Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Love Ranch, Joe Pesci, Helen Mirren

Love Ranch ... on set

  • Now you can click on the Juke Box, set it for 1976, pick a tune to start, sit back and reflect back to those days in Reno Nevada, The Mustang Ranch, Oscar Bonavena, Joe and Sally Conforte at ringside during a well promoted heavyweight fight attended by thousands. This is the scene depicted on the set we are working, for these posted weeks starting 2-21-08 through 3-5-08. Enjoy 'The fight'. 'Ringo'

  • Call Time: Wednesday, February 27
    For Paid Extras
    1:15 pm Ranch Girls
    1:15 pm Angel and April
    1:15 pm Fight Fans, FIRST names begin with A-L
    1:15 pmArena Security
    1:15 pm Reno Police
    1:15 pm Sporstwriters/Still Photographers/TV Reporters/TV Cameramen
    1:15 pm Fight Officials/Judges
    1:15 pm Black Panther Body Guards
    2:15 pm Fight Fans whoes FIRST names begin with M-Z
    2:15 pm Ring Doctor/Time Keeper/Referee/Colter's
    2:15 pm Colter's Cut Man/ Cortez's Buddy/Bruza's Cut Man/Ring Announcer
    Please report to bascamp

    Jumped up early at 7:30am after arriving home at 3:30 am. Hey, that is 4 hrs of sleep. Checked e-mails, and wrote the happenings on set of Tuesday the night before, posted it, jumped in the car, drove to fairgrounds base camp, arriving early enough to sign in and check out my wardrobe, using my number 502. A quick change to shirt and blue leather jacket of their choice, which people have told me, looks entirely reasonable in comparison to others dress. Time to grab a great burger and a cup of fruit. Sat down with one of my friends, Ed (dressed like Liverpool of the 60's) and chatted old times with another retired USAF veteran while waiting for our 'call' to action.

    4:30pm Keith from So Cal, herded us back to the Arena where the fight scene, ring is set up. Our Producer,

    Taylor Hackford

  • who is in real life, Helen Miren's husband, and who's favorite saying is "One More Time", insures that the sound of our yells and hollers come from all sides of the arena, by setting up a sound capture system and by moving us around the grandstand while we yell and holler at our top volume, surround sound? We have been placed in all three ringside positions several times over the last days and hours, to give the impression of thousands of fans sitting among the cardboard cutouts and blow up dolls (the waist up kind). Leroy Colter and Armando Bruza (portrays Oscar Bonavena) start rehersal. Warm up dancing and throwing punches, Bruza pounds out 35 quick pushups every now and then to stay 'pumped'. We practice our yelling, catcalls, boo's and clapping. Now we are ready for a repeat of the five rounds from yet another camera perspective than the previous nights.

    Helen Mirren (portraying Sally Conforte) is involved again tonight. Joe Pesci is out with the flu, to return next Wednesday. Many camera angle changes from the big shoulder held unit, supported by the cable man close behind. (he holds the camera on his shoulder between live 'rolling' shoots to take a load off the main camera man) Super Techno Crane's camera is 'flying' above the ring again tonight.

    We start with Bruza unblemished, his white shorts clean. Each series of shoots he gets bloodier. We stand up, cheer, yell, clap, and boo, sit down and repeat every few minutes as the time passes. The ring girls, dressed in sparkling bikinis, are always doing their best to get us hyped. We repeat this scene from many different camera angles to get exactly the right on screen effect. The producer and director, to say nothing about big, intense, Jimmie the fight co-ordinator from Raging Bull and Rocky II, want it right. Several times during the shoots, a punch really lands. the result is a stunned fighter requiring a few minutes recuperation. Luckily this happens rarely.

    They are only satisfied when the look is believable. We then move on through the following rounds. This process takes hours. Bruza, being mercilessly pummeled by Leroy Colter, gets bloodier and bloodier. Helen Mirren runs to ringside repeatedly during each dynamic close-up, to call for an end to "This madness" or using many other terms as we re-do each scene. The obvious affection 'Sally Conforte' has for 'Oscar Bonavena', is apparent.

    3 hours later at 7:30pm a short, break in the outer hall with salsa and chips, apples and oranges then return to the arena once again. This time the cameras have been reset to yet another position. A woman came over and pointed back in the far row. A friend that I see about once a year, was waving. I worked the various state of NM bank vaults while he was an armed courier. Always happy and smiling, Ron went on to be 'security' at Sandia Labs until retirement. He has never stopped pumping iron for all these years. Now he is going to star in background like the rest of us. Amazing how people show up in our lives from time to time, only to dissapear until the next time. Great seeing you again Ron and Sandra. Come back to the next 'shoot' on Wednesday, we'll talk again.

    Minutes later, filing back into the arena, this time in seats on the other side of the ring. Back rows move to front which puts me in back so that the camera does not show me in front on both sides of the ring at the same time. Interesting tricks to maintain a semblance of reality. Now it is getting interesting. A large overhead framework is holding a big black box containing an internal camera. The suspension system is bungees. The camera is inside the box, behind a plexiglass shield. One, or at times two men hold the box from behind.

    while Leroy Colter pounds the snot out of the wildly recoiling camera box, yelling profanities at it. Of course that is the way H wood thinks all people talk. I find it a little sad. Hope they clean it up a bit, so that more people will not be turned off by that endless stream of venom and tell friends to just forget it. Of course todays movies are made for this new 'liberalised' generation, the others, myself included, just might stay home.

    The Supreme court is meeting right now to allow Profanity on all of the airways. Sad for our world when decency is forbidden and legislated against as a 'Hate Crime'. Oh well..CHANGE is the new 'Buzzword', hang on tight and Pray, Brace yourself because we are going to get it...

    Upon Taylor's command, we either pantomine or loudly cheer. This gives the impression of looking right at each punch, as would Bruza see the devastating blows coming directly into his face. This fight film uses many technologic innovations not present when the 'Rocky' films were made. A bit of trivia, 'Rocky' starring Sylvestor Stallone, came out in 1976, the same year this story actually happened. We work this scene repeatedly until 9:30pm. So Cal Keith calls for us to go back to holding for a meal. Tillapia with plentiful tarter sauce (the only way I like tillapia) sauteed potatoes, veggies and all of the other goodies, is a nice respite and time to renew old aquaintances.

    After supper, the return to same seats, Different camera angles have been set up. The 'Senator', sitting in front of us, is being portrayed by the same actor that was the Dad in 'Malcolm in the Middle' on TV a few years back. The Sheriff who protected Charles Bontempo from legal problems, is standing with the Reno police officer in the aisle to our left. We repeat our 'sit down stand up' routine dozens of times. sometimes quietly sometimes loudly, whatever we are ordered to do for the scene. Being so far back in the camera field, and being below the crowd line, I sometimes just sat, waved my arm in the air and yelled for effect, resting a bit. At times I dozed off while waiting for camera resets. Fatigue was starting to set in.

    The very pretty Nicoletta was sitting in front of me this time. We have been near each other often on each nights shoots. I noticed she twists her hair while waiting for the next scene to keep us busy, Nicoletta is attending the University of New Mexico and working on her degree in criminology, 2 to 3 hrs of each week are spent in the lab. She also boxed for three years with Holly Holms, our local star. After she is 21, a time will be spent in the police academy, preparing her for her time in our CSI division. Her uncle is a hostage negotiator. Her Mom has been a teacher for 30 years. Nicoletta has her life planned out. This background work just gives her something else to do while earning a few dollars. See you again somewhere 'on set' Nicoletta, It's been my utmost pleasure to meet you.

    We worked this side of the ring for hours on end. At 2am Jimmie, the boxing co-ordinator (raging bull, Rocky II) and 'Leroy' had short fuses. A few words were shared between each and the ring people had to settle them down. About 15 minutes later all was well, and the punches were again being thrown between the actors, mostly Bruza on the receiving end of the gloves. Repeat each round again from even more camera angles, pizza in hallway kept attracting a few of us at a time, away from our seats, only to be called back for more action.

    This series of camera angle changes, continued into the wee hours. Finally some 'outside of the building' shots with the old cars being the stars, and we were released to wardrobe and 'sign out'. I arrived back home and crawled into bed at 5:13am. Now that ended my 22 hour working day. Now you know why this post was later than usual. Jet Lag is apparently not limited to air travel.

    I signed up for more of the same next week on Wednesday. Tom from Appaloosa (the town sign painter) counted about 25 of our co-horts from Appaloosa, working this set as well as a lot of professional actors. Luce Rains from Appaloosa and MC Gainey from Wild Hogs and Dukes of Hazard. That is about one third of us from that film where we were featured background. See, I told you we were stars, professionals at the very least. If you are interested in a real star Bai Ling

  • just check in on her.

    Fabulous Fight Fans Come Back

    Elizabeth talked with our director yesterday and he told her that the "Fight Fans are absolutely fabulous". Taylor Hackford, director of "La Bamba" "Ray" and "An Officer and a Gentleman" loves Albuquerque Extras. Boxing Fans YOU ROCK!!!!

    We are shooting the boxing scene AGAIN on Wednesday, March 5 so if you worked any day on the scene, please come back. Give Katy a call in the office to confirm if you have not done so already. It will be a split again, which means that we will start late morning to early afternoon and shoot to the wee hours of the morning.

    Please return to DaFlikkers next week after The post of 3-5-08 Wednesday's 'on set' activities at Love Ranch, Reno Nevada, 1976. "One Nation Under God" was in effect back then as well.
    IMDB list of actors and comments

  • The real story is pretty sick

  • Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Love Ranch, Joe Pesci, Helen Mirren

    Love Ranch... on set

  • Call Time: Tuesday February 26, Booked Extras
    For Paid Extras
    9:15 am Ranch Girls
    9:15 am Angel and April
    9:15 am Fight Fans whoes FIRST names begins with A-J
    9:15 am Arena Security
    9:15 am Sports writers/Still Photographers/TV Reporters/TV Cameramen
    9:15 am Fight Officials/Judges
    9:15 am Black Panther Body Guards
    10:15 am Fight Fans whoes FIRST names begin with J-M
    10:15 am Ring Doctor/Time Keeper/Referee/Colter's
    10:15 Colter's Cut Man/ Cortez's Buddy/Bruza's Cut Man/Ring Announcer
    11:00 am for Fight Fans whoes FIRST names begin with Q-Z
    Please report to bascamp, and follow the yellow signs to background parking.

    fight Scene details posted on this blog 2-21-08 through 3-5-08. Click on Juke Box, 1976, pick a tune to start, return back, then sit back and imagine you are there in that Reno of long ago.

    I arrived at the Arena at 8:30am on Tuesday. Always early to breakfast of Coffee, eggs and sausage, along with the ever present oatmeal and fruit. Wardrobe was not crowded yet, another reason for early arrival. Waited in Holding and talked to new people sitting at the tables. Mark (BIA)from Thursday along with many others from our background work were present as usual.

    Debbie, one of Elizabeth's PA's (production assistant) has a background in tele-comunications, also in flying both fixed wing as well as rotary. (Helo) She is also turbine certified which has put her in the cockpit of a news chopper in Southern California before coming to NM to enter the film industry.

    Bill a young retired pastor, from southern California, is working on his SAG (screen actors guild) certification so he can earn the big bucks and become a star. He gets to work in the ring as a corner man for Leroy Colter. Watch for him kneeling and attending to Leroy.

    While at the same table, Edward entered our converstion. Edward is a professional Tour Director during most months. His latest resume includes the Boy Scouts of America tours of NM while the scouts are heading for Philmont in Northern NM. Blue Sky adventures is his association. It includes a day of whitewater rafting. Of course in his travels, 100 countries have passed under his feet.

    Just before 12:00 Noon, Keith our head production manager, 'wrangler', escorted us to the NM State Fairground Arena. The first noticeable image was the hundreds of cardboard cutouts and inflated figures filling the grandstand. They looked like a packed house, at least from the cameras viewpoint. Our seating was arranged to give everyone a chance to get some 'on camera' time. We were re-arranged from time to time. Sort of a stirring of the crowd, you might say.

    My first position was near Woody, a retired truck driver, boxer, US Army veteran of Airborne demolition, Many jumps ago with 140 lbs of gear on a 10 ft GP bag line, flying in stacked formation during the late 1950's. A qurter horse training stint along with a life in Minnesota, included a stock brokers experience as well.

    Pretty S.Veronica Kraus crossed my path while on the way to the snack table. She, being a very observant woman, mentioned that the cardboard cutouts contained many of the same blond woman wearing several different colors. A licensed Aesthetician at 1345 Bishops Lodge rd. Santa Fe NM 87506. She and her daughter also own a business dealing in 'Immaginative Clothing'. Santa Fe, being an artsy little city, has lots of Immaginative people.

    Stop in and visit her selection some time. She wore on this occasion, a very flattering teal colored outfit from her collection, that went well with her Auburn hair. Florida was one state of previous residence. The NM film industry attracts many such people as Veronica. I am fortunate to meet many, while 'on set' hopefully to tell a brief part of their stories before they move on to other things in life.

    Ryan, previously a baseball player, works with his father Tim Sharp, in their antique furniture upholstery restoration business in Albuquerque. My wife has had a few things restored by his father years ago. With 30 years experience, his father, a restoration expert, is the greatest we have known, we highly reccomend him.

    No film that I work, is complete without the brothers of Nathan and Tom. Very distinctive due to their stature of well over 6ft tall, they are always noticeable in NM films.

    My first position in deep background, including a lot of cheering and standing repeatedly while encouraging Abruza in his battle with Coltrin. The relationship to historical fact is apparent in this sequence, when Helen Mirren runs to ringside, yells at security to get out of her way, and yells at Abruza's corner to "Stop this Madness". (he is gettin' whupped) Joe Pesci (Charlie Bontempo) looks on.

    In the real historical reference to Mustang Ranch near Reno Nevada in the year 1976, Sally Conforte (Helen Mirren) was reportedly having an affair with the heavyweight boxer from Argentina, Oscar Bonavena. Joe Conforte (Joe Pesci) reportedly had the boxer 'Oscar Bonavena' killed by his (Joe's) bodyguard, Ross Brymer. (See link at top of first post Love Ranch) This story made headlines back in 1976 so if this flmed portrayal is in any respect, somewhat true to history, this should be a good movie.

    There have always been suspicions that Joe really did the 'hit', after watching the movie, you be the judge. Rocky came out in 1976 and was rated as one of the best fight scenes. I can attest to the fact that these fight scenes are done well. Lots of blood and hard hits (pulled punches of course) Well not always, some punches land and the fighter is stagered for a couple of minutes. These are really serious fighters and the blows can be devastating.

    Our first positions were the only ones being filmed on this shoot, therefore the 'stand-ins' did all of the boxing. The lighting difusers and overhead lighting were on full brightness. The smoke generators were also on 'full smoke', cough, cough. Glycerin mixed with water vapor floats through the air like actual smoke with nearly as much irritant factor. I have no idea of the lasting effects of glycerin droplets in the lungs? Pantomime during scenes with the principles dialect are alternated with our loud yelling. The ring girls are very attractive of course and we yell even more when they step into the ring and shake their 'booty' around.

    We are assigned a numerical system for use later as the crowd is shifted around the various sides of the ring. Row 90 (really 9) is my home position for the time. This changes at 4:30 pm when a select few of us are moved to a position in the left camera field. My second row seat was great until the Reno Policeman and the tall cowboy hatted actor, portraying Story County Nevada, Sherrif Bob Del Carlo, stood in front of us. Oh well that's the breaks. Lots of yelling and hollering later with re-enactments by the stand-ins. The scene ends in a small pandemonium near the ring. I among others, run forward into the camera field.

    By 6pm we are ready to eat again. 'Holding' is prepared for us and Chicken or beef with veggie and fruit selection is served along with salad and carrot cake, which seems to apear on many sets along with lemonade. 7 pm and Keith from LA, trots us back to our new positions on the opposite side of the ring. Now I have third row seating, Best seats in the house, right in the field of super Techno Crane. This may cause me to be seen on both sides of the ring during the movie. (in one scene, I ran into the camera field on the other side of the ring)

    Super Techno Crane camera is 'flown' overhead during the action scenes. This is a big scene where the actual principles are battling it out, blood and all. Stage blood of course and applied at proper times during the bout. The man held, ring camera is all over and under the action. sometimes the camera man is laying on the floor. The camera risks getting punched in the lens at times.

    This set of scenes are filled with exhuberance and yelling, standing up, shaking of fists, sitting back down and repeated endlessly until all is correct. Two girls on the front row are chastised by our Producer Taylor Hackford

  • for just sitting there like Zombies. Hunger is present again but no pizza until near the last hour after 1:30 am on Wednesday morning. Eat rapidly and run back to the live set for more of the same. Yelling until our throats are raspy, our voices growly and the hours pass. Well after 2am our call comes "Wrapped'. Are we doing a good job portraying the real story?

    The run back to holding, fast wardrobe change, turn in clothing for tomorrow's use by many of us, and vouchers are taken to be signed out by Rebecca and the casting table crew. The lines are long with about 300 background actors all wanting to leave as soon as possible. The drive home and reviewing in my mind, what we have accomplished today. Arrival home after 3:30 am. After my 20 hr day, Wife is waiting by the computer trying to find our closing time posted somewhere. Hit the sack to wake early on Wednesday in preparation for yet another day of the same. Oh yeah, and post this blog. Life In the USA, the greatest country of opportunity in the world. "One Nation Under God"
    IMDB list of actors and comments

  • More links on following post for Wednesdays report.
  • Saturday, February 23, 2008

    LOVE RANCH, Joe Pesci, Helen Mirren

    Love Ranch
  • is a fictional drama, based on true events. The film’s dramatic action revolves around a romantic triangle involving the husband and wife proprietors of a brothel and a world famous Heavyweight boxer who comes into their life. Check this link to See the tie to the actual 1976 story of Mustang Ranch

  • Click on Juke Box above and pick a tune set from the 1976 era, sit back relax and read about how we did our thing 'on set'.

    Recieved a call from Elizabeth Gabel's Far Horizon Casting. 'Will' asked if this Geezer would be able to work background as a 'Fight Fan' on the 21st of February. Of course with my busy schedule I immediately replied Yes,Yes. Wear a wardrobe consistant with 1976 attire he asked. Check for the call time on the internet, the evening before, after 7pm. So far so good, the only thing was that I had gone through my closet and threw away all of my own 1970 and 1980's clothes. Now what?

    Katy called the night before to make sure all was a 'go' on my date with fame. Oh well, jeans with boot cut cuffs are always in style in the west. Call time was for 7:30am Thursday. Awoke at 5:20am and decided that was close enough. After dressing as close as possible and taking a shirt change, I left in the early morning snowfall to arrive at the New Mexico fairground by 6:30am. I like the breakfast served in 'holding' anyway, so that gave me time to enjoy the hot coffee, sausage, eggs and potatoes. They do have oatmeal and fruit for the non carnivores on set.

    Signed in with others arriving to the tune of about 200, strange looking people like myself. I don't think I ever saw so many large rollers in women's hair. Of course they were removed just before the camera action. Elizabeth told my little friend Rebecca to get us to wardrobe for our 'tuneup'. I got to keep the faded jeans and boots along with my old sweat stained straw cowboy hat with a wicked good roll. A bright orange sport jacket was just the ticket along with a brightly colored belt. Now I was presentable.

    Ed from other films we worked together, was outfitted in a bright orange leisure suit, yellow socks, and bright looking shoes of some indescribable color. Ed definetly upstaged me. Ed, if anyone recalls, was the Appaloosa town Doctor during filming in Novenber of 2007. His film wife, Nancy Ann, was the photographer that captured the images of Viggo Mortensen playing soccer with us, on the set at base camp. Check the archives for the great pictures, Pretty popular and got countless hundreds of hits per day.

    A lot of us knew each other from many other films worked together. Personable, J Nathan Simmons from '' is usually on set with us and always welcome. Most were people that we were meeting for the first time. Joel, an ex Marine at was playing the part of a Reno Nevada Police dept, uniformed officer, along with others. Joel plays rugby, tosses the Caber, is a personal trainer and water safety instructor. He is associated with the Celtic festivities in Albuquerque. We got along, with our mutual interest in 'Celtic Woman'.

    Frank with his Classic 'FrankenDodge' Dart and it's multi colored lights, are to also possibly be in the film. Frank wore his own 70's leather jacket and brightly colored poly shirt, platform shoes and flare bottom pants. Frank is an afficionado of fine classics. He travels to the local thrift stores for his many outfits. He visits the local Salvage Yards for his parts to maintain 'FrankenDodge'. Frank and I have worked many films together in the past. One of his real jobs, was as a Radio announcer where his wife called in a request. They eventually met and were married after many call-ins. He never told me what the requests were..

    Mark H who works for the BIA and is associated with the 'BIA Intranet' computer system, was working background with us for the first time. His mother is a 'Weaver' as well. Mark has been around the 'Res', so we also shared a few stories. Hope to see Mark again on set. We were asked if we wanted to work more days? Of course most said Yes. Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week are my next days.

    Monday the 25th is advertised on all venues for anyone to attend, wearing 1976 vintage clothing, driving that 68 to 76 vintage car, whatever you have, come show your stuff. The filming will be done at the NM fairground Arena. The fights will go on all day and the colliseum is to be filled for the occasion. Periodical raffle calls will give away lots of stuff including two motorcycles. Anyone is invited with free tickets available at several locations around town. 'Casting calls' in my links should have more info. Also the last paragraph of this post, gives details.

    After breakfast we were walked over to the Casino in the grandstand area of the racetrack. The scene was filmed as a 'Press Conference' before the fight. Helen Mirren's, Armando Bruza with his heavy accent and Leroy Colter were great at their dialog. As any fight fan knows, most times the words between the fighters and their respective managers get a little 'Testy'. This scene was done repeatedly for many hours from many different camera angles. We walked through, from all of the various positions and stood by in the 'Press seating' area for even more shoots. Background action was repeated so many times, and we walked through the scene so much, that we all had memorised the lines of the Principles.

    Joe Pesci and Helen Mirren look fit and in shape. Far different from poor Val Kilmer in Comanche Moon (Jan 08 TV miniseries we worked together a couple of years ago) Joe and Helen knew their lines much better than Jennifer Lopez ever did in her 'Border Town' movie last year. I wonder if that 'culture driven' Sub Prime loan will ever be repaid to The State of NM, Oh well it's only 100 million dollars.

    Tim allen in 'Wild Hogs' has trouble recalling his lines as well. Dennis Hopper 'Swing Vote', has to repeat them many times to get them right also. Standing above them all, John Travolta is a true professional. One time, and it's locked in his memory like a steel trap to be released over and over again as the others falter. Marisa Tomey starred with Joe Pesci in 'My Cousin Vinny' along with the guy that starred in 'The Karate Kid'. Marrisa Tomey and Joe Pesci stay looking great. Marrisa worked with us in Wild Hogs last year. She is a doll.

    Lunch was late afternoon and included pork roast and baked chicken. Of course all of the other fine sides as well. Each caterer has their specialty. This was good food but with so many background, it had to be not as gourmet as when we work with fewer people. No prime rib or lobster like John Travolta provided us on Wild Hogs at times.

    Ed Harris, during the filming of Appaloosa gave us a great feast at times, Thanks Ed. 'Hitch and Cole', Ed and Viggo treated us great and shook our hands and talked to us thanking us for our help. Nice to work with real professionals like that. John Travolta 'Wild Hogs', was excellent and very personable also. I see where MC Gainey from Wild Hogs is working with us on this set. He is the right size to portray 'Ross Brymer'. Luce Rains from Appaloosa is also working with us again.

    Elizabeth told us to go back to wardrobe after our meal and get a change of appearance, I came away wearing a dark blue leather sport jacket, not bad actually, No cowboy hat this time. My friend Ed came away looking like he grew up in Liverpool. He wore a pair of stripped blue pants and a blue pullover shirt. Not the most attractive wardrobe but deffinetly classic.

    After this meal it was time to move to the locaton of the entrance to the Arena. We were given 'props' that included nachos with cheeze and jalapenos, they were really used and showed it. The popcorn was ok actually. The beer was not at all well. Tea colored water actually. the Vendors were set up throughout the hall, downcamera. Joe Pesci and his entourage showed up. The prostitutes that accompanied Helen and Joe were pretty girls. Short skirts held our attention, boy did they hold our attention. I forgot how short they wore them in those days. One tall blonde that chewed gum like it gave her oxygen, had tall snaky boots past her knees. She sort of looks like Karen black from Easy Rider, according to Veronica Kraus from Santa Fe's 'ZEN River'.

    I really appreciate a smoke free environment now. Because this was 1976, a lot of people were encouraged to smoke. My throat was sore for days, and I wasn't even smoking. The air became blue and hazy, so much so, that even the smokers were quitting after getting a little dizzy from O2 starvation. Now I see why the city went No smoking a couple of years ago. One of our young men playing a Reno Officer, advised that it was illegal to smoke in a public place. I am with him. Joe Pesci would light up, then extinguish, then relight his big cigar, taking only a short puff when the camera was rolling. It may make him sick.

    At the entrace to the arena scene, I walked through the lobby toward the camera, past Joe, then turned up the stairway, stopping to shake the hand of one of the friends of Joe, just before he hollers 'Charlie'! which is Joes character name, Charles Bontempo. Helen 'Queen' walks away from Joe, toward me. I then turned left, climbed the stairs, walk again and again. Reset!, Background!, Action!, repeated often each few minutes. After her walk away from Joe, Helen Mirren was hiding behind the popcorn machine in deep background, as I came down the far starway. I hung around near her a few times. She looks very nice and well cared for. Life in a brothel must be good for her and Joe. In real life she is married to our Producer Taylor Hackford.

    We all walked back and forth and climbed stairs many times over, platform shoes sounding like horses hooves, for the greater part of the night. No matter how often it was repeated to walk quietly, the same "Clop" "Clop" "Clop" sound echoed through the lobby. Eventually, indicating a long night, Pizza was brought in at about 9:30pm. I heard the casting people say "Piranhas", as we grabbed it right from the many countless boxes set on a table outside. The cameras were reversed, we were brought back in and repeated the scene from another angle. The Gleason brothers are very distinctive. They are well over 6 ft tall. The brothers were walked through the scene several times and were then 'wrapped' which allowed them to beat the long wardrobe lines.

    Finally it was a 'wrap' for the rest of us. We ran back to holding, changed clothes, got in line with the other hundreds of background, then moving to the wardrobe 'turn in' trailer. Tempers were short and when some immature adults tried to jump the line in front of us, to be with there friends, a short tempered more mature guy, let them know his displeasure. Most wisely moved to the back of the line. We are all told to return the wardrobe on hangers. The rule is followed, common sense of course.

    Now you guessed it, the immature line jumpers conveniently 'lost' their hangers, carried their wardrobe in a wadded up mess and proceeded to attempt a 'BS' routine with the wardrobe personel. Luckily this is rarely accepted behavior, I have seen times when the person was told to go find their hangers and return when they are properly prepared. School and most importantly, Parents, are forgetting a few things these days and the 'real world' has to teach behavior. Sometimes with an extremely harsh and embarassing response.

    After being handed my pay voucher, which is held as security for return of wardrobe, I returned to Elizabeth Gabel's casting assistants for final checkout. I arrived home at about 12:30AM on Friday morning. All in all, a 19 hour day for all of us with no naps. I made up on naps the following day. I hope Elizabeth's crew finally got to go home.

    I will post more on Tuesday Feb 27th and Wednesdays Feb 28th, 'on set' experiences.
    Y'all come back now, Ya Hear!
    IMDB list of actors and comments

  • the following Wednesday has a few more links to interesting facts from history. This series of posts will run from 2-21-08 throough 3-5-08. So far at least.

    Love Ranch Fights

    For tickets to the Monday Love Ranch Fights please go to Care Free Spas (on Menaul; 883-2999), 777 Auto Sales (4th & Candelaria;343-0777), OTM Fight Shops (San Mateo & Cutler; 884-8844) and Zanagra Dodge (at Lomas; 262-1111).

    Come be a part of the making of the major motion picture, LOVE RANCH, in an all-day action packed event featuring an all-pro live boxing card, the best of New Mexico comedians, and an eclectic sampling of New Mexico musicians at Tingley Coliseum, Monday February 25.

    Willy Villanueva will headline against Lorenzo Estrada, Archie Ray Marquez against Ceacar Velenzula and a final bout with Joe Cruz against Jose Garcia.

    Step back into the 70s, catch Hollywood's eye and be part of the filming. Come in your best 70s clothes and hair and be eligible for a prize (Think Charlie's Angels) or bring a 1960s to 1976 car for another prize.

    The 12 hour event will also include more prize give-aways every ½ hour and include two motorcycles, two ATVs, a pool table, Gibson guitars, a set of golf clubs, bicycles, and other great stuff.

    The crowd will also be entertained by the musical groups Doc Metzger, Kimberly Ann, and Felonios Groove Foundation as well as comics, Matt Peterson, Rusty Rymes, Mark Shooter, Rick Semones.

    "Love Ranch," directed by Taylor Hackford ("Bound by Honor," "Ray"), stars Joe Pesci ("Casino," "Raging Bull," "Goodfellas") and Helen Mirren ("The Queen" and "National Treasure: Book of Secrets").

    Get Free Tickets at Carefree Spas, Triple 7 Auto Sales, 93.3 KKOB FM, Zanagara Dodge, On the Matt Fight Shop. You must have a ticket to attend.

    Doors open at 7 am.

    Isn't this USA great? The land of opportunity. One Nation Under God.
  • Sunday, February 03, 2008

    World War II USA, Blogengeezer

    This is another long one so don't even try it if your'e in a hurry. The Juke Box will help you 'not' concentrate so turn it on before you start, that way the time will pass faster..and if you are still awake, this other 'linked' website is really long and about a little US military history.


    As a young 'Buck',
    I recall Dad and Grandpa building our house. I couldn't really walk yet, so crawled up the newly built wooden stairs only to fall down from the loft which was to become my bedroom. I still remember the smell of fresh cut pine. Our first stove was Kerosene fueled. For a few years we took turns bathing in the water heated on that stove. The dirtiest person was the last in the big metal pan on the floor, with an additional couple of gallons of clean hot water added.

    Our bath and non-potable water was collected in big concrete cisterns filled by rainwater from the intricate gutter systems that my Grandfather and Dad installed on our houses. First we used a little, sink mounted hand pump. As money became available Dad installed a little electric pump under the kitchen. Now that was class. Dad then added an indoor toilet, sink and a real tub, no more big metal pan on the floor. What will these people think of next? A real hot water heater came only after the end of the 2nd world war. Now that was 'Hot'. We had to conserve everything. The water in the tub was only 2 inches deep and a yellow color because of the cistern rainwater system.

    Dad was also a State Game Warden. His nickle plated 38 S&W revolver, along with his 410 ga, long barrel, Winchester pump shotgun and Moms Marlin pump action 22, hung over the wide passage from the house to the kitchen. The kitchen had once been Grandpa's tool shed and was then built onto the main house. It was important that Dad was a State Game Warden. We regularly ate tasty Pheasants and rabbits that he hunted, surveyed, counted, shot, and had to check, to make sure they were healthy,... for his reports of course....Yeah right! Yummm!

    Dad worked two other jobs to have the cash to buy the materials to build the house, as he could afford them. One was as school teacher/principle. The other was shoveling coal at night in the city electrical generating power plant. Oh Yeah! there was no such thing as a home loan unless you had cash to cover it in the bank.

    If you were 'sub prime' you didn't own 'squat'. The old cash receipts for supplies are still in a box in our closet. My oldest son found them while cleaning out Mom's last house he bought. Our son's are extremely 'Prime'. They don't believe in being 'sub prime'.

    I recall Walt Disney's Fantasia as my first theater movie, felt really sorry for the dinosaurs, but liked the dancing flowers and flying horses. The brooms were scary. I remember the big thrill of the traveling 'Yo-Yo Man'. Movies for us were very rare, we wore hand me downs. I was very fortunate to have an older, bigger cousin with generous parents and the few store bought clothes came by mail order from Sears and Roebuck, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Wards.

    Chickens, chickens and more chickens were the order of business at our little farm. My first job was chicken chasing. Next job was chicken catching. Dragging them to Grandma to chop off their heads with her old bloody axe on a big tree stump. She would fling em aside and they would run around, "like a chicken with it's head cut off", chasing us kids while 'pumpin out'. Great excitement for us kids.
    I had to grow into that job later when I could swing the axe. For now I got to do some feather 'pluckin', after the hot scalding water dip. A little 'butcherin' was good for anxiety relaxation.

    Grandma had, at one time, driven a school bus. That was when only men drove vehicles because of the strength required to steer (no power steering) shift the big gears (no automatic transmission) and push the heavily sprung clutch on those big trucks. One more thing, the brakes were just massive shoes with mechanical rods to press them against the drums. With no 'power assist', if you were weak, you could not stop the truck. She was very strong and could go the distance with any man on any job. Grandpa, who at the time was a chauffer, (previous story) critisized her driving. Grandma got angry and told him that from now forward, he could do all driving in their life. She never drove, ever again. Grandpa now had one other duty to handle in his busy day. I'll bet he regretted his words many times after that.

    One of the pastimes, was walking with my Grandmother along the endless hedgerows between fields. Not only did the wildlife hide there, the asparagus and wild rasberrys grew plentiful in them. My Grandmother knew the best thickets and just when each harvest was the easiest to gather. She wore a big apron and carried a small bag made from one of the flour sacks. She handmade all of her accessories and kitchen towels from those blue patterned sacks. She always had flour sacks, she baked all of our bread. We never tasted 'store bought' (yuk) until after the war.

    As we walked through the maze of bushes, she picked and gathered. I helped somewhat but ate almost everything I picked. I guess the only reason she let me come along, was to let me enjoy the outing. The only thing my Grandmother was afraid of was snakes. She would get all upset, stomp her feet and carry on about them. I just reached down and caught them, to carry along for a few minutes, then release them away from her pickin' area. I liked them and the feel of their squirming between my fingers. Still do.

    After the bag was filled to the top with berries, we returned across the fields with the booty. Grandma washed and prepared the berries and then made numerous pies. The appples and berries and cherries from her trees were all put to good use. She had built grape arbors and planted red rasberry, currant, gooseberry, blackberry and black raspberry bushes as well as peach, cherry, plum, pear, mulberry, apricot and apple trees. She sold produce from the orchard as well as from her large garden. Tomatoes, carrots, squash, radishes, peppers, cabbage, peas, Lots of corn and a lot of various flowers which she had planted over the years. Grandma loved Flowers.

    Even the bushes surrounding the place were huge Lilacs. Peoople from miles around stopped in for flowers which Grandma gave away to all. As I have mentioned before, nothing was wasted in those days. She made the most wonderful pies. Donuts were a special treat made with leftover dough from her 'bread baking' day. Kids that smelled the baking, would hang around until they each got one. We never ate 'store bought' unless it was absolutely neccessary. We absolutely never ever went to a restaurant or 'ate out'. What a difference between then and now.

    Her first kitchen had 'linoleum' counter tops and floor coverings like our house had, and Iron pots and pans. After the war ended, Grandpa built her all new stainless steel countertops with then new, stainless steel pans. Grandma was in heaven, her kitchen was her workshop. She kept the big iron frying pan though, and used it as long as I remember.

    When the older men (younger ones were away, fighting for our freedom) all teamed up for Threshin' at the different farms, a big machine driven by a long flat belt with a twist in it, was powered by the power take off pulley on one big old powerful, iron wheeled tractor placed a good distance away from the flying chaff. They used horse drawn hay racks, mowers, and almost every other farm implement during the war years, due to Gas rationing.

    Kids drove the tractors or horses while the old men forked the mowed and dried oats or wheat onto the rack for delivery to the threshin' machine. Kids also drove the horses or tractors pulling the racks back to the big barn for 'straw stackin' in the loft. A big pulley mounted high in the peak above the loft door, had a long rope fastened to a team of horses.

    By loading the big hooks with either hay or straw, then driving the horses forward, the load was brought up to the open loft door where men would swing it inside on a track that ran the length of the loft, then send it back down to repeat the process. The grain was sacked right from the threshin' machine, then loaded onto another rack for transport to the grainery on the farm. Most of the harvested crop was destined on going straight to the mill as a cash crop along with the excess hay and straw.

    Egg gathering was on going. Cleaning out the hen house, feeding and carrying water never stopped, as well as my favorite job, 'Rat Killin'. They were big and the cats were afraid of em'. Grandpa's little dog 'Tojo' could catch em' and loved his job. They were fast, so I had to grab 'em and throw em' on the concrete floor to stun em' or sometimes just sit up on the henhouse roof and pick 'em off in the moonlight with Mom's, Marlin 22, pump action rifle. There were lot's of em'.

    Weasels sometimes got in and killed a few chickens just for sport. Walking the 100yards (91m) out back to the hen house and closin' the doors after dark was my job. Sometimes Skunks were prowling around at night. After spending a few minutes studying them, I turned around and never picked a fight with a Skunk. During the war, we heard about chicken poachers. I carried the 22 rifle but never caught one...sigh!

    Mom also was an excellent shot by the way. She also was an excellent horsewoman, and owned a 'Paint horse' by the name of Boots. I often walked the country roads with that 22 rifle. The County Sheriff would stop and ask if we had been shooting the insulators off the power and telephone lines. We said nope, of course, and never did...any more.

    We grew up with guns. What in the world has gotten into peoples brains today? We never felt the need to shoot other people, even if they whupped us in a fight. Meds must be putting some weird thoughts in peoples brains today. Or they don't have any common sense to begin with.

    One other thing we heard a lot, was the word NO! If it didn't register the first time, we got a whackin' in school and a real whuppin' again at home. Also the thought that anything bad that happened to us, was someone elses fault, never entered our mind. Everything was our own fault because of Choices we had made. People of today must make a lot of bad choices.

    Every early Spring time, brought in the first load of hundreds of baby chicks. They quickly grew up to become 'fryers'. During WWII those chickens fed many people. During her lifetime, Grandma butcher'd them by the thousands and sold eggs by the countless thousands.

    The brooder was set up in the better insulated chicken house. The kerosene oil drip burner was adjusted and lit. I stayed in a pile of blankets in the corner overnight to make sure that the unpredictable flame stayed lit so that we didn't loose all of the new chicks to the cold night.

    The 2 hogs and 1 beef each year, just added more to our food stores during the War. The local freezer kept our stock labled and frozen for when needed. The cellar was filled with canned goods my Grandmother and Mom put up after harvest. Back then if a person didn't plan ahead, starvation could and did occur. My family survived during a period of no welfare system like today. Clothes were washed in the cellar and hung out side on long lines to dry. Winter cold, fast froze them dry.

    We always had a pet crow that just hung around our little farm. His name was always 'Pete' for some reason, even though he was a different crow each year. My young uncle always brought one home from a hunting trip. Pete became tame quickly and hung around until late fall, when he was seduced away by his other "Birds of a Feather".

    I remember when the big Zenith 'black dial' floor radio told about WWII starting. The women were all crying. As soon as he heard the news about Pearl Harbor, My young uncle quit High School at 17 and joined the Navy, 'Sea Bee's (construction battalion). A little flag with gold fringe and one star hung in Grandma's front window after that. We drove the 12 year old car to Great Lakes Naval training Center when he got out of Boot Camp.

    He was happy to get to eat some of Grandma's home cooked chicken out of a big basket with a blue checkered towel over it. Grandma liked blue checkered feed and flour bags. She made lots of things out of them. She also made all of our rugs out of wool rags that she aquired from friends and braided at night, sitting in the living room while Grandpa read the daily news paper about the war. During her spare time as weather was cold, she then braided and sewed the big rugs together for our families.

    We took my very young uncle to the train where he climbed aboard with lot's of other soldiers, sailors and duffel bags. Grandma and Grandpa were crying and hugging that young boy they raised, as he went off to fight for our country and many others that would not be free if the enemy won. At that young age, he knew what was expected of him.

    He, as well as our other military family members, all knew what to do, and volunteered willingly to go out into the anti-US world, and 'get it on' with our foes at places called TARAWA, IWO JIMA and GUADALCANAL. That young man was there during those invasions. As a Bos'n, he piloted landing craft, putting his Marines ashore. On more than one time, he was hit and sinking, was rescued and went back and got himself another landing craft to run ashore with his load of Marines again and again.

    Every night after dark when the big Zenith 'shortwave' worked best, We would listen to Walter Winchell and Gabriel Heater tell when we won or lost a battle. When our family members that were all in the Army, Navy and Air
    Corps were in the area of the battles, all of the women would cry. That same radio was a source of 'Stories' told in the evenings, about Hero's and villians. In those days, our Hero's always won. This convinced us to be Hero's in our adult life. Simple concept, was it not?

    One thing totally different back then was that the news casters and news papers, never said anything bad about our country or our troops or our President. I guess there were more 'Prime' citizens back in those days, than 'Sub Prime'. Too bad for this generation.

    The big steam locomotive pulled the green and brown railway cars that took Grandpa and Dad into the city to work. When I got to ride along to pick them up, my memory was etched forever. The hot steam blowing from the piston relief valves, swirled around the train station platform in the cold night air. The porters ran along pulling high wheeled carts that carried the freight, mail bags and luggage from the baggage cars.

    Dozens of Soldiers and their duffle bags were always boarding. The big milk cans and boxes of frozen chicken, were then loaded to take to the city. The big 'driver wheels' of the steam locomotive would throw a shower of sparks while trying to gain traction to pull away from the station.

    The heavy, steam powered engine would rock and shudder from the wheel spin. Sand would be dropped from a pipe in front of the wheels for traction. The engineer would slowly push or pull the long levered valve handle to control the steam.

    Slowly the huge steam engine would move forward and a long blast from it's steam whistle would moan across the countryside. The great big light on the front, illuminated the tracks far into the black night ahead. In my memories, I can still hear that long moaning and shrieking sound as it carried to my loft bedroom at night when the big heavy freight trains went by our little farm. Another comforting sound from my childhood.

    At times the sound of Propeller driven military planes flying low overhead made my girl cousins and I run the 400 yards (.40km) to the field where the big wooden slatted, red and white striped, pyramid shaped pylon, formed the navigation turning point for the training of pilots from Great Lakes Naval Air Station. When the young pilots noticed the waving, leggy, young, pretty girls, atop the pilon, they became ever more daring and flew within yards of us, waving as they banked hard and went around again. Now that was exciting.

    The huge waves of thousands of planes flying in formation across the continent, sometimes portrayed in old posters, were real. It started slowly. A few planes flying over, then a dozen, then many dozens, then hundreds. the factories that had built machines for a nation at peace, began to change gears to produce, Warships, Tanks, Planes and Guns. The sound was an endless, heavy drone beyond description. Bombers built in factories across the country, would gather above airfields such as 'Orchard Depoe' now called ORD or O'Hare, and form into group formations extending from horizon to horizon.

    That sound is in flashback memory to me, whenever I hear the vintage, propellor driven 'air tankers' flying over, to drop their loads on a fire in the mountains of New Mexico. The unique, synchronous sound of four radial piston, 'Wright Cyclones' or 'Pratt and Whitneys', swinging those big four bladed props, is never to be forgotten. This nation, faced with a similiar threat, would have to react with a much more sophisticated 'force' in order to survive today. Heavy Manufacturing is long gone in the USA.

    Grandma and Mom had made black, light blocking cloth curtains for every window so as to not aid any enemy planes in navigation. Sometimes at night, the big '12 O Clock noon' siren in the village over three miles (4.8km) away, would begin it's deep throated moan rising to a howl, building to a crescendo, then falling, only to begin another rise. Hear that repeated cycle sound and you will never forget it's ominous warning of an impending calamity.

    We turned off all lights in our house. It was easy because we had one light bulb hanging down on its own wire, over the kitchen table. The other small rooms had one dim table lamp each and a pair of dim wall lamps, which were never on unless we needed them. As we left a room, the light was immediately turned off. To this day I still turn off lights in unused areas of our home. Electricity, among everything else, was never wasted back then, as it is today.

    More excitement of an impending 'air raid', came when we went out to check the night sky for enemy bombers. Big searchlights on the horizon near the city, waved across the sky. After the drill was over, the big rotating beacon from another airfield many miles away, would again resume it's slow rythmic rotation across the night landscape, illuminating the mist on it's sweep through our sector. A strangely eerie spector, but always extremely comforting nonetheless, I loved it.

    Because of our troops ultimate sacrifice overseas, those enemy bombers never materialised over the continental United States. As a small child, I had nightmares of a bomber, crash landing in the field across the road from our house. It was re-curring throughout the war years and very vivid. Rare times the crew was enemy, most times it was our pilots and I didn't know what to do for them. Thankfully, because of the training and skill of our young pilots and mechanics, my dreamed scenario never happened near our home. Maybe that is what prompted me to eventually join the Air Force.

    During WWII, store String from the wrapped packages after shopping, was saved in a big ball. Precious Aluminum foil was saved likewise, or flat to be reused later. Tin cans were saved as were all pieces of scrap metal. The recycling junkyard was an interesting trip. Old cars were not left to rust away in the fields, streets or yards. They were completely dismantled for usable parts, then crushed and melted down quickly for material to continue the war effort. A cleaner America was evident.
    Mason Jars were never thrown away, Grandma refilled them with whatever produce we harvested, for our future needs.

    We always walked the rails as kids. The train tracks were our playground and the 'Hobos' were our reluctant playmates. The 'Gandy Dancers' never stopped working on the rails. They lived in rolling boxcars on the sidings. We layed down on the rails to listen to the approaching train in the distance. Slingshots were the weapon of neccesity while walking the rails. It was a 'target rich' environment as they say in the military.

    My best friend 'Freddy' was the son of Fred, the section foreman. That gave us even more access to the switchyard. The 'Switchman' at leithton, taught us Morse Code while he communicated with other towers. We got to tap out messages, listen for the response and then counting the dots and dashes, figure out what the guy on the other end said. Just like a 'decoder ring' from the cereal boxes but more serious.

    The tower man also gave us lessons in target practice. He could easily shoot bottles in mid air with his 22 rifle. He loaded a forked stick with the trains 'orders'. As it roared past the tower, he held it out for the train crew to grab. I held it one time. Fun stuff, much better than a video game.

    There was a 3 wheeled greasing cart, like a big heavy wooden bicycle with a sidecar. It had a pump handle like an 'Irish Mail', to make it go on the rails. Freddy and I had great fun riding that thing, as the tower man pushed us along to get it started. It took both of us to pump it because of the weight of the three iron wheels. We envisioned ourselves as Engineers of our own 'train wreck', as it jumped the track at times.

    The Tower control man, manually switched the many seperate pairs of rails on that two line crossing intersection with 'sidings'. He switched the rails from inside the high, windowed tower, using many big floor mounted iron handles with detents. We were just little kids and could not even begin to squeaze the handles, let alone move the levers. That guy had big hands and arms. He jumped up at the handles and grabbed hold of them, pulling them down while pushing against the other handles with his feet. He reminded me of 'Quasimodo', ringing the Bells of Notre Dame Cathedral.

    At night, the big red and green, section signal lights along side of the tracks, lighted my way while walking the miles toward home. The light reflecting off the rails made the miles pass faster. My family never knew where I was after school. Most of the time, they got a little upset about it. Kids today sure missed those great times. Thank the lawyers for making all of that great life illegal. Aren't the rest of you happy that you are so safe today?...I didn't think so.

    After school we used long poles and sticks to push little, old, wooden, carnival ride boats from an abandoned amusement ride near the overflowing lake. The boats were small and for little kids to ride in a round tank. We traveled, two in each boat, until dark every day after school, then left them for the next day, to resume our exploration of the, spring flooded, fields and streams. It ended days later, many miles from home, quite dramatically, at a flood swollen, raging river where our little boats got pinned by the current to a big fence. We abandoned the little boats and had to slowly crawl to safety along the fence wire. Another walk home in the dark, soaked and cold but alive and searching for another adventure the following day.

    A surplus store sold small 'drogue' parachutes cheap. Bought one, climbed up on a neighbors big barn, wrapped the numerous shroud lines around my hand and wrist, ran along the crest of the barn and jumped off into the wild blue yonder so I could float down like I had seen in the movies. Woke up later on the ground with admiring friends around me saying "WOW, that was great". "you came down way too fast but it looked great".

    For heat in my Grandparents home, a monster furnace in the basement burned 'Redheart' (little paper red hearts) coal used a gravity feed system for heating the house upstairs with a big grate in the middle of the house. It also was the water heater with a big iron ball in the top of the firebox area. Immediately after the War, a 'stoker' was added that kept it burning all night. That was hii tech stuff back then. The stoker had to be filled about once a day from the basement 'coal bin'. 'Jake' lived near the tracks with his family (Valerie was in my class) and had the coal yard. He delivered the coal with an old truck and long chute inserted through the basement window. The clouds of coal dust kept Jake pretty black. In the winter, after getting soaked in the snow, while sledding along the shore of frozen 'Diamond' lake, then walking the miles home in the cold frozen night, I layed on that big floor grate. I got burned more than once.

    Our first heater in our house, was a wood and coal burning iron stove below my upstairs room. Dad and Grandpa carried coal from the basement in my Grandparents house in a 'scuttle bucket'. An iron grill with a little wheel and damper plates, was in the floor near my bed, kept my room in the loft warm. As soon as the War ended and oil was available, our house got a large metal box in the center called a 'garbage burner'. It used an oil drip to provide heat. It ran away with dripping one night, started rumbling loudly and turned red hot. The volunteer fire department was called to extinguish it. We almost lost our house that night.

    We owned two wire handled, one gallon aluminum containers with lids, for carrying milk. The dairy farm was about 1/4th mile (.40km) across the fields from our house. Dairy cows we left to the specialists. They had far more cats and dogs than we did, The cats and dogs gathered around as the farmer squirted them with milk from the tit. They loved it and washed each others faces as fast as they were soaked.

    We walked for our milk supply and carried the valuable cans carefully back home, transfered the milk to glass bottles to be placed next to the big block of ice in our wooden, steel lined, 'Ice Box', no electric refrigerator back then. The bottles were removed after the cream rose to the top. Grandma then scooped it off to be made into butter or just used on berries or whatever. Grass, Cows, Milk, Cream, Butter, Cheese, meat. What a system God has given.

    The Ice Man was another interesting aspect to the War Years. With his leather shoulder pad and big hooks, he carried in the ice block and rearranged the remaining pieces around the new block in our Ice Box. After the War drew to a close, a white milk truck came to the house on a schedule. The milkman brought in the milk and put it in the new electric refrigerator. We never locked any doors. Things were definetly geeting better. Even the 'Fuller Brush' man started coming around again. He was also 'The Watkins Products' man.

    Our old, brick lined, hand dug well, went bad. (we were downgrade from the ancient cemetary) The nearest community well, 2 miles (3.2km) away, was one of our only source's for potable water. We, each family, owned one big glass bottle in a wooden crate frame. The trip was only when we were out of potable water. The big iron pump's handle was long and geared to the 'sucker rod'. I could not pull it down, but was hung on it to ride it down, while my Grandfather pumped. We didn't have to go to the gym for our workouts. After the war, they put an electric motor on it.

    After the war ended, Grandpa was able to have a real 'deep well' driven. I learned a great lesson in 'well drivin' while watching the 'Driller' and his rig, work for days. After completion, the well had a concrete box set in the ground below the frostline. The presure tank and big electric piston pump was set in place and access to the little room for service, was through a square metal lid.

    I spent many hours down in 'the well pit' because I was small enough to change it's oil and replace the leather washers on the upper piston when it got a little sick. At first we used a bucket every now and then, to bail out the leakage water, I dipped the bucket then handed it up to Grandpa. Needless to say, I got soaked. Years later we had a sump pump to drain any water before it flooded the machinery and shorted out the electric power. See, life just keeps on improving.

    During the war, a U.S. Army bivouac was set up in the old Indian burial ground and abandoned cemetary behind our farm. As a little kid, I penetrated it's perimeter, only to get caught by the soldiers and carried back over our fence. I never got to see them fire the cannon or even shoot their guns.

    The best trip to the train station, was when my young uncle returned in Victory, from the Second World War. Everyone was there watching eagerly as the troops climbed down from the steps of the passenger cars. We were all so excited and the women were crying, while watching for him to get off the train among the other soldiers and sailors.

    Later we watched him march down the main street in the town, appropriatly named 'Libertyville'. He marched with the other soldiers, proudly carrying the United States Flag. I still remember his white dress 'putees' as he told me about them. He carried a rifle on his shoulder and they did a close order drill to show us their discipline and parade skill with the rifle and marching.

    He married his H.S. sweetheart, then Grandpa with some other men helped him assemble a new home that arrived on a big truck. I saw the first Pre-fab house in that neighborhood built within a week. They lived there for many years and raised a nice family that are successfull in every way. He died a few years ago, just one of the many of 'The Greatest Generation'.

    Went to 'the city' now and then. Stayed at Mom's sisters apartment with cousins. A bar was downstairs and the sound of the bass drum came up through the floor. Thumped me to sleep. Walked around on paved sidewalks, rode streetcars with sparks falling from the overhead wires, as they reversed the 'pick up' rods to go the other direction. Walked to a big carpet factory where a waterfall with statue Indians was set up and lighted at night. I liked that a lot. Ate my first Pizza at my aunt and uncles. Still like Pizza a lot.

    Grandpa had an old 1929 2 cylinder John Deere. I heard it start 'poppin' in the early morning, I dressed fast, ran out to the fields, climbed aboard sitting on one fender holding on tight while he plowed, mowed, disc harrowed or whatever needed doin'.

    This went on for years until I could drive 'Johnny' by myself by stretching out under the steering wheel to press the clutch. As I grew taller and could pull the big mechanical handles to raise, lower and control the implements, the driving job was turned over to me. Grandpa just cranked it to start it up, then sent me on my way to work the fields. Many nights were spent in sleepovers at Grandparents house. The spare bedroom had a small Zenith shortwave-AM tube radio with a large lighted dial. The long antenna wire strung outside the window, late at night brought in Del Rio Texas along with Grand Ol Opry. I guess that's where I developed some of my taste's in music. My 'links' tend to show some inclination in that direction, if you haven't noticed.

    My younger sister helped Mom around the house and attended school as I did. She worked with Grandma fixin' meals and helping with 'bean snappin' while sitting in the big old double seat, covered swing in the yard. She also played a full sized accordian she could barely lift, that 'dwarfed' her. As a little kid, She could really shake that monster, bringing out fast tunes one after another. I think she still owned it years later. We had a young neighbor named Manuel, he rattled those keys like the blazes. I guess he gave her inspiration. She also was a very good piano player. The world was now at peace and livin' got much easier. Stuff was no longer 'rationed' and unavailable. Gasoline was easy to get and tires were available for the car and tractor. No more tube patches and rubber 'boots' were needed to extend the life of a worn out bald, cotton corded, bias ply tire that had been 'coupon rationed' for years.

    After the war ended, we went to a store for my first pair of new shoes. I stood and put my feet into a machine that looked through the new shoes with X rays. I wiggled my toes and watched with amazement. Man that was too. Threw away my old worn out hand me down pair. They had been wrapped with friction tape to hold the soles from flapping when I walked. (common occurence back then) First barber haircut by a retired US Navy sailor, was after the war as well. Boy life was getting good.

    TV was at a restaurant/bar in 'Roundout'. Mom and Dad went to watch one night, I didn't like it, went outside, met some new kids. A big girl grabbed me and kissed me while choking me to death. Never wanted to go back there again, at least while I was a kid, might of gone back later lookin' for her though. Dad bought us our first TV, a DuMont with a little round screen, (black and white, no color yet) and all that was on, was a test pattern, or 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie', in the evening, 'Howdy Doody' came later. To get that, he was always on the roof, twisting the antenna around while Mom told him about the fuzzy picture. It was much more fun to be outside running around in the dark with the dogs. Come to think of it, it still is. :>)

    Our Boy Scouts of America, local troop, now had leaders that had returned from the war. Real Soldiers that told us stories around the campfire. Real soldiers that taught us how to play 'Capture the Flag', after dusk, while running around in the dark of night. Real soldiers that taught us how to set up a bivouac weekend camp after a long hike, cook our own grub and work on merit badges. May the Boy Scouts always survive as a teaching organization with it's core belief being God and Country. Lord, those were great years of character building, give them your protection from their political enemies of today.

    Tire tubes were now available as were bicycles, and of course sleds for playing in the snow. Grandpa and Dad bought new cars. We actually went on a little vacation. Grandpa and Grandma built a cabin far away in the forests. I got my first Daisy Red Rider BB gun. I spent many memorable summers, rowing Grandpa's new Sea Wolf, a green plywood boat that was handmade locally by Mr. Wolf, on Trump Lake near Wabeno Wisconsin.

    Grandpa bought a new motor to replace his old worn out little Johnson 1/4 HP. He felt sorry for me spending hours, pulling that rope and fiddlin with the needle valve on the carburetor. One day he brought home a brand new beautiful dark green Scott-Atwater of 3.8 HP. It was the second fastest motor on the lake, which was ruled by a Johnson 5 HP. I was in heaven, thank you Grandpa and Grandma for an excellent childhood, during an extremely stressful time in our lives when we needed your love and encouragement. (chapter two)

    An old, very large barn on another farm had several holes up near the top of the loft. As kids we played with the ropes in the rafters. No hay was stored there any longer due to the farmer, Mr simpson, being very old. If done right and carefully, it was possible to climb very high to the top using careful handgrips. A large box was up there, that we figured had 'squabs' (young pigeons) in it. We had our own pigeon lofts, but always were on the lookout for a new more colorful one. While holding on with one hand and reaching up to open the lid, I saw a set of eyes, hissing in the dusk light. I yelled down to the others, "theres Monkeys in the box".

    Of course they said not possible. "Just reach in and grab whatever it is and fling it down". I reached in and immediately felt sharp pains in my hand. Jerking my hand back it contained a long string of something with sharp claws and biting me, that I flung off. It turned out to be young 'Barn Owls'. The old European farmer made them welcome, to rid the fields and farm yard of rats and mice. We took them home. Mom said the Little zoo in a town nearby is where they go. They were there, entertaining kids for years. Five of them, still looking like monkeys and hissing.

    I was getting to the age when more was expected of me. I was being prepared for maturity and responsiblity by my family. They found more jobs that needed doin', for the area farmers and markets. Many other jobs would come and go in my life, farming was the root work ethic to all of them. Another old farm family close by, Mr and Mrs Prince, that still used draft horses, sold out to a couple of brothers. The Towner's built a small sub division with an old road grader and a WWII surplus Jeep, I was fortunate to get to drive both at times, what a 'power' trip for a kid.

    In the 1950's, When a local Farmer bought the latest, 'one big wheel drive', 'try-cycle tractor' and hired a load of us teenagers to slowly climb up the center ladder and one at a time, starting from the center, crawl out to the farthest stand-in baskets, until all six to eight of us were aboard. Then, trying to keep it balanced, he drove through the maturing, tall corn rows with the tassles coming at us as fast as we could pull. Until then we did the running through the shorter cornfield thing, whacking off tassles. Ahh, modern corn neutering was never so easy. De-Tassling for fun and money.

    That farmer, among many others in the country, grew 'Hybrid' corn ears that were over a foot long and really big in diameter. Two sided, three dimensional, Yellow and green, 'De Kalb' metal signs with a big ear of corn with wings, were placed all along the roadway to advertise and reference the rows for de-tasslin. That was a good job because we didn't have to run while getting 'corn cuts' on our arms. We still got the cuts but didn't have to run.

    As far as the new machine was concerned, by waiting until the corn was really tall, the growth was maximised before the tassles were pulled. I guess the corn sorta gave up if you pulled them too soon? I guess I would do the same if my tassle had been pulled off while I was young.

    We still played games of running and hiding in the fields by the moonlight. If you stopped and were real quiet, you could hear the corn 'squeak' as it grew during the hot summer nights. Firefly's lighting off and on over the fields were another interesting feature of farming. Of course the 'squeezins' dripping out the holes in the bottom of the big silo filled with fermenting silage was another treat. Smokin' a little corn silk in grandpa's corncob pipe was a rare treat? shared with friends.

    Apple pickin' came in the fall, at our 50 tree place and for the big farmers nearby. Their families owned big orchards as well as field harvest crops. We picked all of our own stuff and theirs also. Our pickin' crew was diverse to say the least. What an education in other peoples behavior that was. Hayin' was a good job if you knew the crew. We were all friends and cousins so we worked well together.

    The big barns lofts, were hotter than blazes while buckin' and stackin' bales. We took turns 'buckin' bales in the loft and on the 'Hay rack'. Driving the tractors, mowin' rakin' and balin'. Needless to say, we were 'buffed' out when school started.

    We worked all year at something. Winter was endlessly shovelin' snow. The below zero cold kept our hand cranked 1929 John Deere from starting in the winter. Spring was plowin', disc harrowin', plantin', then cultivatin'. Each machine had to be bolted onto the old John Deere.

    Three point hitch came too late for me. Mowin' was a money maker for me as well. Seemed like the party line phone was ringin' often when 'Poppin Johnny' was mowin'. Many neighbors heard it's unique 'stacato bark' and called Grandma to see if I could mow for them. The 'sickle bar', which was hand raised, would get a fence wire caught in it from time to time. Climb down and approach it carefully, pull out the wire or wad of grass, being sure to keep my fingers clear and oil the mechanism and adjust it for the next hours of mowin'.

    I managed to keep all of my fingers, so I must have been fast and careful. One good friend lost a couple of his fingers, plus mangled a part of his arm in a 'corn harvester'. 'Slim' still did OK in life in spite of it. He never blamed anyone else for his mistake. Never sued anyone either. When he grew up some, he did look and act like the 'Slim' in the Jim Croce song/video "Don't mess around with Jim", in my top links.

    Long days were common during harvest season. Grandma set up all of my 'contracts'. Everyone in the county knew Grandma and Grandpa, or so it seemed. When we did anything bad, they knew within minutes and punishment was quick and appropriate. One of our local police chiefs had gone to school with Mom, not a good thing.

    Most years we had plenty of snow to keep us busy and earning money shoveling. One year in the early 1950's a record snowfall accompanied by a 'lake effect' blizzard, covered all but the tops of the telephone poles along our road. I had a picture Mom took with me sitting down on the pole top. Many winters we were stranded for up to a week without power or outside contact but it was always planned for and food was well stocked in my Grandparents cellar. At times we even slept down there near the iron stove when it got too cold upstairs.

    I fed the horses from the mowin' along the roadway as well as our place. I always built a pretty good supply to last the winter. Filled the loft then built pasture stacks. There was no welfare, so we had very few illegal immigrants. They could stay home, be warm and eat, just as easy as come North, 'freeze' and starve. Come to think of it, that's why we all had to work.

    Kids did all of the pickin' and gatherin' along with all of the other jobs that didn't require much intelligence or experience. We made a fair amount of cash and learned that we better get educated or we would have to do that for the rest of our lives.

    Working the farm is a good way to learn what is important in life. "You don't work, You don't Eat". It teaches respect for the Elders, animals, mechanical abilities, responsibility, teamwork, cash management, profit and most of all Loss.

    The sacrifice's demanded by a 'War for Survival' didn't hurt either. As a matter of fact it built character in that long gone, "Greatest Generation".
    WWII The Last soldiers, Play 'Before You Go'

  • CHAPTER TWO; "It's a Wrap"

    As happens when life gets easy, things change. World War Two consumed about half or more, of the GDP of the USA. Contrast that amount with todays War on Terror, less than 10%. After WWII ended, the troops returned home to start families. The entire economy now had prosperity. The factories changed from manufacturing Warships, Tanks, Planes and Guns, back to Appliances, Cars, and Housing.

    Dad started his own new lucrative business in a segment of the housing market. He stayed away longer, finally to start a new family elsewhere. Mom, in her mid thirties, had to return to school. With nothing more than a midschool education, every day, riding in with Grandpa, she attended an accounting machine operators school in the city. I was about 11 years old.

    My grandmother basically raised my young sister and I, from that point on. Mom soon began work at a factory about one half hour away. She bought an old Chevy and drove to the office, where dozens of women sat at their desks and tapped out numbers on 'Comptometers' to account for the factories payroll, using little paper time cards from the employees.

    The factory soon found that it's product and obsolete methods were no longer competitive and Mom was out of work. Distress with her new twist in life, adding to the major one, suddenly being our head of household, must have caused her immense grief. Being a young kid, I sensed the problems, but dealt with it in withdrawal and denial. School problems, with me as the cause, added to her concerns. My school problems were nothing new.

    Being a school teacher, Dad had taught me math, reading and writing....before my even starting first grade. I became family entertainment as a small child, as I could recite entire readings like 'Casey at Bat' and the story of 'Casey Jones, dying at the throttle' Needless to say, I instantly became totally bored with the entire structured process of school.

    I had been reading National Geographic magazines, and knew all about the world. I could outspell and outread almost any kid all through school. I read through the entire new class lesson book within the first hour or two. That left me with no further interest in it. The fact that I had to sit through the painful attempts by the others, to even begin to read, set me up for educational disaster. I slept in class repeatedly and became disruptive, to put it mildly, which caused my parents to consider sending me away to boarding school. The administrator of the boarding school came to visit. I promised to do better. I did, a little, just enough to hold the threat at bay.

    'Deportment' was a major part of our report card. I failed miserably in Deportment all through school. Battling with other kids became a way to attract attention. Not doing homework was common. I stayed away from home most of the time, walkin' and runnin' 'the rails' that gave me an escape from reality. The world was my playground. I did return most nights to sleep and eat, I wasn't stupid. The money earned from odd jobs was enough to give me pocket cash. I required nothing more.

    Mom was soon hired to operate a then new, IBM payroll accounting machine known as a 'Cardpunch'. The days of dozens of women, tapping on machine keyboards in a big room, was finished. Her knowlege and experience of payroll accounting, learned in that Comptometer school, got her the interview. Many years later she retired as the supervisor of the payroll account division of that Goodyear Hose plant 1/2 hour from our home. When I left the area to seek my fortune 1200 miles (1900km) away, they sold the little farm that they could no longer maintain. After Grandma, who then lived with Mom, passed away, Mom then went on several tours with groups and moved to be near my family in NM. Her life involved working with senior citizens centers and social groups. She passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 92.

    Somehow in my early 20's, my life took a turn for the better. After a couple of HS years in the Air Nat. Guard and later USAF res, a couple of years with the 'Bell Telephone Co'. and a time as a machinist and truck driver, one evening an insurance man persuaded me (after selling me a policy) to apply for a job at the National Cash Register Company, NCR. Travel, endless technical training schools and a change of location as well as an early marriage and subsequent divorce, ended up in NM with a young son to raise. NM, a land of opportunity, now presented me with a new wife followed by a new job, involving more Data processing, with even more travel.

    Three great sons later, now raised and gone with families of their own, with the most forgiving, compassionate and intelligent wife a man could ever want, I retired from corporate life with her blessing, to become a free spirit again. Construction, some odd jobs and a five year fantastic fling in Car Sales, working with some really great people, 'My friend which just won the 5.6 million dollar Lottery' (2.4 cash out after taxes). All of this diverse life in the USA, prepared me for the latest fun profession as a 'Background Actor' in the NM film industry. Just when I thought the end was in sight, an entire fascinating future is ahead again.

    This United States of America, "One Nation Under God", is truly the land of opportunity. No wonder the worlds humanity in desperation, risk their lives to come here. No wonder millions try to raise their families here, even illegally it's hundreds of times better than the God forsaken contries of oppression they leave behind.

    There are those that are totally negative about their own choices in life and disparage this country. They desire what may I ask? I have utter contempt mixed with compassion for them. "They know not, of what they speak". This nation has given "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" just as it says it would. "God Bless the USA"..."USA BLESS GOD"

    Let's go Down to the Valley and Pray

  • Friday, February 01, 2008

    U. S. Tax System, Barstool Economics

    More little things to occupy time while waiting for another 'casting call'. If you like Military History and Aircraft, turn on the Juke Box, return and link in to one of my Great 'wingmates'. He writes longer essays than I do.


    Our Tax System Explained: Bar Stool Economics

    Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

    The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

    The fifth would pay $1.

    The sixth would pay $3.

    The seventh would pay $7.

    The eighth would pay $12.

    The ninth would pay $18.

    The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

    So, that's what they decided to do.
    The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20." Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

    The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.

    But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

    They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
    And so:

    The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

    The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

    The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

    The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

    The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

    The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

    Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

    "I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"

    "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I got"

    "That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

    "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

    The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

    The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

    In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

    For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
    For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

    David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
    Professor of Economics
    University of Georgia