Faro-la Faro-li!

Faro-la Faro-li!

Faro-la Faro-li! or … “I love Universal Monster Movies” Frankenstein Dracula The Wolf Man Frankenstein. Dracula. The Wolf Man. Legends, one and all, in the Universal Studios heyday of monster movies from the 1920s through the end of the 1950s… and I’ll admit it. I love each and every cheesy movie in the list (some more than others, of course). I first saw them, late on Friday nights, on one of our local TV station’s after-the-news movie broadcasts. This was back in the early 1970s when there weren’t a dozen talk shows parroting the success of Johnny Carson, so the non-NBC local stations needed something to draw an audience. What better formula than the Universal Monster Movies??? Monster movies from Universal studios were always a treat, because they were so VERY recognizable. From their “Monster Stars” (every pun intended) to a fairly common feel. If you saw the names Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., or Vincent Price as the lead … it was going to be a good night. I soon learned the names of the other stars and secondary players – Claude Rains, Colin Clive, Edward Van Sloan, John Agar, and Richard Carlson. And who could forget the beautiful heroines, chased through various foggy and far-away villages, forest, spooky graveyards, or castles – Elsa Lanchester, Evelyn Ankers, and Julia Adams You could always count on a dark and foggy night, but you knew that the good guys would win in the end. You could always count on cheesy effects that were just that … “cheesy”. But, I loved them anyway. I still do! Especially this time...
First Meh

First Meh

Disclaimer #1: Up front, this post of full of SPOILER ALERTS. So, if you haven’t seen “First Man”, stop reading now. If you have, please read on and comment below. Disclaimer #2: I can’t believe I have to say this, but please – my reaction to this film has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the ridiculous Flag Planting Kerfuffle™. If you think it does, you’re wrong. If you have issues with the actual event of planting the US flag during the Apollo 11 lunar landing scenes, then that’s your issue – not mine. The flag was clearly seen on the surface of the Moon next to the LEM. So just stop it. PRELAUNCH THOUGHTS... I wanted to like this movie… I really really did want to like this movie. When the trailers started showing up in the theaters and online… wow — this was going to be great! The buzz about the production values, the level of excitement building among my space friends, even knowing that a few of them had actually been contributors to various sections … this was going to be amazing, perhaps “Apollo 13” territory!! So, leading up to the actual release date, I had nothing but excitement and anticipatory feelings about getting to sit in the theater and watch what could be the next great Hollywood-produced space movie. Given that the subject matter, Neil Armstrong, was a semi-mythical central character of US Manned Spaceflight, I had nothing but the highest hopes walking into the theater. Center row, center seats? CHECK. Popcorn? CHECK. Let’s do this. LIFTOFF! Again, a reminder – THERE BE SPOILERS HERE....
Ebrington and St. Eadburgha’s

Ebrington and St. Eadburgha’s

In 2015, we returned to England for an amazing vacation (read all about it here). Anytime a traveler comes to England who has never been before, visiting the traditionally tourist sights of London will be #1 on the list. It’s getting out into the countryside – and specifically to the Cotswolds – that should always be the true destination. Here are all of my photos from Ebrington! Ebrington One of my favorite memories, after doing the “three days in London” tourist sights, was spending several hours in the small village of Ebrington. We were staying in the amazing Charingworth Manor during our week in the Cotswolds and were going to be branching out from there to many different wonderful adventures. But one particular morning, we had some time to ourselves before the afternoon’s festivities began. Since I had “done my homework” prior to the trip, I knew there was a nice country road walk from Charingworth to Ebrington, and the photos looked exactly like the prototype Cotswolds village. So, after breakfast we set out on foot. The way Charingworth was situated with the road behind it, we actually got to climb over a small dry-stack wall that had a convenient step built into it! The road was typically “English narrow”, allowing two cars to pass side-by-side only if one or both of them were off the actual road surface! So – walking along, we definitely kept our eyes open. Fortunately, English drivers are VERY used to foot traffic, and this particular road was so rarely used that we only saw one or two cars during the round trip walk!...
The World is a Book…

The World is a Book…

Travel I love it. I’ve been lots of places… and I love seeing not only those “traditionally tourist” sights, but also making sure to get off the beaten path and see the interesting places that really represent the area. I’ve documented a lot of our travels over the years on our dedicated Travel page. And, if you know me, there are (literally) hundreds of photos from each trip as well in our Travel Photo Gallery. Interesting Places I’ve wanted to write more and regular blog posts. So, I thought I’d use these trips to highlight and maybe even give some additional information on some of the more remote interesting places that we’ve seen. I’ll enjoy reliving some of those trips, and I’ll really love diving into some of the more obscure things that you may not have known about before. This sounds like fun. I hope you’ll enjoy them as I come up with different things to write about! “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine Roger BalettieHusband, Father, Grandfather, Space Cadet, techno-geek…...
Remembrance

Remembrance

For those of us who have been intimately involved with Manned Spaceflight or if you have been interested and valued supporters from outside the program, the week from January 27 – February 1 is a particularly somber time of the year. NASA has identified a single day, this year (2018) on January 25th, as their “Day of Remembrance” to honor all three events that simultaneously shocked and shaped Manned Spaceflight, the nation, and indeed – the world. January 27, 1967 Apollo 1 During a pre-launch Pad test, the crew of Apollo 1 were checking full-up spacecraft systems and operational procedures in anticipation of the first manned launch of the new Saturn flight vehicle that would, eventually, take men to the Moon. Due to a number of reasons, including a pressurized pure oxygen environment in the Command Module, wires that were stripped bare due to excessive wear and contact, and an unfortunate spark, turned a combustible environment into a deadly inferno. The crew of three, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, died on the pad. After reviews, investigations, and honest evaluations by everyone involved from NASA to each individual Contractor, they identified the root causes of the fire. Many improvements were made to the flight vehicle, and a renewed commitment to quality and performance led to ultimately meeting President Kennedy’s goal of “putting a man on the Moon by the end of the decade.” On a personal note, January 27th is also my birthday. Even though I was very very young and do not have direct memories of Apollo 1, the success that my predecessors at NASA had in...
One Year

One Year

One Year Grandpa’s Little Buddy turns 1!! My how time flies! It was just a year ago that we had been enjoying our first moments with our little Cole! Suddenly, after visits, vacations, and lots of greatly appreciated Snaps, pictures, movies, and Facebook posts by his parents and our “co-Grandparents”, Grandpa’s Little Buddy turned ONE YEAR OLD! Liz and Andrew (aka “Mommy and Daddy”) set up an adorable photoshoot to capture this special time: After Christmas, they came down for a few days to celebrate Cole’s birthday with all of us… so many giggles! He’s up and running now, and *BALLS* are his favorite toys! His ability to be so very gentle with delicate Christmas decorations was really impressive, too. As I’ve mentioned before, this was like a 27-year Time Machine… looking back at Andrew at that age. It’s really stunning. 🙂 It was so fun watching this little guy be the center of so much attention from family and friends. He’s got such a sweet disposition, and is such a pure joy to be around! His birthday party was fun – with a CAKE SMASH as one of the highlights. But then … as with all good things, the visit had to end… but only until our next visit! Oh … and the week after his First Birthday — his FIRST HAIRCUT! Suddenly, this little baby has become a little BOY!!! 🙂 It’s such an amazing thing to have a grandchild. I know each new one will be different, but nothing will change – we will love each new little soul that our family is blessed with. HAPPY...
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