The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Deadwood's Legacy

One of my all time favorite shows is HBO's Deadwood. It's writing, cast and direction was far and away the best ever assembled, IMHO. Unfortunately as it is with most ground breaking shows, it was ahead of it's time and didn't garner enough audience despite critical praise.

Fortunately, from it's ashes several careers took flight to the next level. Most notably Timothy Olyphant who continued his borderline law enforcement career as Sheriff Seth Bullock with his highly acclaimed role as Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens in Elmore Leonard's Justified on FX. But others have seen their careers head skyward as well.

John Hawkes who played Sol Star has landed roles in American Gangster, Winter's Bone, Lost, Contagion and Eastbound & Down.

Paula Malcomson has landed roles in ER, the short lived John from Cincinnati, Sons of Anarchy and Caprica. She was Katniss' mother in The Hunger Games (and in the upcoming sequel) and has a leading role role in the new Showtime original series Ray Donovan.

But one that really surprised me was finding out that Ray McKinnon, who turned in a fabulous performance as Reverend H.W. Smith has gone on to become the creator of the new Sundance original series Rectify.
Rectify is about a Death Row child rapist/murderer that is set free by a DNA test, but has not been exonerated of the crime. It comes from the same production company as Breaking Bad and so far is dreadfully slow paced. But they are laying a foundation episode by episode and I'm willing to give it time to spread it's wings because the storyline has so much potential.

Personally, the lead character Daniel needs to integrate into society a bit more rapidly. It's holding the show back. Use flashbacks if you need to, but move it along...

I was a fan before and I'm really a supporter of the show now that I learned it's Ray's project. Hopefully it will gain traction like Breaking Bad and be equally as entertaining and not melt into it's own subplot like John From Cincinnati.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

South40 Slim Strikes Again!

I went to Winstar World Casino last night to see Terry Fator. It was a great show and I snagged 3rd row center seats! Terry won America's Got Talent 4 years ago and hasn't looked back. He puts on a great family friendly show. If you get the chance to see him, don't pass it up.

After the show I headed over to Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" for dinner. I was less than impressed, but I didn't set a high bar for the bar. The food was passable, but overpriced as you would expect.

After eating I headed to the Poker Room and joined a $5-$10 Texas Hold 'em game with $400. The cards were ugly for about 30 minutes before I decided to make lemonade. I bluffed 2 hands in a row and was playing it cool. 1 guy got upset when I mucked my hand after he folded. I told him he didn't pay to see them and that didn't set well with him.

The next hand I got pocket Kings and the flop was King, Ace, Jack. The turn was another Jack and the River was a 7. I was sitting on a Full House and went all in for $750. The pot was around $500. The guy that I had just beat called. He had 2 pair, Aces and Jacks.

He paid to see them this time... Read 'em and weep. Full boat, Kings over Jacks.

I tipped the dealer, stood up from the table and headed for the cashier. That guy REALLY doesn't like me now.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Do you believe in miracles?"

Earlier this week I told you about Al Michaels getting arrested for DUI. As always he was classy about it and I expect a commensurate punishment. Not because of his celebrity status, but because of his demeanor.

It was a pure coincidence that Stars had Miracle scheduled for this weekend that features his historic play by play call. It's the theatrical version starring Kurt Russell as Coach Herb Brooks (there was an ABC Movie of the Week starring Karl Malden) of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team and their underdog victory against the USSR. Not many people remember that it was not the Gold medal game, but an elimination round.

It didn't matter.

That was such an iconic moment for our country. We were going thru a very rough patch with the economy and the Iran hostage crisis, gas shortages and the Soviets invading Afghanistan. But a simple game of hockey would forever change our national morale. The chant of "USA, USA, USA!" started there and will forever be heard in times of victory.

They were a bunch of kids thrown together to play a kid's game on ice against hardened professionals who'd trained together for 10 years. David vs Goliath. Great moments are born with great opportunity.

Sometimes miracles do happen.

I also was pleasantly surprised to notice Noah Emmerich as Assistant Coach Craig Patrick. He's currently playing FBI Special Agent Stan Beeman on The Americans. I knew I recognized him from somewhere.

If you haven't seen Miracle, I highly recommend it. If you have seen it, I highly recommend watching it again. This is simply a great story and a great performance by an ensemble cast. The best part is it's a true story.

I love this film and I don't even like hockey. But that's not the point. Watch it and you'll understand. I challenge you not get choked up. It was a lot more than a hockey game.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Get Outa The Way!

I'm not the greatest Ornithologist but I'm pretty sure this is a Peregrine that was defiantly blocking my path while I was plowing today. He's hard to see because it's a bad cellphone pic, but he's in the upper left about 10 feet in front of me giving me a "Go To Hell" look.. It started out with one, but before the day was done there were more than a dozen that were looking for an unearthed meal and were equally as surly.

It was an impressive sight and I wish there were better pictures, but I had shit to do and time was wasting.

I plowed 40 acres of The South40 yesterday with a tandem disc (Don't to the math because it won't add up) and replowed 60 acres today with a tandem disc and a roller today after we put out fertilizer. (See? I told you!) But the Peregrine decided to dine on the newly served worms, bugs and other subterranean delicacies today and were very defiant in giving up their turf when I drove past.

2lb Bird vs 4 Ton V8 Massey Ferguson diesel. You know who won that battle, but the birds were beautiful. Their defiant attitude was actually an inspiration to me and I wound up with Tom Petty stuck in my head for the rest of the day which in it's self isn't such a bad thing, especially when you don't have a radio in the tractor.

I also went thru a selection of John Phillip Sousa marches in my head, but he doesn't have any hip videos. Being in the World's Largest Non-Nuclear Coast Guard Marching Band will do that to ya.

After finishing up with the plowing I had more STD (Shit To Do) on the agenda. Last week I sent the FICM (Fuel Injection Control Module) on my F-350 off to get repaired and upgraded by Ed at Ed is the hands down #1 guy to repair your 6.0 Powerstroke FICM. There are many who do the same work, but none of them get the praise Ed does from his customers. Not even close. It came in today's mail and I needed to re-install it to be ready for a trip tomorrow.

After several scarred knuckles, which come way too easy now that I take blood thinners, I managed to get everything plugged back in and secured. Hit the key and it busted right off just like it was supposed to. (Thank you, Baby Jesus!)

There are 2 computers on a Powerstroke and the FICM is the computer that control the fuel injection system on Powerstroke engines. The other computer controls the rest of the engine and the transmission. I've already upgraded that computer, this was the final seasoning to the entree. Now I should have more power when I need it, easier starts and an increase of 3-5mpg in fuel mileage if I can keep my foot off the throttle.

It's a bunch of technical gobbledygook, but it acts like an afterburner on a jet and adds more fuel after the combustion has occurred in the cylinder. Basically throwing fuel on the fire. End result is faster throttle response and (if you keep your foot out of it) increased fuel mileage.

We'll see. I have a run to Louisiana tomorrow and I'll compare this trip vs previous ones to see if it was worth the extra $140 for the FICM tune. But initial results show a tendency of the rear dual wheels breaking loose at any time I desire. Kinda cool seeing a dually leave a long burnout from the stop sign without really trying.

So much for that increased MPG...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

New Season of Celebrity Rehab in the Works?

If there's not, maybe Dr.Drew should rethink it. This weekend legendary sportscaster Al (Do you believe in miracles?) Michaels was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint in Santa Monica, blew a .08 on the ol' breatharooskie and was arrested for DUI. He also blew a .09 on his second chance. Sorry Al, no miracles today. But the authorities said you were very cordial.

Then on the other hand we have Reese (Do you know who I am?) Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth. They were pulled over early Friday morning in Atlanta after allegedly weaving in and out of traffic. While they were arresting her husband (who wound up blowing a .139), Lil' Miss Witherspoon got out of the car and apparently had a few herself. She started harrassing the police and played the celebrity card. "Do you know who I am? You're about to find out who I am ... You are going to be on national news."

It backfired on her. After being told to get back in the car and stay there, she got out of the car again and was rewarded with some new bracelets.
Well she was 1/2 right. Somebody was going to be on national news. That's 1 DUI with a side of Disorderly Conduct and a room for 2 at the Crossbar Hotel... a/k/a The Whiskey Tango special.

I'm really disappointed in Reese. I always thought she was a down to earth kinda actress. But it just proves you can take the girl outa Tennessee, but you can't take the Tennessee outa the girl.

Now the big question is who will complete the coveted Impared Celebrity Trifecta? Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan are not eligible. They are professionals and this is strictly an amateur competition.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

WTF Were You Thinking?

Just a question for the terrorists that attacked the Boston Marathon. As of now we don't know who you are. But I want to know WTF were you thinking?

First you attack the point with the most trained and concentrated medical personnel on the course. Response was swift and effective.

Second you attacked Boston. Have you ever been to Boston? The last people you want pissed off at you is a bunch of Southies. You also attacked them on a holiday. They don't take it kindly when you screw up their day off.

Obviously you didn't think this out. Now you have a bunch of wicked pissed Southies that want payback and the rest of their American brothers have their back.

WTF were you thinking?

Friday, April 12, 2013

RIP Jonathan Winters

Until Robin Williams came along nobody could make me laugh harder than Jonathan Winters. I remember watching his old TV show where he would just wander around a room full of props and ad-lib his way thru the whole show. He was a genius at improvisation and had me literally rolling on the floor convulsing in laughter.

You never knew what he was going to do or say, but you knew it was going to be funny.

He didn't tiptoe a fine line between genius and insanity, he drove a Mack truck thru it blindfolded at ramming speed.

RIP, Johnathan. You will be missed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shaving Yourself Is For Suckers!

I recently became a fan of Community. I'm late to the game on this one, but it's a great show. A recent episode featured Jeff (Joel McHale) spending time with Pierce (Chevy Chase) whom he can't stand, but needed to keep away from the study group.

Pierce takes him to Silvio's Barber Shop and introduces him to the lost art of the straight razor. Check it out above. I skipped ahead to the pertinent part. It's a great episode and it really hit home with me. I'd never had a straight shave in my life. I'm an old school kinda guy and that just didn't sit well with me.

I'd already invested in new suits, tailored shirts and Italian shoes. But I hadn't invested a penny in what would be displaying them. I did a search on Yelp and found the #1 Barber in Las Vegas by far was Elliot & Co. I arrived a bit before noon on Saturday and walked in with no appointment. Normally that would have been the worst possible time, but Elliot had a no-show for 11:45 and had the rest of the afternoon off because his Father was in town.

When he asked me what I wanted I told him, "I'm the canvas, you're the artist."

He proceeded to give me the Ultimate Series (Signature Cut/Ultimate Shave/Beard & Moustache trim). The hot towels were borderline hot as I could stand, but they worked their magic. After a few minutes a hot lather and Johnny Cutthroat went to work.

A straight shave is a unique experience and a lost art for men. But Elliott Chester is the undisputed King. He's also very dedicated in helping young barbers and reestablishing the men's barber experience. He teaches classes after work at regional barber colleges.

Elliott is a genuinely nice guy that is dedicated to his craft. He's also originally from Tyler which brought up Earl Campbell. We had much to talk about and I promised to send him some of Earl's Hot Links. He also got a kick out of my explaining the inspiration from watching Community. He'd never heard of it but loved the premise of the skit.

After the shave he applied a mud mask and more hot towels, then shampoo and cut.

Somehow he managed to make my grizzly old mug attractive. I got several compliments that night and I owed it all to Elliott & Co. The man is truly an artist.

Bottom line is guys, it's time for men to take back the Barber Shop. No more Supercuts or hair salons. We're men and we deserve a manly experience. Put a straight razor to my jugular and make me like it!

Shaving yourself is for suckers!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Photo Beatdown

I promised you'd get hammered with vacation pics and here they are. I broke them into 3 sets. Please click on the full screen option for the first two. The small version just does not do justice to the natural beauty before your eyes. My photo skills are lacking as well, but I tried my best to capture what nature had created.

First up is the Petrified Forest/Route 66/Meteor Crater and it's pretty long. I had all day to wander about the park and it's very auto friendly. I also became mesmerized by the wood and it's beauty. It had been thru an incredible journey starting as an equatorial rain forest. After floods, volcanic eruptions, continental drift and millions of years it wound up where it is today.

The second slideshow is the Grand Canyon. This set is much shorter for 2 reasons. I only had 3 hours to explore and it was all hiking along the canyon rim. I simply forgot to shoot more (I thought I had taken tons) because I was sucking some serious wind along the steep trail trying to hurry and make it back to the train on time.

The Visitor Center has some amazing presentations including a 3-D globe screen theater and a full screen theater. Both are not to be missed. They also have free shuttle buses to transport visitors throughout the park.

This final set is very short and were taken with my phone, but I wanted to share a bit of the best meal I've ever had in my life. Choosing Roy's on Flamingo for my Birthday dinner was an excellent decision. The Hawaiian fusion cuisine is out of this world. The staff was the best I've experienced as well. As the maĆ®tre d' showed me to my seat a passing staff member that came from the other side of the restaurant casually greeted me by name as if I was a returning long time customer. She had never laid eyes on me before in her life. I was taken aback and thought that was a very nice touch. It set the tone for the evening.

I started with a vodka martini to clean my palate, then was treated to complimentary a sushi appetizer that I did not understand the name of and some edamame. Both were simply delicious. I ordered the crunchy golden lobster potstickers with togarashi misu butter sauce as my appetizer. Out of this world! I even managed to use my chopsticks without sending food flying thru the air or into my lap. I was quite proud of myself for accomplishing that. It was here I suddenly realized I needed to take some pics of this wonderful meal.

Next was the Lilikoi pear salad with candied macadamia nuts, smoked gouda cheese and Asian pears. The flavors that came together in that salad were magic. My main course was the Polenta dusted U-10 scallops served on a bed of mushroom risotto. This was the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. The scallops were huge and perfectly cooked. The first bite was sheer ecstasy. I chose a glass of Caymus Conundrum to go with this and it was a perfect pairing. I never knew food could taste this good.

For dessert I had a moist, delicious, fresh baked chocolate souffle' with homemade vanilla ice cream. To cap the meal off, a glass of 18 year old Macallan scotch.

Yeah, I went for the full Anthony Bourdain treatment and I don't regret it one bit. It was a foodie paradise.

Much to my surprise I learned Roy's has a location in Plano at 2840 Dallas Parkway. I will be visiting them and I highly recommend you do so as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

They Call The Wind Maria

How do you like the slight breeze today? I'm not being sarcastic. This is NOTHING to what it was like across Arizona, New Mexico and The Panhandle.

I-40 was closed from Twin Arrows to Winslow because of the wind. They reopened the road after winds dropped below 60mph. When it was behind you it made for great fuel mileage, but when it suddenly shifted or the road curved it made for some intense moments. Visability went from miles to nearly Zero and back again in seconds as the waves of dust, tumbleweed, rocks and airborne small animals crossed the Interstate.

During the Zero portion you are trying desperately to hold a straight line and not drift off the road. You also do not want to suddenly slow down driving thru it because the guy behind you is driving 75+mph and is pissed off because he had to sit on the side of the road for hours. We all know how physics work.

In case you haven't guessed I didn't stay for Rickles and blew off The Rockies because of the winter storm. I also managed to go thru Albuquerque after dark (Thanks, AZDOT!) so no Breaking Bad photo spread. But be prepared because the photosplosion is a comin'.

Stay tuned...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mike & Teller

What a nice guy.... Hey! Where's my wallet?

Saturday, April 6, 2013


This was the first song on the radio as I hit the road. It must be in high rotation on XM Classic Vinyl because I've heard it every day of the roadtrip. It's apropos.

Friday, April 5, 2013

All Aboard!

I had a great time at the Grand Canyon and taking the train was a perfect way to go. Well, almost perfect. It is expensive as all get out and they feel a need to have the staff become performers to justify the $150 price tag. I could have done without the constant bad jokes over the intercom, but the view riding in the dome car was pretty damned cool and the musical performers were good.

Aforementioned cool view
One thing about taking the train is you have a short 3 hour window to explore unless you plan on staying overnight. It only makes 1 run a day and they run on schedule, with or without you. Miss the train and it's a $170 cab ride back to Williams, AZ.

 The train does not run thru the Grand Canyon, it follows the old Santa Fe line to Grand Canyon Village. It's a short (but steep) hike up to the Rim Trail. From there you are treated to a fantastic panorama and walking tour with your cell phone. I thought that was a great idea and it was free.

Notice the tiny bronze markers in the pavement. 
Each one marks 1 Million years in the Canyon's history.

The only view of the Colorado River from the trail. 
(It's in the center of the pic)

After returning to Williams, I pushed Westward and decided to stay in at Aquarius in Laughlin, NV. To my surprise it's a sister property to Stratosphere and I was able to get a great deal on a room. 2 nights for less than the cost of 1 night in Williams and about 40% cheaper than a room in Kingman. It's a much nicer property to boot. There just happens to be a vintage airshow going on here this weekend. Win/win.

I've got hundreds more Grand Canyon pics, but I'll wait until I get home and can post from my PC. These wireless hotel connections aren't the best and I don't have all my photo editing software on this laptop. That would have been something fairly important to check before I left the house.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Arizona, Take off your rainbow shades

Well plans got rearranged  I left home later than planned and hit Albuquerque after sundown. Not the best time to be taking pics. So possibly we'll do the Breaking Bad tour on the way back. Yeah, it's a limited appeal thing, but I think die hard Los Pollos Hermanos fans will dig it.

Instead I pushed thru to Grants, NM and spent the night. That set me up perfectly to spend all day at Petrified Forest National Park, which was a very good thing. It's a tiny National Park as National Parks go, but very high quality. Nature only took about 225 Million years to turn a equatorial rainforest into a southwestern US masterpiece.

The park was much (I mean about 20 times as much) busier than I expected and the majority of visitors seemed to be from Germany, Norway or some Scandinavian/European country that doesn't "speaky the English". But, they were extremely friendly. There was actually a crowd at most of the pull outs along the 26 mile drive and I had to sit and let a few waves go past just so I wouldn't be jammed among the masses trying to get a good photo angle and wind up like Veronica Corningstone at the San Diego Zoo.

Watch "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" if you don't get the reference.

To be honest I was happy to wait. Did my heart good to know people traveled half way around the world to look at one of our National Treasures.
The Painted Desert 
The remains of Route 66

After spending most of the day there I cruised a few remaining sections of Route 66 including Winslow, AZ. I didn't see "the girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford" but I did see the famous Wigwam Motel and the actual 'Mater.

Next a quick haulass down I-40 to Meteor Crater before they closed. Note to Chevrolet, the Z-06 Corvette will not outrun a C300 Mercedes. At least he wasn't trying very hard to anyway. Pretty sure if we pushed it to top end he would have smoked me, but under 140 I was a huge PITA to the Chevy.

Sorry no pics of that, I was a tad busy.

The previous paragraphs may or may not have actually happened and can not be used a evidence in a court of law unless you have dashcam footage. But I do have a pic of Meteor Crater which is the result of a... wait for it... meteor impact. It's over 4000 feet from rim to rim and over 500 feet deep.

In other words a big ass hole in the ground and they have the scientific evidence to prove it!
Scientific proof of meteor impact
Actual big ass hole in the ground

After Meteor Crater I decided to bail out at Williams, AZ for the night. Tomorrow I'll be killing 2 Bucket List items at the same time. I'm taking the Grand Canyon Railway to... wait for it... The Grand Canyon. I've always wanted to take a train trip and while this is a short ride, it does qualify. I've also never been to the Grand Canyon before, ergo 2 birds in 1 very overpriced stone.

I'll have more pics after I get to a hotel that doesn't have wireless slower than the time it took to create the Petrified Forest. Unless the antique train falls into the Grand Canyon and kills us all.

Stay tuned...