“Travel America” and Me

20 Feb

The other day, we were flying to Arizona, and I picked up a magazine to read on the plane. Travel America lists over 250 places to visit in the United States. As I skimmed through the pages, I began to count all of the ones that I have visited. I have been lucky enough to travel to all 50 states and have seen some great stuff. This is a list of places that Travel America and I have in common.

Wait, here is a picture that I took on the trip to get you in the mood. It is in the Superstition Mountains.img_2279

Massachusetts

Paul Revere House

Old North Church

USS Constitution

New York

Central Park

Madison Avenue

Statue of Liberty

Empire State Building

Broadway

Niagara Falls

Pennsylvania

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

National Constitution Center

Rhode Island

The Breakers

Florida

Walt Disney World

Kennedy Space Center

Everglades National Park

Miami Beach

South Beach

Georgia

River Street

Buckhead

Georgia Aquarium

World of Coca-Cola Museum

Kentucky

University of Kentucky

Louisiana

Garden District

Lafayette Cemetery

French Quarter

Louisiana State University

Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club

Delta Blues Museum

Natchez Trace

North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Biltmore

South Carolina

Harbour Town Golf Links

Tennessee

Beale Street

B.B. King’s Blues Club

Graceland

Ryman Auditorium

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Hermitage

Union Station Hotel

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Alum Cave Trail

Cade’s Cove

Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

Old Town Alexandria

Mount Vernon

Illinois

Michigan Avenue

Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Michigan

University of Michigan

Missouri

Gateway Arch

North Dakota

Badlands

Fort Mandan

Ohio

Progressive Field

Warehouse District

Oklahoma

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Cattleman’s Steakhouse

South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Wall Drug

Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial

Custer State Park

Saloon #10

Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Arizona

Tombstone

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Grand Canyon

Canyon de Chelly

Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post

Sedona

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Montana

Billings

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield Indian Memorial

Beartooth Highway

Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Nevada

Death Valley National Park

Luxor

Excalibur

Venetian

New Mexico 

Carlsbad Cavern

Palace of the Governors

Inn of the Anasazi

White Sands National Monument

Texas

Sixth Floor Museum

South Congress Avenue

Sixth Street

River Walk

The Alamo

Utah

Bryce Canyon

Temple Square

Wyoming

Snake River

Grand Tetons National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone Lake

Old Faithful

Lower Falls

Yellowstone River

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

Denali National Park

California

Universal Studios

HOLLYWOOD sign

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Walk of Fame

Rodeo Drive

Golden Gate Bridge

Chinatown

Redwood National Park

General Sherman Tree

Sequoia National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls

Pacific Coast Highway

Hawaii

USS Arizona Memorial

Lanikai Beach

Volcanoes National Park

Waimea Canyon

Oregon

Haystack Rock

Columbia River Gorge

Mt. Hood

Historic Columbia River Highway

Crater Lake

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Finally, the Definition of Final

2 Feb

This week, I gave tests and noticed a peculiar phenomenon. One of the questions as about the final version of the Fort Laramie Treaty, and, in every class, students asked what that meant. Did it mean the treaty as it was originally agreed upon? Or, did it mean the treaty as it ended up?

I always answered, “Final means final.”final

This issue has been running through my mind. Was the question not clear? Were the students just making sure that they were reading the question correctly? Was final the right word?

I looked it up.

Merriam-Webster defines final as:

1
a : not to be altered or undone <all sales are final>
b : of or relating to a concluding court action or proceeding <final decree>
2
: coming at the end : being the last in a series, process, or progress <the final chapter> <final exams>
3
: of or relating to the ultimate purpose or result of a process <our final goal> <the final product>

Do any of those fit a question that asks about the final version of the Fort Laramie Treaty?

Anyway, it has been bothering me that several students asked if final meant final. It has also been bothering me that the word final is tangling up my mind. To get rid of it, here are some things that are final.

Final Four (March Madness)

Final Exam (which will not have a question about the final version of anything)

Final Countdown (the movie starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen about a modern-day aircraft carrier that goes back to Pearl Harbor in 1941)

Final Countdown (the song by Europe that was inspired by the movie)

Final Fantasy (a video game that I have not played)

Final Destination (a movie series of which I have only seen the first one)

Can you think of anything else that is final?

Finally, the word final is out of my head, but I may never figure out why so many people asked what I meant by final.

Rambling Ruminations While Watching a Movie

29 Jan

It was a dark and stormy night. No kidding, the movie we are watching is currently showing a dark and stormy night engulfing two people operating a lighthouse. It is a romantic movie with deep undertones that my wife wanted to watch.

Other than the light from the television and this computer screen, it is also dark in this room. Luckily, it is not stormy.

Until now, the movie has featured the happy vibes of two people falling in love. The storm has brought on the serious part of the story with depression, anger and other feelings that take place on an isolated island. On top of that, the storyline is about to get super complicated.

Speaking of storms, they say that it is going to snow tomorrow. However, the weather app on my phone says the temperature is not going to get below freezing, and I have yet to figure out how it is going to snow with temperatures above freezing. I suppose that is one of those great mysteries of life.

Speaking of mysteries, my favorite is the story of D.B. Cooper. Who was he? What happened to him? It is simply one of the all time great unknowns. For those who have never heard of D.B. Cooper, you need to look him up.db-cooper

While no one knows Cooper’s true identity, it is known that he hijacked an airliner on November 24, 1971. My third birthday was celebrated the next day. Here is what else was going on that day.

“Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes was at the top of the music charts.

CBS aired The Carol Burnett Show and Mannix.

NBC offered up Adam-12 and McCloud.

Black Beauty was released in theaters.

Man, it has been a long time since November 24, 1971. If we have not solved the mystery of D.B. Cooper by now, then it will probably never be solved. I guess that is what happens when you jump out of an airliner on a dark and stormy night.

 

On Top of the Tornado

24 Jan

The other day, the Atlanta Falcons won the last football game to be played in the Georgia Dome. Since then, tornados have swept through Georgia. These stories brought to mind an experience from nine years ago. A tornado hit the Georgia Dome, and I was there. This is a post I wrote several years ago about that night.

SBI: A Thinning Crowd

Storms swept across Tennessee today and left some destruction in their wake. Tornado warnings and watches were all over as the map turned green, orange and red. Thankfully, not much happened around my house, but it reminded me of a time that I found myself on top of the tornado. This tornado to be specific:

In 2008, my girlfriend of the time and I traveled to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament. We hit the afternoon session to see my favorite team, the University of Tennessee, win a close game. As it ended, fans from all of the teams filed out of the Georgia Dome in anticipation of the night session and more excitement to come. However, we had other plans. Dinner reservations at the restaurant on top of our hotel, the kind that slowly turns so patrons can get a panoramic view of the city. After dinner and a…

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The Gunslinger That Cannot Be Killed

23 Jan

In 1960, audiences went to the theaters and watched The Magnificent Seven, a Western that stars Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and a lot of other great actors. However, the leader of the Seven and the most memorable character is Chris, the black-clad gunslinger played by Yul Brynner.magnificent-seven

It was an iconic role and a memorable character for anyone who loves Westerns, but it could not be known that this character would live on in different incarnations and different genres. There have been many characters that have graced the screen in multiple films, but it is possible that none of them have a journey similar to this one.

The 1960s had sequels. There was James Bond movies, Derek Flint movies (starring Coburn) and Matt Helm movies. However, there were not many Western sequels. Well, Yul Brynner as Chris showed up in Return of the Magnificent Seven, which came out in 1966.

More “Magnificent Seven” movies were made, but Brynner abandoned the role. At least, people thought he abandoned the role. In 1973, he donned the black hat in Westworld, a movie about a futuristic theme-park where people can play out their fantasies with robots. This time, the gunslinger is not the hero. He is a robot in the middle of a robot overthrow. As people are killed across the park, Brynner chases Richard Benjamin, the last surviving human. Once again, he is the most memorable character.

Westworld was a hit, and it begat another film. Futureworld came out in in 1976, and the gunslinger came back to life. I may be wrong, but that could mean that Chris the Gunslinger is the only character to appear in two different pairs of sequels.

I started thinking about this because the character has made a return. The other night, we watched the 2016 version of The Magnificent Seven. This one stars Denzel Washington as the man in black who brings together a collection of tough guys to help out the citizens of a farming town. His name is not Chris, but it is the same character.denzel-magnificent

However, that is not the only time 2016 brought the gunslinger to new audiences. Westworld is an HBO show inspired by the old movie. In this one, Ed Harris plays a gunslinger in a black hat. However, he is human. He is not the character. In an homage to Yul Brynner, the gunslinger is seen standing in an old underground lab. Apparently, he has been taken offline.westworld

That may be true of the robot, but I am not sure it is true about the character. After all, how many characters have spanned the world of movies and television for 57 years? It looks like this gunslinger cannot be killed.

Night Trees

16 Jan

The other night, I was walking the dog and noticed that the sky looked weird and cool. It especially looked weird and cool through the bare limbs of the trees. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and took a picture.img_2212

The next night, I was walking the dog and noticed that the sky looked weird and cool. It especially looked weird and cool through the bare limbs of the trees. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and took a picture.img_2213

Since I took those pictures, I have been close to writing a post that conveys in words what the pictures convey in images. However, nothing has come to mind. Heck, I even looked up poems that may fit the pictures.

Despite my best efforts, the pictures will be left to speak for themselves. In fact, that is probably what pictures are for.

Listening to the Record Machine

13 Jan

A while back, I received a cool present from my wife. She gave a turntable that belonged to her dad to me. It was awesome, and I went out to buy some records. However, there was a problem. The turntable did not come with speakers, and it is difficult to listen to records without speakers.

This Christmas, my wife doubled up on her great gift-giving abilities by getting the speakers.img_2221

We have been listening to records ever since. Some people have told us that sitting around listening to records is a sign of old age. However, we know that is not true. Sitting around listening to records now is the same as when people sat around listening to records in years past. It is cool.

In the weeks after getting the speakers, the record collection has grown to include the following.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – (pronounced ‘leh-nerd ‘skin-nerd)

The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975

The Eagles – Hotel California

Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love

Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes – Live at the Greek

Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser – Wanted! The Outlaws

Heart – Dreamboat Annie

Carole King – Tapestry

Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones

Here is the deal. If you want to find me, then you can find me listening to the record machine.