Saw this film yesterday. Characters nearly perfect. Khan is in it. If you’re a fan of the original series, you’ve seen the very end many, many times. Loved it.
- Observations of a Freelance Writer
Saw this film yesterday. Characters nearly perfect. Khan is in it. If you’re a fan of the original series, you’ve seen the very end many, many times. Loved it.
The Branding Iron Restaurant is a part of a bit of tourist trap in Williams Arizona that they call Wild West Junction. There are other things in Wild West Junction, but as I haven’t tried them, I won’t comment. I have, however, eaten dinner at The Branding Iron, and I’m glad I did. You probably will be, too, unless you’re vegan, in which case I’d recommend not trying this one. In keeping with the Old West theme, they feature ribs and steaks and such theoretically “Old West” fare. Honestly, I don’t know what they ate in the actual West a hundred and fifty years ago. But in 2013 you can get a darned good salad, prime rib, baked potato and beans both green and barbecued. Well, never mind the barbecued because they’d run out, but the green beans were snappy, green, and tasty.
You don’t come here for the elegance, although the dinner side of the restaurant is “more elegant,” in the words of the manager, than the breakfast side. This picture was taken at our table, looking toward the front door, which you can’t see but it’s there. They get pretty busy at times, I think, and that’s probably because the food is so darned good. While we were there a group of German tourists came in (for some reason, Germans seem to be particularly attracted to Route 66.) I couldn’t tell by looking at them that they were foreign, but their speech gave them away because it was, well, in German. For what it’s worth, I was surprised to see them order a pitcher of Bud Light. I was drinking a richer, local brew myself, so you can see that they have something for everyone in terms of beverage to accompany a meal. Sure, soft drinks too. Hey, it’s a family place!
The Wild West Junction, 321 E. Route 66, Williams, Arizona 86046
Drover’s Inn Bed & Breakfast ~ Branding Iron Restaurant ~ Iron Horse Saloon
(928) 635-4512 ~ (928) 635-4308 ~ info@WildWestJunction.com
Westside Lilo’s is in Seligman, Arizona, on, well, what do you think? It’s on the West side, on the South side of the highway. Lilo’s has what is, to date, the best chicken fried steak I’ve ever eaten. Their scrambled eggs are fluffy, the hash browns are excellent, in fact way better than most, because they turn them while frying so that they aren’t just a lump of white potato shreds in a crust, but rather have crusty bits all through them. Yummy!
Interestingly, Lilos isn’t just a Route 66 dive cafe. In fact, it is also a German restaurant. Our traditional breakfast is English, of course, but I think Chicken Fried Steak owes a lot of it’s background to German cooking. (It actually is an American invention, I’m pretty sure.) Besides breakfast, and a damn good one at that, Lilo’s has traditional German fare in addition to, uh, well the very name Hamburger is German for somebody from Hamburg, so I guess those are included in the German menu by default. (The cheeseburger is also an American invention.) I’ve been stopping in at Lilo’s for the past year, and there almost always are some tourists from Germany eating there. I grew up eating German food, as interpreted by my mother, not always to a good effect, but I’m thinking that if the natives, so to speak, eat here, it must be worth the eating.
Below are a picture of the front of Lilo’s as well as a close-up of a mural on the East wall. You’ll have to pardon the shadow; it was early morning when I took it. This is a cafe that I can recommend without reservation. Hey, I eat there, don’t I?
People who’ve followed me over the years know that I like to run. You know that I don’t run fast, but that I can go a marathon and be smiling at the end. This thing in Boston kind of hits home, so much so that I have to write this. If you’re like most people, and I’m not sure I am in the way I’m writing about, you never think much about America and violence, except maybe to bemoan video games, or rant that guns need to be eliminated, or protected at all costs depending on your bent. Well, at the risk of sounding like I’m taking a stand on that issue (which I am not) I’m going to state flat out that weapons are not the problem. Every damned thing in the world is a deadly weapon if used in a certain way, so there is no way to disarm people. At least, not in any country I’d be happy living in. We have a problem in America, alright, but it goes a lot deeper than just people owning lots of guns. It’s sort of like this:
When we encounter a problem, no matter what it is, our knee-jerk response is to shoot something.
I’m going to put that in again, in case you missed it. I think it’s that important:
When we encounter a problem, no matter what it is, our knee-jerk response is to shoot something.
Now that, my fellow Americans, is a big problem. I have a torque wrench in my tool box, but I don’t think that every situation I encounter needs precision tightening. I have automobiles that can go at least 110 mph (probably faster) but I don’t think that every time I get into one of them means that I need to go that fast. I have several computing devices that could easily calculate the value of pi to a hundred million decimal places, but you know I really don’t care what that figure is, and I wouldn’t think of tying up my computer on such a stupid task. But, since we have guns all over the place, we figure we need to fire them? At people? What the hell is that about?
Almost never is shooting someone a good response to a problem. In war, sure, you’ve got enemies. In peacetime, at home, you really don’t. Here’s a short list of people and organizations that are most definitely not out to get you:
The United States Government
Your local police department
Your neighbors (unless you’re asking for it somehow, but then it’s on you, not them)
That 14-year old walking down your street, whether or not he’s wearing a hoodie.
Other drivers on the street.
Some guy putting a pizza coupon on your door.
And I could make that list go on for pages on end if I wanted to.
Here’s the first thing you need to remember: You are not important enough for anyone to want to do you harm! You’re just some ordinary human, and most people are content to entirely ignore you, unless you irritate them in some fashion. Underneath all the hype, the truth about guns is that they are designed simply to kill things. There’s not anything else you can do with a gun, except target practice, and that’s just practicing killing things. And why are we so obsessed with killing things? For protection, like if somebody breaks into your house while you’re asleep? You know life isn’t television, right? Most housebreakers are hoping that they’ll get in and out undetected. They really, truly, don’t want to meet you, and when they do shoot somebody it’s because they’re frightened into it.
Which brings up the second thing you need to remember: There’s really nothing to be afraid of in this world, considering what you have to do to get out of it. And you have to do that, no matter what else happens. Yes, friends, you’re gonna die. We’re all gonna die. If an asteroid wipes out the planet, we all get to die together. Otherwise, we all get to die one at a time. It really doesn’t matter how you do it, but you have to do it. Die, Sucker! Aw, that’s not really a command, it’s just the way it is. So, given that, you’re going to kill somebody for a home entertainment system? A laptop? A handful of jewelry? What the hell is wrong with you, anyway? They’ll be dead soon enough, and so will you!
Our lust for violence extends to the fact that we’re the only country that I think you could call “Civilized” that still executes criminals. Believe me, I don’t care that the criminals are being killed. See my immediately previous paragraph for why that doesn’t bother me by itself. Everybody’s going to die, they’re bad people, the world is arguably better off without them. All good points, and if I was on a debate team that was arguing in favor of capital punishment, I’d use ‘em, you know I would. No, that isn’t it at all. And I’m not going all Gandalf, either. Anyone may yet do wonderful things, I suppose, but anyone can also become a mass murderer, so that’s a wash. No, the reason I’m against capital punishment is that when you start killing people to solve problems, you just end up getting more people killed. What? Okay, when you officially sanction killing people, and that’s what capital punishment is, you make it easier for other people, who aren’t criminals yet, to think about killing as a way to solve their particular problems. The attempt to make a situation better ends up making it worse. Kind of like telling the NRA you believe in background checks.
Now, seriously, folks, think about it. You are not important enough to be a deliberate target of an assassin. Stuff isn’t worth killing somebody over. TV dramas are fiction, designed to raise your interest, and blood pressure, and pulse rate. The real world harbors extremely few serial killers. People who break into houses want to get away with it, not to hurt anyone. Shooting someone to solve a problem is, 99.99999% of the time, basically a stupid thing to do. I’m not making any of this stuff up. Folks, if you want to live in a peaceable world, live peaceably. It’s that simple. If you want your neighbors to respect you, respect your neighbors. Holy cats, that ain’t rocket science, it’s just simple logic. One more short topic and I’m out of here:
Humans interact in pretty specific ways. There are rules to human behavior, and here is rule of human behavior number one:
The way you perceive the world generally treating you is the way you are generally treating the world.
There are jerks in the world, right enough. Some people are just obnoxious a-holes and that’s all there is to it. Every so often you run into one of those. But if you run into a steady string of obnoxious a-holes, so it seems like mostly that’s all there is in the world, then the truth of the situation is that you are the obnoxious a-hole. Those other ones you meet are just reacting to you and reflecting that back at you. Yes, that really is rule number one. It’s as true as gravity. It’s not a religious precept, it’s just the way things work. So, once again, if you want to live in a peaceable world, live peaceably.
That’s it. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to convert anyone to some religion, ’cause I don’t do that. I don’t even particularly like religion, to tell you the truth. Too many people get killed in the name of some holy thing or other for me to feel good about such things. What I’ve done is lay out some simple true things. Heck, you can verify them if you want. 1. Don’t be afraid of the world or the people in it. We’re all idiots on some level, which should make you feel better if you think about it. 2. Lighten up and treat the world the way you’d like to be treated. Live peaceably, if that’s what you want. Or live in a war-like state if you want to get shot at. Either way, you get what you give. 3. Remember, you’re just not that damned important. You, me, all of us, we gonna die. Kind of liberating, actually.
Now, if you want to collect guns, go the heck ahead. Just don’t expect them to solve your problems.
The Sno Cap is a famous diner in Seligman, Arizona that was first opened by one of the Delgadillo brothers, local heroes, and justly so as they were instrumental in getting Historic Route 66 off the ground to begin with. The Sno Cap first opened to serve travelers on the Mother Road, and that’s what it still does to this day. From the beginning, the place has been rife with kitch and humor. For instance, when I asked about a straw, I was given the choice of a handful of plastic straw, sort of like Easter grass, don’t you know, and something to drink with. Well, I took the hollow tube, thank you very much, but that’s the sort of thing that permeates the entire experience of dining at the Sno Cap.
On the side of the building, up at the top as if it were a crawl about stock prices or such, is the phrase “Famous Dead Chicken.” I was told that they bread it and deep fry it and serve it on a bun, which sounds like it might be pretty good, but I had a burger and onion rings.
Here’s a picture of a few of the many antique autos parked about the property. There are quite a few more. There are outhouses in back that actually work, and thankfully include flush toilets and sinks, although they are still the size of outhouses. If you think about it, there is no need for a sink in a regular outhouse, so no provision is made for one. These guys use them anyway. But they work, and that’s the important thing.
The shtick is good, and unfortunately that means better than the food. My burger and rings were okay, but just okay. I’ll even say that I’ll bet that they are authentic to what was served back when Route 66 was the way to get to California, and kitch was all you had to distinguish your place from the one next door. Too bad for the Sno Cap, Route 66 is now Historic Route 66, and while it’s great to look like 1955, and boy doesn’t a lot of it manage that?, it is also important to feed a 21st century taste. And I don’t mean Vegan or health food, just better than “okay.” Well, this is essentially an ice cream stand, and the cold stuff really can’t be bad, so if you’ve never been here, then what the heck, check it out! It’s an experience in itself alongside a highway that is also a destination on its own accord. And the people who founded it were hard working, good-humored genuine heroes! And, what the heck, okay is still okay, innit?
Now, just so you’ll know what you’re getting into (at least potentially,) here’s a picture of one of those restrooms.
See? Running water and everything!
I have several Northern Arizona Route 66 cafes to review, but before I do that, I want to introduce you all to an attraction that is literally along the old Road, in Williams, Arizona. It’s a new attraction, and also just a few hundred yards off of Interstate 40, so it’s convenient and easy to visit when you’re driving across Northern Arizona. It’s called Bearizona. Bearizona actually opened for business, I believe, in 2010. We first visited last Labor Day, and we were so impressed that we joined. Joining Bearizona gets you unlimited admissions for a year, plus a pass for a carload of your friends, and a discount in the gift shop. So, what is Bearizona, I hear you asking. Bearizona is a drive-thru wildlife park, plus a walk-thru area where you can observe smaller animals such as fox, beaver, and raccoon. The younger bears are also kept in the walk-thru area, which they call “Fort Bearizona.” Yes, kids do seem to love the place.
This picture is of three wolves playing in the road in the drive-thru portion of the park. These three are a fairly small portion of the total population. This picture hasn’t been altered in any way except to adjust brightness and contrast. It wasn’t taken with any zoom, either. In fact, the only thing between me and getting my hand bitten off is a car window. (Actually, I doubt that these particular wolves would bother a human, but I didn’t want to take any chances.)
Besides wolves, you also drive through herds of goats, burros, bison both normal and white, big horned sheep, and of course bears. Once we visited just after a lot of orange slices had been put out for the bears. Naturally, all of the bears came out to have the fresh fruit, so we saw dozens of them on that afternoon. In the winter, of course, bears hibernate, so if you go in, say, January, you might not see a single one.
That would be a shame, so here is a picture of a juvenile bear pulling himself between a couple of tree trunks. As I wrote above, the juveniles are kept in the walk-thru portion of the park. They are in two areas, one for “Kindergarten Bears”, where the younger ones are kept starting as soon as they are big enough to, so to speak, fend for themselves. The K-12 Bears, on the other hand, are big enough often to look like regular old bears, but not yet ready to be put in with a population of adult bears. The oldest ones leave for the general bear group in the fall, so this time of year, only the kindergarten bear area has anyone living in it. By summer, that will change again.
There are other animals to visit, as well. There is a petting zoo, with goats and chickens and other exotic versions of farm animals. Plus beavers, lynx, bobcat, porcupine, raccoon, peacock, and more.
Here is a picture of a pair of lynx. Notice the size of their feet. Bearizona also hosts the High Country Raptors show several times each day, where you can get close to eagles and other really cool birds.
Park hours vary depending upon how much daylight there is. Prices are free for 3 years old or less, $10 up to 12 years old, $20 from 13 years to 62 years, and $18 for 62 and older. An annual pass is $175 per carload. All prices are plus tax. Bearizona is located at 1500 East Route 66, Williams, AZ 86046. Phone 928-635-2289.
Even today, you can still get your kicks along Route Sixty-Six!
I don’t mean the John C. Calhoun who was a Confederate advocate prior to the Civil War. I mean the John C. Calhoun who was an adviser to President Nixon on issues of mental health. My John C. Calhoun was essentially a biologist specializing in mammalian behavior. Okay, in how mammals act and why.
Assuming they have any, you can still buy a copy of his Space and the Strategy of Life. It’s way out of print. I got a copy for free from the man himself because somebody clued me into the secret method of getting one. That was, write him a postcard by hand asking for it. Now that, if you will, is sort of odd. But it was fitting, given what his research uncovered. My copy is just a photocopied reprint of a manuscript, I imagine you get covers and everything with the book.
Calhoun determined that any group of mammals has an optimum size. For different species the optimum number is different. For rabbits, it’s a lot. Really a lot. For humans, it’s eighteen. The optimum number seems to relate to how much food can be gathered and distributed, how much space the individuals need for their activities and things like that. For any mammal, when the number of group members gets close to twice the optimum, the group splits in two, hey no hard feelings, and now there are two optimum groups. Lucky groups, I suppose you could call them, keep splitting off and splitting off. Of course, sooner or later, if a species is really successful, it runs out of room to keep splitting in two.
In most cases, if that happens, then some groups just have to go. As in get killed off by other groups. Humans sometimes indulge in that solution, but mostly we don’t. Instead, we add a layer of complexity to our social lives so that we only meet roughly the same number of people we’d meet in an optimally sized group. That’s where social class comes from. After a while, not even that is sufficient, so we add layers of layers. By using these artificial seeming social dividers, we humans can endure population numbers that would be inconceivable to many species.
This relates to politics because, if you think about it, something has to give every time the population of a group of humans reaches eighteen times a power of two. At 36 (18 x 2) you either split, or come up with a class system. At 72 (18 x 4) you can so that again. Before you know it, you’ve got separate villages, a principality, a kingdom, an empire, each adding a layer and keeping individuals only meeting a manageable number of other people. How do you live in a city? You ignore the people you meet on the street unless you have actual business with them, or they are friends in another context. Sure, you’re all in New York or whatever, and you may be a heckuva bunch, but you keep out of each others’ business, because you have to to survive.
So, say your population is approaching 2,359,293, which is 18 times 2 raised to the 17th power. Go ahead and add it up, if you wish. Like say you live in the Las Vegas area, which population recently topped the 2 million mark. Hey, we’re getting close. It would be reasonable to expect that some tensions are developing, right? Well, some are. The City of North Las Vegas is in financial trouble and so is now using the County Jail to hold suspects for trial or whatever. There is talk of consolidating Fire Departments, also. As Calhoun points out, England and Scotland became the United Kingdom when their population was right, although that’s not obvious in a historical reading. In the same manner, Southern Nevada is having a crisis of government, where consolidation seems like the key to saving money all around. It is (gasp) another layer of government, but it also is being, mostly, welcomed. In the business world, all of us are eagerly awaiting the full consolidation of licensing. It isn’t fun paying a fee here, a fee there, another one over somewhere. What is being put together is a method to pay all license fees at the same time, and to one entity. Whee-doggie. Dang, biological destiny at work!
And, what if your population has recently exceeded 301,989,888? Like, say, the population of the United States of America did in recent years? Would you expect that things might be up in the air? Maybe a fairly significant number of people wouldn’t be happy with the way things are going? Maybe even that some people would simply go into denial about what’s happening and, oh I don’t know, say that they want to “Take Back The Country?” Why yes, you would expect that. And so, here we are. The problem for the super-conservative crowd is that there is no going back. They can learn to accept what the country has become, or they can fade into historical insignificance. That, friends, is why “Current Politics” is in the title. The question now isn’t whether we let all the immigrants vote or whatever, the question is whether we use their skills to keep America great. That’s what we’ve always done during past similar crises, and I’m pretty sure that is what we will do this time. Of course, I have been wrong before, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll come through the current crisis (which may get worse before it gets better) just fine.
*****Aside about creativity.*****
I said that getting an article from John C. Calhoun involved a hand-written postcard. That’s because he also discovered that people who move through a group quickly interact with a lot more other people during the day, while people who move through a group slowly interact with a lot fewer other people during the day. And, further, that “high velocity” people, meeting lots of other people, tend to be influential but not creative, whereas “low velocity” people, much more solitary (in general) tend to be creative but not influential. (This is true in most species, not just humans.) Calhoun chose to be creative, which is why only an old-fashioned slow means of communication worked. Today, if any form of art is done by committee, no matter how much brainstorming and cross-checking they do, it’s going to more or less suck. Real art is the result of real creativity, and that, my friends, requires a passle of alone time. Which explains why nerdy folks like Jobs, Gates, and Zukerberg stomped all over corporate giants like Xerox and IBM in building the modern Internet. Bottom line: if you want to construct something that basically is a known quality, like a skyscraper or city hall, form a committee. If you want good art and innovation, be alone, be very alone.
The 2013 conference from Writers of Southern Nevada is titled Writing Fiction in the Digital Age. It will be held October 11th and 12th in beautiful Downtown LasVegas at the Plaza Hotel, 1 South Main Street, across from the West end of the Fremont Street Experience.
Published authors, Editors, and Agents from a wide variety of genres will be attending and presenting workshops on the craft of writing, the different aspects of e-publishing versus traditional publishing, what an agent looks for, what an editor wants to see, and many other things you’ll need to know to get your story out and sold.
Early Bird registration is only $225.00, but it ends June 1st. The regular price is $325.00, good until the day of the conference or when the conference sells out.
For out of town attendees, or for locals who would like to get away for a couple of days, we will have hotel rooms at special rates for that weekend. Downtown Las Vegas features several newly renovated hotels, the Fremont East entertainment district, the arts district, and a selection of night clubs and restaurants sure to please virtually everyone. Early Bird registration opens soon! Plan your fall writing conference now and enjoy a great experience in a great city!
I’ll bet that the German auto industry improved profits for a quarter strictly on the basis of the cars used up in this film. And that’s the best part. If you loved the last one, you may want to skip this one.
It was revealed today that, in fact, the body found under a parking lot (car park) in Leicester is indeed that of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England. You may know him from Shakespeare’s play of the same name, but if that’s the case, you don’t really know him. As it happens, Richard III is significant for being, from an American point of view at least, one of the best kings ever. He initiated the first ever Public Defender’s office, for example. He also instructed his judges to ignore rank or wealth when deciding a case, instead depending strictly on the merits of each side’s argument. Henry Tudor, shortly to become Henry VII (and father of the famous Henry VIII) took advantage of the fact that Richard was upsetting the power structure and took the throne by conquest. (He never claimed any other right to the office.) So, Richard became the last English king to be defeated by conquest, and Henry’s descendants, including Elizabeth I, weren’t keen on telling the unvarnished truth about him. In fact, he not only instituted legal reforms, but he never killed the princes in the tower, so far as forensic evidence shows. If somebody killed them, it wasn’t King Richard III. So, a good man who pushed his noble constituents a bit too far a bit too fast, that was the real Richard III.
For an article on Reuters about the discovery, click here.