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by Karen Fayeth

In Memorium for One Of The Greats

Over the weekend came the very sad news about the passing of Hollywood legend, Ray Harryhausen.

The Good Man was a lifetime Harryhausen fan and introduced me to the magic that Ray made only recently. How badly I had been missing out.

At 92, Ray lived a good long life and he leaves behind a legacy of work. His stop motion animation paved the way for so much of what you see now in this CGI-heavy film world.

Mr. Harryhausen will be missed, along with his best friend, Ray Bradbury. Tough to lose both Rays within the course of a single year.

To remember Mr. Harryhausen, I am reposting something I wrote back in 2010 when I first learned to appreciate Harryhausen movies. You can tell from all the exclamation points how totally into his movies and the animation I was (and am).

For you, Ray.


———————

This old dog learned a new trick
Originally published February 5, 2010

At Christmas, my husband received a great gift from his step-mom. He unwrapped it and exclaimed, “A Ray Harryhausen collection! Honey, look, we got a Ray Harryhausen collection! Wow, thank you!”

And I was like, “who?” My sweetest is an educated film guy, so I figured it was some obscure director of strange and dark independent films. So I said, “hey, great!” with a shrug.

Who knew I was TOTALLY missing out?

In my ongoing film education (The Good Man is keeping a list. I’m working through it….) he popped “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” in the ol’ DVD player while I was eating lunch one weekend afternoon.

I was immediately hooked in. Yeah baby! I figured out just who Ray Harryhausen really is. A master of creating amazing creatures in stop motion animation.

The stumbling roaring Cyclops from the late 1950’s is every bit as creepy today. In fact, in a lot of ways, I actually like that better that today’s overly CGI’d movies.

At the end of the “Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” DVD, there were some special features. One was clips from when Harryhausen got an Oscar (presented by his best friend, Ray Bradbury. What a pair they must make!) and at the conclusion of Harryhausen’s acceptance speech, Tom Hanks comes onto the stage to bring on the next award.

He makes the segue by saying, “I know for some people it is Gone with the Wind or Casablanca, but for me, it’s all about Jason and the Argonauts

I looked at The Good Man and said, “Well we have to watch that next, then.”

And so we did. We watched as Jason and his merry band of Argonauts fight a huge bronze statue of Talos that had come to life and, oh man this part was cool, a whole army of sword wielding skeletons! Skeletons! I *love* skeletons! They clacked and grimaced and fought. Aw damn, how very cool!

Then we watched “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” and I remembered that I saw this movie when I was a kid, most likely on TV. I watched it with my big brother back in the day. I remembered the blue Shiva with swords in all the arms. (and let’s talk about the very naturally endowed Caroline Munro. Rowr! It’s so rare these days to see an un-surgically enhanced actress.)

And finally, we had to get to THE must see film in the collection because, well, it’s set in San Francisco. The next in the series of my SF film education.

The movie was “It Came from Beneath The Sea.” Yeah baby!

What the movie lacked in dialogue and story (and it lacked A LOT), it more than made up for in great animation.

Oh, that angry squid snapping the top off the Ferry Building and wrapping tentacles around the Golden Gate! Whoa! And that far-reaching tentacle slapping down Market Street, squishing unsuspecting citizens!

Good stuff!

So I’m now up to speed on Harryhausen. I have also watched the Dirty Harry movies. Then we did the Hitchcocks set in SF (hello Vertigo!).

I’m excited to see what’s next in my ongoing film edjumacation! I have so much to learn.






Image is a still from “It Came From Beneath The Sea”.




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A Rigged Game

Last evening I had a chance to meet up with a friend and a friend of a friend to have a girl’s night out. Our respective spouses were together at the baseball game and so we fell to conventions and did a boys night/girls night thing.

The ladies decided that dinner and a movie sounded all right, so we stopped off at a fabulous San Francisco restaurant that served a very nice sangria and happy hour soft tacos. The prawn and also the pulled pork tacos were divine.

And then off to the movie theatre across the street from the restaurant where we got three tickets to see Magic Mike.

Now, the IMDB summary of “A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money” didn’t make this seem like my kind of show, but it the film was directed by Stephen Soderbergh. He does good stuff. And the film gets a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

So we decided to give it a try.

Let me cut to the chase: It was awful. The acting was terrible. The script was embarrassing and even the editing was terrible. In one scene the main actress had a tattoo. Then she didn’t. In one scene a supporting character had a full bottle of Pepsi, then it was empty, then it was full again. Sheesh!

Walking out of the theatre we wondered aloud how this crap movie could get such good reviews.

Which reminded me of the kerfuffle around the movie John Carter. The Good Man is a fan of the books and went to see the movie in the theatre. He genuinely liked it.

He said then that he felt the poor reviews were unfair. John Carter only gets a measly 52% on Rotten Tomatoes.

On the plane to London with time to kill, I decided to watch John Carter. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but I love a well told story in any genre.

I have to say, it’s a pretty good movie. Solid story line, well defined characters. The acting was a little sketchy here and there, but what rollicking lasers blasting sci-fi film has perfect acting, eh?

So after watching John Carter, I commented to The Good Man that the producers must not have paid off the right people to get the good reviews. I said it facetiously but after this whole Magic Mike debacle, it’s become my full on conspiracy theory.

Did the Magic Mike team pay off the right people while the John Carter crew did not?

Are movie reviews really bought and sold like trinkets on eBay?

Are movie reviewers on the take?

Could the whole movie industry maybe possibly be entirely completely corrupt?

Is the truth really out there?

Hmmmmmmm……







Image by Abdulhamid AlFadhly and used royalty free from stock.xchng.



Bits and Bobs

Been here in England for a full week and I’m having a lot of fun. And working hard.

Ok. Mostly working hard.

But sneaking in a little fun where I can.

It appears that England’s newspaper industry is still going strong, and every morning I can hardly wait to read the latest edition of the Independent, known as the i, and the local Newbury newspaper too.

I love the Brit sense of humor, and I also love the i’s ability to report every little bit of local news with both journalistic seriousness and humor. I’d read more US newspapers if they gave me a little chuckle now and again.

Here’s a few clips from just this last week.


The Fonz and Me. That’s right, the same day I arrived, The Fonz was in town. He was visiting a primary school and promoting reading. Go Fonz! I’m not kidding when I say this was front page news.





Civic pride.This story made me laugh out loud on the train. I actually startled the young businessman sitting next to me.

It seems the mayor of a fairly small town decided that when it came time to greet the Olympic torch, she wanted to really bring forward the pride of Louth to the world.

So she dressed up as a sausage.

Read the short clip, especially the last line.





Very descriptive.As an avowed linguaphile and word nerd, I love, love, love listening to the Brits speak and their colloquialisms.

This is just the end of an article complaining about HSBC Bank’s new piped in music and adverts.

In the last two columns are the phrases “cock-up” and “crap the music altogether” that I want to use.

A lot.




“Hey boss, it looks like my team cocked-up the invoices this month, can we just crap the May payments altogether?”

I’m gonna guess US HR is gonna say no to that.


Stop or I’ll say stop again. And finally, this is my favorite. I’ve shown this photo to everyone who will look at it and even the locals shake their heads.

Here’s how I understand the story: the town of Newbury wants to cut down on people drinking way too much then getting rambunctious, so to that end, local bartenders have all agreed not to serve people who are already drunk.

Great, fair enough.

The article goes on to say, “Newbury Pubwatch has also introduced the concept of a warning letter which is hand delivered when an individual has been involved in a drink-related incident.”

Um. A letter?

That’s gonna curtail the hooliganism. I’m sure if it.






Whaaat? I Can’t Hear You.

It’s so rare that I express any sort of kindness for ANY California politician from either side of the political spectrum, but today I am feeling a small bit of fondness for one Mz Anna Eschoo.


_____________________


Loud TV commercials to leave quietly, thanks to FCC


The Federal Communications Commission today is expected to pass regulations requiring broadcasters and cable and satellite TV systems to maintain constant volume levels. The order, which goes into effect one year from today, “says commercials must have the same average volume as the programs they accompany,” says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Last year, President Obama signed into law a measure that Congress passed giving the FCC authority to address the problem. A Harris poll taken around that time found that 86% of people surveyed said TV commercials were louder than the shows themselves — and, in many cases, much louder. “It is a problem that thousands of viewers have complained about, and we are doing something about it,” Genachowski says.

While normal listening levels average about 70 decibels for a typical TV broadcast — 60 is equivalent to a restaurant conversation; 80 to a garbage disposal — levels on a TV channel can vary by as much as 20 decibels.

To comply with the new law, broadcasters can use audio processors to measure the loudness of a program over its entirety and adjust the volume of commercials accordingly, says Joe Snelson, vice president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. He said the goal is to avoid an abrupt change in volume when a show goes to commercial break.

Some broadcasters and pay-TV providers already have begun implementing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM). DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer says the satellite provider is “ensuring that our commercial inserts are at the proper volume level and … (we) are working with our programmers to be in compliance with the rules the FCC adopts.”

Similarly, Cox Communications plans to make sure that local ads and commercials on national networks “are compliant,” says Cox spokesman Todd Smith.

“Slowly but surely, consumers are going to get something they have been wanting,” says David Butler of the Consumers Union.

“I never characterized this as saving the Union,” says Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., the original sponsor of the bill. “But consumers have been asking for it. We may not have peace in the world, but we may have more peaceful homes.”
_____________________



All that said, one *might* ask why, exactly, this issue had to pass through legislature.

I mean really, people.






Original link found on Shoeboxblog.com


A Party For A Glass

There are a lot of adjectives that can be used to describe the City of San Francisco. Some flattering, some less so.

One word that always leaps to my mind is nostalgic. For a big bustling city, on the forefront of technology and food and lifestyle, the town can get really bundled up about the past.

From toppled clocks to fiberglass dog heads to the preservation of graffiti, the town will vehemently unite around a little quirky slice of the past. After the lamenting and handwringing, people will unite to lobby government, business owners and each other to put things back to right.

The latest example? Glasses. Plain ol’ glasses manufactured by the Libby Glass Co. of Toledo, Ohio.

But a special glass that oh so perfectly fits the town’s specialty of Irish Coffee. I, myself, have held onto many a glass of the type and shape that makes a perfect warm beverage. The same glass that the manufacturer decided to stop producing.

The City’s biggest purveyor of Irish coffee, the iconic Buena Vista at Fisherman’s Wharf, had stopped buying from the Toledo company and moved over to a Chinese manufacturer. With such a huge drop in business, the Libby Co. didn’t see why they should keep cranking them out. It just made good business sense.

Enter the tenacity of a nostalgic people. There was an outcry! There was vocal frustations. Pleading, begging and enough of a ruckus was made that the story hit the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

When the company read about the good people of San Francisco mourning the loss of the right glass, they made the decision to swallow some not-insignificant costs to resuscitate the glass mold and do a new run. If this stack of inventory sells well, they’ll consider doing another run.

And Irish Coffee drinkers rejoiced!

From the article in the SFGate:

“The queenly, petite glass…allows for just enough whiskey and not too much coffee, with barely room for three C&H sugar cubes at the bottom and aged whipping cream that floats like a halo on the top.”

Indeed. It’s another cool foggy summer evening in the City. Tourists and locals alike seem to get along pretty darn well over a perfectly poured Irish Coffee in the beautifully shaped, heat retaining glass.

For reference, in the photo below, the one on the left is all wrong. The glass on the right is our little beauty.



Photo credit: Susana Bates / Special to The Chronicle


Side note: A few years ago, the Buena Vista also changed their whiskey brand in favor of a private label. It was a shocking transition and the purists were not pleased, including me. The new whiskey isn’t as smooth as the other variety. Doesn’t keep me from drinking it, but it gives me something to complain about.


No Substitute for Sense

As I’ve been fighting the demon of lactose intolerance, lately I’ve been sampling several different milk alternatives.

Soy, hemp, almond, grain, etc. All of ‘em.

The one thing they have in common in the strongly worded admonition on the side of the container that the product shouldn’t be used as a substitute for baby formula.

All because of that one couple who fed only soy milk and apple juice to their baby, and the baby died.

So I’d been thinking about just this very topic recently when lo and behold, my friend NewMexiKen posted this today (from a 1956 Life Magazine):



Via The Consumerist, click image for full story.


From the ad copy: “For a fact, you can even give this sparkling drink to babies—and without any qualms. Lots of mothers do just that!”

Faboo! Sort of reminds me of the old family scrapbook I have where my grandparents wrote down the formula to feed their first baby. The recipe is Karo syrup and milk. My Aunt turned out fine, so I guess it was ok.


Lucky Page 13

The June issue of New Mexico Magazine is on newsstands now! I got my copy in the mail this week and found a few more copies at my local Borders.

Yippee!!

Here’s the cover, in case you’re looking for it. I’m on page 13!





I’ve Got A Secret

In one of those weird things that sticks with you over the years…

I remember that some dear friends of our family always subscribed to New Mexico Magazine. We’d go visit their beautiful adobe home in the Valley, and when the adult conversation would bore me, I’d pick up that magazine and flip through the pages.

New Mexico Magazine gave me a view on my home state that was much different than what I knew. I’d stare and stare at those amazing full color photographs of Native American jewelry, or locations around the state, or blue sky and clouds.

It was like my New Mexico, only better. I used to devour that magazine cover to cover.

When I became an adult, I started subscribing to New Mexico Magazine for myself. After my move to California, the magazine helped me get through pangs of homesickness. I’d dog ear pages of photos and articles that made me happy.

New Mexico Magazine has been a fixture in my life as long as I can remember. Today, I know something that the kid sitting on the floor in a beautiful adobe home in the Valley didn’t know.

I’ve been keeping a secret. I didn’t want to say too much in case it didn’t work out.

Now the secret can be told. I have permission to share my Very Big News:

I wrote three articles that have been accepted for publication in New Mexico Magazine.

Let me just pause here before I pass out.

Ok, I’m back.

The first article is slated for the June issue. Due out soon!

The other two are planned for the September/October timeframe. Since the magazine is undergoing some changes to the editorial staff, it’s a bit up in the air. I hope to know more soon.

All gratitude to Associate Editor Ashley Biggers (@ambiggers on Twitter) for opening the conversation and working with me through this process. She has a talent for developing writers, and I’m grateful for her patience.

I’m already working on a couple more ideas for upcoming articles. There is so much to know and explore about New Mexico that I’m excited to share.

This is a pretty big honor for a little girl from New Mexico.

Join me now in an epic rendition of the Happy Dance!






To properly celebrate, I wore my Fat Babies to work today. New Mexico in da hoouuuse!


Image from Yippee Farms


Theme Thursday: Television

Ah but she was a beauty. With a light gray case, she sat upon a wobbly stand, gold tone painted spindly legs that ended in little plastic wheels. The early definition of “portable.”

The dial to change the channels was made of actual metal. It had saw tooth ridges on it. All the better for gripping and turning, I suppose.

The on-off button was also the volume knob. Tug that knob, and give ‘er a few minutes while the tube warmed up.

Soon a clear bright black and white picture emerged from a small dot in the middle of the screen. All three channels plus PBS!

“Karen! Change the channel!” Click, click, click. Turning the channel knob was a tactile experience.

That black and white Zenith was a purchase from the early years of my parent’s marriage. We’re talking 1950’s here. As a child in the seventies, it became a fixture in our living room.

One of my very, very early memories is from being toddler age. I would stand right in front of that television and grip its gray plastic bezel for balance. I didn’t grip too hard, because it would slide off, but just tight enough to keep gravity from winning.

I remember Walter Cronkite. He was giving a news update and showed a fairly clear film clip of soldiers carrying guns. This wasn’t a movie, it was the news.

I didn’t know what it was then, but it seemed bad. Walter’s face was serious. I stared at those men with guns rather intently. This image is still fresh in my memory. It took until adulthood to think back on it, on the timeframe that this must have occurred, to realize it was a news update on the war in Vietnam. I would have been three or so.

That Zenith with the stylized logo, the Z like a lightening flash, electricity zooming through the letters bring pictures to my screen, was where I stood too close to the screen and watched Dick Knipfing present the news of Albuquerque and New Mexico.

It was where I watched Sesame Street and soap operas and the Not Ready For Primetime Players on the first seasons of Saturday Night Live.

In the early 1980’s, my mom made a bold decision. It was time to invest in a color TV. This was long after most of our friends and neighbors had long since brought color screens into their lives.

Mom shopped and compared and finally she and Dad decided on a model from Sears. It had this fancy way of changing channels, you simply touched this little metal nub by the number of the channel you wanted! No turning a knob, simply a quick touch.

It was splendiferous!

And with the incoming color TV, the old Zenith black and white had to find a new home. So we carted it to our “Lake House,” really a single-wide trailer on a permanent concrete pad on a patch of land in Logan, New Mexico.

Logan is on the east side of the state, so the antenna on top of that trailer picked up the stations out of Amarillo. The Zenith black and white now reported ranch stock futures and the market price for pork and sides of beef. It entertained us after a day out swimming in the lake.

In fact, when my folks sold the place in Logan, that Zenith TV went with it. It still worked, by the way, though it took a heck of a long time for that tube to warm up.

They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to.





Today’s Theme Thursday is: Television

In Defense of Frank Burns

Lately, I have been subjected to a series of long and longwinded meetings.

When my latent child brain is subject to boredom, fascinating things happen.

So, when someone in a boring meeting made a comment that reminded me of an episode of M*A*S*H, it got me thinking about the characters which led me to…

Maybe over the years, we haven’t given Frank Burns a fair shake.

Stay with me here. I have a reasoned argument to present.

Changing the point of view on this to second person to make it more impactful, here is my defense of Frank Burns and why we shouldn’t hate, but have empathy.

Here we go:

Take the characters and situation and place them in the real world. Imagine if you will:

1) You work a job that is both dangerous and complex, and you are responsible for human lives. Being a doctor is actually very important to you. That said, your two coworkers (who you are also forced to live with) are not only arrogant and disrespectful, they are also complete alcoholics.

And yet, despite being drunk a fair percentage of the time, including while at work, they are viewed as the fair haired boys. Your boss overlooks their obvious addiction and goes so far as to tell you to get over it when you bring their questionable behavior to his attention. And you outrank those two buffoons!

Deep down you know that you, sober as a judge, will never be as good a surgeon as they are while drunk on homemade gin. That knowledge chips away at your self-esteem every single day.

2) You date one of the hottest chicks in camp, which is a good thing. But as I’m fond of telling my guy friends, “dating a very beautiful woman comes with challenges.”

I mean, she IS smoking hot. Fer chrissakes, they call her “hot lips”…the trouble is, there’s been plenty of guys who have sampled those hot lips. Your va-va-voom girlfriend is a notorious flirt and will openly discuss her partying with generals and colonels around the globe, and you’re expected to just take it with a smile.

She expects you to be a good military man and constantly compares you to her legendary father. Then she lets your roommates slide on their non-military behavior because, she reasons, they are so good at what they do.

And you become acutely aware that this chick is WAY out of your league. A little neurosis sets in as you try to hang on to the hottest girl you’ll ever lay a hand on in your entire life.

3) You get zero support at home. Ok, yes, there’s that cheating with Hot Lips issue which means you are not without some blame. And yet, a nice word in the mail from the spouse would be nice. You’d like to think your own wife would be in your corner, but she’s not.

Neither are your parents. And you don’t have any friends. It’s a lonely old world stuck in a grimy tent with two hotshot lunkheads mocking your inadequacies on a daily basis.

4) People call you Ferret Face. To your face. It’s not your fault you were the big loser in the genetic Olympics and wound up with a weak chin.

5) Your hot girlfriend pressures you all the time about getting married. This, despite the fact that you told her from the start you weren’t looking to leave your wife. It’s a constant nagging pressure.

Then she goes off on R&R one day and comes back engaged so some big, tall, athletic bohunk with a strong chin and suddenly your only friend in the world is now off limits.

And this causes you to slip off your nut. You really do love the girl, but maintaining the girl has been more than a weak-chinned man can take.

6) If you can’t have love or respect, then it sure would be great to be promoted to Lt. Colonel. People would be forced to respect a Lt. Colonel. A Medal of Honor would be nice too. That would really shut them up.

7) You are probably an undiagnosed case of Aspergers, or at the very least are prone to vicious bouts of OCD. But you get zero sympathy. Meanwhile, the chronic addicts are lauded and celebrated.

It’s a pretty solid case. The more I think on it, the more I feel a little bad for hating Frank all of those years. Perhaps time has been kind to ol’ Frank.

You know, no matter what Hollywood would have us believe, in life, it’s never as easy as “that guy is the good guy” and “that guy is the bad guy.” We’re all the bad guy. And the good guy.

And Frank Burns is misunderstood.






Photo found several places on the net but unable to find attribution. Will include attribution or remove at the request of the owner.


It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane! No, wait…it’s not that at all.

Today in the San Francisco Chronicle‘s online edition, the SFGate, there was a very brief story on the front page for a few hours.

Here’s the headline:

Pot-firing catapult found at Arizona-Mexico border

Ok, in a nutshell, the story is:

“Drug smugglers trying to get marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border apparently are trying a new approach — a catapult.

National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening.”

Blah, blah, blah, the Border Patrol and National Guard seized the catapult and about 4 pounds of the green stuff.

A fairly amusing story, all in. But that’s not the best part.

SFGate allows readers to comment on articles, and that’s where it gets good.

Here’s a selection of the best of what SFGate readers had to say:

“The catapult has been held without bail”

“Time for US to spend a few billion dollars to develop counter-catapult technology.”

“When trebuchets are outlawed, only outlaws will have trebuchets.”

“Total distance traveled by projectile: Over the border;
Time to impact from launch: 2.5 seconds;
Angle of launch: 45 degrees;
Temperature at time of launch: 65 degrees Fahrenheit;
Dimensions of projectile: 8 inch wide x 12 inch long cannabis;
Force of gravity: 32.15223 ft/s/s;
Muy bueno!”

(that’s geeky goodness)

“OMG it’s raining pot!”

“sounds pretty half baked.”

“No doubt these guys got the idea for their new delivery method from playing Angry Birds on their stolen iPhones.”

“They left this part of the story off:

‘Shortly after the seizure, the Mexican troops contacted the Americans and offerred to capapult 10 kilos of marijuana to the American side of the border in exchange for 10 large combination pizzas and a case of Doritos.'”

“Sophisticated criminals use a trebuchet.”

“Green Express. When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

“This is what you get when the smugglers trade pot to an engineer for design work…”

“Save the bales!”

“The free Mexican Air Force is flying tonight
Flying so high yi hiyeeeeee!!”


I guess I should expect no less from the Bay Area, a place notoriously in favor of the use of the same stuff that is being lobbed over the wall.

Buncha smartasses. *grin*






Image from Icanhazcheeseburger


Physics by way of the cable company

From a whipping-up-anxiety article in Time magazine titled “Will the Earth Have Two Suns by 2012?

Regarding Betelgeuse, a rapidly collapsing red super-giant star:


“It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up,” Carter said. “We’ll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time…and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all.”

And while the celestial event could take place before the end of 2012, it may not occur for a million years.


Emphasis added by me.

Sooo, it could happen in a year or a million years. Trifle hard to plan provisions for that million year stretch. What’s the half-life on my water container?

It’s only January of 2011 and I’m seriously DONE with the doomsday predictions.

Meanwhile, a star that explodes and lights up the Earth for a few weeks then fades away? That’s pretty damn cool. I kind of hope it happens by 2012.



Source.

Bend The Rules Until they Squeak

December 6, 2010 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: media, Opinions, rules, sigh, words, writing 

You know, over the years I’ve come to accept the fact that the internet is a place that full to brimming with misspellings, bad grammar, and callous disregard for the English language.

My only refuge has been in “respectable” news organizations that still take the art and rules of writing seriously. So there I am today, reading an article on cnn.com a (relatively speaking) respectable news source.

Trouble is, I can’t focus on the article because this is glaring at me from the right hand side of my screen.

It actually hurt my head.

Yes, I know, that’s an advertiser and not CNN. Yes I know CNN just pumps out the ads, they don’t proof them, yada yada yada.

That said…Funk and Wagnall wept.

Your Definition and My Definition Differ Greatly

So every once in a while, I’ll read something in the daily news that grabs my attention.

Occasionally, something really makes my eyes open wide.

And then every once in a while, I’ll read something that makes my eyes open wide, leap out of my head, fall down on the floor and roll around a while.

The following headline in yesterday’s news had just this effect on me.

El Paso named safest US city

Uhhh.

Errr.

“…El Paso has taken the top spot for having the lowest crime rate among cities of more than 500,000 population in the annual rankings by CQ Press, a publishing firm based in Washington, D.C.”

So, yeah, I’m gonna guess that those people at CQ Press haven’t paid a personal visit to El Paso lately.

Look, I’m not going to bag on El Paso. It is the birth place of my best friend, and that itself recommends it highly.

It’s also the birthplace of Sam Donaldson and Gene Roddenbury. So ok. Some decent talent comes from the town that Texas forgot.

Having spent a lot of time in El Paso, I could use a lot of adjectives to describe the city. I’m not sure that the word “safe” would burble up to the top ten.

I’ll be fair here. I’ll even take out the obvious concerns about El Paso sharing a border with arguably the most dangerous city in Mexico.

In the past year, approximately 50,000 additional troops were located to Fort Bliss, an army installation in El Paso. Those 50,000 include both returning troops and soldiers left after bases closed in other states. That 50,000 is soldiers only. Add in spouses, kids, other family and the number of new residents rises.

Then add in the high number of people who are fleeing the violence in Juarez and the numbers climb even higher.

Put it together and you’ll find a city bursting at the seams. You can feel it when you visit, the town is growing so fast that infrastructure is having a hard time keeping pace.

That means busy police, fire and emt forces are being overextended during a period of economic downturn and government cost cutting. Sure, all of the new city residents will pay taxes into the economy which will help shore up infrastructure, but that kind of growth takes time.

And then let’s talk about the ongoing immigration flow through a border town like El Paso. My best friend’s folks live within visual distance of the border highway’s Zaragoza bridge. They have bars on their windows. In their some forty years of living there, they’ve found desperate illegals hiding in their yard. Neighbors have been robbed. Violence occurs (but isn’t often reported). I’ve been sitting in the back yard and heard shots fired.

El Paso is a fine town with a rich history. There is a lot to offer the residents who live in that city. Reasonable real estate costs. The Franklin Mountains are beautiful. UTEP is a fine university. Great weather. Even lots of job opportunities. It may even be a relatively safe city. But safest in the US? I have to question that assertion.

Evidently, I’m not the only one.

Some Call El Paso’s Safest City Ranking ‘Bogus’


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