28 November 2014

Doing the Charleston for Thanksgiving 2014

I spent last Sunday (23 Nov.) taking care of some personal business and starting to pack for this week's trip. (More on that soon.) Thus, I did not go to see another film in the St. Louis International Film Festival, which concluded that night. Wrap up, including award winners, are here: http://cinemastlouis.org/

The next day, I put in a full day of work at the car rental branch. Work was heavy in the morning, as usual, but calmed down by late morning, before picking up in the late afternoon. After work, I came home to finish packing and get some rest.

Mom and I were up early the next morning (25 Nov.) to catch our flight. A neighbor drove us to the airport, and we boarded a flight to Atlanta. After arriving there, we waited approximately one hour before flying from Atlanta to Charleston. A relative met us at the airport and we went to the guest house, where we have been the past few days. Mom and I went out for lunch in downtown Charleston and came home to rest.

Wednesday morning, I got a ride to go to Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, just north of Charleston. There, I boarded the retired aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10), a veteran of World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Arriving just before the museum opened at 9:00 am, I stayed aboard Yorktown for just over four hours, following a tour throughout the ship, ranging from the engine room to the flight deck. I clicked away with my camera, taking over 700 images of the ship, several aircraft displayed on the flight and hangar decks, and displays throughout the ship. Despite the cold, overcast, and windy weather outside (which I thought was good for flight operations), I had a ball. The audio tour option that I chose was a great enhancement to my enjoyment of the visit. After lunch on board Yorktown and a visit to the souvenir shop, I was heading back to the guest house. Highly recommended to any history buffs (especially of naval and aviation history). You can find out more on USS Yorktown and other sites of interest here: http://patriotspoint.org/

Thanksgiving Day yesterday was real nice. I stayed at home, to--among other things--enjoy the 2014 MST3K Turkey Day Marathon streamed on YouTube. Six episodes of the 1990s movie-riffing show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (MST3K to its fans) were streamed online and I had fun reliving the hilarity of a man and his two robots talking back at some awful movies. Here's the link to MST3K's official YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFzph9x-n9FR52BI94Zfgww

The feast--smoked turkey and company--was served early last night. My one brother and his family, and some friends of theirs, joined my Mom and I in the dinner. It was very nice and the food--especially the turkey--was delicious, plus we all had at least something to be thankful for in our lives. Here's hoping my fellow Americans enjoyed the holiday and had at least something to be thankful. (In my case, I'm thankful for having steady work, a place to call home, and many good friends and acquaintances around the world--in person and online.)

This morning, I was driven to Sullivan's Island just north of Charleston to visit Fort Moultrie, which is part of Fort Sumter National Monument. Established in 1776 to help defend Charleston, Fort Moultrie's defending troops successfully fought off a British fleet on 28 June 1776. This was an early victory for the Americans during the American Revolutionary War. Confederate guns bombarded the Union garrison at nearby Fort Sumter on 12-14 April 1861, starting the American Civil War. Fort Moultrie was modified and upgraded over the years, serving as a active coastal defense installation until 1947. The site is now maintained by the National Park Service. I had a great time visiting the fort and nearby visitor center for about three hours, snapping over 500 images. For more info on Fort Moultrie, visit: http://www.nps.gov/fosu/historyculture/fort_moultrie.htm

After the visit to Fort Moultrie, it was a good lunch at a Charleston restaurant, then to the guest house. Tonight, I'll start packing up for the return trip. I'll be back in St. Louis tomorrow and back to work on Tuesday. I hope all is well with you, especially those of you in metro St. Louis. The grand jury decision came down Monday night. Mom and I did not see any protesters on our way to the airport, but I am saddened by the violence that has occurred. I am not happy with the grand jury's decision and the underlying issues need to be addressed and soon; however, there is no justification for violence or bullying or other negative behavior by either side in this matter. I'll let it go at that.


23 November 2014

Of Voodoos, SLIFF, Scale Models, and Old Newsboys Day

I'm running a few days late with this post, but it's been busy of late. Anyway, here goes: A week ago yesterday (15 Nov.), I was at the James J. Eagan Civic Center in Florissant for a special meeting of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (MAHS). This meeting celebrated the 60th anniversary of the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, a long-range fighter-bomber, photo reconnaissance, and interceptor aircraft. There was a panel discussion with pilots and engineers involved with the Voodoo, exhibits on the F-101 from the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum, and a movie about two record setting flights flown by Voodoos in the late 1950s. It was a most interesting program, and afterward I took photos of a restored F-101F interceptor-trainer displayed outside the Civic Center. More info on this event on the MAHS website: http://moavhist.org/

That night, I pulled my first volunteer shift at this year's St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) at Winifred Moore Auditorium in Webster Hall on the Webster University campus. As a volunteer, I helped answer questions from attendees, offer festival programs and give fan ballots to attendees, collect and tally ballots after the films, and even got to see some movies once my pre-show duties were done. Two environmental themed documentaries were shown that night: "Wrenched," about author and environmental activist Edward Abbey and his influence on environmental activists today; and "Above All Else," about activists in east Texas using passive resistance to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from passing through their land. Both were compelling in their own ways. More on SLIFF later in this post; for more on SLIFF and its organizer, here's the website: http://cinemastlouis.org/

After work last Monday (17 Nov.), I was in the police building of St. Louis Community College-Meramec, in Kirkwood. No, I wasn't in trouble with the law; it happened to be the venue for the annual futsal referee recertification clinic. My colleagues and I learned of the law changes, points of emphasis for the coming season, and (after presenting proof of registration payment and passing the online test) I received my referee badge for the new year.

It was cold early this past week, with temperatures below freezing. Fortunately, it wasn't really a problem at work (and work has been going well for me this past week). That was not the case this past Tuesday night, when IPMS/Gateway met at Calvary Presbyterian Church. The heater was not working, so it was rather cold inside the fellowship hall and many of us kept our coats on. Nevertheless, we did get in our final Modeler of the Year contest with the Humor special category, plus beginning to accept nominations for the 2014 Bob Stroup Award for Outstanding Achievement and 2015 club officers.

Last Thursday (20 Nov.) was my off day from work, but not from volunteering. I was up early to be a newsboy on Old Newsboys Day, an annual fundraiser for St. Louis area children's charities. I joined two other volunteers in Mehlville--the corner of Victory Drive and Lemay Ferry Road--to hawk the special edition newspaper, for whatever people care to donate. In just over three hours, I sold at least 20 papers and raised about $40. I was a bit cold from the weather, but warm in my heart for my efforts.

Later that morning, after a stop at home to change clothes and warm up, I drove to Plaza Frontenac Cinema for another SLIFF volunteer shift. Here's I helped staff the information table, although I did go see one movie: "Traitors" (Exit Maroc), a thriller from Morocco about a female punk singer who helps smuggle drugs in order to raise money for her parents and her band. Very interesting film. By the way, the SLIFF venue captain I worked with, Barbie Snitzer, reviews movies on her website: http://lemoviesnob.com/ Check it out.

That night, I was at Robert R. Hermann Stadium to support Saint Louis University's men's soccer team against Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA Championship. Two second half goals gave the Billikens a 2-0 win that sent me and most people at the stadium home happy. SLU plays at Louisville today (23 Nov.) in the second round. More at http://www.slubillikens.com/

After work on Friday, I was at Brown Hall on the Washington University campus for my third and final SLIFF volunteer shift. They screened a German film, "Windstorm" (Ostwind-Grenzelos frei), about a girl sent by her mother to the girl's grandmother in the country for a few weeks. Although she had never been near a horse in her life, the girl immediately took to a highly spirited horse, which she learns to ride in equestrian competition. (Think "The Horse Whisperer" meets "Rocky.") I really liked this movie.

I worked yesterday morning, then drove to the Delmar Loop neighborhood in University City to watch a SLIFF movie at the Tivoli Theatre. I saw "A Master Builder," a drama about a controlling architect who sees his control challenged late in his life. It was riveting; I could not take my eyes off the screen. After that, I drove to Webster University for a SLIFF special event, "Tribute to the Nicholas Brothers." Repertory film programmer and Nicholas Brothers friend Bruce Goldstein presented a talk about Fayard and Harold Nicholas, two African-American dancers who starred on stage and in movies from the 1920s through the 1990s. I really enjoyed this program, and I had a greater appreciation of and respect for the Nicholas Brothers after watching this.

I hope to catch one more SLIFF film today, plus taking care of some personal business. I have plans for Thanksgiving this Thursday. More on that in my next post.