Sunday, April 24, 2016

Adios Amigos

A treasure trove of opnions Pic by Trebor

It’s Been Real

Faithful readers (all two of you?) I’m bringing this blog to a close. It started in January of 2005 and I've created hundreds of articles across the years on many topics. The output is probably enough to constitute a Russian novel. At the outset I had high hopes – was thinking I could even make this a profitable ezine with sponsor links.

Anymore, I’m lucky if the blog gets 10 hits in one week. Sponsor links yielded pocket change and were more trouble than they were worth. I’m not certain they would be worth the bother even on a busier blog.

If I had concentrated on a specialty area instead of zigging and zagging all around, I might have developed a following on something, who knows? I’ve been too opinionated without ever having that modicum of credibility and authority that one needs to sustain readership.

Just haven’t gotten the interactions and interest I hoped for. Haven’t had a reply comment in about 4 years. I showed the blog to two “men of letters” and neither one had any real advice or guidance to contribute. I made one reader angry with my leftward rants and have never heard from him again. One reader got promoted up to a senior level and I’m quite certain he has better things to do now. Yet another reader offed himself – cutting his wrists in a bathtub. I’m sure it was unrelated to the blog content, but still.. Not good.

I think the blog URL was probably leaked to managers at my office and the overriding concern there (understandably) was that article development be confined to weekends and evenings. Message received.

The Road Ahead

I’m not giving up on writing. I’m a bad cook and I’ll keep making those questionable dishes. I’d like to blog much less frequently on more significant topics. The opinion blog will move to a new URL or hosting site. Would rather that coworkers not be a main source of readership. Also I would like to dabble in some creative writing. That may be website-hosted or it may just be kept in DropBox, who knows. If anyone would like to stay current with my activities please feel free to email me at

The blog will stay out there probably until BlogSpot goes out of business or takes it down. I’m very appreciative to the small cadre of readers who engaged me for a very long while. Take care and God Bless.

© 2016 Snillor Productions


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Saving Kennedy

What if?Pic courtesy of Hulu

It’s April 9th – we just had a weekend of blustery, rainy weather with gray, gloomy skies. My heater was going full-blast this morning. I guess it’s fair considering the 8-week run we just had of unseasonable blue skies. There has to be balance.


The Gods must not want me to blog today – my MacBook had 30 minutes of updates to install and then the Starbucks Wi-Fi died. Here at home, my Logitech keyboard just died. I’ll see if I can make do without all my toys.

11.22.63 (Warning – spoiler alert)

In the last 2 months, I watched the 8-part Hulu miniseries 11.22.63. It’s based on Stephen King’s novel and stars James Franco as Jake Epping, a liberal-minded English teacher who discovers a “rabbit hole” – a time-travel portal that takes him back to 1960. Many what-ifs and technical issues are scuttled aside for brevity and artistic license. He appears in 1960 as his 2016 person, an adult still carrying an iPhone.

The premise of the series is that he assumes a new identity, Jake Amberson, and assimilates into Dallas-Fort Worth as a high school English teacher. His hidden agenda is to find out more about Lee Harvey Oswald and prevent the Kennedy assassination. The production values of the series are tremendous; the cars, clothes and musical backdrop take you to the doo-wop era of ducktails and finned cars. Franco is excellent as the addled time traveler. I had several impressions which I’ll list in bullet style – they don’t necessarily fall into any broad categories.

- They have him move to a fictitious Dallas suburb, Jodie Texas. Why was this necessary? DFW has 35 suburbs that would’ve served the purpose and made it more believable.

- In the time travel, the past pushes back against any attempt to change events. This was interesting.. Waiters drop their trays, houses catch fire and cars run off the road as if some force was blocking interference to the past.

- In the course of events, Jake tells both a fellow traveler and a woman he’s courting that he’s a time traveler dispatched to save Kennedy. They believe him and help in his mission. In reality no one would believe that – it would be a one-way ticket to the booby hatch. Poetic license once more I guess.

- (Spoiler!) Jake succeeds in saving Kennedy. Won’t give the hows or whys in case the reader wants to watch this great series. He comes back to the present only to discover a nuclear winter – his home town is a ravaged ghost town being terrorized by post-apocalyptic thugs. He corners one man that he recognizes and using the ruse of amnesia asks him to recount the last 50 years. It seems Kennedy was elected to two terms that were very liberal. He so enraged the radical right that they elected George Wallace in 1968, bringing on a 3rd World War. Wow. This slightly made me think of the current 2016 election, where two Obama terms seem to have generated a lot of angst in the GOP arena. Let’s hope nothing as dire results from that..


This series had several twists, turns and plot devices that compelled me to think some “deep thoughts”. Is time travel possible? Can the past be changed and what are the likely outcomes if we play with ultimate destiny? I would recommend this miniseries to anyone who likes history, retro pop culture and science fiction forays into time travel.

© 2016 Snillor Productions

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Pee-wee's Ho-hum Holiday

The thrill is gone..Pic courtesy of Netflix


Today is typical Texas weather. It was freezing and overcast this morning and now it is hot. What a difference 6 hours makes. Central Market is closed for Easter so I’m here doing this at Lakewood Starbucks. I will have to make do.


The GOP Presidential race is getting so personal and nasty; it seems almost like a deliberate satire – a lampooning of the whole selection process. Most recently National Enquirer just released a sizzling story about Ted Cruz having 5 assorted, sordid affairs. I’m sure that no Trump operatives were involved with this most troubling turn of events. Trump and Cruz have taken after each other with such zeal, you wonder if either will still be standing for the July GOP convention. John Kasich hasn’t garnered a lot of delegates but he may be the last man standing with any semblance of dignity.


Enough about politics! This election has more potential for entertainment than for government or political discourse. Let’s just go directly to entertainment... I was happy to see that Pee-wee Herman was back after 25 years, with an exclusive Netflix movie .. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. Pee-Wee (aka Paul Reubens) costars with Joe Manganiello in this latest rendition where his character embarks on a road trip to see Joe in NYC for a birthday celebration.

In the 1980’s, Pee-wee was charming, mysterious, mischievous and a little bit otherworldly. His TV props and characters all seemed like a well-coordinated send-up of conventional society. There was a flourish of campiness, focusing a lot on the canned perfection of the 1950’s style and culture that was frequently offered in 7 decorator colors. His TV show played with all the stereotypes (eg Cowboy Carl) and left people giggling whether they were completely in on the joke or not. He was ambiguously gay, although you might also figure he’s an eternal adolescent whose sexuality was yet to be determined.

In this 2016 movie, I was amazed by how really bad it was. The beginning of the movie shows him being awakened out of bed with a series of physical gimmicks similar to the game “Mousetrap”. His house is cluttered and dirty but no longer campy – no Cherry the Chair. In the first 20 minutes of the movie I never laughed once – he seems like a fat, pathetic nerd in pancake makeup. His friends and coworkers are as listless as he is – no gay genies or smart-alecky cowboys.

It’s all the more surprising because Reubens wrote the script. It’s like drinking a year old Pepsi that’s lost half its flavor and all of its fizz. I guess there really is an age limit on creative genius. I have only to think of Paul McCartney doing “Silly Love Songs” after the earlier brilliance of “Eleanor Rigby”. In a way, I’m still glad to see Paul Reubens in play – making the effort. It was a swing and a miss but there’s something to be said for surviving a quarter century to swing again.


The weather outside is downright beautiful. I will have to go partake and enjoy... enough of my television rants.

© 2016 Snillor Productions


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Checking in to the Bates Motel

I'd like a room with a nice clean shower..Pic courtesy of Wikipedia

Le Printemps

Today is beautiful, the first day of Daylight Saving Time. People are walking around in flip flops and shorts with a full week left in the winter season. My yard is looking green after a full week of gentle rain and my cedar elm is ablaze with new green leaves. The sun reappeared today and one might think it’s the middle of June. I’m not complaining, just enjoying.

Bates Motel

I’ve added yet another show to my long list of television addictions. A&E’s Bates Motel is in its 4th season and I’m relishing what happens next in the series. The show is a prequel to the famous 1960 movie Psycho, although now it’s given a contemporary setting in White Pine Bay, Oregon. It tries to give context and background to the troubled family dynamics of Norman and his mother Norma.

The show introduces a number of other characters – family members and neighbors who are variously afflicted with their own neuroses and situations. There are strong intimations of incest – in fact Norman’s uncle may well be his father. That might explain the weird mother-son coziness that exists between Norman and Norma. They take naps together and kiss full on the lips. An older half-brother, Dylan, is the prodigal son involved sometimes in drug-running and other shadowy things. But he’s basically a decent kid and just needs to be re-centered with family love. (Good luck with that! )

White Pine Bay is a regular Peyton Place with secret societies, sex clubs, crime syndicates and crooked cops. How could so much moral turpitude stem from a sleepy little seaside village in Oregon? Vera Farmiga is stellar as Norma Bates, really the driving force through the whole series. She tries to protect Norman from the consequences of his misdeeds (done in dream-like blackouts) and becomes his unwitting accomplice. Her enabling paves the way for things we know happen later in the movie Psycho.

Today I watched the first episode of Season 4. It did not disappoint. In 42 minutes, we had crime cover-up, murder, transvestism, incestuous kissing, desperate sexual propositions and schizoid ramblings. In days of yore, I watched Dynasty and wondered if the screen writers didn’t giggle with each preposterous turn of the scripted page. Maybe they were drinking appletinis while they wrote it. I think much the same must be at work here. But the fact is I watch it in all seriousness – I have to know what terrible demons will be unleashed, what new depravity of nature will be loosed upon White Pines. One must tune in to A&E’s Bates Motel to get the answer to these urgent questions.

Elsewise and Other

My job has become incredibly busy with “agile sprints” and whatnot. I’m dreading the onslaught of Saint Patrick’s celebration in my neighborhood next weekend. The last couple of years, it has become a morass of drunks and trespassers who decorate our yards with green cups, Rolling Rock bottles and sometimes barf. With this bit of negativity toward the Irish, I will sign off. Maybe today’s nice weather will put me in a better frame of mind.

© 2016 Snillor Productions


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Double-Wide Saturday Night

A night of culture and refinement..Pic courtesy of Wikipedia

February 28, 2016

Today it’s been kind of overcast and chilly – but still 20 degrees warmer than normal for Texas winter. I’ll have to adjust to the 62 degree cold spell. I’m in my new favorite hang-out, Central Market Café. I just had “linner” (lunch-dinner) which consisted of Thai coleslaw, Chinese tofu and artichoke hummus. The café is bright and airy, mid-century modern. The walls are painted intense orange-red and the tables all have a centerpiece rose floating in a vase of water. The crowd is riveting mix of trendy people – it’s better than sitting at the international terminal at DFW.

Topic Du Jour

But enough about that.. One might think from what I just described that I’m a high maintenance person with exotic tastes. This café is about as exotic as it gets. In fact, I’m fairly casual and low-key in my overall approach to life. I was pondering the other day what would be a perfect Saturday night for me now. That night has happened many times already if the truth be told. My perfect night doesn’t involve any big outlay of money; it involves nothing approaching a fine romance.

Perfect Setting

I like a comfortable family/living room. That means comfort over style – it means lazy boy recliners and heavily pillowed couches (with snuggies and blankets as needed). There might be a space heater, there might be a fireplace with a crackling fire. The overall ambience is “unpretentious, double-wide”. The floor is carpeted for lazing on the floor and the artwork is in the genre of Budweiser Ads or “Dogs Playing Poker”. There might be maple paneling as wall covering.


We’re not talking Opera here to be certain. My vaguely trashy living room has a 70 inch 4K HD television as a main fixture. What we saved on décor has been poured into a kick-ass TV for the many hours of luxuriant TV watching. Sports and NASCAR might be allowed for friends and relatives while I’m out of the room. When I come back, it needs to be something challenging like a Larry the Cable Guy / Adam Sandler type movie. The idea is for it to be silly enough that you don’t lose the plot by visiting the fridge or the bathroom. The quality of show may ratchet up to a TBS movie or Downton Abbey if the audience is small.

Refreshments and Furry Companions

Food and drink is very important. It should be something like the giant tin of flavored popcorn – available at SAM’s. There could also be leftover Popeye’s fried chicken, nachos, and 3-layer brownies. For the drinkers in the crowd, beer and boxes of wine should be on hand. Coke, tea and coffee for the non-drinkers such as me. Did I mention a double-wide ambience? 

To fill out the fantasy, there should be two cats and a dog or two dogs and a cat. The dogs should be receptive to sock tug-of-war or fetch games during the commercials. The cats can just be themselves, no special actions required. And yes – there will be animal hair as well as chew toys strewn about.

People and Miscellaneous

This room would probably be appalling to a clean freak or any finicky person. Stay off of my cloud if this is you.. In my re-imagining, I’m there with parents, brothers, in-laws and cousins. There is no romantic angle although there certainly could be. Nobody is wearing a tuxedo and nobody is trying to impress anybody else. Leave right now if this is you! But by all means grab a chicken leg and a beer if you’re amenable to this evening of comfort food and great companions. A perfect evening if ever there was.

© 2016 Snillor Productions


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Baskets Case

Tears of a clown..Pic courtesy of Wikipedia


I’m back in the Central Market Café.. It’s chilly and overcast outside, possibly about to rain. I’m eating a strawberry goat cheese muffin and drinking Guatemalan coffee with inflections of apple and vanilla. It took me 10 minutes to park, and their express checkout lines are 35 people deep. I think what we might need, HEB, is some more of these places. A team of Spanish soccer players just sat behind me.. the people-watching here is without equal.


My job has become incredibly busy. I volunteered for a “bleeding edge” technology assignment and I’m getting the expected pandemonium from that. Am hoping that we get things back on an even keel before too long.


For some reason, February has become a month for major series and movie premieres. We have a new Cohen Brothers movie (Hail Caesar) and a new Zoolander movie. TV is giving us the OJ Trial (FX’s American Crime Story), and a new X Files with the original writers and actors at their paranormal best. NBC is giving us an incredible British-American ensemble with You, Me and the Apocalypse. Its far-fetched premise still lands upon genuine pathos and humor.

The little show that has grabbed me completely, is a half hour FX comedy titled Baskets. It stars Zach Galifianakis as a failed clown, Chip Baskets, who has to move back in with his portly mother in Bakersfield, California. His mother is played with credibility and hilarity by male stand-up comedian Louis Anderson. With muumuu and wig, Anderson could easily play his own mom – maybe yours or mine too.

Chip is dogged by his much more successful twin brother Dale, also played by Galifianakis. Dale is a smarmy businessman who’s moderately successful life coaching center has outshined the unfortunate Chip. Among other indignities, Chip is married to a French beauty who loves him not – she only married him for a green card. She teases him with her scantily clad body, making it clear it is look but don’t touch.

Chip engages as a rodeo clown where there is basically no minimum standard. The manager lets him know that it’s a tiny wage with a high risk of injury. Anyone willing to make that wager is hired. Chip takes the job, but with the drawback of having to live at home.

Last but not least is Martha, the dull, plain Jane insurance adjuster who has come to nurture a crush on Chip. She drives him around in her Olds Cierra, helping him in his various attempts to win back his wife (that he never had) and to otherwise establish a modicum of his self-respect. Martha and Chip’s mother together create the surreal gravity that holds this weird universe together.

Coming from the house of dysfunction myself, I love how the freaky is oddly familiar. I love that laugh-out-loud moments might immediately be followed by a moment of sad reflection and introspection.

I also enjoy Chip’s complete inability to see himself, his marriage, his family, his career choice or Martha in any accurate light. His delusions carry each episode on gilded wings to the next ridiculous situation. The long-suffering Martha picks him up off the floor.. and so we go again. If you have FX on cable, please make it a point to see this wonderful show. It only has 8 episodes for season 1 and there’s no guarantee of a season 2 – see it while you can.

© 2016 Snillor Productions

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Enough About Burt?

A man's man..Pic courtesy of Wikipedia


It is the last day of January and it is springtime gorgeous – 72 degrees. It is a fluke of the weather gods; cold weather is predicted for the balance of the week. I just had an incredible “world salad” here at Central Market. I had Thai tofu, lemon humus, and Greek cucumber salad among other things. It was way good. In previous blog articles, I think I misinterpreted this wonderful place. For me, it isn’t so much a place where you go to buy groceries. It’s where you buy a delectable lunch, sit in the sunlit café, and people watch. Also, you can blog using the HEB wi-fi.


I just purchased the Amazon Fire TV stick, and I’ve been binge watching “Mozart in the Jungle”. There are now so many TV and streaming options, I cannot keep up. We’re getting “Baskets” on FX and a new “X-Files” on Fox. We’re about to be blessed with the OJ Trial on “American Crime” and “Grease” performed live. Throw in a couple of purchased seasons (“The Affair”, “Man Seeking Woman”) and I can scarcely keep up. I now have Apple TV, ROKU and Fire TV.. They are all good and a person could be pretty well served by any of them. Apple TV is conspicuously missing a viewer for Amazon Video – they need to fix that one shortcoming.


My actual topic is the Burt Reynolds memoir “Enough About Me” that I just heard on audiotape. It is a great audio experience for someone who grew up watching and sometimes idolizing the great Mr. Smokey. The book covers his entire lifetime and I won’t attempt to recap the whole thing. I’ll just cover some main impressions and direct you the blog reader to the complete bio at the iTunes bookstore.

I’ve long suspected that there was more to Burt than his action star movie persona. I mostly think of: "Dan August", "Deliverance", "Longest Yard", Car Chase movies and "Evening Shade" when I think of Burt's roles. It turns out Burt did several other movies (eg, "The End", "Paternity") and longed to establish himself as a serious thespian with great range. Alas, even though he was number one male lead at the box office from 1976-1981 he was pretty well typecast as a bubba in a Firebird. He regrets that he chose so many movie roles based on travel perks and the fact that his good friend Hal Needham was directing.

Burt’s father was a WWII war hero, construction manager and police chief – an ultra-macho man who sounds like he could’ve played ¾ of the Village People with such manly roles. Burt’s dad was grim and disapproving – he never liked Burt’s acting career. Burt spent the better part of a lifetime trying to win his Dad’s approval. It might explain his penchant for doing dangerous, body-wrecking stunts and macho buddy roles that pretty much closed the door on being the next Sir Laurence Olivier. In truth, Burt was quite macho – he would’ve been a pro footballer and pro coach if a college injury hadn’t cut short that career.

Burt’s relationships with women were kind of star-crossed, like his mid-life movie roles. His one true love was Dinah Shore, a lovely talk show maven old enough to be his mother. They parted amicably and stayed friends. Sally Field was another Burt lady friend. Sally distanced herself from Burt after their breakup and said little about the aborted romance ever after. The two women Burt actually married – Judy Carne and Loni Anderson, ended up as “frenemies” to Burt. The marriages were short-lived and not much love lost. Familiarity must breed contempt. Burt also had a coterie of male friends which included Dom DeLuise, Jim Nabors and Charles Nelson Reilly. One only guess if there is another dimension to Burt’s bio but nothing more is shared in the memoir.


In later life, Burt settled down as a happily confirmed bachelor. He worked for many years as an acting coach at his Jupiter, Florida theater company. He was then visited by “the plagues” in recent years. He had to have a heart bypass and then went through a 2014 bankruptcy which rid him of most conspicuous possessions. Friends and a favorite niece helped him to rearrange his finances such that he could keep a nice home and live comfortably.


This book was hardly enough about Burt. There are so many things in the book that might beg a question or arch a curious eyebrow. His career bridged across eras from the MGM star system of the 50’s to the hip, indie, sexually frank films of the 90’s. Burt’s life is an unqualified success, if you go by excitement quota and living every minute to the fullest. I’d like a Burt bio II, but that may not be in the offing as he is 80ish, walking with a cane and talking with a very hoarse rasp.

© 2016 Snillor Productions

Labels: , ,