Category Archives: Opinion

Movie Review—Amistad, a Steven Spielberg film

Amistad

Amistad, a Steven Spielberg film starring Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, and Matthew McConaughey, was released in 1997. I did not know about the film until a few days ago. At first I could not believe that because I have liked every Steven Spielberg movie ever made, and Morgan Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors. However, 1997 was in the midst of what I call my lost decade, ten years in which I lost track of time, lost track of music, lost track of movies, pretty much lost track of life. So here I am, trying to catch up on everything.

Amistad is a long movie at two hours and thirty-four minutes. The subject matter, the slave trade in 1839, is not a matter to take lightly. In great Spielberg tradition, the visual effects were, well, too visual. I had to take a 24-hour break about halfway through the movie.

Movies like this one which are based on true events and show the most evil side of humanity used to leave me wondering how people could be so evil to other people, but now, with Twitler in the White House, it seems evil is not necessarily back (was it ever gone?) but certainly it is out in the open, and welcome.

Morgan Freeman got top billing but I think he wasn’t the lead in this movie. I’d have to give that position to either Djimon Honsou or Matthew McConaughey. Honsou was the leader of the captive slaves and McConaughey was the defense attorney working to get the slaves freed, a task which he ultimately was successful. A lower court ruled in favor of freeing the slaves and returning them to their home in Africa, but President Martin Van Buren appealed the lower court’s ruling to the Supreme Court. McConaughey sought help from a former president, John Quincy Adams, then a member of the United States House of Representatives, to argue the case in front of the Supreme Court. Anthony Hopkins played John Quincy Adams.

The acting was superb, which I figured it would be since Spielberg requires the best from the best. The ending was excellent—bravo to the British!

Overall I can highly recommend Amistad with the forewarning that there is a lot of full frontal nudity, both male and female, and a lot of cruelty that will make you cringe. Be prepared to take at least one good break during the movie.

Double R Creations & Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

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Facts, research, science…. meh

Opinion

Texas A&M UniversityI worked for the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, and University Press at Texas A&M University from April 1, 1984, to May 15, 1987, and the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, and University Press at Stanford University from May 16, 1987 to September 30, 1987.

One of my tasks was to check facts, citations, sources, and references. I questioned everything and verified everything before any press release was released, before any newsletter was sent, and before any book was published.

Once I was satisfied about the integrity of a book, I assigned it an ISBN. In today’s world, ISBN’s can be bought for as low as $4.95. That helps self-publishers, but the whole definition of self-publisher means that no one has verified anything. That’s okay for something like a picture book, but it’s not okay for books relying on facts, research, and science.

Considering the prevalence of digital photos and photo editing software, as well as video editing software, and how those fake photos and videos spread on social media, it might not be good for picture books, either. I fear that the world is going to end as humans revert back to their evolutionary predecessors….

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Opinion—Cast iron cooking

Opinion

When I was living with my wise old grandmother in Kingsville TX from December 1965 to May 1973, she forced me to do child labor, things like hanging the laundry outside, bringing the laundry in, clearing the table, cleaning the sinks and bathtubs, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the windows…….. oh, the list goes on……… that dastardly woman!

The one thing I hated the most, though, was washing and drying the dishes, especially her huge monster gigantic really really big and heavy cast iron frying pan. I promised myself that I would never have a frying pan like that.

Fortunately, Teflon came along about the same time, and I have been a Teflon fan all my life…. until last month when I bought a huge monster gigantic really really big and heavy cast iron frying pan.

I bought it because our new Samsung range that we bought in July 2017 came with a cast iron griddle. Finest thing ever for cooking pancakes and bacon. That encouraged me to think about a cast iron frying pan. They are expensive, more expensive than Zoey the Cool Cat’s prescription food.

However, while I was at my favorite outlet mall, Viejas Outlets, I went into Kitchen Collection and found a huge monster gigantic really really big and heavy cast iron frying pan for just $38. It came home with me.

Best. frying pan. ever.

Cast iron frying pan

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Opinion—See & hear & do it now

Opinion

Double R CreationsWith the start of my new business, Double R Creations, I’m in the process of combining all of my billions and billions and billions of pictures onto one huge 8TB SSD and then finally deleting the pictures that I won’t use—pictures that are too small, grainy pictures from decades ago, home inspection pictures, and stuff that I have saved for whatever reason. As my wise old grandmother told me in 1966, “If you haven’t used it in the past six months, get rid of it.” Her version of get rid of it was to have one of her famous semi-annual garage sales.

Here is something that I saved on August 26, 2003, and just re-discovered. I really like it.

Live It Up, by Ann Wells (Los Angeles Times)

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. “This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.” He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. “Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.” He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister’s family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special. I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends, and less time in committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event—such as losing a pound, getting the sink Cameliaunstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends. “Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

I’m not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I’m guessing—I’ll never know. It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with—someday. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write—one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is special.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Halloween offerings at Home Depot, El Cajon, California

Opinion—Little kids should still be in bed

Opinion

I like to go to Home Depot early in the morning since they open at 6:00, especially as the days get shorter because, in the early morning darkness, I can’t do too much outside.

Yesterday, August 27, 2018, Home Depot had put up their Halloween offerings. I snapped three pictures:

Halloween offerings at Home Depot, El Cajon, California

Halloween offerings at Home Depot, El Cajon, California

Halloween offerings at Home Depot, El Cajon, California

A little boy, probably all of six or seven, was standing in front of the skeleton dogs/tigers/whatever they were, pointing at them, and crying. He looked absolutely terrified. Meanwhile, daddy was ignoring the little guy while trying to find the right battery package on the hanging display nearby.

Notwithstanding the fact that Halloween is TWO FULL MONTHS and 3 days away—

hey! at least they don’t have Christmas displays up yet!—

shouldn’t little kids still be in bed at 6:00 a.m.? Asking for a friend.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Opinion—“Hunger Games” might not be too far behind

Opinion

Until this morning, it had been over a month since I had been to my local Home Depot. I have been shopping at this Home Depot for 19 years and had come to know just about everyone working there. This morning, I did not see a single person I knew. It appeared that they have had virtually 100% turnover. Why? This:

Home Depot self-checkout, El Cajon, California

100% turnover because of 100% self-checkout, even at the commercial lanes.

Instead of cashiers, there were a bunch of high schoolers standing around watching the self-checkout lanes, and one security guard watching over everything.

I’m sure the people who had been cashiers for the last 20 years didn’t want to stand around watching the self-checkout lanes for $11.50 minimum wage. High schoolers, on the other hand, especially those getting their first job, are only too happy to do that.

I’m pretty sure the rich corporations are only getting richer by doing away with annual salaries. And with Twitler and his ilk doing away with health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and keeping salaries low for those who do get to work, “Hunger Games” might not be too far behind.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post