Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tidbits from the 10th Issue of The Henderson Press

Here we have Vol. 2, No. 5, dated March 10 - March 23, 2011. I can't wait until I get to the weekly issues. More immediate news, and I'm interested to see if pressure like that improves a few of the writers. Jeremy Twitchell slam-dunks it no matter what, but since he's no longer there, I want to see who steps up and perhaps does it just as well.

Now to the issue itself:

- I'm sure Don Logay's in here again somewhere, but first, the leading article in this issue is about the forthcoming St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival. It's by Karen Y. Lu and begins: "The lively sounds, sights and scents of the Irish culture will fill the air from Thursday, March 17th through Sunday the 20th at the Henderson Events Plaza in celebration of St. Patrick's Day." I'm a sucker for alliteration, so Lu's pulled me in right away. And she may be right about it all being lively. I don't consider it editorializing because those festivals generally are lively. I hate the "fill the air" part. I read too many articles like that in The Signal which began with just that phrase: "Celebratory noises and shouts filled the air as..." "The pleasant, blooming scent of various flowers filled the air..." It's not Lu's fault. But one writer at The Signal, when I was there, continually used it, never stretching to think of something else. Mad Libs for journalists.

- It seems like the economy is gradually getting better, and here's a Twitchell article about the City of Henderson's Development Services Center (described as "a one-stop shop meant to streamline the planning and permitting process") being dismantled after being projected to bring in its lowest income total ever, with construction having come to a standstill in Henderson. I'm interested to see how the articles read in future issues, especially those starting from the beginning of this year.

- This is the Fred Couzens I like: An article about public comments being accepted until April 4 about "a proposed 600-kilovolt extra-high voltage electrical transmission line running through the utility corridor between Lake Las Vegas and Calico Ridge" is well-written because he deals best in facts over people. He's the one reporter besides Twitchell who can make sense out of bureaucratic gobbledygook, which is most of this article, and of the issues that come out of it.

- Another Couzens article is about the bid for a proposed expansion of Warm Springs Road in eastern Henderson coming in lower than expected. No quotes from anyone. Just facts and figures. This is Couzens' playground. He does it best.

- Twitchell's big article in the Local News section, headlined, "Transportation Options Studied," about "three planning studies examining the future of transportation in Henderson" being "among seven studies expected to be funded by the Regional Transportation Commission" has two photos by Couzens, one of the site of a potential future roadway and another of Boulder Highway, highlighting its right-of-way issues with a truck turning out of the roadway and a car turning into the roadway. Couzens doesn't write very well all the time, but his photos are great all the time. He's a true photographer. I know I've mentioned this before, but it's part of what makes The Henderson Press a rare professional community newspaper.

- Page 6 has a coupon in the middle of the left side for Mocha Joe Coffee. "Free Drink with Purchase" at 117 Water Street in downtown Henderson. Sounds like a new business.

- Couzens has another article, about more computers at the new James I. Gibson Library than at the old downtown library, which I think closed. This one shows that if Couzens interviews only one person, branch manager Candace Kingsley in this article, he gets good quotes. More than one, and there's mix-ups and other troubles. But I hope that he becomes more skilled at interviewing more than one person for an article as these issues go on.

- On page 12 in the middle of the right side is a coupon from Emery's La Barrista Restaurant for "All you can eat Spagetti [sic] and Meatballs (Lunch & Dinner) - $9.95 + tax." It sounds a lot nicer than Olive Garden.

- Here is Don Logay with an article about the upcoming "semi-annual" Brew's Best Beer Festival at Lake Las Vegas. In this article at least, he understands to just let those putting on the event speak, not himself, to just observe various details without getting overexcited about them. Readers will figure out what interests him based on what he writes about, that is if they're reading for more than just the information like I do. The last paragraph is weak, though: "A festival to celebrate beer. Imagine that! Better yet, don't imagine it, be there." It feels tacked on, not a natural part of this article. My guess is that he was trying to figure out some way to end the article, but couldn't come up with anything else. That's happened to me many times and when it does, I make sure that it feels like a natural ending, that all that I've written leads to that. Sometimes I don't succeed, but lately, when I haven't, it's never as public as this. Otherwise, it's a good article, and Lake Las Vegas has quite the booster in Logay.

- There's a coupon in the first page of coupons for a $4.95 16 oz. ham steak with eggs, potatoes and toast at Skyline Casino. I'm still taken aback by all the food choices in Las Vegas, Henderson, and Summerlin. If you feel like going out, you could be paralyzed by indecision.

- The Service Directory/Jobs page looks a lot more organized. Different categories instead of listings for the businesses just splashed all over and each business in its own box.

- On the Transportation page is a listing for a 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser for $11,988. We have it now, it's good for what we need, but only locally. It can't handle long trips anymore, which is why the next time we go to Nevada, we're renting a car. That's not a reflection on the PT Cruiser in general, but I want to be continually comfortable in a car and this isn't the one for me. Speaking of that, still no listings for a Toyota Corolla.

And that's it. A milder issue this time. More about the business of the community, which is necessary, but I hope the next issue delves into more of the actual community, activities, and other things bringing people together. A consistent balance of the business of the community and the community itself is ideal.

Las Vegas as Seen by Aaron Spelling

With the exception of one colleague at Movie Gazette Online who also reviews DVDs, but at a slower pace than I do, the three others review Blu-Rays. Because of this, and the hero worship of the Blu-Ray format, I don't need to review the image and sound quality of a DVD. For one, I don't have the 5.1 surround sound system that would be necessary for a proper review, nor do I want it. And with so many raving over the clarity of Blu-Ray, why would the image quality on DVDs matter anymore? It's always of serviceable quality and I find no problems with my massive DVD collection. I simply review what I've seen and any extras that are included.

Today, I reviewed Vega$: The Third Season, Volume 1, Aaron Spelling's series set in Las Vegas and actually filmed entirely in Las Vegas, thereby giving me a valuable history lesson on what Las Vegas looked like at the time this show was produced. Though it's absolutely useless in what it presents in attempted drama and comedy, it's a valuable time capsule to me to see the Strip as it was.

I love reviewing DVDs now because there's so much more room. Before, everyone was reviewing DVDs. Now everyone has moved to Blu-Rays. It reminds me of walking by a set of bungalows in San Diego with the family on the way to Hash House a Go Go, and walking right by one window, I saw a small library, almost squashed together on both sides, but very comfortable. There was a leather easy chair and bookshelves, and I saw it as my own. That's what I want, with constant privacy and as much time as I want.

I get that same feeling now with reviewing DVDs. It feels that comfortable, there's not so much of a rush as there used to be, and I prefer this format because I don't need all those technological advances that suck up more and more money. All I need is my favorite movies and my favorite TV shows and I'm set. It may be because I watch less movies and TV shows and read more, but this is how I like it. I can go into the unknown crevices, the little rooms that no one has been to in a while and see it all myself. I don't have to try to jump up and quickly see what I can before coming back down. There's no crowds now. There's just me. Much more comfortable.

Here's that review:

Vega$: The Third Season, Volume 1

Friday, April 27, 2012

Discovering More of Me

At the end of the day at Six Flags Magic Mountain, into the evening in mid-December, I stopped in again at the main souvenir store to see what Superman t-shirts they had. Not any with the logo. I wanted a Superman t-shirt with the Man of Steel himself on it. I wanted to see his face, his power, and wear it proudly.

I first spotted a Superman t-shirt in a heavy duty can. Pop the top off and you find a black t-shirt wrapped tighter than you think a t-shirt could be. It was like a small block in my hand. I liked the image of Superman plowing through the black color of the t-shirt and his name above him in bright yellow letters with red rectangles on top of each letter to simulate speed. Perfect.

Two days after that visit, I unwrapped the t-shirt and found it severely wrinkled, as was to be expected from how it had been packaged. A trip in the washing machine and then the dryer eliminated some of the wrinkles, but not all. At least the shirt smelled clean.

I must have put it in the wash a second time, though I don't remember when, because I found it in the far left stack of t-shirts in my closet and was thinking about wearing it on our food shopping errands earlier this evening. It fit, but the sleeves made it an impossible t-shirt for me. They were so short, nearly reaching my shoulders, and I'm more modest than that. I will never be one who wears a sleeveless t-shirt, and I never liked tank tops either. I wore them when I was younger, but that was it.

So I gave the t-shirt to Meridith, who's excited to have it since she's a huge Superman fan. I am too, but she was first. She easily wears nearly sleeveless t-shirts. I prefer t-shirts with sleeves that end a few inches above the crook of my arm. I never thought about this at length until finding that that shirt didn't fit. It's always been an automatic part of who I am. Fortunately, I have a gray Superman t-shirt with the Six Flags logo on it, and that suits me because the sleeves are more reasonable.

No short shorts for me either. I'm not that brave.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tidbits from the Ninth Issue of The Henderson Press

This could not wait to fall in line as the first tidbit: Don Logay has the top story on the front page of the ninth issue of The Henderson Press, Vol. 2, No. 4, dated February 24-March 9, 2011. It's about what went on at the opening of Ravella at Lake Las Vegas, the new hotel in that resort region. His article is so obviously a booster piece, but his quiet enthusiasm for the area always comes through so wonderfully. He cheers, but he doesn't slobber. He overdoes the adjectives this time, such as "wonderfully warm" weather, and "warm and gloriously sunny" day, but considering the area had nearly become a shell after Ritz-Carlton closed the year before in the same location, it's understandable, but only just, since it almost reads like a press release from the resort itself rather than a newspaper article. But when he sticks to the facts, he writes as well as he always has. I still appreciate the article for those facts, for learning what Ravella has, and storing it in my memory. I may not think about it all the time as I do with Nevada overall, but it's there.

And now to the rest of this issue:

- There's a quarter-page ad for Skyline Restaurant & Casino, touting "Loosest Machines," "Most Liberal Comps," and "Friendliest Staff." I want to see what kind of slot machines they have, because even though I won't gamble regularly--and even then it'll be very small--I want to finally pick out a favorite machine. I've got my favorite pinball machines at the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana Avenue, but I also like the meditative quality of slot machines. Not only do I consider whatever's going on in my life, but I wonder about the machine itself, who came up with the idea, if it was expanded at any meetings, how many iterations it went through before final approval, and the work of making the machine itself.

- Here's another "Only in Las Vegas" thing: Blood donations in Henderson done through United Blood Services throughout February earn donors a voucher for two free tickets to Defending the Caveman, a one-man play performed by Kevin Burke at Harrah's. Makes me even more proud to soon be part of Southern Nevada.

- Jennifer Twitchell's latest "Family Matters" column is really good once again, talking about being three days past her due date, and how she should be more attuned to what's wonderful about parenting. It is for her, but what she thought she was stating as fact, such as "heartburn" and "no sleep," sounded negative to her grandmother. This is her best column thus far, enough to make me ignore her use of "whilst" instead of "while." If she was British, I'd understand the usage.

- Twitchell also has a profile about the "It's a Gas" science exhibit at Galleria at Sunset, which has the twofold purpose of informing and promoting the Henderson Space and Science Center, which its board hopes to open "in about five years." There's exhibits and demonstrations on nitrogen, oxygen, and other gases, on the first floor next to Dillard's. That kind of wonderful incongruity is what makes Galleria at Sunset my kind of mall. This is what Twitchell's best at: Great care for the community and what it offers.

- And Twitchell cares yet again, about the 10th Annual Moms and Muffins benefit at John Dooley Elementary, which puts the money earned back into the school. Those who think Las Vegas, and by extension Henderson and Summerlin, are only about casinos and fast, easy entertainment are very wrong. There are communities here. There are people that care here.

- On page 13, color ad for Baskin-Robbins offers a free single-scoop cone with the purchase of one. Valid only at the location at 510 South Boulder Highway "(and Basic Road)".

- On page 14, the ad for Johnny Mac's offers half-price pizza on Wednesdays and a 1-topping pizza for $10 on Sundays. Above both is "Daily Specials," so I would assume that they offer more than that during the week.

- The Henderson Press, at least in these early issues, are very selective about their "Letters to the Editor" section. One of the criteria seems to be that letters be thoughtful and well-written enough to get their point across clearly, without resorting to ranting and raving. In this issue is a letter to the editor from Ligeia Will of Henderson, headlined "Support Services Often Overlook Single Moms," vividly about her experiences from looking for work to becoming homeless, living in a shelter, and then finally getting housing, apparently below homeless men and Section 8 people in Clark County's priorities. She makes a lot of sobering points, important points that should be considered.

- Under "Corrections" is a long list of one from Gail Rattigan, director of the Dr. Joel and Carol Bower School-Based Health Center. He wrote about vaccines given by the center, and got facts and names very wrong (including spelling wrong the name wrong of one senior nursing student who gives the vaccines, as well as her mother's name). I don't know if that's why his byline is nowhere in this issue, but it is a relief to have a break from him, and the newspaper reads a lot stronger, free from being bogged down by Couzens's wandering articles. I'm sure he'll be back in the next issue, and so I hope his articles are like the article he wrote for the eighth issue about the City of Henderson receiving $6.6 million for flood control. When he concentrates fully on the facts, when he doesn't worry so much about how to write an article, as I suspect he does based on past evidence, he's an informative writer. He gets it.

- All of page 20 is given over to where The Henderson Press can be found, based on zip code. And there's a lot of places, including Barnes & Noble, Lucky Star Chinese Buffet, Hot Rod Grill, Henderson Hobbies, 155 Water Cafe, and so many others. This is as a community newspaper should be. It spreads; it reaches.

- Still no Corollas on offer in the transportation ads.

This was a comfortable issue, well-connected to the community itself. From here, The Henderson Press is starting to find the necessary balance of hard news and an attentive focus on the people who live in Henderson. This works.

New DVD Reviews

Five DVD reviews of mine were posted on Movie Gazette Online since El Bulli: Cooking in Progress. I like single-disc releases such as that one because I can write something right away, whereas with, say, Doc Martin: Series 5, which I'm currently watching for a review, it takes time for a review to form. I'm not in a rush or anything, but sometimes I want to write right away. I've got my novel, so that helps, but to write for readers, I like being immediate. But then, the DVD sets that take time to review can elicit richer writings that explore what's involved in a show, what makes it work, or what doesn't work.

If the DVD set is really good, I don't mind it, and having received the miniseries, Washington: Behind Closed Doors, a fictionalized take on the Nixon administration, I'm going to watch it all because of the presidential aspect. Normally, I don't watch all of a DVD set. I can't, because some reach well over eight hours. For a review that's usually less than 1,000 words, it's not necessary to watch everything. But I love how each DVD review differs, that I watched I, Claudius: 35th Anniversary Edition, and just recently finished Hazel: The Complete Second Season. Yesterday, Rebecca Wright, the head of Movie Gazette Online, forwarded a press release about Tom and Jerry: Around the World, asking if anyone wanted to review it. I do, because I like Tom and Jerry, though my favorite animated character is Popeye. By the time this DVD comes, I'll probably have watched the Carlos Mencia DVD I'm expecting, written a review of Doc Martin: Series 5, and started watching a German film called Young Goethe in Love (owing to my desire to watch more foreign films after seeing We Have a Pope three Fridays ago at The Landmark in Los Angeles). In DVD reviews, there's always something different to watch, and even though that was true of Film Threat, I feel far less pressure now because I don't want to be a full-time film critic anymore. I can have fun with this, and I am.

Here are my new DVD reviews, from earliest to latest:

Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour

I, Claudius: 35th Anniversary Edition

The Getting of Wisdom

Titanic (2012)

Hazel: The Complete Second Season

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Smooth, Peaceful Santa Clarita?

Mom and Meridith wanted to go to Kohl's today to see if the bargains in the ad were truly so. *Insert joke here about how if there's a Kohl's in Germany, it's probably a museum about the former chancellor Helmut Kohl, who served from 1982 to 1998*

It was unusual for a Tuesday since here, we never go out on a Tuesday. We save errands for the weekend. But this was limited, and it couldn't wait.

First was OfficeMax in the back end of Valencia, in the same shopping center as Best Buy, which I now call Bankruptcy in HD. Mom saw in the OfficeMax ad that there was a Toshiba 24-inch Class LED 1080p HDTV for $159.20, down from $199. Naturally, if it's in the OfficeMax ad, our OfficeMax doesn't have it, as we found out. They had a bigger TV if we wanted. We didn't. But I needed more legal notepads, which I find more comfortable to write on and easier to grab than a full-size legal pad if I'm inspired to write. Plus, I jot notes on one while I'm watching a DVD or DVD set for review. I found a 12-pack that'll be enough for a while.

Then Kohl's, across from Whole Foods, that shopping center across from the Valencia Town Center Mall complex. No decent bargains for Mom and Meridith, but for me, I found a black t-shirt with the original Nintendo controller printed on it. All my printed t-shirts are aspects of who I am, and this one is also me, a fond reminder of all the hours and days I spent on the original Nintendo.

After this, dinner time. Chick-Fil-A? Five Guys? The food court at the mall? Lazy Dog Cafe? No. Johnny Rockets, across from Edwards Valencia 12, which we hadn't been to in so long and which offered an extensive shake menu. I had a strawberry Oreo crumble shake, and from my vantage point in our booth, a view of the street that passes that end of the Valencia Town Center Mall complex, and across that street, a few shops, leading into the apartment complex over there. The trees over at that end are wrapped in white string lights. And while waiting for a patty melt with fries, and my sister's chili dog and fries, and Mom and Dad's burgers, with onion rings for her and fries for him, I just stared out that window, amazed that Valencia could exude such peace. It feels so rushed during the day, so frantic, so much to do. Yet here it was, a Tuesday evening, and I understood why some who work in Los Angeles live here. It is calm relief. But what helps is that it feels like a hub, that there are at least a few things to do, fewer than what I find in Las Vegas, but still a few things to do, which is rare elsewhere in the valley. In Saugus, my area, not a damn thing. Down the street from where I live and then across that street, there's two known restaurants, a Papa John's takeout, a CVS, and that's mostly it in that shopping center since the only major activity during the day is a dentist's office and it's long closed by that time of the evening.

That Valencia view reminded me of a conversation we all had today, and the possibility, slight so far, of a development at the foot of the Las Vegas Strip that might suit all of us. It's for 55 and over, but by Nevada law, 18 and over is allowed in those places, so Meridith and I can live there too. I don't mind. I've never had real grandparents, and my maternal great-grandfather died when I was very young (though I knew him a bit), so it'd be nice to be surrounded by those who may have lived in Las Vegas for decades, who know exactly what I want to know about some of the history of it, who lived it! Plus a bookmobile comes by (either once a week or once a month, we're not sure, and we still have a lot more to find out), and there's various classes, and a newsletter (which I want to see if I can be part of, if this is where we choose to live), and bus transportation for residents to go where they need (limited routes though and it's only about two hours during the summer days). Plus, we'll be near the new Smith Center, which is Las Vegas's first cultural center, and I'm not far from the Pinball Hall of Fame.

I told Mom that the Valencia apartment was the best time we had in these eight years because it was located behind a shopping center and there were things to do all around us (including a short walk to the library), the mall was right there, and it felt lively because of all that. While this potential Las Vegas residence is very preliminary, it fits who we are. We visited Walt Disney World so often when I was a tyke that we might as well have lived there. In fact, we wanted to. We wanted to live closer to Disney World than Casselberry allowed us. Dr. Phillips, a suburb in Orlando, would have placed us even closer to Walt Disney World. In our adult lives, Las Vegas is to us now what Walt Disney World was to us then. The same sparks of imagination I felt there, I feel in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, I still want to know everything about Nevada, and that includes Henderson and Boulder City and all of that. I want to explore every inch of Southern Nevada. I'm serious about that. I will finally have roots, and I will make it count.

Tonight's outing reminded me that not everything has to be pushed to the weekend. Every single day of the week should be lived fully. Yeah, I'll hopefully be working as a full-time campus supervisor not long after we've moved, but that time after work is mine. I can go to the Pinball Hall of Fame. I can go to a library. I can go see a movie. I can spend my evening reading. I can drive the Strip. I can watch planes take off and land at McCarran. I can do so much. Life is not meant to only be lived on the weekend. As I told Mom, we need a drastic change in our lives and this could be it. We still have to explore it further, and we'll see what shakes out, but for now, it's a reminder of what we can do, what we can be, more that we can know. I believe I'll be a much better writer after we move, because of all that'll be around me, but I also believe that I'll be living much better. Most importantly, I'll be far happier than I am here. I have books, so I'm set, but place matters too. No doubt Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Summerlin and the rest of Nevada (Reno too, one day) will provide me with constant inspiration.

Plus, I've found my kind of baseball statistics. I want to memorize the headliners, Broadway-type shows, and other acts that have appeared at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, how many days, months, years they've appeared there, and how many performances they did, going all the way back to when Las Vegas began offering that. I'll have a lot of fun with that!

Santa Clarita is good for very little, but tonight, it was a kind of peace offering. I've despised it for eight years, but I will not leave bitter. I appreciate what it did tonight, in that reminder of things to come, things to do even during a workweek, but I will not waste more time on it after I leave. I hope this is a sign that we are indeed getting closer. We have to be, but it feels more a lot more serious now, and more comfortable. I'm game for anything.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Piece by Piece, Only Way to Make a Work of Art..." - Stephen Sondheim

I don't presume to know how my novel will turn out, so I don't embrace that "work of art" part of the lyric by Stephen Sondheim (one of my heroes) entirely, but I fully embrace the meaning. That is the only way to do it. Today, I got a little more insight into my main character, who starts off my novel, specifically his childhood, which is most important, since his father divorced his mother when he was very young. I'm not yet sure why, but I know that's part of what makes him who he is. He didn't know why his father left, but he sensed that he had to step up and help out as best he can, young as he was. He feels like responsibility always weighs heavily on him, but accepts it at the start of this novel because that's all he knows.

Then at Target in Golden Valley--part of yet another long Sunday of errands that I don't mind so much now because I need to look around at the world to gather material for this novel--I found a journal that I'm going to use to keep track of my novel, with character details, places, possible lines for my characters, idle thoughts relating to all of it, and more.

It's a hardcover journal, and the front is a cluster of houses, one with a clock embedded in the triangular roof, and the front house has only the upstairs as a possible residence. Downstairs is a bakery with a "Bakery" sign hanging in front of a window that has a long loaf of bread, and baguettes and french breads in three baskets, and rolls next to that loaf of bread. A long two-seater bicycle sits in front of the shop. Next to, and slightly behind, the bakery is a three-tiered water fountain with dots of sky-blue water shooting out the top. The back cover is a lone blue house, tall, thin, with a red door at its left.

It's such a comfortable scene, and when I saw it, I knew I was going to buy it because it makes me think a lot about where I'm going to put my two main characters. They're going to travel, one ahead of the other, but I'm not sure yet of the route. It won't be by plane. This will be a road trip, but different because each one is solo.

On the inside cover of the journal is three tall houses side by side with the left-side house a dark blue, the middle house with the clock a somber orange, and the right-side house an aqua color. Above the right-side house, slightly diagonal is the sun. Below all three houses is the word "hello" in cursive. It's appropriate since I've only just begun working on and writing this novel five days ago. On the first page after the inside cover are three blank lines, and that two-seater bicycle (which I've just learned from Wikipedia is called a "tandem bicycle") a few inches below it. On those three blank lines, one beneath the other, all equal length, I wrote, "For a journey with two of the most interesting characters I will know."

After finding the journal, I went to the book section, and in the main aisle where the latest books are, I saw a woman in a white dress that had a fruit pattern all over. I don't know yet if my main female character would wear a dress, but I think she would wear a pattern like that. I've also found out that she loves doing paper art, but I'm not sure if she's an origami type. And in Walmart Supercenter after Target, finding copies of the Summer 2012 issue of Flea Market Style, I remembered that I bought a copy at Pavilions out of curiosity, and felt a spark at Walmart from looking at that issue. This is her lifestyle. She loves flea markets. She loves to buy disparate items and fit them into her own kind of pattern. She's not unique for the sake of being unique. She's always been this way. Fearless, but missing something.

It has been a really good day because of all of this. Later I'll flip through Flea Market Style and see if anything in it is part of her life. I want to go back to developing him as well, but it's her turn now.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tidbits from the Eighth Issue of The Henderson Press

I love because of the photos people take of the businesses they review. On Thursday night, while writing about that Las Vegas souvenir DVD that is an historical document to me, I looked up the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas there, and saw photos of exactly what I remember and I used that to describe the statues that are still there. The Wikipedia entry on the Fashion Outlets says that the car in which Bonnie and Clyde were killed is on display there. I think I saw a car there, but didn't get close enough to see if that was the one. I wouldn't doubt it, though. History of all kinds tends to appear in the strangest places in Southern Nevada.

It being three months since we've been in Henderson, I still remember streets whose names I've somewhat forgotten, but which I will memorize again while here, so I'm fully prepared when we move. I've lost perspective of how truly enormous Henderson actually is, and the review page on of the Galleria at Sunset mall reminds me of that with the photos there, the mall I walked through that time and thought to myself that I might have actually had dreams about this mall. Not this mall specifically in those dreams before I truly knew Galleria at Sunset, but that design, that ease, that comfort. I look at those photos of the Galleria and I'm reminded that even though Henderson is huge, it's always comfortable no matter where you go. I look at the photo of the sign of Brooklyn Bagel Deli in the same shopping center as the Smith's where I got my toy flour truck in 2007, and my toy food truck on this most recent trip, and it heartens me to find that the photo of that sign was uploaded on December 29, 2008. Things last in Henderson and Las Vegas. They stay and they grow roots and they become part of their community. That's what I've always wanted.

As I begin to read the eighth issue of The Henderson Press, Vol. 2, No. 3, dated February 10-23, 2011, I remember that before this most recent trip to Henderson and Las Vegas, reading earlier issues, it had been nearly two years since we were there and I thought Henderson was a quaint small town, and that the news covered only that small area. It's not small, but it does have that feeling of being a quaint small town, even as it continues to gradually grow. It'll never be a sprawling metropolis, and I'm grateful for that.

So let's see what my future quaint small town has going on in this issue:

- Recently, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave his State of the City speech for Los Angeles at Paramount Studios. The headline on the front page of The Henderson Press is "An Optimistic Address," about Mayor Andy Hafen giving said address at the M Resort, which is in Henderson. That's appropriate. That's supporting a local business. Holding a State of the City address at Paramount Studios throws even more into confusion what's truly real in Los Angeles. You can't live in Henderson and not know the M Resort. You will pass it many times as a resident, even if you never go into it. That's real.

- The article next to Hafen's address is about six people filing to run for the Ward IV seat being vacated by 12-year Councilman Steve Kirk because of term limits, and people filing to run for other Ward seats. Once again, Jeremy Twitchell makes politics interesting, and I hope there's someone currently at The Henderson Press who does it the same way.

- Southern Henderson's traffic congestion spurred on the widening of lanes on Executive Airport Road and Volunteer Boulevard to four, and "two new lanes each way on Via Inspirada and Bicentennial Parkway south of Volunteer Boulevard." Lucky that the names of these streets interest me, which will make memorizing them much easier.

- Fred Couzens's "City to Receive $6.6 Million for Flood Control" article is his first that's actually readable. He's given requisite information in previous articles, but they're frustrating to read because he wanders too much. In this one, because of all the technical information of the four flood control projects, he focuses only on conveying the information. I hope he sticks to this style in future articles. This is a vast improvement.

- In the Police/Fire section is an article about the $29 million expansion of the Henderson Detention Center, which brings the total number of beds from 293 to 543. This is the second half of Mayor Hafen's statement: "The expansion of this facility enables us to accomodate the needs of our current environment, while at the same time helping us plan for the demands of the future." That could be construed as a belief that crime will rise, but then the paragraph after Hafen's quote says that inmates from Boulder City, Clark County, and federal agencies will fill the space. "Henderson has agreements in place with each of those entities to house prisoners for a daily fee; the money generated by housing the prisoners of other jurisdictions will go into Henderson's thinly stretched General Fund." The article has no author, but I still believe it's Don Logay, because these police and fire articles are directly about the situations. Nothing more.

- There's an article about GospelFest at the Black Mountain Recreation Center, which made me wonder about the recreation center. According to the City of Henderson website, it has a fitness center, game room, gymnasium, indoor cycling area, pools, and tennis court, among other features. I want to try this out.

- The article below GospelFest, about a singing and dancing group from Brigham Young University performing at the Henderson Pavilion, made me curious about it. And I've found out that it is the largest outdoor amphitheater in Nevada. The events schedule on touts the 1st Annual BBQ & Music Festival on May 25 and 26 with funk, soul, jazz and barbecue. I hope there'll be a 2nd Annual BBQ & Music Festival, because I will definitely be there for it.

- The Cinema Collectors Movie Memorabilia and Gift Shop is at 11 Water Street in Downtown Henderson. A Google search reveals that it's still there, so that's where I'm going.

- The first article Don Logay wrote for The Henderson Press was in the fith issue, about torrential rains raising the water level of Lake Las Vegas. He's back in this issue with an article about Lake Las Vegas celebrating the reopening of the Ravella at Lake Las Vegas hotel. His beat must be Lake Las Vegas then, and probably why I haven't seen him between the fifth issue and this issue. Three weeks ago, I downloaded the most current issue to look at briefly and Logay is still there, maybe still covering Lake Las Vegas (I didn't look for which article was his), so I've still got more of his articles to look forward to. Just like that torrential rains article, this one is equally well-written. Surprisingly, the photo of the resort was taken by Fred Couzens. Questionable writer, but this photo is just as elegant as the hotel sounds.

- On Saturday February 19 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Silver Springs Recreation Center is a Giant Garage Sale, with "more than 50 garage and yard sales rolled into one big event offer [sic] something for everyone." Makes it worth getting up earlier than I do now. Plus, because of the summers, you do have to get up earlier for whatever you need to do if you're not working, and if you miss out, you have to wait until the evening.

- The full-page ad on the back page is for Skyline Casino, the same ad as in the seventh issue, but always nice to see.

One Logay, a few Twitchells, and it's been a good issue. There's a new writer in Tara Thackeray, who has a good article about $25,000 being donated to the Henderson Libraries for a teen lounge at its Green Valley branch. Nothing notable in the writing. She hasn't yet found the article that will show who she is, a proper introduction. Jill Lufrano, who wrote the front-page article about Mayor Hafen's State of the City address, is also still a mystery. My dream issue of The Henderson Press is nothing but Twitchell and Logay articles, but I know they're only human, so maybe one of these two will soon make the same sizable impression. And I'd like to be able to look forward to Couzens's articles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

An Historical Las Vegas Document

On the final evening of our latest visit to Southern Nevada, January 22, we left the Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson and began to drive to the Nevada/California border. Despite the departure, it was our final evening because it took us a while to get from the mall to the border since there were stops at two Henderson apartment complexes that Mom wanted to see.

Before reaching the border, we stopped at the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in Jean. Pedantically, they're not technically the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, but without Las Vegas, there would be nothing in Jean, so indeed they are the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas.

I want to include the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in one of my books, the wide-open atmosphere which is nearly no frills. This outlet mall has been quietly designed, with a few globe streetlights on inside the mall. At one of the exits of the mall is a tall model of a woman on the left side holding up a white globe and a tall model of a man on the right side holding up a globe, wearing what looks like a thong bikini. It's my favorite kind of mall, not screaming all available sales at you, no huge signs touting any stores, and not much noise. This is a mall for tourists arriving in and leaving Nevada through California. If you fly into McCarran, you could certainly drive to it if you're curious enough. But it's mainly geared toward the traffic on that road across from it.

On this night, we were there because they have a Williams-Sonoma Marketplace, which means outlet store. Discounts. Meridith wanted to see what they were selling for cheap and I was only looking for mustard, which I found, a dijon imported from France for $3.99. 12-oz. jar, and, as I found out some time later, overly vinegary, and I don't think it's because it sat for a while. It was sealed anyway.

We were also there because there's a souvenir store called Viva Vegas, where I hoped to find a bookmark. They had playing cards, and magnetic poker chips, and shot glasses, and naked lady pens (Turn it upside down and the bathing suit "melts" off), and disappointing Las Vegas t-shirts, mainly ones with "Las Vegas" emblazoned across the front. I know it's to be expected, but I would have preferred one of the Strip in an artist's rendering. And I would have worn it with pride.

Near the register was a small flatscreen TV showing footage from a DVD and Blu-Ray being sold of a half hour tour of Las Vegas. It looked like high-definition filming, and got very close to the fountains at Bellagio, to where you could see the nozzles poking out of the water and then retracting after they were done for the moment. I went back and forth on whether to get it because I know the Strip. I know where every casino is, I know what every casino offers. Why would I need a DVD of what I will soon see all the time?

I nearly changed my mind when I saw the hotel tower side of the Flamingo. They have a large wrap against the windows of the main act currently in their showroom. On the main tower, you'll find Donny & Marie. On the side tower, there's one for magician Nathan Burton. In this footage, there was Toni Braxton, which meant this had been filmed in 2007! I was looking at an historical Las Vegas document. But I didn't think of it as that at the time and left Viva Vegas without buying it.

Over the past two weeks, I've thought about that DVD. I still have space for a few more DVDs in one of my DVD binders, and besides having what I believe is the most realistic modern-day Vegas movie in Lucky You, despite a crappy script (The most realistic Vegas movie from long ago is The Las Vegas Story from 1952, starring Jane Russell, Victor Mature, and Vincent Price. I will not delete it from the Tivo until it's time to move and we have no need for DirecTV anymore), I should have Vegas as it actually was in 2007. Seeing Toni Braxton on the side of the Flamingo shows that they don't film these DVDs often, so there's obviously none for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. No yearbook of sorts.

Plus, the footage was excellent, getting that close to the Bellagio fountains and making the Strip look as comfortable as I know. And I would have a piece of Vegas history, including my own, since we first visited Las Vegas in 2007.

I found it on a website called Las Vegas Gift Shop. And on YouTube is apparently Part One of the video. Part Four has some of the Bellagio footage, but sped up. The footage that I saw may be on the DVD or it may not, and if not, I don't feel screwed because I get plenty of Las Vegas to look at, to study, to imagine the stories that were going on while the people walking by were being filmed. It'll be continually useful.

It's not Viva Vegas again, and I'm paying shipping now in addition to the price, but I'll have it in my collection and that's what matters to me. I think I'd still watch it even living near there because there are angles in the footage that can't be seen at ground level, and certainly not that close to the Bellagio fountains.

Just A-Wanderin'

Facing all the books I want to read that are in stacks in my room, I decided that I will not be on the computer if I absolutely do not need to be, and I have stuck to that for the past week. Because of that, I was able to write two DVD reviews yesterday instead of one:

I, Claudius: 35th Anniversary Edition

The Getting of Wisdom

The Getting of Wisdom was posted this morning. The only DVD I have right now to review is the new Titanic miniseries by Julian Fellowes, lately famous for Downton Abbey, which I've not seen yet, though inevitably I will, just not as quickly as others seem to have flocked to it. I know class distinctions were commonplace in that time period, but I'm never fond of people looking down on others. Of course, I could be completely wrong about Downton Abbey in that respect, but still I'll wait. With the books I have going, including my own, as well as the few things I watch on TV such as Jeopardy!, The Big Bang Theory, and occasional episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it might be nicer to watch Downton Abbey after we've moved to Henderson. Something to check out of my new local library, whichever one it might be, on a weekend.

I originally Tivo'd the Titanic miniseries, but when I learned that it was available for review (though in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack that only has the audio commentary for the first episode on the DVD, which is fine with me because it's less to do), I grabbed it because now I won't have to fast-forward through commercials! I get it all right away.

My decision not to spend so much time on the computer came at just the right moment. The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O'Neal was released on Tuesday, and I received my copy today, along with The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. My love of O'Neal's The Secret of Everything, which continues to motivate my intent to travel throughout New Mexico in the years to come, spurs me on to read The Garden of Happy Endings at first, and then I'll read The Presidents Club not only to learn of the relationships between sitting presidents and former presidents (such as Truman and Hoover, which starts off the book), but as research of my own since one of the presidential history books I want to write involves former presidents, though not how Gibbs and Duffy have done it. That they've hit upon this topic shows that I need to get moving on my own because someone else is bound to think of my idea soon enough. I want to write this particular book.

Last night, I wrote what may be the beginning of my novel about the artist with an unusual interest. I'm still not sure what this artist wants, what the reason would be to write this novel. I'm not giving up, though, because I want to follow this guy, to learn about his approach to art, what he gets out of it, what he hopes his art will do for others. I don't see him as the sort who thrives in big cities, who wants their art in as many galleries as possible. He's passionate about what he does, but he's not in constant pursuit of glory. That's all I know so far. I would like to include a few of my favorite places in Southern California as a thank you for helping me keep my sanity during these eight years. I'm not sure if these will be direct tributes or pieces of the places included in other places this guy goes to. I do know that I don't want to use Las Vegas for this novel. First, I'll be spending my time after I arrive exploring every single inch of that valley and ransacking the Nevada history sections. Second, I want to write a book about a certain aspect of Las Vegas history, and would rather keep the novel separate. And third, as I've found out living in the Santa Clarita Valley, it's more of a challenge to create if there's nothing inspiring around you. However, this guy finds inspiration often because he looks where most don't, even if there's nothing remarkable around him. This novel should be about him, not always the city that surrounds him.

Even as I spend less time on the computer and more time reading, I want to listen to more chill music, more than I hear on the XM Radio in our house. I want to listen to more Schubert, more Gershwin, and I want to explore bluegrass music. I've always been curious about it, I've heard a bit on The Bluegrass Mix, but it's not enough. I want to learn its history, the pioneers of it, what it had back then that it retains today and what's different today. I think it stems from the soundtrack I heard waiting in line at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World all those years, and, of course, O Brother Where Art Thou?. I know bluegrass music is more than just that revival, and I want to know. That would involve spending more time on the computer in order to learn. Well then, I'll just keep a book with me if I have nothing to do on the computer and just want to listen.

Once I figure out where I want to go with this novel, then there's all the music I want again. It may even inform my writing.

For now, I've got nothing else to do on here, and The Garden of Happy Endings is sitting on the dining room table. That's not where it should be. I've got reading to do!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Patton Oswalt is My God

All this time, I only knew him as the voice of Remy in Ratatouille. How could I not know of the glory that is the rest of Oswaltland?!:

My review of Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour

I Found the Novel I Want to Write

I still want to write that modern-day adaptation of a classic novel that I still haven't read yet, the road trip novel I've mentioned before. It lets me indulge in pinball, learning more about the machines themselves, the work that went into them, and especially the themes of the machines themselves. But then, I haven't read that classic novel yet. Perhaps I'm not ready for that one.

I still want to write that time travel novel I've been thinking about. I am excited about reading all those time travel novels to see how time travel has been done before, but Star Trek novels interest me more right now. I'll file it away for now and come back to it hopefully not too far from now.

Tonight, I found the novel I really want to write. It involves an artist with what I think is an unusual interest. He draws inspiration from what we simply pass by every day, not thinking anything of it. I don't know what he wants, what would be the reason for this novel, but it can only be a novel. Maybe I'd find someone like this, and if I do, I'd interview them as research, as inspiration. But it's fictional. And I know that it can't be a play. Only a novel.

I'm really excited about this. I've planned out the other two novels and I'm sure I'll eventually plan out this one, but I'm just going along with whoever this character is. I only thought of this character yesterday, and tonight, I figured out that he uses his interest for his art. It came to me while I was rolling the garbage and recycling bins to the curb, and I had points of reference right in front of me.

I don't want this to be a novel about an artist seeking a grant or more fame. There's something else to this, though I'm not sure what it is yet. I'll probably know soon. I'm just going along with it.

I feel more for this character than I do for the two characters in my time travel novel, and a bit more than the narrator in my pinball novel. This should be my first novel.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Latest DVD Reviews

My three latest DVD reviews were posted on Friday, Saturday, and today. Pie in the Sky took most of the week to get through. I had hoped to watch three episodes from each series, but by the seventh episode I watched, I felt I had enough for a review. I at least watched the series finale as well.

Griefwalker took some time to write because I wasn't sure at first where I was going with what I was thinking about in that one. Fortunately, it turned out ok.

I thought of a beginning different from what was posted, about food as we know it, such as fettucine alfredo, and then here is Ferran Adria, turning food into dishes completely foreign to sensibilities, yet utterly fascinating. 50 minutes in, I thought of the beginning that's there. It works much better.

Here they are:

Pie in the Sky: Complete Collection


El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

Tidbits from the Seventh Issue of The Henderson Press

Having written a review a day for the past three days for Movie Gazette Online, I can relate to what Jeremy Twitchell does in the seemingly dozens of articles he writes for just one issue of The Henderson Press. And yet, I don't even come close to what he does because I just sit in front of my TV, watch whatever DVD I'm reviewing, take notes, and then write the review. Twitchell goes out, interviews people, gets enough information to write the story that needs to be written, and then writes it. And he does this over and over for one issue. And he makes each article fresh and well-written. The only fatigue he probably ever shows is when he falls into bed exhausted from the day's work.

I also admire Twitchell because he's into alliteration like I am. The front-page article of Vol. 2, No. 2, January 27-February 10, 2011, headlined "Signs of the Times" begins with this: "A proliferation of political placards has ushered the 2011 municipal election cycle..." "Ushered in" is what it should have been, but I'm not going to quibble, what with how much Twitchell alone contributes to The Henderson Press. There are worse writers. I've worked with many.

Twitchell realizes that in order to keep going as a writer, you have to find bits to have fun with, such as alliteration. You have to see if there are other angles to a story that are just as informative as what you're thinking about, which keep you interested. It's why I'm not burned out from three DVD reviews in three days because I found different angles for all of them, things that I've long thought about that I believed should be included in those reviews. Next up is Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour, and my angle for that one is that I've never seen Patton Oswalt do stand-up. I know of his other ventures, but here, Meridith and I only know him as the voice of Remy in Ratatouille, considering how many times we've seen it. And for a future review of I, Claudius, I've already written an idea I intend to expand when I watch what I hope will be most of that miniseries. As Ferran Adria says in the terrific documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, "You never know where an idea will come from." I don't, and I don't try to force them. They will always come in time.

Now to this seventh issue, to see what my future community was up to then:

- Skyline Casino's full-page ad on page 2 trumpets free tacos for players on Sunday evenings, and free Italian sausage sandwiches to players on Wednesday evenings.

- Copper wire thefts in Henderson became prevalent enough to merit an article about it by Twitchell. Copper prices rising while the economy remains flat is why copper wire was being stolen from streetlights. According to this article, it "costs the city about $7.50 in materials and labor to replace," as stated by city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards. "In the last six months, about 2,500 feet have been stolen, she said, costing Henderson almost $19,000."

- Scrolling quickly through the issue, I see no stories by Don Logay, but I hope he's the one who wrote the fire and police reports in this issue and later issues. It reads like his work, straightforward and without unnecessarily wordy delay.

- The North Community Police Station has a "60-kilowatt solar array on top of its parking structure" to generate photovoltaic electricity.

- Improvements to be made to Arroyo Grande Park include the addition of a disc golf facility. Upon reading that disc golf involves throwing a flying disc at a target, I want to try it. It sounds a lot more fun than regular golf.

- Jennifer Twitchell benefited from taking a week off from her column. Her latest, about creating a family budget, is much better than her columns before, and I especially liked this line: "I was stunned. How does one spend $28 on Redbox in one month?! Oh yeah, tricky Redbox. You and your $1 promise a night that quickly turns into $7 because I forgot about returning the lame movie until a week later."

- The Henderson Symphony Orchestra had its Master Series III concert on February 11, which, according to its website, included Gymnopedie No. 1 and 2 by Erik Satie and West Side Story Symphonic Dances by Leonard Bernstein. I want to see concerts by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, but only if they include Satie, Schubert, or Gershwin. Maybe I'll see these concerts differently since I'll be living where I want and will be inclined to attend them even if Satie, Schubert or Gershwin isn't part of them. The atmosphere also helps.

- There's a coupon from Hammer's Grill and Bar for $7.99 All You Can Eat Fish Fry Fridays. That sounds good.

- On the last page of coupons, middle of the bottom column, The Henderson Press uses the space to state, "Place your coupon here for $50 an issue!", with a minimum 8-issue commitment. They sound more business-savvy than The Signal here in Santa Clarita.

- In the job classifieds, the Basic Barber Shop is looking for a barber, requiring experience (naturally) and a Nevada license. Nice to know that businesses in Henderson have actual people behind them.

- No listing for a Toyota Corolla in the car ads. Findlay Toyota is pushing a 2010 Toyota Camry Sedan for $20,159. Not my kind of car, and definitely not my kind of price.

And that's it for this issue. I'm disappointed not to find Don Logay's byline on any article in this issue, but I hope he's in the next issue. When an issue has Twitchell and Logay, it's guaranteed great reading. Fred Couzens' articles are bloated, basically throwing in all the necessary information without a plan of how to present it. Maybe his articles will improve in coming issues. Or maybe it's how he will always write. I hope for the former, though, because I don't look forward to his byline. I only read his articles because I want to know everything about Henderson, and what he reports on is part of it.

Two Sandwich Menu Boards, One Supermarket

On Friday, March 30, at Pavilions, I saw this sandwich menu board:

On the left side are options to build your own sandwich, with the bread you want, the meats, the cheeses, and the condiments. Meridith did the math on her calculator and came up with over 3,000 different combinations. I was curious, but for me, the fun is more in putting many combinations together, seeing what sounds good.

On the left side are ready-made sandwich types. Just order whichever one you want, and they'll make it for you. You don't have to come up with your own sandwich. Not a great deal of imagination in these sandwiches, but since it's just a supermarket, where you get the groceries that you need during the week, that's not to be expected. And there's photos of each sandwich, photos sanctioned by whichever division of Safeway Inc. handles such matters.

Yesterday at Pavilions, I saw a new sandwich menu board:

I wondered what had changed so much to trigger the need for a new sandwich menu board. Were customers so unsatisfied with how their sandwiches looked compared to what the photos showed that an exasperated Pavilions asked for a new sandwich menu board sans the photos? I see also that the "California Dreamin'" sandwich has changed to simply "Turkey Bacon Avocado." I think I know why. "California Dreamin'" would be the name for the sandwich in Detroit since Detroit is far enough away from California, particularly Southern California. But living in California every day, there's no dreaming involved. We live however it keeps us sane. In California, why would we be dreaming of California? Ultimately, that name makes no sense here.

On the new board, there's only a photo of bread in the now-"Classic Sandwiches" menu instead of "Build Your Own Sandwich." I guess shoppers trust that there will be meat and cheese in a sandwich, and no photographic proof is needed. Plus, it looks like a sign of cost-cutting, or of the sandwich counter not doing so well here (unless it's a company-wide edict) that there's no condiment offerings on this menu. The one from the end of March has a fair list of options, but all you'll find of condiments in this new menu is under "All Sandwiches Include:". Mayonnaise and mustard. That's it. Must not be a demanding crowd here. It always fascinates me that there's someone in the company, perhaps overseeing this region, who looks over reports of what's selling and what's not and determines what should be stocked by that. All those lists, all those figures. That's a person I'd be interested in talking to, not to suggest anything myself, but to wonder how they do such a job, what they do after they determine what's needed, and who has to sign off on it. It's like how the Walmart on Kelly Johnson Parkway sells books that are different from the ones at the Walmart Supercenter on Carl Boyer Drive. Someone studies all that.

It's a streamlined menu, I guess. The more time people spend staring at a menu, the less time they spend ordering. Lost minutes are lost sales. Put the same price on each menu instead of in the middle of the "Choose Your Favorite Sandwich" menu on the one from March 30, show that all the breakfast sandwiches are $1.99, and that's that. Less for a customer to look at, everything close together, and they'll spend less time staring at the menu trying to decide.

I didn't ask Meridith to take a photo of the breakfast sandwich menu from March 30 because it didn't interest me as much as the main sandwich menus. Perhaps they needed photos of the sandwiches for this new one because there's not as many choices as there are on the main sandwich menu. They have to gussy it up somehow.

At the bottom of the new one is "3 Minutes or Less or Free." For the rushed office worker, no doubt. It seems disheartening though. No one wants to wait for anything anymore. No one wants to take time to look around a bit. I must be the only one who, despite knowing every inch of that supermarket, always finds something interesting (to me) to look at. In this case, the menu boards, and wondering who created them, what meetings there might have been to determine what they should look like, because you just know there had to be meetings for such a thing.

On the March 30 main sandwich menu is a Chicago South Sider, which has disappeared from the new menu. Doesn't sell here. Only the basics in sandwiches for all. I'm not sure if this will improve sandwich sales, though. Every time I've been there, the sandwich counter has always been empty. It's cheaper to grab the already-made, already-wrapped half-hoagie sandwiches in the refrigerated case that sell for $2.49 each if you buy two or more. $3.99 if you only buy one. For $5.49, I'd prefer to find a more adventurous sandwich than what's offered on the new menu. Once in Henderson, I want to see if there's any changes in the sandwich menus. Since a great number of residents come from somewhere else, I should think Vons would want to be a little more daring there. Or maybe not, since there's so many options for eats in Henderson. Better to be safe than unprofitable. I still want to see.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tidbits from the Sixth Issue of The Henderson Press

I want to write about my first movie in Nevada, Beauty and the Beast 3D at Regal Fiesta Henderson 12, and about hours spent at the Galleria at Sunset mall with Mom and Meridith while Dad went for a test and a job interview at the Clark County School District offices. As I read more and more books from my Las Vegas stack, that desire returns to describe the starship-hallway feel of the one corridor at the movie theater that contains the entrances to all 12 auditoriums. Yes, just one side of the building.

But not yet. Soon, though. I'm sure of that. For now, I've opened the .pdf file of the sixth issue of The Henderson Press, which is Vol. 2, No. 1, and dated January 13, 2011, which is strange because the previous issue, Vol. 1, No. 5, was dated December 30 - January 14, 2011. But considering that this is the sixth issue and can pretty much be considered still the beginning of The Henderson Press's run, that's understandable. Takes time for any new venture to establish a rhythm of sorts. I'm not a stickler since the writing's good and therefore there's more to occupy my mind than errors like that.

So let's see what this issue has on tap:

- I peeked at the latest issue and found that Jeremy Twitchell is no longer there. A search on Facebook finds him in College Station, Texas now. I only hope that there are writers now at The Henderson Press who can fill what would seem to be a gaping black hole after Twitchell's departure. Fortunately, Don Logay, my other favorite reporter, is still there, and I get to enjoy what there is of Twitchell from this issue to whenever he left.

- The U.S. Veterans Administration is planning to build "a new clinic on the east side of Boulder Highway." 38,000 square feet and "more than 100 parking spaces." I like seeing efforts like this in progress in my future community.

- I don't like Jennifer Twitchell's column because she doesn't have a firm line on what she wants her columns to be about. There is a purpose there, but it's mired in what feels like sentences that haven't been properly edited. However, when she has to focus entirely on one topic, and it's not part of her column, she's really good. Her article about unused airline miles being donated to the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth to help homeless teens is focused (finally), solemn, and caring. When her writing isn't about her, her husband Jeremy, and their son, she's a decent writer.

- For municipal elections, Henderson uses "vote centers," as it had in 2007 and 2009, which don't require precincts and permit residents to vote at any of 13 vote centers during early voting, and 12 on election day.

- Two months and "almost $88,000" to renovate the indoor pool at the Whitney Ranch Recreation Center. Aging tile, plaster, ladders and other fittings to be replaced. It's said here that the new materials will last 10-15 years. It seems small in the scheme of a city, but I like these kinds of stories. They show that nothing's too small in this city.

- Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa has a show called Nashville Unplugged, hosted by country songwriters Aaron Benward and Brian McComas, with two invited songwriters, discussing their backgrounds and inspiration behind various hit country songs. If it's still there after we move, I want to see it.

- Julio Iglesias at the Grand Events Center at Green Valley Ranch Resort on January 15. Maybe. He's not one of the top names on my list, but still impressive.

- Henderson Farmers Market on Thursday, January 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Seems to me that a farmers market would be better on the weekend, considering how many people work, but maybe there's something more leisurely about doing it on a Thursday.

- There's a coupon for $9.99 winter jackets at Lakes Discount Center. I've got to see this place.

- In the transportation section, there's a listing for a 1997 Honda Accord. $1,400, the owner's moving and it has 200,000 miles on it. Oh, and the keywords "needs tlc." It means you're going to paying out your ass to fix it up.

- The back page of this issue has a full-page ad for Lakes Discount Outlet (where the coupon's from), showing off many discounts, including 2 for $10 on graphic t-shirts. I want to see what they've got.

This issue is a turning point for The Henderson Press. They've settled into a comfortable, informative rhythm, with much of the writing less self-conscious than it first was, and it helps that Jennifer Twitchell's column isn't here. That makes this issue much easier to read.

I'm hoping for more articles by Don Logay. In The Henderson Press at least, he writes strictly with the need to inform in mind. A true journalist.

This is starting to feel like a true community newspaper, since all involved clearly care about their community.

Sandwich #2: The Emmy at Junior's

A block away from The Landmark, where Meridith saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi and I saw We Have a Pope last Friday, is Junior's Deli, one of the very few authentic Jewish delicatessens in Los Angeles. The greatest is Langer's near MacArthur Park, which has retained its dignified feel through all these decades. It's small and it will remain that way, and it will always have the best Jewish food you will ever taste.

I would place Junior's second, but a very distant second. The food is decent, but they don't know what full-sour pickles are. Half-sour perhaps, but when we asked three times for a bowl of full-sours, they came back with the same pickles, what they apparently consider full-sours. If you're running a Jewish restaurant, you'd better know what full-sours are. Dad said that it's based on the population. Florida was populated with Eastern European Jews. Los Angeles has Israelis. Two very different belief systems in the way of pickles. It's hard to take, though, when you've grown up in one very particular way, when the passion for full-sours and really good kishka requires you to be exacting about your tastes. After that third bowl produced nothing of what we asked, we let it go. What else could we do?

When it came time to order, after I had quickly perused a fairly lightweight menu that felt disappointing, I ordered the Emmy sandwich, billed as "hot corned beef, pastrami, swiss cheese, and Russian Dressing." It's the kind of sandwich that needs fries, but no fries. Only cole slaw comes with each sandwich. Meridith had their Build-a-Burger option, choosing pepperjack cheese, and of course that came with fries. Fortunately, Meridith doesn't eat restaurant fries that often unless they're really fried, and these ones were, but I still got my chance at a few.

When I was a kid, I used to be impressed with the sandwiches I saw at The Rascal House in Sunny Isles, north of Miami Beach. They were huge! How could someone stack that much meat between two slices of rye bread and have it remain stable like that? What magic was there that kept the balance? And look at all that corned beef and pastrami and chopped liver! Amazing!

In my pursuit of my standard of perfect sandwiches, I'm a little incredulous now at sandwiches of that size. For Dagwood Bumstead, that size works because it's in a comic and that's his appetite. I know that there's Blondie's at Universal's Islands of Adventure, which Meridith and her friends searched for during their 8th grade end-of-the-year trip in order to try a Dagwood, but couldn't find the place. To me, that describes exactly what I think of such jumbo sandwiches: They're novelties. There comes a point when a sandwich becomes tall enough that it's more about the size than the sandwich itself. I believe attention should always be trained on a sandwich and the elements that make it so.

The Emmy is manageable with both hands, but you're just chomping into a lot of meat. The Russian dressing is slathered on both slices of bread, but never in between, I guess because to have it on any slice of the meat is to risk the balance of the reputation of sandwiches like these. One slice of meat has to cling to another. No sliding. And the Swiss cheese is only latched to the dressing on each slice of bread. Again, nothing in between, and again, just a whole lot of meat in your mouth. Stop giggling.

Fortunately, a squeeze bottle of Gulden's mustard was at our table and as my sandwich shrank, I thought to squeeze some on the meat. Oh god. If I had done it before, the sandwich would have surely fallen apart, but that combination of salty meat and Gulden's is a kind of heaven that can only exist in that moment. It counteracts the straight salt from the meat, elevating the flavors of the meat. It's as if the corned beef and pastrami stop trying to compete with each other in taste and just link arms and hum in peace. Gulden's is truly the United Nations of mustards, but more successful.

Tall sandwiches being a novelty that shouldn't be indulged in too often, I liked it in those moments of all that corned beef and all that pastrami. But separately, even though I know that's part of what Jewish delicatessens thrive on (the Carnegie Deli at the Mirage in Las Vegas does it too), it's still too much. Fortunately, the slices of rye bread at the top and bottom held really well, and that's how you know you're in a good Jewish restaurant. Rye bread needs to be strong for these sandwiches, but not too hard a crust. This worked.

The Emmy goes well above the egg salad hoagie I had from Pavilions, but probably lounges in the middle of my list. #5, I think. I'm saving the top spots for sandwiches that I'm sure will either come from Southern Nevada or New Mexico, or those cities I visit during my visits to presidential libraries. We shall see. I do know that I want to find a sandwich like The Emmy, but with some self-control, and more sandwiches that use hoagie rolls. I like the strength of those.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dark Shadows DVD Reviews

In near-rapid succession (mainly because I wrote the second of these two reviews late last night and sent it early this morning), here are my latest DVD reviews of two Dark Shadows compilations released a month ahead of the Tim Burton movie, and also to highlight the 131-disc complete series set, which came out in a limited edition on Tuesday (and probably sold out quickly), and a deluxe edition which will be out, oddly, in July.

Here they are:

Dark Shadows: Fan Favorites

Dark Shadows: The Best of Barnabas

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reunited with a Crush

In 2001, I had a crush on Alyson Hannigan because of American Pie 2, and saw it seven more times that summer. Last Saturday, which turned into a few errands rather that pushed our Passover dinner to Sunday, I went to see American Reunion at Edwards Canyon Country 10 while Mom, Dadm and Meridith went on those errands. It was the first time in such a short span of time that I saw two movies at the only two theaters in this valley. Mamma Mia! comes closest to that, even though we saw it at that same Canyon Country theater. We saw it one day and then went back the next day to see it again.

The same feelings I had about Alyson Hannigan, or at least her role as Michelle Flaherty (now Flaherty-Levenstein after American Wedding), welled up again while I watched this fourth installment in the series. Whereas Michelle had an unabashed quirkiness in American Pie 2, it's matured into a subtle, understated quirkiness, since she's a mom now. It's still very attractive to me, and Hannigan still has the talent of attracting much sympathy, this time for Michelle's marriage problems with Jim. Oh, I feel for Jim too, but considering that he's married to Michelle, why the hell does Kara, his former babysitting charge, matter in the least? Yet, this is what the plot hinges on, so we must watch. I didn't mind it though because American Reunion lifts the franchise up from the problematic American Wedding. The gross-out humor is here again, yet done with, ironically, more grace.

And good god, the number of times I wanted to be with Michelle while watching American Pie 2 zoomed past millions. It was still in the millions during American Reunion, but times have changed not only for these characters, but also for me: I can't see this one seven times because I can't afford these damn ticket prices all the time! I paid $9.50 to see this at a 4:15 p.m. showing. At the time of American Pie 2, I think I paid $4 or $4.50. And the movie industry wonders why box office totals drop off after the first weekend.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

This Feels Like Home to Me

I've described Las Vegas many ways, but this one sentence at the end of chapter 34 in Sin City by Harold Robbins easily encapsulates everything I've written about it:

I loved Vegas. It allowed people to be themselves.

You can truly be anyone you want to be in Las Vegas. If you're moving there, you can reinvent yourself. If you're staying for a few days, you can find your pleasures (it's always plural in Vegas) in a reasonable amount of time. Whatever you want, you can have it. It can be found somewhere. Now, that may not seem like people being themselves, but in Las Vegas, you can tap into your true nature, what you've always wanted to be but perhaps can't where you live or in the job that you do. Who you truly are is what Las Vegas wants.

That sentence reminded me of the title of Marc Cooper's book about Las Vegas: The Last Honest Place in America. It truly is. I know it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Endearing Harold Robbins

Sin City isn't by Harold Robbins, since he died in 1997, but by a writer who was chosen to hew closely to Robbins' writing style. The writer for this one was apparently Junius Podrug, according to Fantastic Fiction.

Nevertheless, Sin City makes me want to read the novels written by Robbins himself not only because Las Vegas is evoked so well here that I feel like I'm home already, but because of a line in Chapter 3. It encapsulates what I've come to realize about Los Angeles, after years of trying to extract some meaning from it, starting from 2003 when I was a new student at College of the Canyons and read every book that I could find about Los Angeles, including literary anthologies. But here it is, the meaning that shows that there isn't any meaning; there never was meant to be a meaning:

"She didn't like L.A. It didn't seem like a real town, just endless streets and rows of houses."

It sure felt like that yesterday when we drove back to Santa Clarita from the area where The Landmark was. Dad knew that Mom didn't want to go back by way of the 405, so he took local streets, which weaved us past houses high up on mountains, houses nestled in those mountains close to the street, houses on stilts, houses that cost more than I'll probably make in my entire life. It took so long to get past those houses, though there was a nice large yellow one I liked with a fountain in the front driveway. Endless streets and rows of houses is correct. In fact, a year and a half ago, I bought from The Library of America Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology for the sale price of $9.95, a perpetual sale price since it's still listed in the section of that website. I saw it at College of the Canyons, skimmed through it, but at that point, I wanted to read it to see if there was anything revealing about Los Angeles that could make me understand it. That one line in Sin City has made me seriously think about putting Writing Los Angeles in the Goodwill box. It's never been my city, it never will be my city, and I've found that meaning. Some like Los Angeles and perhaps to them it feels like a real town, but not to me. It never has.

The first paragraph of Chapter 10 in Sin City also has a perfect description in one of its sentences:

"To me, Vegas was like Hollywood, bigger than life, but even better because Betty told me that there really wasn't any place called Hollywood, that it was just a cheap and dirty street in Los Angeles and "Hollywood" was really movie studios and thousands of people scattered all over the L.A. basin."

Exactly. And now I can go home to Henderson and Las Vegas with this chapter of my life shut tight. I've nothing else to seek about Los Angeles. It's all right here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Tale of Two Movie Theaters

There we were on Thursday afternoon, a foursome, sitting in theater 8 at Edwards Valencia 12, waiting for the 3:10 showing of Titanic 3D. When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out, I toyed with the thought of seeing it, but decided to save my money for this one. It turns out I didn't have to spend my money, because Dad wanted to see it chiefly because of the song, Meridith hadn't seen it in theaters (It was my birthday, March 21, 1998 when Mom, Dad and I saw it, and there was a babysitting place near the movie theater where we dropped off her eight-year-old self, since it wasn't likely that she could sit there for over three hours), and Mom decided to join us because there's just such a great deal of things to do in this valley that she could have become totally indecisive over what to do first, so this was best. *Overreacting Sarcasmotron off*

At Edwards Valencia 12, you buy your tickets at the box office outside, walk in and to the guy standing next to the ticket receptacle, give him your tickets, take them after he rips them, and go find your theater. It's an average-person movie theater, and I like it, though I don't particularly like this one. I tolerate it because it's one of only two theaters in this valley, and you work with what you have.

Since Edwards is owned by the Regal Entertainment Group, the screens light up with Regal First Look 20 minutes before the feature, beamed through a separate projector. I used to be against commercials being shown, and making-of segments about upcoming TV shows, but it's what's at the movies now. It's not going to change. If you don't want it, then you have to find a theater that still preserves what the moviegoing experience used to be, where it's all about the movies and only the movies.

That would be The Landmark in Los Angeles. Ever since seeing the trailer for We Have a Pope early last month, I desperately wanted to see the movie. It's about Cardinal Melville, who's elected Pope by the conclave, but right before when he has to address the faithful, he cries out, and runs away from the world outside and the Cardinals gathered around him. He can't do it. The Cardinals and the Vatican spokesman are worried, because how is it going to look to the faithful when they've announced "Habemus Papum," and there's no Pope present?

The Cardinals decide to try psychoanalysis, and invite a psychiatrist (director Nanni Moretti) to try to figure out what's disturbing Cardinal Melville. He can't ask about the Cardinal's childhood or anything about his mother, but he tries. This leads to a visit with the psychiatrist's estranged wife, who he claims is "the second best after me", but is obsessed with "parental deficit." After Melville visits this psychiatrist, he slips away from his security detail and walks among the people of Rome for the next few days, trying to figure himself out, and this is part of what made me want to see this movie. This Cardinal does not feel he is above the people. He is among them. I have great respect for that. The ending was quite a surprise, a little disappointing, but understandable, and I liked the message that I perceived in it: Someone who is staunchly himself or herself is more holy than any religion.

From the outside, The Landmark is a steel-and-glass building, with shiny white tile flooring after you reach the second floor by escalator or stairs. You go to the ticket counter, and after choosing the movie and showtime, you lean over a flatscreen monitor looking up at you and choose which seat you want. Then after you pay, depending on when your movie is, you either go right in, or wait until it's time for seating in your theater.

We nearly didn't make it on time for the 11:15 a.m. showing of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a subtitled documentary about an 85-year-old master sushi maker in Tokyo. I saw it on the schedule, showed Meridith, and she wanted to see it. As soon as we got our tickets, she went right into her theater and I had some time to wait, because through the wooden slats of the closed wine bar (I'm sure it opens later in the day), I saw a vertical monitor behind the bar that counts down the minutes until seating begins for each theater. For We Have a Pope, the monitor said, "Seating Begins in 18 Minutes," so I had time to start reading Sin City by Harold Robbins (written by someone else under his name since he died in 1997), which takes place in Las Vegas, and which I've had in my Las Vegas stack for a while. Since I'm working on shrinking it, it was next in the stack.

18 minutes later, I got up, walked to the first ticket guy, who ripped the side of my ticket that belongs to The Landmark, and then I walked to theater 7, handing my ticket to the guy at the door.

It wasn't enough that the theater looked upscale by the architecture alone, or that the digital board showing what movies were playing and the showtimes at the box office counter was crystal clear. The guy looked at my ticket, saw that I was in seat D3, and escorted me to that row, floor level, three rows back from the screen. I found the seat in that row, sat down, and the screen loomed like Godzilla above me, but I was ok with that. At least it wasn't Titanic 3D, which wasn't one of the movies being shown at The Landmark, since they show some Hollywood movies, but mostly independent and foreign films, We Have a Pope being an Italian film.

Seated where I chose, I opened Sin City again, and listened to The Landmark's own music program which plays before the movie begins. I remember there being a music program that played before the movie at Muvico Paradise 24 in Davie, Florida, but it was a national program, not customized like it was for The Landmark. They can afford it.

Before the movie started, the guy who had escorted me to my seat walked to the front of the theater, welcoming everyone, and announced the movie, giving us the running time, as well as when it would end. He then said that if we had any questions or needed anything (probably if the film suddenly went out of focus, which didn't happen), to find him or someone dressed like him, "in this lovely shade of burgundy," he joked, holding out his shirt a bit with two fingers. "And now: We Have a Pope," he announced, and then walked out of the theater. Right at that point (because before the guy made his announcements, he told the projectionist over the radio to start theater 7's projector in two minutes), the lights went down and there were trailers for Darling Companion, Bernie, Monsieur Lazhar, and Trishna. Then the movie began.

I'm tempted to consider The Landmark great luxury in moviegoing because they have great respect for movies in general, but it feels too cold to me. The glass-and-steel design doesn't help it much, and though I do like the organization involved in presenting a movie on time with announcements to boot, I'm happy with a regular theater. It feels like this movie theater is for what I'm sure The Landmark perceives as a higher class of people, but I'm not part of it. I don't like class distinctions and I don't observe them. But considering that The Landmark connects to a Nordstrom which then leads into the high-end Westside Pavilion mall, well, that's a world that doesn't fit me. For sheer respect of movies, I love that dignified treatment, but it's not my kind of theater, even though the guy introducing the movie requested that there be no talking or cell phone usage during the movie. That was nice. However, I can ignore such things. At one point during the sinking of the Titanic yesterday, I heard sirens on the road outside the theater (the walls are that thin, though not between auditoriums), and ignored it. I'm there to see the movie, and it matters nothing what's going on around me. That's other people's business.

I'm sure there are theaters just like The Landmark in Las Vegas, but I hope they feel more accessible than this. Same dignified treatment, but more welcoming to all. I think that balance can be achieved.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Changes and More Changes

Lately, I haven't written much about anything else besides The Henderson Press, my DVD reviews, my newfound, but probably long-simmering, love of sandwiches, and my new lifetime goal of reading all the Star Trek novels available. It's because over the past few weeks, up to spring break this week, Dad has been at work at La Mesa Junior High and the weekends are really when we do anything, but then it's just errands which aren't always worth writing about. I can find a story in anything, but over myriad visits to Walmart Supercenter and various supermarkets, we just know what we need to get and then we go. No real need to observe what's around me because I've seen it all before, with the long lines, the one line at the Redbox machine, kids spread around the store, whichever one we're at, and more. There's less personal value in it for me because I know all this too well. Meanwhile, once we get to Henderson, with Las Vegas nearby, I know I can flood this blog with stories for years on end. If you can't write in Las Vegas, then you should quit. I will never quit.

There was something telling today when we went out, though. The food court has begun to change in the Westfield Valencia mall. Kato Japan, which we've known for years as what we pass when we enter the mall through the food court and that we've tried once or twice, is gone. The former location has a black curtain across it. The sign has been either taken down or covered up in the same black fabric. On the second floor of the mall, right when you get off the escalator that's across from the mall's main entrance, there used to be a dog shop, with dogs in cages behind plastic windows. It closed last year and was replaced by a motorcycle accessory shop, which has also closed. On our way back to the food court from the Shops at The Patios (as the area is called), where we went to see if any new eateries had opened up before we four fully decided on the food court (Mom and Dad were waiting at the food court while we checked), Meridith and I saw that the motorcycle shop was gone, yet there were black plastic curtains covering the windows from behind, with a slight view right down the middle at the entrance. We peeked in and found that there's going to be an arcade there, and someone was inside, installing one of the machines. No pinball machines from the little I could see, but it makes sense. The only arcade in the Westfield Valencia shopping district is next to Edwards Valencia 12, called Full Tilt, and it's a sad-looking arcade, with the machines perpetually on sale, with price tags stuck to them.

My only question is: How does the mall plan to manage this? I can already sense occasional fights among teenagers, and kids hanging about for hours, so what's the plan? It's probably why I didn't see an arcade at Galleria at Sunset in Henderson. Security at the mall doesn't want the added burden of that, although kids are much more polite in Henderson than they are in Valencia. They're more genuine too.

While Meridith had a salad from Burger King, Mom a Whopper, me a Double Whopper, and Dad something from Panda Express, I noted how when we live somewhere for many years, nothing really changes in the area. And when something does, such as a furniture store being replaced by a bank, as it was next to the Sheriff's station near the mall, it's so subtle that it doesn't mean anything. But now, with the makeup of the food court changing, with two as-yet unclaimed spaces that have been boarded up for some time, with an arcade going into the mall where I'm sure no one expected one (though I'm sure the owners are going to get some good business from it), it's clear that massive changes only happen when we're getting ready to move.

Another case in point is when we went to Big Lots in Canyon Country before we went to pick up Tigger and Kitty from Precious Pets Grooming. Every single time we've gone there, from the first time to the time before this one, when Big Lots was offering 30% off items on a Sunday in early March, I've always struggled with how many DVDs and books to get, based on what interested me. I spent a lot of time each time counting books, counting DVDs, gauging my interest in every title I held. Some I kept because I absolutely needed to read it, such as Never Break the Chain: Fleetwood Mac and the Making of Rumours, and some I gave up, like Slam by Nick Hornby, because I still wanted to read A Long Way Down and wasn't ready yet for Slam. I know one doesn't lead to the other, but I've got to really want to read a book and I didn't want that one yet.

Today at Big Lots, for the first time ever, I bought nothing. I had picked up I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee, and That's Entertainment! III, and Michael Clayton, and carried them as I looked at an utterly devastating book section, but decided that I didn't need them so badly. I thought of watching Michael Clayton to see how Tony Gilroy is as a director before The Bourne Legacy comes out, but it doesn't matter; I'm still going to see The Bourne Legacy. Samantha Bee's book seems more like a read from a library, and I bought That's Entertainment! because of the crumbling MGM backgrounds, showing the stark reality of Hollywood, while actors like Fred Astaire and Esther Williams introduce clips. I don't think I'd find the same in That's Entertainment! III, since that came out in 1994, well after the MGM lots had been sold off, which is why they were in such a state of disrepair in the first movie. I like watching reality puncture Hollywood puffery.

That I walked through the book section--picking up one book, briefly reading the inside flap, and putting it back not five seconds after, with the process repeated a few times--without picking up anything that I really wanted to buy, shows the sorry supply at Big Lots right now. I don't know if it will change, because there were at least 10 copies of the extended two-disc set of Peter Jackson's King Kong, at least 15 copies of The Astronaut Farmer starring Billy Bob Thornton, and I lost count of how many SpongeBob DVDs I saw. No Star Trek DVDs that I had hoped to find, which was really worrisome because there was a slew of them when I wasn't looking for them three visits ago. But there were the same Star Trek figurines from the latest movie that were there last time, yet still no model of the Enterprise. Shouldn't that be part of this collection of figurines? I have no favorites among that group in the movie, but I do love that starship.

Disappointing as it was not to find one book or DVD that I just had to have, I'm happy at this development because things always change when we're getting ready to move, besides the moving part, life will change, and this time, it will be for the best and greatest, as high as those adjectives can go. It makes me wonder what else might change in this valley before we leave. It's bound to happen more and more. That's just the way it works.