Friday, July 21, 2017

Fable, Fairy Tale, or Myth?

Thriller, Horror, or Fantasy?


American Fable, a 2016 film by Anne Hamilton, is gorgeous, evocative, and at time
s surreal. It defies easy characterization. Some might place it in the genre of magical realism but most of the special moments are subtle, more dreamlike than supernatural.  Rather, it has so many mythical archetypes, themes, and props - a troubled king, his pregnant queen, a venal prince prone to manipulation, the wily young princess (Peyton Kennedy as Gitty), her special pet, a well-meaning but bumbling constable, an evil wizard trapped in a dungeon, and a witch from an exotic land - it plays like a fairy tale. At times it transported me to the farm country of my youth.  American Fable is visually imaginative and heartfelt. Many critics liked it, even if they didn't love it.  Me, I plan to watch it again.


Monday, June 12, 2017

What If Justin Brierly Wrote A Book

And some of his favorite non-believers wrote a response...


Justin Brierly, host of Unbelievable, has just written a book titled
Unbelievable?: Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I'm still a Christian. It's quite good, though it contains little we haven't heard on the radio program (or the podcast).  So of course me and some of the other non-believers who hang out at the Unbelievable forum are having a crack at a "Justin Response Book" in a manner inverse to the Christian response to Bart Ehrmann's How Jesus Became God: Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee. First, I had to read the book. Now comes the writing...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

I've Got A Movie For You

If you're into understated science fiction, that is...


Watch the film Coherence (2014) cold. Don't Google it, or read up on it, or look it up, except to order it. I'm glad I didn't miss this clever and effective film. If you like metaphysics-flavored sc-fi you might enjoy it too. About as much fun as I've had watching a small, low budget film since The Man From Earth, or Pi, or Upstream Color, or Primer.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Things Do In Prescott

When you're dead tired...

Some days after working a third shift a fella can't sleep. It's still a little too cold at night to do any painting so this fella did some sanding. Actually I did so much sanding I wore out my sander, my gray hair turned brown, and my iPhone doesn't recognize my thumb print. More sanding tomorrow. Then caulking...

So, There I Was, Minding My Own Business

In Peregrine Books...oops!


I went in planning to purchase one book for my friend and I come home with five of my own. Well, I guess there are more dangerous addictions...


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Long Night Is Over

The MST3K reboot has landed...


After an 18 year hiatus, Mystery Science Theater 3000 - The Return, a whole season's worth, no less, is now available on Netflix.

Time for some serious flix binging, people!  Woo! Hoo!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Just What I Needed

Another rifle...

Me with the Recon. Shooting from sitting has never been my favorite position. Still isn't.

Took my new Recon Scout out for a test drive Saturday. It was built by Steve Bons at Granite Mountain Tactical in Prescott. Steve builds them on a Mossberg Patriot Bantam model. He shortens the factory barrel, threads the muzzle for accessories, and installs a sturdy front sight housing an AR15 front post.  The stock comes with a one inch thick insert for a 12 or 13 inch length of pull. I'll be running it short. Mine has the standard 18 inch tube (16 or 20 inches are no-cost options), sniper grey Cerakote, and a rounded heel on the butt pad. On Mr. Bons' sage advice I upgraded to the steel rear sight base. I want serious irons on a working rifle so I'm giving some thought to modifying a Weaver-style extension ring to protect the very clever flip up rear sight. The good Mr. Bons installs Weaver-style bases on the receiver - for conventional scopes, and on the barrel - for scout scopes.  As another added value, lapped Weaver quad-lock rings are provided with the finished rifle. I also had a 3rd socket installed so I can use a military sling, CW, Ching Sling, or Rhodesian. Wearing a Leupold 2.5x scout scope in the Weaver quad-locks and a biothane Rhodesian sling, my 18 inch Recon Scout comes in at a hair under seven pounds four ounces.  

We were sans bench so it took a few more rounds than usual to get my new rifle on the steel, but after that any misses seem to have been the result of my decrepitude and lack of practice. The handy little Mossberg seemed light in recoil; maybe as a result of the cushy pad, or because the well-fitted short LOP suits me, or because we weren't all hunched over it at the shooting bench. I really like the heavy duplex reticle on the Leupold scout scope. Didn't try the irons, a Vari-X II 1-4x, or the Swarovski 1.5x today. I used only the Ching Sling this time out.  

We used my new 10 inch steel gong targets and target stand from Shooting Targets 7.  The set-up is modular yet sturdy.


I'm only 40 rounds in, but I'm very pleased so far.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Back On The Road

This time to check another item off Gramma Kay's bucket list...



Mom asked to visit the Grand Canyon West Skywalk on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. We got on Route 66 at Seligman ("Leave no route untraveled!"). We stopped in Peach Springs, Arizona, for brunch. We ate at at the Hualapai Lodge Restaurant (highly recommended!). Next door was the long abandoned John Osterman Shell Station (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012). 


While sturdy, its exterior is not aging gracefully, but then who among us can claim to be doing better?


We had a fine time traveling there and back with the folks.




Saturday, March 11, 2017

Took Another Walk Into The Past

This time capsule is but a few minutes from downtown Prescott...


Took a little hike to the Lynx Creek Ruin today. 

Take 301. Trail 305 leads you on a long walk back to the highway.

You have to squint and use your imagination a little, but this was once a 15 room pueblo from 1150-1300 CE. 


One is tempted to ask "Why there?" until you see the views...

San Francisco Peaks in the distance.


What Abject Cruelty!

Who puts a used book section in the museum gift shop?!!


Visited the Smoki Museum in Prescott this afternoon.  In many ways the Smoki People - white people performing in red face - were to Native America what the Rosicrucians are to ancient Egypt.  Still, they have a fine little museum featuring extensive displays of weaving, pottery, and lithics.  Best of all, on several shelves in the gift shop there are used books at garage sale prices.  The five I chose cost me all of $17.50.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Is Pre-Remodeling Even A Thing?

Doing a little pre-remodeling in my crowded little bath...


Re-did the medicine cabinet with translucent glass instead of mirrors and then painted it gray as a medium accent. The bathroom is getting some black fittings in anticipation of a a new whitewash finish on the door, walls and ceiling. Might have it done in time to show mom and dad when they visit next week.

The major remodel - new floor, new sink, new toilet, and a claw foot cast iron tub - is on the project list.

Must replace the scary heater before then.

Need to find a mirror with a wood frame too.

All it takes is time and money...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

There Are Monsters, And Then There Are Monsters

Blake Smith gets serious...


This week, in a brief essay, Blake Smith, host with Karen Stollznow of Monster Talk - The Science Program About Monsters departs from his usual format.


Smith speaks cogently and concisely on the importance of critical thinking - skepticism - in our current political climate, which is marked by a surreal foray into alternative facts and blithe accusations of fake news.


I've enjoy Monster Talk for many years now, but I've never been more proud to be a fan of its thoughtful co-host.


Give this brief but excellent talk a listen.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Refinishing An Oak Table Top

The punchline "So far so good" comes to mind...



Original finish represents some 25 years of battering and bruising, scratches and scuffs, topped off with some recent water damage...


Citristrip applied (the orange stuff containing no MEK)




Stripper scraped off and residue removed with mineral spirits.




Mineral spirits dried.




Sanded with 120 and then 220 grit 




Minwax penetrating stain Golden Oak 210B applied and left to soak in




Stain rubbed back




First coat of Minwax Helmsman spar urethane clear satin.




Next, the sanding between coats.




And the second coat.




Then let it dry.




Put the extension back in the loft and my dining room table is back in service...




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spare Time Plus Peregrine Books

Equals unplanned purchases...


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly, is for Cassandra, but don't her; it's a surprise.

Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks

Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, by Eric M. Meyers and Mark A. Chancey

Lucy M. Lewis: American Indian Potter, by Susan Harnly Peterson


What Do I Do On Sunday Mornings?

Unless I'm working, reading, or exploring that is...


First things first. A pot of dark roast is prepared. Then...

Frequent readers of my blog will know I have hundreds of books on my "to read" shelf, which is both an actual bookcase as well as a long virtual list.

I actively participate in two on-line forums. One is about rifles and is called Scoutrifle.org. The other is the comments section (actually a Discus forum) below the UK radio show and podcast Unbelievable.

I strive not to spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook, which I find
 much easier without the apps on my phone.  Still, I frequently fail. Those "likes" are addictive...

When I'm out and about on my own, especially driving, I try to keep up with about a dozen podcasts:

  • Astronomy Cast - Frasier Cane and Dr. Pamela L. Gay take us on a weekly "a fact-based journey through the cosmos"
  • The Deconstructionists - John Williamson and Adam Narloch wrestle with their religious belief
  • Escape Pod - Science Fiction short stories
  • Ideas from CBC Radio - Paul Kennedy hosts a thoughtful examination of "social issues, culture and the arts, geopolitics, history, biography, science and technology, and the humanities."
  • Monstertalk - Monsters and the paranormal in popular media
  • On Being - Krista Tippett “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence."
  • On The Media - Meta-analyis of home the media covers the news
  • Point of Inquiry - Science, religion, and politics
  • Quackcast - Mark Crisp, MD, on Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or as he calls it, SCAMs.
  • Rationally Speaking - Exploring "the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, science and pseudoscience."
  • Reasonable Faith - William Lane Craig discusses his view of evangelical Christianity
  • Skeptoid - "Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena"
  • Spark My Muse - "Fuel for the human journey" by Lisa Delay
  • Unbelievable - Debate between Christians and non-Christians
  • You Are Not So Smart - The impact of human cognition on critical thinking

Friday, February 10, 2017

What Is There To Do In Northern Arizona?

Asked an old friend planning a vacation...

Discard your preconceptions of saguaros, cattle skulls, and scalding sun.

I love Prescott year round, where there are any number of hikes and bike paths in and around town. There's a mess of shopsmuseums, galleries, and restaurants here too.

As you enter the third youngest state in the republic from the north Monument Valley is awesome - culturally and geologically, as is Canyon De Chelly along the eastern border.

South of Canyon de Chelly is The Painted Desert and The Petrified Forest. West of there on the way to Flagstaff via Interstate 40 is Meteor Crater.

In Flagstaff Lowell Observatory is worth seeing and there are a mess of restaurants to try.

If you haven't been to The Grand Canyon that's easy to fix (and should be). There some fine accommodations there but you'll need to book stays in the park well in advance.


Some will be intrigued by Gunsite Academy in Paulden.

As my posts on FB and my blog suggest, we've been looking into the archaeological pre-history of the Four Corners region.  There's a loop of sites in the Verde Valley we've seen most of called The Sinaugua Trail.  There is also Agua Fria, Black MesaTonto, and others...

Between Verde Valley and Prescott is the former ghost town of Jerome and a winding scenic drive through the Mingus Mountains.

As for points south... Even though it's crazy hot in the summer, a visit to Tucson should include at least a half day at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  Haven't gotten down to Tombstone yet, but folks say its worth a visit.

Best of all, if you stay long enough you will meet fine friends...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Another Day In The Past

The pre-history of the Verde Valley is a never ending attraction...


Sunday morning saw us at the cliff dwellings and petroglyphs at the  Honanki Heritage Site, another home to the Sinagua people from 1150-1350 CE. We passed last Sunday's Palatki Heritage Site on the way in.



On Sunday afternoon we ascended Sacred Mountain north of Camp Verde.  Atop the mesa we saw the remains of a 50-60 room pueblo.  The V-Bar-Heritage Site we visited last weekend is a mile or so to the northwest.


Unlike cliff dwellings, the Sinagua pueblos have had no protection from the elements.



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Another Weekend In The Ruins

The pre-history of Arizona just keeps giving...



Sunday we visited V Bar V Heritage Site in the Coconino National Forest an hour or so to the northeast of Prescott. The wall upon which over a thousand petroglyphs are carved is also an archeo-astronomical calendar.




The two rocks at the top cast shadows that allowed the Sinagua to track the seasons.




The fertility corner.




Clan signs and clues to their cosmology.




The Figure 8 may symbolize a solar eclipse.




A variety of tree, shrubs, and foliage cling to the water's edge in the desert riparian habitat.

Then we drove another hour to the Palatki Heritage Site to view its dwellings and rock art.




The cliff dwellings feature 700 year old lintels made of sycamore.




A mix of Archaic, Sinaugua, Yavapai, and Apache rock art dating from the beginning of the common era through the arrival of Spaniards on horseback. There are even some faint parallel lines in the rock walls thought to have been inscribed there by Paleo-Indians! Evidence of Clovis technology has been found in the neighborhood.




Palatki is the southernmost site to feature Red Ghost images.




A Sinagua creation myth was sooted over by the fires in which the Yavapai roasted yucca hearts.




Some of the red rock sandstone that makes Sedona, Arizona, so famous.


Monday, January 30, 2017

More Grist For The Mill

You may have heard I have a reading disorder...


I have an irresistible weakness for books on sale at National Park, National Monument, and Heritage Site visitor centers.

We visited V Bar V and Palatki Heritage Sites in the Coconino National Forest today.  Their bookshelves are well-stocked.  I came away with:



Time for some reading...