The passing of Sherwood Schwartz had me thinking about all the great shows he left us. Okay...so there were honestly only two of them that I hold dear. But those two were a couple of juggernauts. Those two alone were enough. "Brady Bunch" is easily the most popular of his creations to make it the MOST memorable. Which is exactly why I chose to reflect on "Gilligan's Island". To give it a little more shine that it would have otherwise not gotten.
My first memory of the show was watching it at Popoo and Grandma's house back in the day. Teandra and I would spend just about every summer down there when we were shorties. We would spend the better part of the day playing outside then come inside in the afternoon to watch some good ol' Channel 41. This was one of the many shows that would grace their afternoon line-up.
The one thing that I always recall the clearest was my pessimism with the believability of the show. Not so much the most obvious thing that people always state. You know what that is, right? It was wondering how the Professor could make all those gadgets out of the most primitive items (like a car...remember that one??) but couldn't fix the hole in the boat. No...for me I always questioned the feasibility of many of the things they had on that island. Things like the aforementioned car.
However, it was those type of things that always made the Gilligan's Island such an awesome place. They were living in these very basic huts but they made them look SO much tha bomb. I swear that those huts were decked out better than my college dorm room. I may have even traded one of those joints for my room when I was a shortie. They just had them looking so homey.
Don't even get me started on the sex appeal factor of the show. You know I'm talking about Ginger and Mary Ann. Yes...I was only a prepubescent kid at the time, but that was also the time I was taking notice of girls. And there was plenty to notice about both Ginger and Mary Ann. Mary Ann was always the one I was more partial to. Her down-to-earth style had much more of an allure than Ginger's over-the-top sensuality. It also didn't hurt that Mary Ann claimed to be from Kansas.
When it was all said and done, it was the overall atmosphere that Schwartz had created with that show that made it so amazing. These characters made it seem like living on a deserted island would be the ultimate life. They made you wish you could also get stranded so you too could live in a primitive paradise of your own. Or at the very least, it made you wish that you could visit their paradise if only to chill with them for a little bit. Gilligan's Island was a utopia all its own and I still can't get enough of it.
Unfortunately, you'd be hard-pressed to find "Gilligan's Island" in syndication anywhere these days. It seems networks are more willing to show reruns of shows that have only been off the air a few years (or in some cases not even off the air yet) rather than a classic like this one. It's too bad too because it's been off the air so long that there's an entire generation that has never even heard of it. I would have thought that Scwhartz's passing would have seen a renewed interest in it. Nothing yet though. I'm hopeful some station will still make it happen. We could all use a 3-hour tour in our life.
If there is one director who has mastered the dark overtone look of movies, it is Tim Burton. He has found a way to bring his same style to every film. So much so that it has become his trademark. It's pretty safe to say that you will never see Burton doing any feel-good romantic comedies anytime soon. But if anyone ever wants a sordid tale of gloom, Burton's your man.
That's why it was such an obvious choice for Burton to be the one to bring the Broadway musical of Sweeny Todd to the big screen. It's a macabre tale of a murderous barber whose victims then become meat pies for customers. So it's almost a horror movie set to music. That story had Tim Burton written all over it.
Johnny Depp had to be Burton's first (and probably only) choice to play the lead, Sweeny Todd. He's essentially recreating his Edward Scissorhands character. If Edward Scissorhands was a killer. And talked. And grew up to have a family that he was trying to avenge. Oh...and didn't have scissors for hands.
"Sweeney Todd" is the story of a barber once known as Benjamin Barker who returns to London after being away for years. He had been sent away by the corrupt Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) that was after his wife, Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly). He runs into a woman (Helen Bonham Carter) who makes the worst pies in all of England. It is happenstance that she knows Barker's wife took poison to get away from the judge and the judge then took in Todd's daughter as his own ward.
The thought of his wife dead and his only daughter being raised by the man responsible for his wife's death sends Barker over the top. His Mr. Hyde persona of Sweeney Todd is born. It works out conveniently for the pie-maker who can now use the meat from his victims to make what quickly become the best pies in all of London.
Burton carries a somber tone throughout the entire movie. A setting of Victorian England lends itself to the melancholy grays and morose blacks which Burton is famous for. Maybe the fact that is so dark is the reason why Todd's victims don't notice the blood on the floor from his previous victim as they sit in his chair.
My cousin Makea was telling me before I had seen "Sweeney Todd" that Depp was an amazing singer. That comment alone was hard to believe. Johnny Depp? After seeing this, I was rather taken aback. I wouldn't go so far as to call him an amazing singer, but he does carry a tune shockingly well.
The finale was probably my favorite part. It could not have been more Shakespearean with all of the bitter irony. It was interesting to see how Todd's influence had impacted those he loved at even his own expense. There couldn't have been a better movie to avoid the "happy ending" cliche. Nor a better director to deliver it so perfectly.
Aunt Deitra had told me Friday night that Sunday was church day at Allen Chapel. I thought she was joking. She didn't crack a smile when she said it though. The only reason I assumed she may have been kidding was because of the size of Allen Chapel. It wasn't tiny but it wasn't all that large either. Could it really hold all of those cousins and family that showed up to the meet and greet and banquet? Fortunately (and unfortunately) we really didn't have to find out. I'll get to that part in a minute.
More important than that was the fact that Elijah and Mariah were also in Kansas City that weekend. They had come up with their mom to attend their uncle's wedding. I would have asked if they could have come to the reunion if they didn't already have plans. It turns out the wedding was at exact same time. What were the odds? I never heard of a reunion OR a wedding starting that late (6pm). Yet that's how they were both scheduled. Weird...I know.
I checked quick with Mariah to see what they had planned for Sunday morning. Nothing. Music to my ears. From that point it was just a matter of getting their mom to agree. I awoke extra early anticipating that the answer would be yes. It would give me enough time to drive to where they were staying and get to church on time. Remember, Kansas City is no Des Moines. When you factor in both the KC's (the Kansas and the Missouri one) you could get up to an hour drive time one way from point to point. My early rise was worth it. They got the nod to go to spend a good portion of the day with me.
Now as for the family and the church? Well I still contend if everyone would have showed up to church that came to the functions the previous two nights then we would have been packed in their like roaches. The turnout wasn't quite that epic though. Many family members didn't make Sunday service. Rather surprising considering that many of them lived right there in Kansas City. And several of the ones who didn't weren't leaving until Monday anyway. However, our family still managed to take up an entire side of the church which was still rather impressive.
The best part of the service was congregating everyone together for the family picture. Initially, I thought it would be a good idea to take it on the steps leading up to the entrance. I remain convinced that would have definitely been more aesthetically pleasing. However, it was easily 100+ degrees with the heat index. We didn't need to have the elders outside in the weather any longer than necessary. It just made more sense to have it right there indoors. I still think it came out rather decent. I don't know about anyone else but I got a little bit of a chill seeing all of the Holmes family in one place for one group picture like that. It immediately made me realize that we must do the same thing for the Fleming reunion in Arkansas.
I bet you can guess where most everyone chose to meet for dinner after church, right? Well of course it was Gates. Diah and some of her brood opted for Ryan's. She used the rationale that they don't have a Gates in Bloomington and it's a buffet. That's all fine and good, but we don't have a Gates in Iowa. OR Illinois. And that beef and a half sammich is more than enough to fill me up. I was getting a little worried for a minute there because I had been in KC since Friday morning and it wasn't until Sunday that I got some Gates. But at least I got some and that's all that mattered.
The fun-filled reunion weekend winded down for me at Aunt Deitra's. I always love hearing behind-the-scenes stories which is just what I got. It made the photo editing process even better. I was able to finish up the last batch so that all that remained was to upload them. There may not have been as many photos in the Holmes Reunion: The Finale album as its predecessors, but you know I'm all about quality over quantity. Just like you know I'm all about family which made the weekend one of the best I've had all summer.
Saturday rolled around sooner than any of us wanted. And I wasn't even up that late following the meet and greet. I went back to Earl's house where I tried to hang as long as I could so as not to be rude. I still ended up crashing while editing the pics from the night before. It was barely midnight by that time. I heard that my other cousins didn't call it quits until close to 4am at their respective locations. That's just how it is with our Holmes family when we haven't seen each other in a minute.
Anyway, I wasn't aware of any formal plans for Saturday except for the banquet dinner that night. I didn't find out until later that there was actually an event planned which was a trip to the Negro League Baseball Museum and the Jazz Museum in Missouri. I probably would have already known that had I paid closer attention to the emails that had been sent out leading up to the reunion. You'll have to forgive me but I was so anxious about the reunion itself that I overlooked some of the more intricate details like that one.
The day got off to a great start with breakfast at my aunt Deitra's. Probably TOO good of a start. I knew I was taking a huge chance getting full off that amazing home-cooked breakfast. I just couldn't pass it up though. I simply figured if the itis would indeed strike me then so be it. I would have enough time to succumb and still make it to the banquet that evening. However, there was still that museum trip. I would normally miss something like that. But this was the first Holmes reunion in a while. Mom was going so I was going. Enough said.
All the times I had been to Kansas City I kept telling myself I would visit the Negro League Baseball Museum but kept putting it off. Even though I don't like baseball I am a huge fan of our history. There's no denying how important the Negro League was. The museum was a huge testatement to that. It was quite an impressive tribute to some great men of that time. Make no mistake though, as enlightening as the museum was, it was nothing compared to some of the history that some of the elders shared while perusing the items on exhibit. If you ever get a chance to go make sure you go with someone who was alive during that era. That experience is priceless.
Now the Jazz Museum was another story altogether. Located in the same building and across the atrium from the NLBM, it was pretty sad. They did have some interesting things in there like a bust of Duke Ellington and several pieces of music from famous jazz musicians of the past. Still, how do you call yourself a jazz museum and not have any original instruments from any of these same musicians? The only thing I could think is there must be another jazz museum somewhere in the country that scored the real prime items. Then of course neither museum allowed photos which made it even worse. But as you can see, the iPhone can do wonders.
The banquet started promptly at 6pm. Still not sure how they arrived at the 6pm start time. We have been having reunions on the other side of the family for years and the Saturday portion of the reunion always started around noon at a park. Then again, this is the middle of July in Kansas City. Having a reunion at a park outside in 100 degree heat would have been a horrible idea. I didn't think of that until I tried getting around that day in the heat. Fortunately, the reunion committee was thinking ahead and realized that for all of us.
Something else that was a little different was the food was catered. I had been accustomed to every family bringing a different dish for everyone to share. It always worked in the past. But something that cousin Chavon would bring up later was by doing that there is always a chance you'll be waiting on someone to arrive with food who will either show up late or not at all. You don't have that problem when the food is catered. And that food was on POINT. Especially that roast beef. Not too bad considering it wasn't Gates.
What would a family reunion be without a talent show? No judges of course. Just family members putting different talents on display. There were actually more entrants than I expected. One little cousin played the violin (although I'm still not sure what song it was he was playing). My own nephews Josh and JoJo did an acapella rendition of Mario's "Let Me Love You". The performance that stuck out the most though was the group of cousins that did an impromptu version of Ike and Tina's "Proud Mary". The pictures I took don't do it justice. I'm still smiling thinking about how much fun they had which translated into everyone there watching having just as much fun.
As promised, I was a picture taking fool the entire day. I was able to max out the 4 gig SD card that I had gotten just for the event. Had to switch over to a back-up card just to make sure I got everything. Over 300 pictures edited down to just over 90 of the best moments from the event. Alas, there will be no gallery out here for it though. Instead you can check out all of the images in their full high definition glory at the following link:
The day winded down with G, Jojo and I at the Embassy Suites Hotel. There were several options I was given which included going to hear live music or hanging out with many of the cousins at one of my aunt's house. Neither would have been a bad choice if it wasn't already so late (after 10pm) and I wasn't too old to think that was late. I was beat. I had wore myself out with yet another great evening with cousins that I either hadn't seen in years or at all.
I always wondered how safe the ISU campus has been over recent years. Primarily over the past couple of years that I've lived here. Only because on the rare nights that I venture into Campustown late to get a fajita I see the plethora of drunken college students stumbling from bar to bar. With so many dorms and/or student living close by, it's never a good combination. This recent story was the perfect example.
Tania Lee was in her apartment at Fredericksen Court when would-be assailant Philip Sirgusa trespassed with bad intentions. He tried to strangle her and she thought it was her roommate playing a joke. Until he started to drag her out of the room. Then she knew it was real. That was also when her survival mode kicked in. As well as her self-defense classes.
Lee managed to lock the guy up and pin him down. She said once she pinned Siragusa, he punched her in the face, broke free and ran from her apartment. She believes it scared him when she fought back. The scumbag was caught within a couple of hours later by Iowa State Campus security.
The first thing that struck me about this story was the location of the incident. Fredericksen Court is right down the street from where I live. This guy was going apartment to apartment trying every door until he came across one that was unlocked and just walked in. What if he would have tried that with the homes that were close by? Even though he STILL got his butt kicked AND arrested and charged, he should consider himself fortunate that he wandered into that apartment rather than this house. Not so sure he would have been alive enough for the police to arrest him.
Mad props to Lee though for actually fighting back and refusing to become a victim. Let us not forget that the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy made his trademark plaguing college campuses. Whose to say this idiot wasn't attempting to be the next one to do that? Lee's actions could have potentially thwarted another similar killing spree.
Don't get me wrong...there is something to said about the fact that her apartment was unlocked in the first place. She took self-defense classes so I'm sure one of the basic things they taught her was the importance of home security. I'm just going to chalk her temporary lapse in judgment of leaving that door unlocked to a brief moment of absent-mindedness. Hopefully, this incident will serve as a serious reminder her to not let that happen again. But for now, thank goodness she was able to avoid becoming a statistic while making that moron one.
I have not been having very good luck reconnecting with old friends lately. It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was wondering what my old friend Steve Shadday was up to. Only to find out that he passed away some time ago and I was just recently finding out about it. Now it has unfortunately happened again more recently.
My former coworker and friend passed away Tuesday, July 5th after losing her battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She was only 38-years-old.
It was a matter of good timing that I happened to even catch this. I was perusing The Book checking my friends' updates after arriving in Kansas City. I wanted to see what I had missed over the past few hours thinking I would see various things about folks plans for the evening. I definitely did not expect to find news like this on one of their pages. It was rather odd that it was only mentioned in one friend's status though because Heather and I had a lot of mutual friends.
Back in the day it seemed like everybody and their mama worked at The Principal. That's how I happened to meet Heather. Don't get me lying on what department she was in though. It was so long ago that I don't even recall. I just remember that we worked in the same building. Or at least close enough connected in the skywalk (since Principhell owns at least half a dozen buildings in downtown Des Moines) that we would see each other frequently.
But it wasn't only at work that I would run into Heather. This was also back during my clubbing days. And by that I mean as in going to the club to kick it rather than opposed to now where I go because I'm working photo gigs. I would often see her out with her girls at the hot spots of that time like Friends and The Jag II. Yes, those were actual names of nightclubs.
It wasn't that long ago that I was checking out a movie at the Southridge theater when I saw a sista walking in who looked like it could have been Heather. I hadn't seen her since I left Principhell years and years ago. I was tempted to approach the sista to see if it really was her. I just didn't want to look stupid if I was wrong. Looking back, now I really wish I would have. If that actually was her then at least I would have been able to reconnect after all this time rather than having this info be the most recent news I had about her.
My memory of Heather was that she was an extremely vibrant person. Not shy at all. Not afraid to speak her mind because she was confident in herself and her abilities. Overall, just real good people. But most of all, far too young to no longer be here with us. Dang you stupid Hodkin's.
I have been looking forward to this day for several weeks now. Actually, I guess it's been more like months. You may recall that Dad's side of the family has reunions on the regular. So often in fact that they occur twice a year: the full one in Arkansas (that I need to be better about getting to) and the mini-reunion in Kansas City. What can we say? We all enjoy each other so much that once a year wasn't enough. Well Mom's side hadn't had an official one in so long that I can't remember. Therefore, the news of this one was a welcome sight.
Although it has been a long time coming, it wasn't difficult to remember the last one the Holmes side had a reunion. Even though I really wouldn't call it that. When Aunt Ceil passed away last year family came from far and wide to attend. There were cousins that I didn't even know I had as well as ones that I hadn't seen in years that showed up. It was the first time in several years that folks had gotten together like that. Funerals have a tendency to do that. But it also inspired some cousins to get more proactive about organizing a formal reunion to make sure that a funeral isn't the only time we get together like that.
It all started when several of us started getting messages on Facebook from our cousin Quentin. I have to admit that I had no idea he was when I got that first message. I wasn't alone. But that was the whole purpose of a reunion. We needed to get together to fellowship to reconnect. To get to know the family that many of us didn't even know we had. Friending on Facebook was a good start, but it just doesn't beat getting together in person.
The first leg of the reunion was a meet and greet at the Quindaro Community Center. I was familiar with that location even though I had never officially been inside. It was one of the large landmarks located on the route I was accustomed to travelling the short distance from Popoo and Grandma's house to Grandma Turner's house back in the day. It was always fenced off preventing entry so I just never knew that it was still open for functions.
The start time for the event was 7pm. That wasn't soon enough for me. I left for Kansas City at 8am to get down in time for everything. For some reason I thought things kicked off at 6. Yes, I know that that departure time would still get me there with several hours to spare. All that meant was that it would be more quality time that I could get in with Grandma. The smile on her face when G and I pulled up was priceless. The meal that she cooked up on the spot for us was even better. Don't even get me started on her trademark iced tea. Best. Tea. EVER!
As for the meet and greet, it was just what I expected with both a little more and a little less. I knew there would be a mix of cousins I have known for a while, those I hadn't seen a while and those I had never met. I was determined to step outside of my comfort zone to approach those faces that did not look familiar at all. Those name tags we wore really helped. Probably for them too. I just wish we had more time so I could have met more folks. So glad there's still two more days for it to happen so I get to know more of my new cousins better.
Now you KNOW I had to go photo crazy at an event of this magnitude. If for some reason I didn't get my normal variety of photos, Mom was making sure that I did. She didn't have to though because I wasn't missing this golden photo opportunity for nothing. Got another new memory card just for it and everything. I stayed up extra late editing the photos to make sure that I could get them published right away. I even created a photo album out here for the occasion. And you know that a new photo album out here is rare for me since I've been using The Book and Smugmug so much. So check out Holmes Reunion: Day One. Then get ready for even more yet to come in the next couple of days...
There have been mixed reviews floating around on this one for a minute. The professional critics didn't hate it but they sure didn't love it either. Earl said it was decent. One of my deejay friends absolutely detested it. Another friend said it wasn't bad. So I knew going into this one that I wasn't going to get a classic. Nevertheless, there were so many varying opinions that I had to see either how far off or how spot on the trailers were with making it look like a good horror flick.
Devoted parents Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) have recently moved into a new home. It isn't long before they notice strange happenings that escalate once their young son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into an unexplainable coma. When doctors have no answer and the otherworldly events continue, the parents turn to paranormal experts for answers. What they uncover is more than either one of them could have bargained for.
I have to admit that I broke my own rule while watching this movie. I have always said that it is most essential to watch scary movies in the dark. Not necessarily at night, but at least in the dark to get the full effect. Well I sat here watching "Insidious" in the middle of the day. Part of the reason could have been just in case there was some truth to the fact that it was a good movie. I'm not trying to be running up the electric bill turning on additional lights in the house "just in case".
It got off to a pretty good start. I mean right form the beginning. The intro had a little kick that was enough to make some of my hair stand up. While watching it in the middle of the day. That caused me to think that maybe Episode (the deejay friend) was a little off base when he ranted about what a horrible movie this was. But that was just the beginning. There was still plenty of time for it to go bad.
What didn't help "Insidious" at all was their blatant use of some of the worse horror movie cliches out there. Things like the loud music to accentuate a terror moment. They utilized that trick WAY too much. It's almost as if the writer of this one who also wrote former Vault Pick "Paranormal Activity" was trying to do everything just opposite of what he did to make that one a classic. That would be okay if thie one were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but they obviously weren't going for any humor at all.
It appears that what they were trying to do was create a "Poltergeist" for today's generation. The major difference being that "Poltergeist" gave you a little build up so that you could relate to the family which made it easier to empathize with them. There was a bit of lightheartedness in it so that once the ghost things started happening you could appreciate the scary parts more. The tactic with "Insidious" was right in line with the impatience that society tends to show as a whole these days. It wouldn't have been so bad if so much of it wasn't so trite.
Another major problem "Insidious" has was once they got into the otherworldly realm, the movie really started to get rather hokey. There were a few of the spirits/ghosts that were creepy looking. Unfortunately, the main one (which I guess was like the King Ghost/Spirit or maybe even Satan?) was corny. He reminded me of a combination of Darth Maul and a faun. I half expected him to break out with a lightsaber while eating some truffles.
I will admit that I did like the way they ended it. I thought I had the ending figured out early on due to a significant event that occurred. Turns out I wasn't even close. Guess I'm out of practice with my horror films. Still, despite how good they finished, the finale leading it up to it and the filler in the middle was too much to overcome. "Insidious" was worth the $1 I paid for the Redbox rental but not a lot more.