Monday, September 29, 2014

The Dirt! Selling Prices of Notorious Homes, Like Oscar Pistorious Mansion

These are all homes where something very terrible happened, usually somebody was violently murdered. In real estate this is known as stigmatized real estate and there are laws mandating that prospective buyers must be told what happened. Now that Google is only one click away it is amazing how if you just put the bare bones info about the house into the search engine, the entire story will come right to you in all of the lead links. And I mean everything. 

Right at the top of the page Google will typically ask if you want to see the crime scene photos. If you click yes, it whisks you away to the Google Image Search Engine and will bombard you with countless pages of crime scene and autopsy evidence. Nothing is held back. Nothing is too grisly. If you have set safety filters on your search engines, then some of this might not appear but few of us set limitations on our searches. What this means is that when any buyers are curious about a house, they can find out right on their (smart)phones what happened there with the grisliest pictures imaginable. I've got all those crime scene pics too for each of these houses but for the moment, I'm just showing the houses. Hope you find this as interesting as I did.

I think I must give Charles Lindbergh, of all people, the highest marks on selfless, charitable actions after one of these tragedies. He made a huge charitable donation to boys in danger with his real estate from his own tragedy. I've gotten used to thinking of him as the one time heroic aviator who turned into a Nazi but perhaps I've been too harsh on him. 

You might want to post a comment at the end about whether you could live in one of these properties. Of the two of us, I'm inclined to think I could do it more so than Felix thinks he could. Felix says he does not want that much bad Karma. The thing is that the land has been around for an awfully long time and the odds are that someone has violently died on your piece of earth. If there is such a ghostly after phenomenon, I doubt there is a statute of limitations on how long the ghost stays there. If there was a violent death a thousand years ago, then when it comes to eternal matters, that is not all that different from the ghost that took up residence yesterday.

These are all images. Click on them to see giant versions in the lightbox.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thoughtful, Screamingly Funny Satires, 4 of Them

The Hospital, starring George C. Scott
Director: Arthur Hiller Writer: Paddy Chayefsky

George C. Scott plays a doctor who is chief of medicine in a hospital which manages to convincingly bungle everything, including killing a perfectly healthy patient. Scott is going through a midlife crisis wherein he is divorced and his children have disowned him. He is just wonderful and I do miss seeing him in new films. This is my tied favorite performance of his, along with his Patton and Strangelove ones.

A young Diana Rigg is in the film as a daughter come to take her ill father home. This was her debut American performance. Scott finds himself drawn to her although he also finds that he's got a murderer stalking the halls of the hospital and doing away with some of the staff, not that some of them don't deserve it.

This is not a farce. Everything which happens is quite believable and cumulative. The murderer is a bit of an exaggeration but even that person seems believable by the end. It is a beautifully written screenplay and that is because one of the masters wrote it, Paddy Chayefsky. So although this film can be absurdly funny, it is also thoughtful and dramatic. The things it skewers are not outside the realm of actually happening. For those of us who have spent time in hospitals, we know that they can happen.

This film was made in 1971 so medicine is quite different nowadays from then. However, the foibles this hospital experiences are all human ones so the film is as timely today as it was then. The things in the hospital which fail are all human, not the machines.

If you are a Sopranos fan, Nancy Marchand, who played Tony Soprano's evil mother, has a supporting role in this film. Also, Katherine Helmond, who played Jessica Tate on Soap, also has a supporting role.

About A Boy, directors: Weitzes; writer, Nick Hornby
stars Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hault

Hugh Grant lives the life of a rich wastrel from money his late father made after writing one world wide used Christmas tune. He has a soft posh life in London. He is such a slacker that dating single moms is for him the ideal of way of meeting his carnal needs. The boy's mother is one of those women. Unfortunately, she is also depressed and a potential suicide. Her son has been doggedly keeping her alive by wit and will power and will not let Grant get away. Although Grant tries to get shut of him, the boy eventually forces him to get involved in his life and thus his own. 

Although Grant can be screamingly funny in this as the guy who has never done a worthwhile thing in his life, his coming to care for this boy and therefore becoming a worthwhile person are a fine dramatic turn as well. That's why I consider this Grant's best film. Grant's comedic timing, always precise, is razor sharp here.

There is also a romance element to the film as he meets a character played by Rachel Weisz. Initially he uses the boy in order to convince Weisz she should consider him as a boyfriend. But in this subterfuge, he gradually does begin to care and for both.

This is based upon the novel written by Nick Hornby. Hornby is an English novelist whose books always seem to be made into quite good films. Most novelists are not this fortunate.

King of Comedy, by Martin Scorsese
starring Robert DeNiro, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Bernhard

Martin Scorsese's film stars Robert De Niro as Rupert Pupkin, a man on a mission to succeed as a stand up comic.  His plan: kidnap Jerry Lewis and demand as the ransom that he gets to do his act live on tv. Sandra Bernhard holds Jerry hostage in her apartment while Rupert performs, insanely in love with him. Lewis of course hates everything about her, finding her repellant.

When I first saw this film I thought that DeNiro would never actually do standup in the film, just instead portray someone who was horrible at it. I was wrong. Towards the end he gets up and does his act and you suddenly believe he is a stand up comic. I should have known he could do anything. Throughout most of the film he is absolutely obnoxious and he will do anything, absolutely anything to make it in standup. 

Jerry Lewis plays someone just as unlikable but for different reasons. He is a successful Tv host and off camera he is about as nasty and mean a little creep as it is possible to be. He can, of course, turn on the wit and charm on camera. This is not the Jerry Lewis you saw in all of those early funny films.

But hands down the funniest, best performance here is Sandra Bernhard's as the woman who is besotted with Lewis. She will do anything to have Jerry as her own so goes along with Rupert's scheme to get himself on tv. It is quite a feat to hold your own and then some in a film with Jerry Lewis and Robert DeNiro but Bernhard pulls it off.

Network, Sidney Lumet & Paddy Chayefsky
Peter Finch & Faye Dunaway

Sidney Lumet's film stars Peter Finch, as newsman Howard Beale, who loses his mind on air and is warmly rewarded by the network for doing so with his own show. Faye Dunaway is the network executive who lives by the ratings and feels so should everyone else. Shortly, she has Beale doing a "news show" which is today's reality tv on steroids. What this movie mocked in the later 1970s, network television became by today. This film foresaw dimwit "real" shows like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." Dunaway likewise seriously adds Sybil the Soothsayer to Howard's show.

Peter Finch gets the ball rolling by intoning that most famous of lines on his newscast, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more." Shortly he has a goodly amount of New Yorkers throwing open their windows and howling the same into the night. He is utterly magnificent in this film. He died shortly after making it and was awarded the Oscar posthumously. Although he plays an American newscaster, he was another one of those formidable English actors.

Dunaway is having an affair with one of the network executives played by William Holden. If you can call it that as she can rarely focus on anything but shows and their numbers. Her network boss is played by Robert Duvall who is more than willing to listen to her ideas on pulling the network out of the doldrums. They run into an obstacle though. The owner of the network, played by Ned Beatty, has suddenly found God, or his idea of God, and now wants to use Beale as his prophet. 

This film was also written by Paddy Chayefsky and it shows. It is both dramatically magnificent plus stunning satire. Dunaway and he also both won the Oscar for this film.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Put Your Fingers In Your Sneakers for Walking, Again

Consider me a private detective in addition to a satirist. Today I am sharing with you the places I have scouted out in the online world which you too may care to visit. Plus I have two cool new features to share with you.

This is one of my very best leads. If you become obsessed with some tv show (who, me?) and want to share the obsession with intelligent people, the New York Times now has a section for these shows. It is in the Section called Arts Beat and you just follow the recap for your show. Comments are listed with the recap. Often the writer of the source material is one of the people in the forum. Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Downton Abby, the Americans, etc., are all up for discussion. See ones listed right now, below. Go here.

Mobile Read Forums: if you are an ebook reader and want to be able to ask any question about ebooks and eReaders, go here.

Medicare Rights: There is a very organized group to help you get your medicare rights if you have a problem here.

If you want the USA gossip version of the UK's Daily Mail, go here.

If you have an iPad or iPhone, when you install the new operating system, called IOS8, you get some major adjustments to the camera, chief of which is that you now can do time lapse photography. I just installed IOS8 and have had no problems.

I had been using the new NYTimes recipe box on my Mac Air. However, now there is a new app for the recipe box for the iPad. I just put it on and it looks great. Right now just iPad has it but it is less than a week old.

When I want to read a case from the US Supreme Court, I go to Cornell here. It provides open access law (free).

If you want a garment project for fall either for yourself or a kid or grandkid but you don't want to sew a stitch, there is such a place here. She calls it 20 No-Sew Styles for Fall.

This gal has to come up with food and drink on the fly so calls herself Impromptu Kitchen here.

I go to Paste once a day just to see if it has any new crazy list I can use. It often does. These are 10 best lists and they cover everything. I put a recent one up as its logo so that you believe me about it lists everything. Go here.

Oprah is back into Books in a big way. She has loads of great leads on her book page. She also has her Book Club 2.0. I signed up but have yet to do anything with it. I prefer just getting the leads. Go here. has free shipping for fabric orders $35 or more. I rarely need less than 3-4 yards for a project so it is not hard to reach that. Plus its prices are the same or lower than everywhere else, including eBay. Go here. is a huge clearinghouse type of site which has sections for every conceivable interest for a senior person. As you might expect, it is growing by leaps and bounds so I expect it to become very popular in awhile. Go here.

If you find my choices not so hot, then go to the number one place, the Emmy and Oscar of website pickers, the WEBBY here.  Here's just one of its winners, an app to put on your devices:

Monday, September 22, 2014

And More It's Just Criminal!

Yes, it is time for more law!!!

Leopold & Loeb was an incredible tragedy to everyone who touched the case. Loeb's father only survived his son's sentencing by a scant two months. He keeled over dead of a heart attack. He was in his mid 50s. I read Clarence Darrow's plea to the judge about their families. He mentioned Loeb's other relatives were in the court room that day but his mother and father had been made so ill that they couldn't leave home. Albert Loeb, Richard Loeb's father, was the central lawyer-business man behind the creator of Sears & Roebuck. To make things even worse, the boy they killed was Richard Loeb's second cousin, which meant that Albert Loeb's son had killed his cousin's boy. 

About the only thing I didn't know about Lenny Bruce is that Phil Spector, of all people, was one of his best friends! Phil even helped organize his funeral. What I have known about Lenny Bruce for many decades is this: Every stand up comic in America, every comedian in America, every artist and writer in America, is in debt to Lenny Bruce. As a stand up comic in the 1960s in America he championed the First Amendment. In 1964 he was convicted in an obscenity trial. He died while appealing it. His was the landmark trial for freedom of speech in America. Comedy, as you see it performed today, would not exist without him. 

Charles Manson wanted to be a musician but hadn’t made it. He believed that a race war was coming and that the Beatles’ music warned of this holocaust in their song called "Helter Skelter.” Manson felt only he and his “family" members would survive Helter Skelter. The irony is that in Britain Helter Skelter also refers to an amusement park ride and if you listen to the lyrics of the song, the British Beatles surely put that interpretation into the song. It is about a girl and an amusement ride to them and a race war to Charles Manson. The reason Manson picked Cielo Drive is because Terry Melcher had lived there earlier. Melcher was in the music business and Manson had pinned all his musical hopes on him. Melcher did not come through as he didn’t think Manson had enough talent. (As Doris Day’s son, Melcher had tried a singing career himself and found out he didn’t have enough talent for that end of the business. So he was now in the business end of the music business and he thought Manson had even less talent than he did.) Melcher and Candice Bergen had lived on Cielo Drive together but they both had moved. Manson knew this but he figured the house would do anyway as a symbol of his rejection from show business. By killing wealthy people in their homes, Manson planned on helping the big race war come about that only he and his “family” would survive. He would cast suspicion on militant black groups and when those groups won the race war and discovered they were inept, they would make him the leader of the new society. It was this plan that inspired him to tell his family members Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Kasabian to go to Cielo and kill everyone they found. Meanwhile, he stayed at home.

I am not convinced that Tyria Moore, Aileen Wuornous's girlfriend, was not involved in these murders. Apparently all it took to get Aileen Wuornous going was Tyria's needing anything her little heart desired and her having to do without because they lacked cash. Ergo, Aileen would go murder for it and they'd have a swell evening after all. Unfortunately, Tyria moved back to my state after Aileen was executed!

Dr. Korovin is throat doctor to the stars. I think I'd change doctors after what she did to Joan Rivers (as in killed her). In addition to doing all of the below, she also failed to intubate Rivers prior to doing a biopsy on her. Minimally it seems she's committed malpractice if not some unintentional form of homicide. Melissa Rivers is getting ready to sue her and everyone else involved. 

I did not realize that either of the Menendez brothers was in any way attractive at any time in life. This is Erik, the younger one, picture taken when he was much younger. They say the girls at his high school were crazy for him. I guess his psycho personality finally shone through by the time he came to our attention.

The amazing thing about Phil Spector is how early his obsession with guns goes back. As you can see, this is a very iconic early shot of him in his heady, hippie days in the music business. Yet there he is gun pointed straight at you with that dead stare. His father committed suicide and thus left him at an early age. When these women were all testifying about his waving his gun in their faces, every one of the threats he screamed at them included the words, don't you dare leave me!

I didn't know there was a third and fourth accomplice on the Oklahoma City Bombing. I cannot believe that the wife, the fourth accomplice, got immunity on this! Well, I can but that #3 and #4 are living in Witness Protection somewhere....I hope it isn't here. Also, the memorials for that bombing are fabulous. Just look them up in Google.

I didn't realize that Kevorkian didn't require a terminal or awful illness to use the suicide machine. I have mixed feelings about that. This woman was in her 50s, not physically ill but absolutely miserable. This is minutes before she used the machine. She sure looks euphoric about dying in any minute. 
The full presentations can all be found at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekend Entertainment: Film Noir at Its Best

Film: Blood Simple, Coen Brothers
The Coen Brothers' first film, Blood Simple, is a noir involving the murder of a bar owner by his wife and her boyfriend.  Once they commit the murder, they make one stupid mistake after another and become "blood simple" as in simple minded due to being murderers. This phrase was coined by mystery writer Dashiell Hammett but the Coens made it their own with this film. 

The scene with the husband crawling crab like along the road in the desert while the boyfriend stands there with a shovel, the lights from his pickup glaring to illuminate the scene, is now a classic in film lore.  The cast, including Frances McDormand, became a who's who in film. It is also the first time I saw M. Emmett Walsh play one of his good old boy roles as the detective or Elias Koteas play someone repellant, a specialty of his. 

Frances McDormand as a femme fatal is also the quirkiest interpretation of that archetype you'll ever see in film noir.

When I first saw this film it was at a film festival as no one knew who the Coen Brothers were. It was just the kind of oddball indie film which film festivals champion. No one expected these guys would go on to become major success stories.

I've seen this several times and love it anew each time.

Film: The 4th Man, Paul Verhoeven
Paul Verhoeven's film, starring Jeroen KrabbĂ© as a writer who visits a hairdresser who has had three husbands who died tragically, is one of my top ten ever films. He is gay and attracted to the blonde hairdresser's boyfriend but is increasingly convinced that she murdered her husband(s). He suspects the boyfriend and he are next in line for murder by her. Meanwhile she is both equally enigmatic and seductive at every turn with both. 

This is a foreign language film which is subtitled. This was done before the director turned into an American film director and started shooting in English. His first big hit in America was the English language Robocop which changed him from doing a beautiful noir film such as this to American action adventure films instead. He made much better films as a Dutch film director and this one is his very best in any language.

Film: Notorious, Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock's film Notorious, is with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in a love and spy story. Bergman's father is convicted as a Nazi war criminal in the USA. She is asked by CIA agent Grant to join his German cohorts in South America and spy on them for the CIA. 

Grant and Bergman have a real love-hate relationship which hits boiling point as the CIA sends her after the weak, German Claude Raines with the strong mother and the equally strong brutish German sidekicks, all Nazis and in hiding. Raines and the mother are also superb, especially in their rendering of strong Nazi-her shielding weak, spineless Nazi-him. If you never thought you could picture a sniveling weasel of a Nazi, Claude Rains shows how it is done!

Good as it is as a spy story, it is magnificent as a love story. They both look gorgeous in the film too. It is set right after WWII when the hunt was on for Nazis who had escaped to Buenos Aires. Bergman's costumes are gorgeous.

This is one of my very top Hitchcock films and I have loved it every time I've seen it.

Film: Freeway, Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland
Reese Witherspoon is a teenager who has to make her own way in the world.  She manages to take on all comers but meets her nemesis in Keifer Sutherland who is a serial killer preying on young women. This is like no serial killer movie you've ever seen though!  It is based on the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. This was made when both of these actors were starting out in their careers. 24 was far into the future for him and no one was thinking Oscar for her. Then I saw them in this and thought, Wow!

I especially like that she is no one's dummy. She's got a real bad hand to play in life, not only up against him but up against her family, the legal system and just about everything else. But she is equal to it and Kiefer is just marvelous in his serial killer role up against his match. 

Kiefer's acting in his Big Bad Wolf mode at the end is a tour de force.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Felix & Me, Day In, Day Out

About a week ago I showed Felix that he could now watch a whole raft of new shows by putting on the brand new Amazon Instant Video app onto his android phone. I sent him the link to Google Play for downloading it. I sent him other links showing what he could watch including early HBO shows for free since we are Prime Members. What I heard back was a thundering silence. Finally, I said, "Haven't you gotten around to putting that Amazon app on your phone yet?

"I've been watching it all week. I'm watching the series "Rome".

More thundering silence.

"Uh, don't you think a thank you might have been in order, Felix?"

This is standard operating procedure around here. Had he put it on his phone and hated it, I know I would have heard about it for weeks. Here it is for anyone who missed the announcement:

Next up, he is walking around here constantly complaining about Obama, now thinking he is a terrible President. He was incredibly enthused about voting for him in the Primary the first time and set off to the voting booth with a spring in his step. Then he noticed I was not coming along. Why ever not? You always vote!

This is another huge difference between us. I go into an election expecting very little. I am suspicious of all people needing the notoriety of being politicians and am loathe to believe them about anything. I was planning on voting for the Democrat because I was eager to undo some of the things done by the extreme right. I'll make no secret about it. I had been very unhappy for eight years with W about the erosion of my constitutional rights. I wanted them back! But to use the old cliche, I wasn't expecting the greatest thing since sliced bread in this or any other election.

"You go vote for whomever you want for the Primary, Felix. I want all of you to pick somebody who satisfies you. Then whomever the vast majority of you pick as the great Democratic Savior, I will go vote for that person in the General Election. I do want to make sure we get a change so we can moderate back to the middle. We are way too far over to the right."

What I do believe in is that in democracies you get into trouble if you go too far right or too far left. Then the people need to get back into the voting booth and pull the country back towards that vast middle of the road whenever we've drifted. It is because those vast middle of the roaders stayed out of the voting booth that we got in the too extreme fix in the first place! In the long run, extreme drifts to the right or left will not work in a democracy since we use a popular, majority vote. There are just not enough voters on either the extreme right or left which is why it is impossible for those positions to hold long range. 

But particular people as politicians? Oh, no, I haven't believed in any of those for a very long time. 

Felix was ecstatic when Obama won the Noble Prize and I was silent in the face of all of this enthusiasm. 

"Aren't you excited about this?" Felix demanded.

"Nope, I don't really think it is a good idea to give politicians awards. It makes their heads even thicker than they already are. We don't need to inflate their egos any more than they already are."

I was regarded as a real buzz kill around here. Now, of course, I am the one just about as happy with Obama as I was when I voted for him the first time while Felix is crushed. He was downcast when he voted for him the second time but not really liking the other side at all. I was actually feeling pretty good. I felt better about the Constitution again and did not find my rights assailed every time I read a newspaper. I really hadn't dared hoped for anything else. So I voted for him again, expecting to see a little more drift to the left, not much, maybe a good Supreme Court judge or two, further restoration of the lost rights which had  worried me sick in the Bush years and basically not much else.  Felix is absolutely outraged that I consider that good enough

"What were you expecting, Felix? Peace in the Middle East? It'll never happen. I don't care who you elect."

I'm being facetious but by the look on his face I figure that maybe he thought Obama was capable of achieving Peace in the Middle East. 

I mean, really. C'mon. These politicians are snake oil salesmen. You'd be better off thinking of them as being like those rattlesnakes your friend won't kill in her California back yard.

I don't say the above out loud. I'm afraid he'll stop voting completely and I need his vote for these grass roots issues I follow on the local scene.

I will credit myself with one nobel act too. I was going into Medicare so didn't care about Obamacare but then Rebecca get much better medical coverage with it. So I gave Obama points for that too. She is the person I see the most after Felix so it is important that she stay healthy. You lose people who don't have medical care and I don't want that loss. This was my one exception to my we all vote for our own selfish interests philosophy. 

In summary, Felix and I could not have more different outlooks on this if we tried. He gets mad now if the "O subject" even comes up around here.

So no one could ever say I am happy with my politicians. I am not. The difference is that I do not expect to be happy with them. Any of them. In fact if you wanted to argue about the relative merits of two of them running for the same office, you would be amazed at how much bad I knew about both of them. I expect to have big lists of bad acts to the debit side for both of them. The only question is which one is worse than the other. That is what determines the issue for me.

Reading all of the above, who do you think fills out the sample ballot for me, Felix, Rebecca and when Jim's Mom was alive and here, her as well?

If you think it is any of them, you've still got a thing or two to learn. Yes, I am the one who goes online and reads everything prior to voting, makes up a sample ballot for myself for every single thing on the ballot and am ready to go on election day. I am not about to pay the price of ending up with someone really terrible as the judge for our probate court or a school board opening filled with someone who wants to build yet another sports arena, and so forth. That grass roots stuff can kill you for years if you don't pay attention. 

When they found out I did this research, they couldn't get their hands on my ballot fast enough for themselves. Now they start asking for it weeks before election day. They may quibble about one or two things and change one or two when in the booth but I don't really expect them to go read this stuff, do I?

Felix's eye is fixed. Drum roll please. When he woke up this morning, the bubble was gone. I have not driven him in weeks.  We bought him his own GPS so that I never need to hear him go ballistic again if he gets lost in a corn field when we are supposed to be in an Emergency Room. He calls her Helga and likes her a great deal. I don't think any woman prior to Helga has made him so happy as a car companion. I wish them well and meanwhile just rely on the good sense of direction my seamen ancestors gave to me genetically. I told him to stop off at the Bob Evans when he was coming back from seeing his eye surgeon but I think he feels bad about the waitress he spooked with his rattlesnakes. So he isn't stopping there for awhile. When I got into the car today I wondered what this thing was on the floor before me. "Oh, those are Helga's feet." He doesn't like leaving her brain out in the car so carries that around. Now her feet stay with me on the passenger side. That's fine. I'll take her feet over being stuck in the corn field any day.

Our standing order at Heritage Farm is working out even better than expected. Felix now goes to pick it up and loves the ride to the farm and the chatter with the folks there. Then he comes back and fixes us some dinner with what he picked up. Last night it was a wonderful tomato and lettuce salad and I swear I could tell a major difference in the produce from what we get in the store. I wolfed it down.

Felix is of course my husband, Jim, who has been profiled in this Blog's pages for his Felix Unger from The Odd Couple tendencies. Every once in awhile I feel like sharing his latest peculiarites with the Blog audience. It sure beats screaming at the walls.

I have made so many criminal pictures this week for my Powerpoint presentations that I cannot even look at my photo software so this entry is a text one. 

Coda: I am telling myself as I write this that I have nothing to worry about as far as the people I know in my Greenwood development reading this. I mean, they wouldn't really stop me and ask me for a copy of my ballot, would they? Nah, of course not.