Looking Spacey

Looking Spacey

Looking Spacey

Today’s graphic was swiped off of Facebook. Dan posted it. It shows part of the set for the Sci-Fi / Bollywood film that he is doing set design and development for at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. I must say that it is looking rather Ridley Scottish. I fully expect to see some giant bug pop out in the next frame.

Dan continues to fight LA credit card fraud. His problems elicited messages to home from the bank. Anne relayed this info to Dan, of which he was already aware. Getting Dan on the horn did elicit a few more observations. Dan seems a bit over awed at the USC film school vis-à-vis CalArts. I was reminded in Anne’s telling of Dan’s story, of a similar incident that happened here in Saint Louis, many years ago. I had taken the boys on some school or scouting outing to a large, modern, west county high school. Everything that Maplewood was not in that day. Dan was over awed by its edifice. Still, he did well in the competition. I expect that he will be able to bowl over USC too. It takes more than bricks and mortar to make a school, it takes talent too. At least he is getting paid to work in Pasadena.

Spaseship Console

Spaseship Console

Our other prodigal son, David, has been on the move too. Over Memorial Day weekend, he returned from a week’s long vacation in Costa Rica. His and his friend’s travel package put them in a different place every night, as they hopscotched from coast to coast and the mountains in between. He texted, when he first returned to the US in Atlanta, “making a beeline for some Macaw-Donalds.” He said that he had an awesome time and also took some incredible pictures. None of which we have seen here, hint, hint. For the time being though any parental hints will fall on deaf ears, because last Sunday, Dave left the country again. This time on business, he flew to Montreal for a conference.

Lake Wobegon Days

Oklahoma Windsong by Cherrie Hampton of Oklahoma City, OK, from the Paducah Quilt Show

Oklahoma Windsong by Cherrie Hampton of Oklahoma City, OK, from the Paducah Quilt Show

This was one of those news from Lake Wobegon kind of days. A day full of some good news and not so good news, but even the bad news wasn’t all that bad and kind of funny in retrospect. The big news is that we got our sump pump installed today. Now, I can hardly wait for the next rainstorm, so that I can hear it gurgle. Anne was here when it was installed and already got a demonstration of its gurgling prowess.

The other big news is that Dan is going to get paid to make a movie. This is the USC Sci-Fi / Bollywood mash-up that I had already announced he would be doing set design work for. The big difference now is that he is going to be paid for his efforts. It is the little things, like emoluments that make all the difference in life. I can now truthfully say that my son is out in LA and working in film. He said that he adopted one of Alec Baldwin’s 30 Rock negotiation techniques, the silent stare. It must have worked, because he got more than what he was originally offered. It’s not much money and it is a short job, but it’s a start.

On the not so good news front, I have been wrestling with credit card fraud this week. Our local grocery store chain, Schnucks, got really snookered. Someone, as yet unnamed, hacked their entire supermarket checkout database. Here in Saint Louis this is a big scandal, one that the other major local chain, Dierbergs, must be enjoying some schadenfreude over. Since this fraud was first announced, I’ve been monitoring our account, looking for bogus charges, so far, so good. This week the other shoe dropped, new Commerce Bank cards showed up in the mail. Our real problems began with trying to activate them. I couldn’t use the phone activation, because I always got a busy signal. This is a really big scandal! So, I went online. On the first try, I activated the new card. The next day at Schnucks the new card would not work, “Invalid PIN”. I went back online and figured out how to reset my access code. Today the card still wouldn’t work, so I went to the bank to figure things out. It turns out that the access code is not the same thing as the PIN. I finally got things straightened out, but I am still mystified why I need two secret codes. It turns out that Dan also recently got a new Commerce Bank card, because of fraud. His fraud was not Schnucks related, but instead came from France.

On the way home from the bank, I was ready to move into the left turn lane, when a car from behind me cut me off. I honked and then pulled in behind him. He turned left and I followed. He turned right and I turned right. I was still on my normal route home. At this point, he pulled over and I pulled up beside him. I rolled down my window and so did he. I gave him an earful and asked him what was he thinking? “You were driving too slowly”, he said. I really did not like his attitude, but I let it go. Arriving safely home, I related this story to Anne. She asked, “Were you driving too slowly?” I told her that I was driving as fast as the car in front of me.

Dive! Dive! Dive!

The jet stream has a giant bend in it reminiscent of the shape of a uvula. On the western side of this sharp loop the northern jet stream dives down towards the gulf, bringing with it cold Canadian air. Kansas City had snow yesterday. On the eastern side of this bent jet stream, warm moist air from the gulf is sucked northward; up the Mississippi Valley and so it is raining in Saint Louis. It began raining yesterday and is supposed to continue raining through this weekend. Last weekend was a rain-out and next weekend is forecasted to be rained out too. The plumber never made it this week to install our new basement sub-pump, so with all of this rain, a river runs through it. All of this rain means another weekend without bicycling. If the ten-day forecast holds that will make three weekends in a row that were too wet to ride.

I’m beginning to feel a little bit trapped and cornered now, which by way of a segue brings us to the photos with this post. They show portions of the exterior and interior of U-505, a WW II German U-boat that was captured intact and eventually found its way to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. How it got there is a story in of itself and a likely future blog post. Originally, it was an outside display; now it is encased in its own dry-dock like building, a much better venue.

Submarine movies are a genre of their own. Even with classics like, Das Boot, Run Silent, Run Deep and the Enemy Below, leading the pack, there are some stereotypical themes. At the beginning, there is always a newbie that has to be shown the ropes by a senior hand, sort of a father and son relationship. If eventually, the newbie dies, after an act of valor, so much the better. First the hunter, then the hunted, submarine movies always go from the haunting echoes of a sonar ping to punishing depth charge explosion scene. Somehow though, the protagonist’s sub always manages to survive. It is in the endings of this genre that the truly great distinguish themselves from the also ran’s. A great submarine movie requires a sacrifice and a newbie will not suffice. Captains die in Das Boot and Run Silent, Run Deep, while ships are lost in Enemy Below.

If not under the crushing depths of the ocean, I might as well live in Seattle, what with all of the rain that we are getting. It is just not fair. The weather is nice enough while I’m at work. I see how nice it is when I can eventually find a window. Why can’t it be nice on the weekend? I would cry, except that would just add more falling water.

Quilt Heaven

A Portion of Suzanne Marshall's Echoing Spring

A Portion of Suzanne Marshall’s Echoing Spring

At dinner last night, Anne mentioned that today would be the last day of the annual big American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah, KY. “Do you want to go”, she asked rather tentatively? “OK”, was all I said. You could have heard her jaw drop in the stunned silence that followed. So this morning, we found ourselves bouncing along various rural Illinois highways, on our way to Kentucky. We stopped for breakfast in Mount Vernon, IL. Out of the blue, she announced that when we got home, she wanted to buy the soundtrack to Sleepless in Seattle. We watched this movie together, a couple of weeks ago. While, she drove us in and out of 4G service, I downloaded it off of iTunes. We were listening to the melodious voice of Jimmy Durante, singing As Time Goes By, when we crossed the Ohio. I’m just that smooth.

We parked on the river side of the levee, the Ohio was not in flood, unlike the Mississippi at Saint Louis. Anne’s been to this quilt show many times before, well if not many, more than a few. On the few times that I accompanied her to Paducah, we had the boys of noise in tow. I would find something less crafty to do with them, while Anne did quilts. So, this was the first time that I’ve seen this mother of all quilt shows. I must say that I was impressed.

When Anne was first getting into quilting and was content with making baby quilts for all our friend’s and relative’s newborns, she joined a local quilting society called Circle in the Square. On her very first meeting, Suzanne Marshall of Clayton showed off her latest creation. It was amazing and made Anne feel a little intimidated. She was somewhat mollified later that year, when she saw that Marshall’s quilt had won a $10,000 prize at Paducah. Ms. Marshall’s entry this year also had a prize-winning ribbon on it. Suzanne wrote in the show’s catalog, “This colorful hand-quilted design was created, because the winter weather makes Suzanne hungry for spring.” Anne thought that this quilt was similar to the one that she saw lo these many years ago. 

The sexual demographics at the quilt show were certainly skewed. Us males were vastly out numbered. The convention center had converted some of the men’s restrooms to women’s to handle this disparity. I was prepared for these eventualities, but I was not prepared for getting hit-on by so many quilters. One pair of women spoke to me and then later, after I had managed to palm my jacket off on Anne to carry, remarked to me again, “You can’t disguise yourself from us by taking off your coat. We still recognize you.” On the way home, whenever Stand by Your Man from Sleepless shuffled forward, Anne had to sing-a-long with it. Heck, I was doing the best that I can.

We didn’t close the show, but it was certainly winding down when we left. Anne was able to procure the necessary quilting supplies for her forthcoming project. We toddled home in an increasing rain. The Kaskaskia was well outside its banks. Anne joked that it had gotten out of its river bed and has been sleep walking over Illinois ever since. We made this trip on less than one tank of gas.

Two Thumbs Up!

Team Kaldi's

Team Kaldi’s

It was a gorgeous day in Saint Louis, with crystal blue skies and a balmy high in the seventy’s. I ended up playing hooky from work. I took the afternoon off and bicycled in the park. I saw Mary A. who was also cycling. We’ll attend her Team Kaldi’s party later tonight. It is not an official team event. I think with a team population now at well over a hundred riders, Team Kaldi’s has grown too big for even Bill and Mary’s large house. Looking at the invitee list, I was reminded of the above photo that has been hanging in the basement for many years now. It was taken during the fall, after the very first Team Kaldi’s MS-150 bicycle ride. It is a little worse for wear, but then aren’t we all?

Since I was bicycling alone today, I listened to the radio and various podcasts. One show that I caught part of was today’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Her show today was a retrospective on Roger Ebert, the Chicago based film critic who died yesterday. She had interviewed him several times over the many years of her show. I was most struck by two stories that Ebert told. The setup for the first story was a question that Gross asked Ebert, whether he had found actors to become petulant if during an interview a less than flattering question was ever asked. Ebert explained that this phenomenon is the result of the advent of the publicist. A person whose goal it is to script every press interaction.

As counterpoint to the modern publicist, Ebert told the story of his interview with the actor, Lee Marvin. Marvin was very drunk that day. His publicist was there too, but he was preoccupied with buying more beer. Marvin’s girlfriend was there too. Marvin’s dog came out of the bedroom with a pair of ladies panties draped across its head. The girlfriend asked, “What’s that?” Marvin answered, “Your panties.” She said, “Those aren’t my panties.” To which Marvin replied, “Bad dog!”

Ebert’s other story had to do with fame and the effects that it has on one’s life. He explained that once you obtain fame, you have to be nice to everyone, the people on the elevator, the waitress, people on the street. You don’t know who they are, but they know who you are and they will tell everyone what you did.

His second story involved Michael Caine. It occurred in the sixties, when Caine was still a young man. Caine was on his first trip to America. He had heard tales of the dirty book stores in the US. The ones in Britain were rather tame by comparison. He had just obtained fame, with Alfie, so he didn’t want to be seen in such a store. Walking by the window of such a store in Times Square, he noticed that none of the store’s patrons ever made eye contact with each other. Caine realized that he could in fact walk-in to such a store unobserved. He didn’t account for the store’s proprietor, who sat up high to see all and with a microphone usually just chided his customers, “This is a store, not a reading library.” This day the loudspeaker also blared, “And we have the famous British actor, Michael Caine, in the rubber-wear room.”