, there was no apology or explanation. A real gent…not.

One last word on the subject, during his entire stay at the local eatery, his car contained a dog in the back seat. There were no windows rolled down, that I could see, and this is the desert…in summer… Yeah, a real “tool” this chap, had I realized I would have called the police for the dog.

Quartzsite Library Unfair to Vet and Pensioner

Picture of Quartzsite Library
Think of this title as a placard. A rectangular bit of cardboard atop a 1×4 stick of wood hoisted in the overly hot Arizona air held by the sweaty and angry hand of a USAF Veteran and ill health pensioner from HMPS standing in front of the “unfair” Quartzsite Library. A 56 year-old man who is temporarily “down on his uppers” as they say and more than a little annoyed at the condescending attitude by one member of staff at the local public library.

Over a week ago, I was in the local library near the door, which is the least freezing part of the facility, using my laptop to watch Hulu, write reviews, email and do other chores on my website. My MacBookPro was plugged into the electrical socket under the row of computers for free use in the library. As I plunked away at the keys, a lady volunteer (who has been rather short with me before) sauntered past and stopped abruptly.

“Is that plugged it?” she asked. Pointing at my Mac with her voice raising she continued, “You are not allowed to charge your things in here.”

I stopped typing, “Yes it’s plugged in, but it isn’t charging as it is fully charged. I’m just trying to keep it that way.” I smiled.

“You can’t do that, it is not allowed,” she said. Reaching down I unplugged my offending MacBookPro. “You are welcome to use the free computers,” she continued, “and you can use your laptop but only on battery.”

“Well,” I asked, “Could you tell me why using the same electricity for my laptop that a computer would be using is not allowed?”

No answer. She whirled around and headed back to her station behind the check out desk. I followed. “Is there someone I can talk to about using my laptop without the battery instead of the computer. I have software on my Mac that is not on your Window’s system that I need for my website.”

In a tone laden with frosty overtones she repeated that I could use my laptop with the battery. I then explained that my poor old battery only ran for about an hour or so.

Looking down her nose at me she said loftily, “Sounds like it’s time to get a new battery.” My “Hulk” meter immediately shot up to the very top and before “greening out” I replied. “No, sounds like its time to go someplace else. Good day.”

I was seething. Not just because of the obvious; if I could afford to purchase a new Apple battery with a longer life then I would not be using their free WiFi along with every homeless desert rat for five miles around. I would be at home, or in the Internet Cafe, which costs money to access their WiFi, it was mainly because of her sh*tty and snotty attitude that my anger levels hit danger levels.

Since being in Quartzsite, I have tried to be polite and friendly to all I meet. This is my home for the moment and I intend to “be a good neighbor.” The only denizens I am not nice to are the ones who feel the need to run me off the road on my bike or act in manner less friendly than I would like.

So I am boycotting the library as a result of this volunteer’s poor and insulting attitude. After telling my chums at Burger King, where I now go everyday to access their free, and stronger, WiFi, they suggested that I should complain. I did, but apparently neither the library or the town manager, who is at the top of this local food chain, read their emails. I have not gotten reply to either message of inquiry.

I do not ask for an apology, but I would still like the question answered about the plugging in of the laptop. If one looks at the “posted” rules in the actual facility there is nothing about just using your battery. Still, they have lost not only a customer but any good will that I’d been harboring for the other volunteers who were, admittedly, very nice to an old guy who talked funny.

So, until I get an answer to one of my emails, please picture me with a placard in hand stating that “Quartzsite Library are Unfair to Vet and Pensioner.”

Life in the Real Desert: A Moment in Time

Picture of green meteorite
Taking time to sort my site out for inclusion into more places on the Internet, such as Alltop.com which is a pretty good place to find websites that specialize in certain things, and trying to fix a backend problem, which is actually a whole lot less personal than it sounds, my blog portion of my site has suffered. Add to that a big dollop of “I feel sorry for myself” along with fighting the ever increasing heat and I’ve been focussing on movies, television and the odd celebrity news instead of my more personal views of the world.

All of this kerfuffle is taking place among the amazing “real” life in the Arizona desert and two nights ago a “moment in time” caught my attention and fired up my imagination; bringing out my inner child for a frozen space of time. Reminding me that all of life is made up of moments in time, some more beautiful than others.

For a week, after the sun has gone down, the mercury has not. Temperatures stay at over 100 degrees and the wind that blows from the south is hot, arid and around 11 to 12 miles per hour, if not into the 20s. Riding back the night before last, my eyes were streaming tears non-stop as it felt like I had a hair dryer blowing directly into my exposed sockets all the way home.

Getting into the house after the ride, my eyes were sore, gritty and hot. I pondered getting some goggles to replace my glasses, that were lost in Las Vegas and fell asleep seconds after setting down.

The next night, the temperature dropped to below 100, around 97 and the weather site stated that it felt like 93. (Every time I think of the temperature I hear Pvt. Hudson from Aliens in my head stating with forced, and fake, jocularity “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat!”) Wind speed was only around 9 miles per hour and did not feel like it was being sent from the gates of Hell. With my shirt off it was a pretty pleasant ride back home on my trusty Schwinn.

At the midpoint, around three miles from home, I stopped for my congratulatory drink of water. Silence surrounded me broken only by my permanent tinnitus and I looked around at a desert lit by the small sliver of moon and one very bright star.

Off to my left stands the deserted house that I’ve yet to visit and take pictures of and as I peered through the night in that direction, I saw it.

A meteorite that could only have been a quarter of a mile, or less, away was streaking down diagonally to the desert floor and only about 50 feet from the ground. It was large enough that as it burned bright green and red it lit up that portion of the hardpan. At the exact moment I spied this visitor from space even my tinnitus fell silent. The entire incident took place in muffled quiet and time spun out making this tiny incident feel much longer than the few seconds it really encompassed.

Standing there in awe I pondered that if I had not been there in that exact spot, where I stop every night on the way home, this marvel would have been missed. I also had an epiphany of sorts. Life, I decided is a series of moments in time, each insignificant on their own but when added up equal an importance of earth shattering magnitude.

I got back on my bike and peddled into the faint warm wind and, looking nervously at the sky over my head, also realized that luckily, I was over on this section of the desert when the thing from space plummeted to the ground. At the speed that thing travelled, had I been “over there” I’d never have known what had hit me…

Life in the Real Desert: Living with Nature

Cartoon SpiderI know that the whole living with nature thing has sort of gone to my head. All the animals, lizards, insects and unidentifiable creatures which make up life in the real desert have gotten my attention. Sometimes these four, and more, legged denizens have increased my blood pressure and adrenaline levels.

Over the past three or four days there have been some visitors to my new abode that were less welcome than others. A three inch long scorpion who had a definite fascination with my right foot was one that startled me into my Michael Flatley impression a la River Dancing, or as they say in this country Clog Dancing. While I may have had trainers (sneakers) on my feet, I was still stamping away with frantic enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, I have no idea whether my trainer clad foot killed the desert denizen with the stinging tail or not. One last stomp and smear, you know what I mean the old down and drag movement, left only a rusty orange smear on the porch and when checked the sole of my trainer held no remnants of Mr. or Mrs. Scorpion. This means there may be a good-sized vicious creature out there hunting for a balding older chap with black trainers. I probably should warn my neighbors…all three of them.

Scorpion King action figure

There have been some fairly largish spiders as well, one was in the side room which was attacked with a spindly plastic flyswatter at first. This arachnid fell to the floor and quicker than The Flash, made off to a spot in the room behind my desk and disappeared. A few days later it appeared on the ceiling again and this time a flip-flop sent it to spider heaven.

Last night, while standing on the porch for a little night air, a monstrous eight-legged spider moved along the ceiling of the metal roofed porch (What is it with spiders and ceilings?) and then, as I stood transfixed, started moving slowly down the front door. As it reached face level, mine not his or hers, off came the leather flip-flop and bang!

Before feeling too much sympathy for this giant creature, bear in mind that, including legs, it was the size of my hand. Not a tarantula, not furry enough, but a similar size. Now here is the shivery part, once its body thudded to the porch floor, the flip-flop went back on my foot and I stomped the merry hell out of the apparently lifeless corpse. (Spiders can and do “play dead.”) Despite my approximate weight of 186 pounds, the body never “mushed” up.

I then took this very solid body and swept it into the dust pan and chucked it off the porch. Then, after allowing the goosebumps to subside, I went back into the house to find another, smaller, spider on the ceiling of the side room again. Scratch one more trespassing bit of nature.

I am not afraid of spiders. When working for Her Majesty’s Prison Service I noticed that these murderers, car thieves, drug dealers, rapists et al were all terrified of spiders. Being in the countryside large grass spiders used to come in all the time. While these tough guys screamed, cried and leapt on their single beds, we would pick the creatures up and toss them out the window. The sight of the lads practically passing out was worth it.

I do, however, have real issues with the larger arachnids sharing my bed or crawling over my face while in the Land of Nod. All of the other creatures I’ve encountered are cute and lovely to look at. They are also animals; ground squirrels, prairie dogs, jack rabbits with long brown tails who walk, or trot, like a dog and deer. I like coming across all of these.

As for that spider I count myself lucky that it did not make the floor. If we had been on even footing our altercation might have ended very differently and I could have been the one chucked off the porch.

Scene from Murder Story 1989

Christopher Lee: An Almost Personal Memory

Sir Christopher Lee died yesterday and the worlds of horror and fantasy are reeling from the news. The 93 year-old actor made his name as Dracula in the Hammer films and worked more recently in The Lord of the Ring films and worked in iconic cult classic horror films like the 1973 The Wicker Man. I wanted to share my almost personal memory of one of the greatest actors the world has ever known. As Fangoria point out Lee was a versatile actor who appeared in various roles across genres.

Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun (an action film), Bailey, the gunsmith in Hannie Caulder (a western) and Dr. Wonka in Charley and the Chocolate Factory (comedy) are just three examples of different genres outside the fantasy and horror fields he is so associated with. Lee also did a lot of voice acting for video games, Kingdom Hearts II and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (where he reprised his role as Scaramanga) are just two games that felt his presence.

He also worked in the field of mystery, appearing in Murder Story. He starred with a young American actor who would later become famous on television’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel as the very British Wesley Wyndham-Price, Alexis Densiof. Lee played Willard Hope in the 1989 film, a star author whom Denisof’s character idolizes and decides to emulate.

Murder Story was filmed in Holland and the company hired some local airmen and their kids from Soesterberg Air Base to be in the film. Ellstree Studios were making the film despite having just gone broke and having to restrict themselves to television. Ellstree produced the BBC soap Eastenders amongst a few other television shows that were all filmed in the studios.

After being hired to work on the show by a local casting company, along with a friend from the Armed Forces Radio Station down the hall, I was excited to be working on a film with Christopher Lee in it. Originally, both mine and the AFN chap’s roles were pretty big, we had lines and a bit of action as well. Not knowing much of the film’s plot or action, we were day players only, the idea that we may get to work with Dracula, or just “bump into him” on set was pretty heady stuff for two glorified extras.

That money was an issue became apparent “on the day.” Our initial roles had our Security Policemen talking and getting out of our base jeep to inspect damage done by the onscreen father of Alexis Denisof’s character. An accident caused by his son Tony (Alexis) driving in front of his car on a motorbike. By the time we got in front of the camera, our lines had been cut and we never left the jeep.

The second unit director, who filmed the action scene just prior to our bit, had excited us earlier in the day by suggesting that Sir Christopher Lee may indeed be around somewhere near by. The unit had started out filming in Soest, a small town near Soesterberg and Zeist where a lot of filming took place, and word was that Lee would be in the village.

If he was there, we missed him and a short time went to a section of woods in-between the village and the air base where we met Denisof, very briefly, and his love interest in the film; Stacia Burton (in her only film). The lovely young lady bummed a light off me, much to my second wife’s annoyance. We chatted a bit, which also got a bit of disapproval, and I am still surprised that this talented young lady has not appeared in any other projects.

After a long day, the scene was finished and we never met the legend. A year later, the same folks who cast me in the Ellstree film cast me in a commercial for American, and later British, television. Speaking to the woman who hired me, she spoke of meeting the iconic performer and how nice he was. She also revealed that he had been in Soest that day and that we’d only just missed him.

Sadly the film itself, which was something of a nine-day wonder as many of the high school scenes were shot at the base school and a good friend’s daughters got to meet and work with Denisof, went straight to video and died a quick death. This mystery movie gave Lee the chance to be something other than the villain and he was also able to show his mastery of languages as he did his own lines in Dutch.

As the world mourns the passing of an iconic entertainer, it felt right to share my own little “almost” experience with one of the most gifted actors to ever “wear the fangs” and become the ultimate Dracula to more than a few generations. Sir Christopher Lee gone at age 93, you will be long remembered and missed by a world of fans. R.I.P.

Life in the Real Desert: Sleeping in a Cloudy Oven

Cloudy sky in Quartzsite, AZThe real desert is cloudy today. It has a solid covering of dark hues which cries occasionally and lets a few dry tears plummet to earth. Striking tin roofs with a clunky, non-melodic rhythm that is short lived yet oddly comforting. The covering floated in yesterday, slowly filling the vast Arizona sky with something that resembled peaceful candy floss (cotton candy) with varying tints of color. The temperature was a cool 106 degrees Fahrenheit despite the lack of direct sun and sleeping in this stuporous heat felt like being in a cloudy oven.

I tweeted, at half 10 last night, that the temperature was a staggering 91 degrees. I watched RIPD, with Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Louise Parker (whom I have a huge schoolboy crush on, sorry Mary) and Kevin Bacon while baking on high for the duration. The heat from my laptop was a little worrying on top of all that external heat. I checked and the mercury inside the house was standing at 99 degrees and I switched the thing off afterward.

Until then, I sat with all windows open and a pedestal fan scant inches from my face and the laptop. I sat oozing sweat and battled the elements in order to be fair to the comedy action film. (After all that “suffering” I found I did enjoy the film after all.)

Around midnight I gave up waiting for the heat to drop much further, the gauge outside on the porch read 82, and I crawled, sans PJs into bed. I lay on top of the sheets with fluid leaking in a steady stream from the back of my neck. By the time morning came, a cool 78 degrees for around two minutes, I was semi-rested from sleeping in a giant Arizona-sized oven and my top pillow was drenched.

I have been told that July and August resemble hell on earth and I must agree with that description after living in Vegas last year and seeing that Quartzsite is hotter than the casino town on a regular basis. Still what does not kill you, or dehydrate you, makes you stronger they say and after last night’s turbulent sleep I am not too tired this morning.

Unfortunately I will not be heading to town today as thunderstorms have been forecast and I do not want to cross the desert on a metal bike inviting lightning to strike me and my Schwinn. Of course there is the paranoia that my MacBookPro gets soaking wet thereby stopping my sporadic memoir writing and the chances of being paid by another content mill for journo pieces. I do have a waterproof bit of stuff that I wrap the thing in, but between the wind, rain and lightning, sitting today out seems wise.

It was interesting, and not a little disturbing, to see that the cloud cover kept the heat in over night. Generally on a clear day, besides being able to see “forever” the heat dissipates once the sun goes down. By half 11 or so the temperature has lowered enough to allow something resembling sleep. Even on the hottest clear day, the mornings are pleasantly cool.

Sitting here now, in the Arizona room, I can see the wind pick up. The sound of rain hitting the roof is slowly increasing in volume, not of a decibel level but amount, and the sky is becoming a more uniform color, grey without so much black mixed in. Rather interestingly there has been a lot of rain since my arrival.

Meanwhile, life in the real desert goes on and tonight I’ll wager that sleeping in a cloudy oven will not be an issue since the weather has driven the mercury down for the day. Looking at the forecast, the average temperature will be around 106 over the next week or so which means spending a lot of time in Burger King and the public library. An unexpected bonus of living in this environment is that I’ve met some lovely folks at the local eatery and managed to lose most of the tummy pod that I’ve carried with me for years.

9 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

A Trophy For Little Old Me

Wordpress trophyI do love how WordPress sets these somewhat eclectic targets (for lack of a better word) which when reached by the blogger gives them an automatic trophy. The first thought that goes through my mind is ‘Wow, a trophy? For little old me?’ *By the by, a single quotation mark by some authors is meant to convey thought versus speech anyone disagree with this method? Just curious, answers on a postcard please or conversely you can tell me via the comment section below.* Anyway, as shown by the image above, I now have reached 1,337, with a “real” total of 1,339 followers on my blog.

Cue fireworks, confetti and cheering, even if it is only my hoarse voice you can hear, in wild celebration. I do celebrate these milestone events, albeit rather quietly, since these follower counts mean that slowly but surely, I am building up a core group that like my meandering messages.

Here is where I insist that you give yourself a pat on the back for having such great taste! Seriously, it does mean a lot that either some of you have come back or others have enjoyed my ramblings enough to pay me the ultimate compliment. Thanks to both types of folks and to those who fall into neither camp.

For those still “on the fence” about my writing, that is fine too. I’ve not published anything yet, but I will. In this day and age of self publishing if I cannot get picked up by a publisher when I’ve finished, I’ll do it on my own. I know this is now the norm and quite successful for some folks, like the Winner Twins who I have met, interviewed and still interact with now and then. *On a side note, two nicer young ladies you will never meet and their work is entertaining and good.*

For those who have been here for awhile, thanks for being patient. I’ve veered off the path, most notably working for the content mill and sweatshop GLV where I had no time to devote to my baby. (But I did manage to attend some geeky type cons and meet some dynamite actors and in that aspect had the time of my life.) Now I am back and casting my hook around to see what other writing opportunities are out there.

Thanks to you all; I know that regardless of where my laptop and I end up there are folks who like my writing and will stop by to read and comment. Even though I do not get out and about as much as I used to, and those of you with your own blogs will know what I mean, but as soon as the Internet issue is sorted and I learn to be more organized, I will be more visible at other blog sites. I promise.

Till then, I remain humbly overawed that there are that many people out there who like my work. I think you all are the best. Thanks and I raise my metaphorical glass to you. Cheers and all the best.

7 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

A Trophy For Little Old Me

Wordpress trophyI do love how WordPress sets these somewhat eclectic targets (for lack of a better word) which when reached by the blogger gives them an automatic trophy. The first thought that goes through my mind is ‘Wow, a trophy? For little old me?’ *By the by, a single quotation mark by some authors is meant to convey thought versus speech anyone disagree with this method? Just curious, answers on a postcard please or conversely you can tell me via the comment section below.* Anyway, as shown by the image above, I now have reached 1,337, with a “real” total of 1,339 followers on my blog.

Cue fireworks, confetti and cheering, even if it is only my hoarse voice you can hear, in wild celebration. I do celebrate these milestone events, albeit rather quietly, since these follower counts mean that slowly but surely, I am building up a core group that like my meandering messages.

Here is where I insist that you give yourself a pat on the back for having such great taste! Seriously, it does mean a lot that either some of you have come back or others have enjoyed my ramblings enough to pay me the ultimate compliment. Thanks to both types of folks and to those who fall into neither camp.

For those still “on the fence” about my writing, that is fine too. I’ve not published anything yet, but I will. In this day and age of self publishing if I cannot get picked up by a publisher when I’ve finished, I’ll do it on my own. I know this is now the norm and quite successful for some folks, like the Winner Twins who I have met, interviewed and still interact with now and then. *On a side note, two nicer young ladies you will never meet and their work is entertaining and good.*

For those who have been here for awhile, thanks for being patient. I’ve veered off the path, most notably working for the content mill and sweatshop GLV where I had no time to devote to my baby. (But I did manage to attend some geeky type cons and meet some dynamite actors and in that aspect had the time of my life.) Now I am back and casting my hook around to see what other writing opportunities are out there.

Thanks to you all; I know that regardless of where my laptop and I end up there are folks who like my writing and will stop by to read and comment. Even though I do not get out and about as much as I used to, and those of you with your own blogs will know what I mean, but as soon as the Internet issue is sorted and I learn to be more organized, I will be more visible at other blog sites. I promise.

Till then, I remain humbly overawed that there are that many people out there who like my work. I think you all are the best. Thanks and I raise my metaphorical glass to you. Cheers and all the best.

7 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith