The Lions and the Ball a story in pictures

Marvin the Lion found a ball.

Lions with ball-5477

Hey, guys check out this cool ball I found!

Donny likes balls

Lions with ball-5497

Hey Marvin can I see your ball?

No, Donny, it is mine see I am licking it, so it is mine.

But I want to… OOPS!

Lions with ball-5501

Damnit, Donny, it got away!  this is all your fault!

Gosh, I am sorry Marvin I will go get it for you.

You better go get it, Donny!

Hey, Donny watchu do’n?

Lions with ball-5513

Oh hi, Bob!

I am looking for Marvin’s ball.  Have you seen it?

I think I saw a ball over there.

Thanks, Bob!

Lions with ball-5520

Oh, look a ball.  I bet this is Marvin’s ball.

Donny, have you found my ball yet?

No, Marvin, I have not seen your ball!

Lions with ball-5522

It is my ball now.

Oh, Hi Bob!

Is that Marvin’s ball?


Lions with ball-5535

Donny, you better give it back to Marvin.

No, it is my ball now!

Donny, I can see you, and I know you have my ball! Get up here with it!

Lions with ball-5577

No, Marvin, this is my ball,  I have no idea where yours is.

Donny, you have 5 seconds to bring my ball back or…

Screw it I am kicking your ass Donny!

Lions with ball-5589

OW OW hey Marvin stop your ball is over there. Leave me alone!

That’s right my ball! not yours!

Stupid ball anyway!

Lions with ball-5632

Hey Bob!  Hey Roy!  check out what I can do?

Donny, you are an idiot!








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Film Scores

Film is always seen as a visual medium but that is only half of the story.  There has never been a silent movie.  Every film has been accompanied by music of some sort, small orchestras, piano, or organs ranging from simple to massive.  The images flickering on the screen have always been accompanied by music and therefore that music is an essential aspect of film.

Barton Organ

Barton Theatre Pipe Organ that was in the Redford when it opened in Detroit 1928.

I am not a student of music by any means.  I took a one-semester class in music appreciation.  Although the course was more than just appreciating music there was no in-depth study.  I also played the saxophone for two years in elementary school band.   Only 2 because even when I was young repeated renditions of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater and Ode to Joy became tiresome, I already wanted to play the music of John Williams.

Yes like everyone growing up in the 70’s Star Wars was a life-changing event.  A seismic shift in my and the lives of my friends.  Star Wars this and Star Wars that.  Many of my friends had all the action figures and playsets.  I did not have any of those, but I did have one item that none of my friends were able to acquire. I had the film score on 8-track tape of all things.  Really can’t get any more 70’s than that.

star wars 8-track

I came into possession of the Star Wars score by accident and retained that tape by force of sheer will.  My mother was a member of the Columbia House Music Club.  The club would send out order forms once a month and members would make selections to get discounted music.  The catch and there was always a catch, was that Columbia House would have a monthly selection and if that selection was not rejected the music was sent to your home.  One month that selection was the Star Wars score and my mother forgot to unselect it.

My mother desperately wanted to send it back and even though I was only 7 stood firm.  I want this, I need this in my life and no one was taking it away from me.  Like any other child, I played that tape incessantly.  My friends would put down their toys and listen with me.  I had something all my friends did NOT have.  To her credit, my mother did not protest too strongly and did not try to take that tape from me.

Of all the cues on that score the one that caught my attention more than any other was Binary Sunset.  I cannot explain why but it touched me, created emotions of wonder and hope.  Nearly 40 years later it is my favorite piece of music ever written.  I never put away my childish obsession but I nurtured it I let it grow.  I never watched a movie the same again, I now listen as well.


In the intervening years, I came to appreciate film scores.  My friends could name off bands on the radio, I could name film composers.  Williams, Goldsmith, Barry, and Bernstein.  Later I added Horner, Elfman, Silvestri, Vangelis, and so many others to my favorites.

For film scores, I am no expert or scholar I am an enthusiast, a fan.  I like what I like and I make no apologies for that.


John Williams conducting the London Symphony scoring Star Wars

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Alien Covenant, great Sci-Fi bad Alien



Alien Covenant would be a great stand-alone sci-fi film.  It is a beautifully detailed romp through space in the vein of Alien, Bladerunner, and The Martian, that only Ridley Scott can deliver.  The movie is fast paced and action packed, almost frenetically so.  Unfortunately, Covenant has to rely on Alien and even worse Prometheus and that is where this film stumbles.

I enjoyed this film much more than Prometheus.  Covenant is visually and technically stunning as I have come to expect from Scott.  The acting was good, the plot and characters were stable.  This film like many other recent Alien films, violates its own cannon, mainly in Alien gestation time.  In the original Alien series, gestation took a day or two.  Now it seems to take hours to minutes from contact to deadly alien punching its way out of some hapless human. This bothers me and maybe I am just being nit-picky.

I found the music most fun.  I loved the heavy use of Goldsmith’s original score.


Spoilers – Spoilers – Spoilers – Spoilers  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The movie is good, not great and the problem is that the poisonous vines of Prometheus strangle this film.  I have nothing against Fassbender and I like him as Walter not so much as David who really does turn out to be the dark heart of this film.  You see David wants to create life.  And David will sacrifice anything, even an entire planet’s fauna, to fulfill his need to create a “perfect organism”.

When the crew of the Covenant is repairing damage to the ship they receive a random transmission from Elizabeth Shaw, the last human survivor of the Prometheus expedition, they locate the transmission source. A planet that appears to be a perfect candidate for colonization. The destination of the Covenant is 7 years away and this new planet is only a month or two distant.  The crew decides to investigate the transmission and hey that planet is not 7 years out.  BONUS!!!!


I need to state that the transmission is not a cry for help, just Shaw singing a few bars of Country Road, by John Denver.  The Covenant arrives at the planet and they immediately send down a shuttle. Side rant here,  Starship crews never spend any time studying a new planet.  It seems that many interplanetary missions would be saved just by spending a week or so scanning and studying from the ship rather than everyone jumping on the short bus and taking a field trip as soon as they hit orbit. To specifically target Covenant, in this case, wait for the damn ion infused hurricane to dissipate before sending down the landing party!!!!

Alien shuttle

So the shuttle lands, in the storm.  8 miles from the transmission source.  They set out splish-splash through the wet,  2 members of the landing party are infected, by spores. An hour or two later they get sick and proto-aliens force their way out of them.  The shuttle craft is destroyed in the process of attempting to kill the aliens.

Remember the Ion storm mentioned above?  yea they cannot contact Covenant.  It does not seem to matter much since the Covenant is or well was equipped with a single shuttlecraft, more on this later.

A dark and stormy night falls upon the survivors of the landing party.  There are also two proto/neo Aliens on the hunt.  After losing a few more members of the party David shows up with a flare gun and well, scares the aliens away.  He leads the survivors to a city built by the engineers from Prometheus.  the engineers are dead from some apocalyptic event and their bodies are scattered all over the city.

David has a bonding session with Walter, the android assigned to the Covenant.  David declares himself superior to Walter because he has the ability and drive to “create”  Walter learns the horrifying truth that David purposely killed Dr. Shaw and every animal on the planet to create various forms of the Alien.  Right before the android fight David ominously states that he needs just one more ingredient to perfect his lifeform.


During this time the survivors of the landing party were able to get a few scraps of information through the ion storm to the Covenant and request assistance.  As mentioned before there was only one shuttle craft and it is now a smoking ruin on the surface.  There is, however, a construction platform that is fragile but they decide it is an only option to retrieve the party.

David defeats Walter in the android fight and leads Oran, the acting captain of the Covenant deep into caves under the city.  Inside the cave are the familiar eggs and David convinces Oran to “take a closer look, they are harmless”  Of course the party favor goes off.

Hey, the construction platform has arrived.  YAY!  but wait, where is Captain Oran?  He is found dead, his chest exploded, remember that gestation period thing I mentioned earlier.  there is also another facehugger loose in the cave.  The facehugger nearly gets another crew member, Lupe but it is killed moments after attaching itself.  Lope gets a good splash of acid on his face but is otherwise fine.

Walter appears and takes out David, claiming that David may have been first but Walter has upgrades.

Everyone scrambles onto the construction platform, including the Alien birthed from Oran.  An epic fight ensues with the “fragile” construction platform crashing into the ground a few times and even taking off the head of a stone statue.  I think someone needs to look up the definition of the word fragile.  The Alien is killed and the survivors make it up to Covenant.

Alien on construction platform

Lope is put in the medical bay to repair the damage done to his face. After he is stabilized everyone goes about mourning the loss of their crew members and getting ready for the long 7-year voyage to their original destination.  Mother, the ships’ computer calmly informs everyone that there is an unidentified life form on the ship.  Lope is found dead in the medical bay.  It seems that Aliens are pretty quick in all aspects of their lives. wink wink, nudge nudge.

Alien goes on killing spree, remaining crew kills Alien by wait for it, shoving it out the airlock, yawn.  Two crew members and Walter are left, as they go back into hibernation it is revealed that Walter is actually David.  David places two embryonic facehuggers in with the human embryos. The Covenant continues on its mission to colonize a planet.

I despise this creation story. The Alien is not a biological weapon that raged out of control but a calculated experiment performed by a psychotic android.  What a letdown.  In the end, I feel pretty MEH about this film.  It certainly did not piss me off as much as Prometheus but it is not nearly the caliber of film as Alien or Aliens.  Not as bad as Prometheus or Alien Resurrection.

Another side note, what was up with Oran’s Christian Persecution Complex?  Oran whines “The crew distrusts me because I am a believer and not scientific”  Oran is the only one who mentions this fact. and the distrust comes not from Oran’s beliefs but his ineffective and indecisive leadership.  This could be an artifact left over from an undeveloped or removed plot line.  Belief was a major plot line in Prometheus and I blame the previous film for the infection here in Covenant.

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Refugees and Humanity

Today I found this image on my Face Book time line.

so wrong

This is in response to the current hot political topic of the day regarding the ever growing Syrian refugee crisis.  It is also collides with the fast approaching American Thanksgiving holiday.

Every American knows the Thanksgiving story.

A small ragtag group fleeing religious persecution in Europe embark on a long and dangerous journey in hopes of  creating a better life for themselves and their families.  They are leaving their homes, their people, everything they, understand, and find familiar.

After months of traveling the ocean in and old barely seaworthy craft they landed upon an alien shore.

mayflower (1)

The refugees did not land in empty territory.  People already lived there.  They had their own families, their own language, culture and tradition.  The new arrivals were ignorant of the current occupants of their new land.

The Wampanoag people were quite familiar with the new arrivals for they were not the first people from Europe.  At the time the Wampanoag were recovering from a dreadful plague that had wiped out fully 90% of their population the year before.  Even with the knowledge of the temperament of the new arrivals and the origins of the sickness that had caused so much death there was room and the Wampanoag gave the refugees land to build a new life.

The new arrivals were far from the first.  Merchant and fishing vessels traveled the coast quite frequently and from time to time captured slaves.  Once such slave was named Tisquantum.  He was captured and sold into slavery in Spain.  It took him 5 years to return home only to find most of his people dead by disease.  Most people know him as Squanto.


Even though he had been captured, transported half way across the world, sold into slavery only to escape and spend years getting home.  He and the rest of his nation looked upon the refugees with feeling and compassion. Squanto stayed in the new settlement, he gave instructions on how to grow local crops and served as translator between the new settlement of Plymouth and the Wampanoag nation.

The Wampanoag had every reason and every right to tell the Pilgrims to move on.  They had every right to tell them, no you can’t come here or stay here.  They had no reason to trust the new arrivals and in hindsight they should not have granted the pilgrims anything.

But the Wampanoag did give them land, and food, and assistance even knowing it was not in their best interest.  They provided because helping those in need is the right thing, the human thing to do.  It did not matter to the Wampanoag that the new arrivals did not speak their language, did not pray to their gods, wore strange clothing, and had different behaviors.  It mattered that the new people were lost, tired, sick, and searching for safety and comfort.  The Wampanoag did the right thing.  They did the human thing.

America can be kind.  America can be more like the Wampanoag and hundreds of other Native Nations that had compassion for their fellow humans.  Or we can be more like Trump and turn our backs to those in the most need of comfort and safety.  We can make the world a better place.  We can care for other humans even if they are not us.  It is the right thing to do.  The human thing to do.

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Are you Aware of Breast Cancer?


If you are a football fan you may have noticed that your favorite players were sporting flashes of pink. Pink shoes, pink gloves, pink arm bands and pink towels. Every October is breast cancer awareness month. It is also a time where people post short comments on Facebook and if you respond they demand that you also post some short innocuous comments to get your friends to comment and it spreads like a virus. Sure it is fun and harmless breast cancer is something that needs awareness. I have been quite aware of breast cancer on a daily basis since my wife was diagnosed 3 years ago. She is a survivor and I think breast cancer awareness should be more than pink items on a football players and Facebook games for 31 days out of the year.

Life is not fair, and if you or your loved one is handed a backstage pass to the “Life is Not Fair” world tour that is performing in your home and life by your doctor there is a range of emotions. First, scream, cry, throw a fit, throw some plates, break things if you need to, also have that triple chocolate explosion for dinner. Jonette was mortified when diagnosed, at the end of the fear, crying, and breaking things phase her second reaction was “Nobody must know.” It is a justifiable thought, on the surface. If you have been diagnosed soon you will learn that there is a vast team of people standing by ready to help wage the upcoming battle. If your loved one was diagnosed, let them cry, let them rage, be there for them. It will be uncomfortable but you were also handed a back stage pass and you will take that journey alongside the one you love.

The backstage pass is not transferable, you can’t hand it to someone else. So what do you do with it? Well you share it.

This is the cliff notes version of one couple’s experiences at the Life is Not Fair world tour sponsored by breast cancer.

Step one, speak up. Ask your doctor, ask your friends, for the best oncologist in your area. It will not take long for a name or if you are lucky a handful of names to rise to the top of the list. Contact the chosen oncologist. Your oncologist will be your coach, your general, your cheer leader through the fight. The oncologist job is to not only diagnose but also put together and arrange the team of specialists, surgeons, and dieticians that will fight alongside you. A good oncologist will plan and schedule everything that will need to be accomplished for the next year or so. If your loved one is fighting this fight stand by them, take them to the first meeting and every subsequent appointment. Your next best friend is a recorder of some type. Every meeting with the oncologist, doctors, surgeons will come with massive amounts of information. It is perfectly ok to tape every encounter and good healthcare professionals will encourage you to tape them. At the same time start a binder put every bill, every correspondence into that binder, when that first binder fills up, start a second. Arrange them by date and type. Help your loved one by recording and organizing the massive rainforest killing mountain of paperwork that will be flooding into your life.

Step 2, trust. Trust your oncologist, trust your doctors. This is no time to rail against the Cancer Industry. Average survivor rates of breast cancer is between 80 to 90% so if caught early the odds are actually in your favor and the reason for that is the dedicated people working to combat the disease. The attack will include some or all of the following, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, diet and medication adjustments, also prayer and or belief. If your cancer is not aggressively treated with ALL of what is listed your chances of survival are pretty much nil. I am not going to lie to you surgery, chemo and radiation suck, but all of it together are better than the alternative. Diet, medication adjustments, and prayer will help make the pervious tools just a bit more bearable.

As a cancer patient follow the course set out by your oncologist.

If you are spouse, family member, or friend your job is to provide support. Do this by standing strong with your loved one. Provide transportation to any appointments or support groups. During chemo stay with your loved one, provide support, love, and encouragement. Between appointments and infusions, cook meals, clean house, do yardwork, watch and care for the children the patient will need all of their time and energy to actively fight the cancer. Any tasks or responsibilities that you can take off their shoulders will be greatly appreciated. Don’t ask, offer, and if you need to INSIST on providing as much help as possible. The other job is to listen with compassion and understanding.

No one survives a cancer diagnosis alone. Take advantage of the system, it is there to save you. Access and use support groups if necessary. As a side note Jonette hated the cancer support groups and refused to go, even in this I supported her decision. There are many groups and foundations that can assist with paying for medications and treatment. Google them and use them if you need. There are tens of thousands of people out there whom you and your loved one will never meet who are working hard day in and day out to beat breast cancer and do everything they can to ensure that there are as many survivors as possible.

Two more things, celebrate the wins, and if you can find the humor in your struggle embrace it. Jonette loves her “of course they are fake, my real ones tried to kill me!” shirt.


I would like to thank

Denver Broncos

Randall Patrick Munroe creator of XKCD and his heroic wife

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Spectacular Destruction

I have been watching the trailers and other footage of the soon to be released San Andreas and although the disaster scenes appear fantastic something seems off. Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are widely panning the film for the exact reasons I was fearing. The reviews are pretty consistent across the board that San Andreas is nothing more than disaster porn, no real plot and sadly no real characters or writing. That is fine if a viewer wishes to watch LA and San Francisco get demolished, again. Those two cities are 2 of 3 targets for disaster, the third being New York, I guess we could throw Washington DC in the mix and make it a nice round number. Back in the day disaster films were not about mass destruction, let me explain.


In 1972 Irwin Allen produced the Poseidon Adventure, a taught thriller about a small group of survivors trapped in a capsized luxury liner. The group struggles to escape an increasingly dangerous situation. This is Hollywood and there’s got to be a morning after, the audience just did not know which of the ragtag group would see that morning. The survivors struggle to overcome themselves and their violently overturned world. Steam, fire, water, and explosions were not nearly as dangerous as the group’s clashing personalities. The story is tight, the characters compelling and even 43 years later the film is just as good today. The ship was simply a set piece used to trigger deeper conflicts. If you have not seen Poseidon Adventure or it has been a few years, give it a watch for the movie is a true classic and a flawless gem of the genera and the first of the disaster trinity. The Poseidon Adventure was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won for best original song.



Irwin Allen sealed his title of master of disaster by producing 1974’s The Towering Inferno. Not only was the film a mix of two novels, The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N Scortia and Frank M Robinson it was produced by Fox and Warner. Two stories, two competing film companies and two competing lead actors surrounded by an all-star cast created a flaming, 4 hour, 135 floor masterpiece. Unlike the simplicity of Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno was an elegant tapestry of compelling characters and storylines. The flaming spire and the topsy-turvy Poseidon were just containers framing very human drama. Watching Steve McQueen and Paul Newman chew the scenery from both ends is a joy to watch and yet they do not overshadow the other characters. The Towering Inferno is and has been an absolute favorite movie of mine and with 8 Academy nominations and taking home 3.


Earthquake is the 3rd and final installment of the disaster trilogy. The producers attempted to use the dramatic formula of Poseidon and Inferno. The human element is in place but the massive destruction has taken a larger roll. Earthquake is the tipping point from human centered disaster films to destruction spectacular. There is none of the human hubris that is at the heart of Towering Inferno or the claustrophobic and intimate danger of Poseidon. The effects used in Earthquake are primitive, negative stretching and the blood spatter in the elevator scene is somewhat laugh inducing. In my mind Earthquake is the end of the great disaster films and the beginning of disaster porn. Earthquake was the 3rd highest grossing film of 1974 but it is far from the classic that Poseidon and Inferno are considered today.


The death of the good disaster movie can be tied directly into the rise of special effects. The use of computer modeling and rendering has made the scenes of mass destruction more spectacular than ever dreamed of in 74. It has become easier for directors and producers to split the earth and level entire cities than to create engaging characters and story lines. The movie have suffered greatly. The great modern disaster epics inflicted upon movie goers, thanks mostly to Roland Emmerich’s, Independence Day, Day After Tomorrow and 2012. The modern disaster flick is truly a disaster when compared to the early 70’s iterations. Very little more than quirky characters spouting quirky one liners superimposed on massive slick Rube Goldberg machines of distant and emotionless destruction. Sure that can be cool, and too much cool can be awesome but there is a danger zone where too much awesome can get stupid. The disaster scenes may be exquisite but that is not enough to make an entertaining film.

I would rather watch a well-crafted and tense human drama than slick effects extravaganzas. I have nothing against disaster and destruction I just want more than that from a film. Sure I could be getting old, crotchety, and filled with nostalgia for my childhood favorite films. I guess I have to accept that I am getting older, but it will be hard to convince me that any recent disaster film is as good as Poseidon, Inferno, and even the deeply flawed Earthquake. I will see San Andreas, I will not spend 14 to 20 dollars to see it on the big screen. On a cold winter day I will be sitting at home flipping channels and San Andreas will be playing. I will watch it then.


For now – GET OFF MY LAWN!



Please note that I did not forget about Airport (1970), I just chose to ignore it, it is my blog and I can do what I want

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Indian Dancers Cannot Wear Sun Glasses

Last year I submitted this image to a local photography club in the hopes that it would be selected for inclusion in a state wide photography contest.


The photo was immediately rejected by my fellow photographers. I still consider myself a hobbyist and a long way from a professional so I asked “why”. I was wondering if there was a problem with focus, exposure, white balance, composition etc. I was not quite prepared for the answer I received.

“I don’t like the sun glasses”

“If the dancer was not wearing sun glasses it would be perfect”

“The sun glasses are confusing.”

“The sun glasses are out of place”

I was pretty stunned but in hindsight I should not have been all that surprised. For generations Americans have been fed a strange static view of Native culture. Media and the education system has created and propagated a horse, leather, and feathers view of Indian people. Americans prefer their Indians as traditional as possible. This is probably the root of the rule that I and this young dancer violated.

Indian dancers cannot wear sun glasses.

If I had been more brave and less stunned I should have asked “why can’t Indian dancers wear sun glasses?”

Can cowboys wear baseball caps? Sure cowboys can wear whatever they want. No one expects or more to the point demands that cowboys wear only clothing or carry equipment from the 1800’s. The very idea is absurd on all levels. Unlike cowboys Indians are not allowed to violate the anachronistic popular conception that so many people hold. A cowboy is a cowboy even when wearing a baseball cap, yet a Native person that does not appear to have stepped out of an Edward S. Curtis image is deemed inauthentic to many observers.

I had enough wits about me to explain that wearing reflective sun glasses is normal, many dancers wear them but my words and even photographic evidence was not enough to sway deeply held views. Native culture is not canned or pickled for long shelf life. Healthy cultures continue to grow, change, and adapt to time, technology and other cultures. Only dead cultures never change.

In a real way I failed that evening.

Photography can be beautiful sunsets, majestic vistas, powerful or cute and cuddly animals, glamor shots, cute kids, and vacation memories. Photography can also shake the world, change perception, move people to action, and fundamentally change people, I am not saying the image I captured will cause a paradigm shift but I did want to challenge the viewers. I wanted them to think differently about Native people. I was shocked by how challenging the simple image above was for a good number of the people in the room.

This is my second shot at making the change.


Bonus content, just in case my readers still think the young dancer above is an anomaly. I bring you

Dancers in Sun Glasses!




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