Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A tale of 3 women.........& Elvis

Wouldn't you know it, just as a frisky female comes storming through my old neck of the woods, where am I?  .....holed up with beautiful weather in Memphis, TN.   Irene would have probably blown my socks off (or 'coconuts' if I were a palm tree).... That's usually not a feeling you'll soon forget.   What do hurricanes and red neck divorces have in common?  In the end someone is gonna lose a house trailer.  Ba da bump.......

Climate is what you expect.  Weather is what you get!  Officially, a hurricane is a tropical cyclone with winds exceeding 74 miles per hour and if they are big & bad enuf.....they get to have their names retired.  It's kind of like the Hurricane Hall of Fame.  Hurricanes form in the Atlantic & Pacific Americas.  Typhoons are hurricanes only in the western Pacific. Have been thru several hurricanes (2 in particular come to mind)........ Belle in '76 (ironically) & Gloria in '85!  Both significant but inconsequential as far as personal damage was concerned.  I remember quite vividly both 'eyes' passing directly overhead and that strange calm before the storm feeling.
Hurricane Belle was a real gum drop! 
My wife and I owned 2 fudge shops (Laura's) on Long Beach Island, NJ......1 in Ship Bottom.....1 in Beach Haven....... 5 miles apart.  Evacuating 100,000 people on an island 18 miles long & only 4 blocks wide, with one point on and off the island, will always be a  significant challenge for LBIers!

Hurricane Belle

Debbie & I were in Beach Haven when Belle neared.  Our daughter Dawn & niece were in Ship Bottom when evac plans started.  It took us nearly 5 hours to traverse 5 miles & Long Beach Blvd to get to Ship Bottom.  Had to eventually abandon the car (& wife) in Brant Beach' and run the rest of the way just to get to our store and the kids

At that point there was no way getting off the island .  We taped up all the windows, opened up the jealousies to relieve the pressure and waited on the impending storm.  Thank God the rest of the building was literally a concrete bunker! Time to brace for the 'parte'! There were so few of us left on the island and thankfully it all worked out!  Fun tho at the Hurricane Party later that night, via candle light at the Dolphin Restaurant.   Still remember that erie feeling, even today, going outside as the eye passed directly over us!   ......not so fond of roller coasters nor Batman-The Ride at Great Adventure but have never ever been afraid of a riding out a good cane 8-)

Hurricane Irene

In the  last 7 days the northeast has felt a 5.9 earthquake and a Category 1 hurricane....... 
Is 2012 coming early or did those religious nutz with all the billboards just miss their mark by a few months?
Thank God I'm in Memphis now...... tho I still own a home near the beach in South Jersey.  Thanks also not much damage to life & limb up north....... tho I have heard that the toll is up to 24 storm related fatalities.

The only 'cane' with catastrophic results in this Mid-South region was ironically from a storm that became commonly known as....Hurricane Elvis  It hit on July 22, 2003.....not even an actual hurricane.....just disastrous 'straight line' 100 mph winds...... it came without warning, attacking from a blue sky on an otherwise calm summer morning....much like Dec 7th    Its winds reached the level of a Category 2 hurricane but lasted for only 10 minutes in most areas  As the storm crossed the Mississippi River into Downtown Memphis, a barge recorded an unofficial wind reading of 108 mph.  A Commercial Appeal reporter happened to be driving to work that morning around 6:45am when he heard the thunderstorm warning over the radio about the 100 mph winds. Ten minutes later it came screaming in, literally as if a hurricane were passing overhead, lasting just a good 10 minutes with stuff flying everywhere and rain blowing sideways! The sun was up before it hit but became as dark as a ever a sky could after sunrise!  East Memphis looked like a war zone, I'm told, & many were without power for weeks in the Mid South July heat.  Having been here for 5 summers now, i'm quite sure that had to be quite nasty in 90 degree plus heat!  
Ironically, that storm got scant coverage in the national press...... 

One tuff Broad - Katrina a Cat 5

For news coverage you need only go back to a young lady by the name of Katrina.  I know they do name hurricanes & typhoons after guys too but why is it that the ladies always seem to wreck the most havoc!  Katrina, Camile, Gloria, Hazel, Celia, Donna, Belle...... (I think Andrew was secretly Andi!) Just sayin....

Kat formed on Aug 23 of 2005 and dissipated just 7 days later.  With winds recorded in excess of 175 mph, she caused 108 billion dollars in damage and left 1,800+ dead in her wake!   Well that's about it for this 'light hearted 'death & destruction' issue...... As I said, I'm never quite sure where this blog thing is going to take me......with this season's floods, storms & quakes, I am hopeful that I will not be writing any time soon on the movement of the New Madrid fault & the term liquafication in the same sentence! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Which way is UP?

Traveling around Memphis always seem like an adventure for me!  Hell, it took me nearly a year and a half before I felt comfortable enuf to give anyone directions but I still remember the pride I felt the first time I was able & it just happened to be to The Med (Regional Emergency Medical Center)...a good time to be able to 
Lot's of Memphis roads don't make any sense to me! Come on..... North Parkway runs east & west.  East Parkway runs north & south....WTH.  Union and Walnut Grove are the same road just named differently in different parts.  What crack head here was in charge of road nameage???  In New Jersey, the Garden State Parkway doesn't become Wildwood Ave all of sudden somewhere down the road for Pete's sake (& still, who the hell is Pete anyway???)  Interstate 40 & 240 intersect with each other and kind of become the same road.  It's easier to understand once you see them as a 'beltway' around the city but still itz complicated and don't even get me started on the Nonconnah!  I find myself using all kinds of hand gyrations, more than usual for me anyway, as I try to explain that one.  There are also areas of the city you just don't want to wander into.....no matter who you are & even if you live there!  
I've been lost in them more than a time or two.

Over the weekend I was working on my house.......power washing, gardening, mulching, etc.  I have this wonderful little garden patio & I found myself in need of new outside chairs.  I have a round glass table top out there but the chairs were really meant for indoor use.  Let's just say they had been weathered & were in 'assed-out' condition.  So, all proud of myself, I take them out to the curb, after I all I'm getting new chairs!    These chairs weren't out there 5 minutes before some old guy in a pick up truck stops and retrieves them. Some things don't change no matter where you live. I'm still out on the patio & surprised this guy doesn't knock on the door and ask "ummmm......you gots a table to go with them there chairs?" or maybe "can you give me a hand loading them there chairs into my truck?"
So now I've disposed of the old chairs and off for the new ones!  I had already checked out Lowes & Home Depot.....nada!  One place left....Garden Ridge.  GR is literally Chair City....thousands of them!  One problem is that it is about 18 miles from Harbor Town and I don't have a truck. I have a Saturn Sky convertible which has no trunk space and barely enuf room for my golf clubs.  It's like this..... Skys don't even carry a spare tire.  If you get a flat (& I have twice in Memphis) there's a one word description for it..... FLATBED. Ugh!

Off I go anyway.  I'll figure something out and I do, in fact, find some beautiful metal framed canvas chairs....2 to a box, on sale & "Easy to Assemble in only 15 minutes" too.  So now I have to get them home and in separate trips.  Maybe I should have just asked the old guy for the use of his pick-up truck......

This, I realize now, is really a BIG box (& I'm not confident enuf to take all the parts out of the box in case I need the damn box to take the damn chairs back) and itz not fitting so good......but I finally get it jammed in there with the top down & off I go down the Interstate (40 BTW)  towards home.  I can only imagine how funny looking this is driving down I-40, dumb yankee in a sports car with the top down & a BIG over sized box in the passenger seat,....which then becomes somewhat dangerous with the wind whipping around me.....so itz decision time & I make a bold move & off I-40 onto Jackson Ave....which is also dangerous.....cause now 'I drivin in the hood!'.....
I soon find myself lost in a section that I had no business being in because I decided an even 'smarter move' would be to make a right turn off of Jackson......  plowing me further into God knows where. The cops looked at me like I was crazy but didn't pull me over?? & I swear I even saw one of those Channel 5 News Choppers hovering close by waiting to see some 'action' or at least have a submission to America's Funniest Home Videos!  Just about that time I am thinking what a flat tire would mean.......(FLATBED).  I make one of those quick Hollywood turns and do what any man would do.  Head for the nearest gas station!  Turns out.....  damn Jackson does run smack dab into the Bass Pro Wonderland....I mean Pyramid!   & yeah, just like I thought it would!  Smarter than I thought all along!
Anyway, I get them over the bridge & safely home. That is where Adventure 2 begins! Putting the "Easy to Assemble' chairs together with directions you can't even read even if you had more than a pair of dollar store reading glasses & pictures that make you say HUH????....seriously. Rubik's Cube directions in Chinese must certainly be easier.  But somehow, eventually, I figured it out several beers & hours later. They do look sharp though and, hell, I somehow ended up with a few extra parts to boot......   I cut down the second chair assembly time in half and by the 4th chair I was damn near an 'expert chair assembly man'.  Assembly was never a strong suit for me anyway.....which is why I always let the ex put the Christmas toys together. One helpful hint maybe.....a hammer will not necessarily fix everything and probably is not called for if you do not see a picture of it in the directions!
                  The second trip out for the chairs wasn't nearly half as fun.

The Chairs.....Out of the Box
I am definitely going to need some help getting that garden fountain home from Lowe's tho       cause there is no way that sucker is fitting in the car.
I love adventures,
Beautiful sunsets on the Mississippi!
& Memphis in general  8-)
The yankee

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gone With The Wind.....Part Deux

There is nothing quite like it and this past weekend it happened again!
The Summer Film Series had its annual showing of Gone With The Wind at the wonderfully resplendent - Orpheum Theatre.  It is my favorite pic of all time and while there are many contenders for the top spot, nothing quite compares to the 1939 classic & in this beautiful setting before a decidedly southern audience on the Big Screen.....
The Summer Film Series is simply fabulous (with Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany's & The Firm in the lineup) and at 5 bucks a ticket.....a Bargain!

The film made box office history. It received ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Brest Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (for Hattie McDaniel - the first time a black person had been nominated & so honored) & no, Clark Gable did not win for Best Actor.  GWTW is the highest grossing film of all time (adjusted for inflation).  Costing almost 4 million to make, a tidy some back then, box office receipts for the movie, if adjusted for inflation, would make it the top grossing movie of all time; Star Wars would be the second most successful movie of all time. According to the Guinness World Records, the total gross in 2009 figures would be $3,785,107,801.  To date, over 200 million movie tickets have been sold!

Interestingly too is that author Margaret Mitchell's first choice for Rhett Butler was Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes???).  The part was later turned down by Gary Cooper and then offered to Clark Gable who really didn't want the role and saw the movie as 'a woman's picture'.  Ummmm Clark, the term now is chick flick. This southern film was shot almost entirely in Culver City, California. Tara sat on a 40 acre back lot that later became the TV set for Hogan's Heroes.  The first movie scene shot was the burning of the Atlanta Depot, filmed on December 10, 1938. If there was a major mistake during that filming, the entire project might have been scrapped. They actually burned many old sets that needed to be cleared from the studio back lot including the "Great Wall" set from King Kong.  The fire cost over $25,000, and yielded 113 minutes of footage. It was so intense that Culver City residents jammed the telephones lines, thinking MGM was burning down.
Clark Gable & Vivian Leigh had not even signed as yet and were stunted for.

OK, so there's a bit of little known (& useless) trivia on the flick unless you've got a spot coming up on Jeopardy next week.  The lore and timeless attraction make this film so special none the less.  It is historically romantic in its portrayal of so many aspects of the era....including its decidedly racist view of slavery.  Nevertheless, it gives a fascinating view of the American South of long ago and when viewed in an elegant southern theatre before a southern audience it is even more special & fascinating!
Friday night The Orpheum Theatre was packed.  I have seen GWTW 4 out my 5 years in Memphis and the locals always come out for this one.  It's interesting the wide diversity of the crowd and we even had some 'southern belles' decked out in full regalia. The house lights went down precisely at 7:15 and the Overture began to resounding applause.

Interesting too are the very distinct halves of the film.  The first part featuring the glories of the south & "We'll show them Yankees" along with, of course, Scarlett's infatuation with Ashley Wilkes and the second part with the devastation & recovery of the south, the tumultuous relationship between Rhett & Scarlett and , of course, the continuing infatuation with Ashley. Then too there is always Tara!  Sitting in the audience you can feel the mood and pulse of the crowd as it changes dramatically through the course of the 4 hour viewing.  Some things never change though....resounding applause for Rhett's final line in response to Scarlett's "But Rhett what shall I do?" -----"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"..... ironically a rather harsh curse on film back in 1939.  Even louder & sustained applause after Scarlett's final line and the credits!  No wonder in my mind that GWTW continues to endure and, I suspect, will always be my favorite movie........made even more special by the venue, my own parallels &, of course, my hometown - Memphis!
Two other small pieces of trivia:
All four principal characters appear together in the same scene only once, after the raid on Shantytown, when Rhett tells the anxious group of the fate of Scarlett's second husband, Frank Kennedy. Yes Scarlett, you are a widow once again!

The scene where Scarlett makes a dress out of a curtain was later spoofed on The Carol Burnett Show in what became one of the most memorable comedy bits in TV history. Carol Burnett as "Starlet" O'Hara wears the curtains with the rod still in them. Harvey Korman as "Rat" Butler says: "Starlet, that gown is lovely", to which she responds: "Thank you. I just saw it in the window and couldn't resist it!"  I swear most everyone in the audience thought of this spoof and laughed when Vivian Leigh pulled down the curtains to make that dress 8-)
                                   GWTW in 2 minutes & 34 seconds
                            Movie Rating: 5 Big Ass Beale Street Beers 
How do you top off a Friday night like that????  Only one way.........

As you can plainly see, there is no film critic future for me.  I am just hopeful that my passion here & for excellent customer service does not mean a different career path.........Hello! Welcome to Wal-Mart 8-)