Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Favorite Movies

For those of you who thought they had seen the last of this little indicator there is to be a reprieve.  Of all the posts that people seem to have enjoyed the most it was My Favorite 10 Movies.  Now among the younger set I know there was some disappointment with the choice of the last few as they were old ones and in black and white too.  However in compiling the list I had to review a lot that didn't quite make the "A" list.  This left ten more who almost did; so I'm going to run those backwards for the next ten weeks.  We'll call them the "follow ups."  Number ten is Gran Turino with Clint Eastwood in the main part.  When I grow up I want to be him, (and some say I'm pretty well on the way!)  Here is a man who has lived a little beyond his time and has to face some difficult changes in the neighborhood that he has always loved.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

London - Jack the Ripper

On our visit to London, Evan (16)  had requested a tour of the Jack the Ripper area.  Now I had never done this, nor without his enthusiasm would I have been likely to have done so.  In that case I would have missed out on a unique experience and also the chance to meet up with Philip Hutchinson, the guide for the event.  Hutchinson is an authority on "Jack" and with a book under his belt about it, he's a serious "ripperologist."
Jack the Ripper did his dreadful deeds in the summer and autum of 1888 in the East End of London.  It was a difficult and dangerous sector of the city and one where immigrants and the very lowest order of society lived and tried to eke out an existence.  Hutchinson was nothing but realistic in his descriptions of how women with no income managed to stay alive and pay for a bed for the night.  It was not a pretty scene.
Into these cobbled streets and dark corners on the night of August 31st, a murderer took one of the women, Mary Ann Nichols, slashed her throat and eviscerated her body leaving the evidence of his crime in the gutters of Bucks Row, Whitechapel.  Even for a society inured and over-exposed to the basest side of life, the crime shocked.  When he struck again on September the 8th it sent the locality into a panic.  After five (or perhaps a couple more as today's experts are not totally sure) the killing stopped, leaving one of the biggest question marks in the history of unsolved crimes.
At the end of the two-hour tour, Hutchinson gave a round up of the most likely suspects that have been "found" over the century and a quarter of detective work.  Most of them are "way out there."  But read his book and find out for yourself.
Oh by the way, the photo is not of one of the sites, but it was the best that I could find on the site under the heading "cobbled streets."
The site for the tour is  It cost 8 pounds and is well worth it.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I try hard to get posts right, but from time to time an error slips through.  S.W.M.B.O. the other day found a real horror.  Perhaps it was all that flying around over the pond that caused my tiredness and lack of concentration.  Anyway in the Aphorism section at the bottom, I mangled my favorite quote; it's by Horace Walpole.  It has been rectified for those of you who were confused.  "The world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel."


Recently at about 8 in the morning we have been visited by a large group of crows.  I believe the collective name for them is a "murder."  I wonder how that came about?  They are very big so perhaps they are ravens.  Maybe someone out there could let me know how to tell, or is it just a question of size?
I managed to take this picture out of my window, although they are quite sensitive to people and will fly off rapidly.  They are very large birds and have glistening black feathers.  My father used to call them "swaggering black rascals," and it seems they are.  The one here on the right has a piece of trash and we have to keep the lids on our trash bins or they will tip them over and spread the contents around.
In an aside, during our trip to London we went to the Tower.  Part of the tradition is the protection of the ravens there.  For it is said that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, England will fall.  During WWII, the Germans tried to poison them but the attempt failed.
My brother-in-law sent me this link, which is a short movie of an encounter two girls had in Ireland with a massive flock of starlings.   The collective name for them is a "murmuration."  The one for Flamingos is, I believe a "flamboyance."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's Column - USS Midway

On our recent trip aboard the Sapphire Princess we visited San Diego and berthed close to the USS Midway.  This Sunday's column covers that visit.  When it was launched, the Midway was the largest ship afloat in the world at about 65,000 tons.  Today is it somewhat dwarfed by the Sapphire which is 116,000 tons.  Nonetheless it is an impressive ship with lots to see.  You would need several trips to cover everything there and that includes a lot of aircraft. You can read the entire column - provided The Sun gets it's act together - on www.sbsuncom/trevorstravels

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An English Queen

Here is a wonderful statue of Queen Boadicea opposite the Houses of Parliament in London.  She lived in the first century and was queen of the Icini people out in the east of the country.  Furious with the Romans, she took her armies on the attack and in her march to Londinium, the Roman center of operations, her forces are supposed to have killed 70,000, and in an act of reprisal, the Romans killed a similar number.  Before she and her handmaidens were captured Boadicea took poison.  The statue is famous for its lack of reins - she commanded the horses with her voice alone.  Also for the long knives sticking out from the hubs of her chariot.  Recently acamedics have decided that her name was pronounced "Boudica."  How do they know?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Music Track - Kaplan

The number two movie of the top ten was The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.  The music is particularly emotive for the atmosphere of the movie and here it's played as a simple piano study.  It was conmposed by Sol Kaplan.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This chap has his eye on you!
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans.  At the moment I am in England and therefore it will be an ordinary day for me, as the English have so little to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movie # 1

And so we come to my favorite movie of all time.  It wasn't a hard choice as it's been my favorite since I saw it in 1950, I think it was.  It is The Third Man, with Orson Wells and Joseph Cotton.  I saw it at school during a brief attempt to hold a movie night once a month.  It was played on a rickety projector but it didn't matter.  The film is so great it can withstand just about anything.  I note that it also seems to be one of Roger Ebert's favorites.  I don't think he's ever posted a list though.  The Third Man is shot in post-war Vienna and the haunting zither music by Anton Karas was so popular it was a huge hit record for a long time.  A lot of the music is Johann Strauss, but it has a bleak sound that compliments the black and white atmosphere of a broken and bomb-damaged, war-weary Europe.  Orson Wells' entrance into the film is one of the most famous of all times.  Impossible to replicate.  The gradual unfolding of the plot is never upset by actually knowing it beforehand.  The characters are all full and each has a quality that even the really minor ones develop.  The director, Carol Reed was in constant conflict with the producer, David O. Selznick, but won out and the result is without doubt a masterpiece.  If you have never seen it you should.
Here's a very short trailer

Monday, November 21, 2011


For his first exposure to "old stuff," we introduced Evan to Arundel on Saturday. The castle was begun in 1067, so that should be old enough. 

He was a mite disappointed in that it "didn't look that old."  He felt the maintenance might be slackened off a bit in order to help it look older.  I suspect the authorities will not take the advice.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday's Column - Alcatraz

This Sunday's column was about our trip to Alcatraz, which was covered here on the blog a few weeks back.  It was a part of our inter-coastal cruise aboard the Princess Sapphire.
This view is a little misty as it often is across the San Francisco Bay, and one of the reasons that the prison was too hard to keep going with all the corrosion.  It was closed in 1964, but not before Frank Morris and two friends made a daring escape by digging through their cell walls with spoons.  It took them a year and they have never been found.  Since it's closure it has become one of the country's top tourist attractions.  It's always crowded so book up early.  Even with the people, it's possible to imagine how bleak it must have been if you were incarcerated there.  But in order to do so,  you had to have been one of the "worst of the worst," which as a reader of this bog I am sure you are not!  You can read the entire column - when the Sun decides to get it up! at

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Recreational Vehicles - the Brits call them caravans
A few years ago we visited the Pomona RV fair.  We thought that it would be a fine idea in our retirement to buy a rig and explore the country - I had a slight wish to visit Newfoundland, where I had never been.  As we were lining up to go in, an old man, who overheard our accents, uttered the dreaded words: "Where y'awl from, then?"  It's hard to avoid this and there often follows a long list of questions and statements which we try to answer before tiring of it all.  That often only takes a few seconds, and it's immediate when asked if we know the queen!
After our time at the exhibition, we were driving home, and I asked She Who Must Be Obeyed (S.W.M.B.O.) where she wanted to travel to in the US.  She said she didn't like driving, and by the time we hit Running Springs she confessed to only wanting to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Cost: one trailer  -$20,000; One truck to haul the aforementioned - $35,000, plus the continuing problem of answering the question: "Where y'awl from, then?"  Result, I shan't be driving to Newfoundland anytime soon!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Music Track - Lark Ascending

When this is posted I will be in England. This is truly English music by Ralph Vaughan Williams - the Lark Ascending.  Out in the countryside, on a hot summer's day you can see larks circling over corn fields.  The violin towards the end of the piece represents this small bird as it flies higher and higher until it eventually disappears from sight.  There is a serenity about this music that is unique.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Later on today we will be climbing aboard the big silver bird and flying to England.  Yvonne and I are taking Evan our 16 year old grandson to show him something of his heritage.  Leaving Yvonne down in Sussex, I will take Evan up to London for three days to show him the sights.   We will certainly look at Big Ben, although it's the bell that goes by that name and not the 19th century clocktower.  We also are booked on The London Eye (The Millennium Wheel) which is in the background here.  And there's a trip to see The Mousetrap, the world's longest running play.  I feel exhausted already!  I plan to take lots of pictures and I'll try and do some posts while I'm over there as I'm taking the lap top. (Of course!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Movie # 2

Numer Two is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, with Richard Burton.  Made in 1965, it is a trip down memory lane for me as I was beginning my working life in London at that same time.  In black and white, it is extremely emotive of the age and the type of realistic spying that must have gone on against our mortal foes the Soviets.  In this case they were the East Germans.  Burton plays Leamus, a seedy, somewhat defrocked master spy who is out in the cold.  He is worn and tired and a drunk.  But he can still perform one last feat for the Circus (the name of Britain's most secret organisers.)  Even he doesn't really understand the full extent of the plot and the final scene is perhaps his effort to finally come in from the cold and join the warmth of a human relationship. The music by Sol Kaplan is a wonderful accompaniment to this rather grim, but riveting film. This is one of those movies that can be watched over and over again, and I have certainly done that.  This is the official trailer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I had to cut another link with the past the other day.  I noticed that the bill for TV, Internet and Phone at our vacation home was becoming too big for comfort.

She Who Must Be Obeyed (S.W.M.B.O.) is dynamite with the cable company and seems to have a relationship with the women behind the desk there, so I dispatched her in full flood to deal with the situation.

She came back flushed with success and told me that the resulting discussions had meant us losing our telephone land line at the house.  I felt an odd feeling come over me.  It was like being cut off from an important part of life.

My parents acquired their first phone when I was about 10.  I can still remember the number Watford 4863!  Now that's a lot of use, isn't it?  But ever since there has been a line linking me to the world and when I went over to this house the other day and lifted the receiver there was nothing in the headset at all.  There was one final call for "Bobby Navarro," on the answerphone - he seems to have annoyed some collection agency and they have been calling our number for the last five years since we owned the place, in spite of my request to leave us alone.  But once that was wiped there was nothing left.  Of course, when we are there we can be reached on our cell phones, but it really isn't the same is it?

Monday, November 14, 2011


I was in a store the other day, waiting to pay for an item, when the system crashed.  And it had been going so well up to that point.
Now for much of my early working life, paper seemed to be the most problematic of materials.  Paper dominated all our lives.  It had to be correctly filled in, passed around, then read, and finally stored for future use.  I have no idea how much of it I must have handled, but it's been a boatload, I can tell you.  So the idea of a paperless society is extremely appealing.  Unfortunately when the system breaks down we're in a lot of trouble. It's not just the loss of a piece of paper, but an entire store is unable to function.  Some link in the chain had been broken and transactions couldn't go through.  I was lucky in that my checker knew a phone way around the system, and as I was paying with a credit card she was able to reach the company and receive permission. Not so long ago our local supermarket broke it's connection somewhere.  All the tills locked and people had to abandon their shopping carts as nothing could go through.  Still need to work on that paperless society idea.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday's Column - Wally Parks

If you're a hot rod enthusiast - unlike me! - you will know the name Wally Parks very well.  It was he who almost single handed made the sport of driving amazingly fast cars over a short distance very, very quickly, possible.

But the NHRA is not just for speed demons, it's also for car enthusiasts of all stripes.  Take this Cushman 1929 in layers of rich deep paintwork - they really do lay on the polish at the museum named after the founder.  For anyone with even a slight interest in the subject, this place is the real deal and should not be missed.  The Executive Director is also a Brit.  To read more click on

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I'm not a big magazine reader.  For years I read "US News and World Report," but they stopped producing it every week and went to some on-line production, which was not the way I wanted to read it.  So that was that.  I read "Rider" every month - it covers the world of motorcycling.  I also steal a few glimpses of S.W.M.B.O.'s* stuff if I'm desperate.  But some months ago I suddenly started receiving magazines of a wide variety of type.  Even slightly pornographic stuff.

I called the company and after several referrals, I was promised that they would stop and that I had been selected to receive them as a marketing effort at no charge.  Also there still might be a few in the queue.  Finally they did stop all save one - "Popular Science."  I started reading it and I have to say I'm now hooked as it is really interesting.  I don't always understand everything I read in it, but I've just sent off the agreement to subscribe for the next two years at a cost of under a dollar an issue!  So the marketing plan must have worked!

*She Who Must Be Obeyed!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Music Track - Gould

Glenn Gould was famous for two things;  his unequalled performances of Bach on the piano, and also for his extreme eccentricity.  He died at aged 50 in the year we came to the US, in 1982.  He sustained a back injury in his home town of Toronto when he was a child, and his father made a special chair for him that allowed him to sit very low down at the keyboard.  His technique was to pull down on the keys rather than press down on them.  This 3-minute video shows him in his early life practicing his beloved Bach.  His constant humming while he played was the bane of sound engineers when he was in the recording booth.  His famous chair is on view at the Toronto Museum.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beans on Toast!

One of the things about lugging an English accent around is that people often want to know where you're from.  Sometimes they recognise it (and it not being Australian!)  One lady the other day made a comment to me about being English, as she had once had an English boyfriend.  She told me: "I always remember he had this habit of eating beans on toast - revolting!"  Not surprisingly, Morgue File, where I get the pictures I don't take myself, does not have a photo of beans on toast, but with this one you can imagine it.  Now Heinz was the brand that we kids mostly enjoyed in this way, but Crosse and Blackwell would substitute from time to time.  As she was going away, I was forced to let her know of another Brit thing - Spaghetti on toast!  "Oh no," she cried.  "That's far, far worse."  I didn't have the heart to let her know that the most perverted among us would on occasions slide a fried egg on top!  Now that's what I'm talking about!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Movie # 3

We're down to the final three of my favorite movies and I fear some of you will be left wondering about them.  But I make no apology.  Number three is the 2001 movie Heist - not to be confused with The Heist, which is also pretty good, by the way. Heist stars Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, and a terrific performance by Delroy Lindo who plays Hackman's buddy.  The music by Theodore Shapiro is excellent, and the plot has a number of twists to it that need to be watched carefully.  If you've never seen it get it out and run it soon, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We have perhaps one, or at the most two more trips on our boat this year.  Soon it will come out, be steam cleaned, and then shrink wrapped for the winter season.  It's always a slightly sad moment.  The last time we went out and had lunch aboard with the two boys, I noticed how few Mallard ducks there were.  Normally once we get the sandwiches out they detect it and they start to swim over to us.  It's hard to resist them.  I don't know where they all go to as the days dwindle down but in their places come an even bigger population of coots.
These are strange little birds who lack the brilliant colors of the ducks and who don't seem to be able to fly as well either.  They have a funny discordant cry and bobble about doing whatever it is coots do.  They are related to moorhens in other countries.  Later on in the year they will be the only birds out on the freezing lake and they'll fulfill one very necessary function for our soon to be visiting bald eagles; they'll become eagle snacks!  But it doesn't seem to deter them at all.  This year we had about six inches of snow on November 4th, which is very early.  And I still haven't got the boat out of the water.  I'm hoping to do it this Thursday as it's due to snow again over the weekend.  In fact the weather's so bad it's almost worth packing up and going to England!!!!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011


We had a tragic accident here a few weeks back.  Early one morning, a lady motorcyclist was riding westwards along one of Big Bear's main roads when a car came out of a turning having made or not made a stop first.  The driver ran straight into the woman and she was killed.  There is a rather sad little roadside tribute to her with crossed skis as she was one of the managers at Snow Summit ski resort.
Unlike the illustration above, where the bike has gone into the van, in this instance the vehicle ran into her and crushed her.  I wondered how such a thing could happen in broad daylight.  But the other morning I was driving along in the same spot and almost the same thing happened to me.  I was in the car and noticed another car about to come out of the same turning where the accident happened.  The sun was directly behind me and was streaming into the other driver's eyes.  He fortunately saw me and stopped, but had I been on the Harley he might not have seen me as he was momentarily blinded.  And motorcycles are not as large as automobiles or trucks.  Note to self: Remember to keep an eye on the sun's direction for other motorists!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday's Column - Pasadena History

I took my grandson Evan along with me on this visit.  Unfortunately, they had just had a huge party the night before, and it was the last day of this particular exhibit, which happened to be ladies' hats from the 19th century.  Not exactly high on either of our lists of things we wanted to look at!
There were other things for us to enjoy however, including an interesting display of ostrich feathers.  These had come from a local farm, which had imported the original ostriches from South Africa.  You can read the entire column here - hopefully they'll have it up by now!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Guy Fawkes Day

A Catherine wheel which we would fix onto the back yard fence with a nail.
A year ago, I wrote about the tradition in the UK of celebrating Guy Fawkes Day every November 5th.  It's been going on since 1606, which is a long time.  You can read about here - 
One year I was flying back from Copenhagen and it happened to be November the 5th at about 7 in the evening.  It had been dark for a couple of hours, but on this occasion the entire city was lit up with bonfires.  It was the time when people used to have their own fires in their back gardens and they would set off fireworks and cook potatoes "in their jackets," as we would say. On top of the bonfire would be a stuffed dummy representing Guy Fawkes himself.  As the plane circled to land it occurred to me that this was how it must have looked to the Luftwaffe in the days when they would fly over with the blitz.  It was a sight I shall never forget.  Sadly, most bonfires are now organized by the local authorities (when there's money in the budget, of course.)  But I'm sure it may not last much longer as the "enlightened" among us probably don't want people celebrating an event of such brutality as burning old Guy Fawkes on the bonfire.  In the meantime, "Penny for the Guy?"

Friday, November 4, 2011


Shortly we are off to England for a short visit.  I'm hoping to manage a few postings while I'm away, but it may be difficult.  However, I'm now starting to think about what I need to take in order to sustain normal life.
To begin with there are a lot of electronics to go along.  And where there are electronics there are wires, and even more importantly charging devices to keep them running.  Even the standard camera needs batteries, usually of the rechargeable type, to make them work.
British Standard Plug
Years ago you needed to carry a transformer, which was a big box the size of a brick around to make sure everything worked.  So I've done a small round of the stores to check on whether or not I will blow the UK's grid by plugging in an iPhone to charge it up.  It seems that along with everything else today, huge improvements have been made. 
Nearly all charging chords into these modern devices convert the electricity from the 220/240 volts AC current, which is used in the UK, into the 5 or 6 DC needed to work with new devices.  Now if only we could convince the Brits to change their Neanderthal plugs to something approaching "normal." (See left!)

Music Track

This was very popular when we came out to California in 1982.  Joe Jackson came in on the tail end of punk and I never quite figured out his niche, but he seems to have got one.  It still sounds good today.  See if you agree with me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pete and Dud

Last week's Music Track featured Dudley Moore playing jazz.  People in the USA may not know that Dudley Moore and his partner, Peter Cook, used to do a regular comedy series on BBC in the 70's.  They were well known for "pushing the envelope."  This is one of their classic sketches - the One-Legged Tarzan.  They reprieved it in 1989 during a live performance in London.  It lasts about 5 minutes, and will make you laugh.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Movie Number 4

Movie number four is what some consider to be a woman's film.  I think however that although it is definitely romantic, it is such a wonderful history of the early days of the Russian Revolution that it goes far beyond the romantic genre.  It is of course, Dr. Zhivago, with Julie Christie and Omar Shariff,  along with a ton of other actors and actresses of great skill.  It won the Nobel Prize for its author Boris Pasternak and I must have seen it a dozen times in the last forty years. It never disappoints and is always worth watching again and again.  Rod Steiger is particularly good as well, showing that corruption can live in all kinds of systems, no matter the political persuasion.  Tom Courtney also shows how zealotry can be turned to just plain badness.  An uplifting but also depressing story.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sunday's Postings

The Sun missed the deadlines to put my columns on-line for the last two weeks..  This has now been updated and I'm sorry if you weren't able to read the entire columns when they were published.  You can now at


My friend Jim, in Pasadena, sent me a very troubling video presentation about the collapse of Argentina.  Unfortunately it was a power point presentation and it seems impossible to include a link here.  However there is a series of similar videos available at UTube about what has happened to that country.  This is the first of 12 of them
It is a truly frightening story of what could be happening here.  Argentina was for the first 50 years of the last century only just behind the USA in its position in the world, with massive oil and agricultural reserves.  Today it is virtually a third world country.
I've always had an interest in Argentina.  My father was offered a job there after the war, and it seemed a very exciting prospect to me at such a young age.   But he decided not to take it up as he didn't want to raise me in a foreign country.  Having watched this series of videos, I think he made the right decision.