Monday, September 28, 2015

Dark Shadows

Robbinsdale High School, in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, a northwest suburb of Minneapolis, was at one time the largest high school in Minnesota. I was a graduate of RHS in the class of 1962.

In the RHS class of 1961, there was a girl, Marlene Kringstad, who was named best actress of her graduating class. After high school, she moved to New York City, changed her name to Kathryn Leigh Scott, and became a Playboy Bunny (to survive financially) while she was attempting to break into a career as an actress.

In 1966, DARK SHADOWS debuted as an ABC-TV afternoon gothic-horror soap opera series set in the late 1700s and including storylines which involved a vampire theme. Kathryn Leigh Scott was one of the feature players where she portrayed Maggie and Josette DuPres, the doomed fiancée of vampire Barnabas Collins. Kathryn also starred in the 1970 MGM film HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and had a leading role in THE GREAT GATSBY movie in 1974, starring Robert Redford.

DARK SHADOWS went on to become a cult classic TV series into the mid 1970s. In 2006, Warner Brothers made a DARK SHADOWS movie, starring Johnny Depp.

Kathryn Leigh Scott has a very extensive movie & TV resume which can be seen on her website

I have seen her on many TV shows. It's always a surprise and pleasure to watch a person from your high school on a TV episode. Some of her TV appearances include Hawaii Five-O, Baretta, Return of the Saint, Little House on the Prairie, Quincy M.E., The Incredible Hulk, Magnum P.I., Police Squad, Rockford Files, Phillip Marlowe Private Eye (multiple episodes), Cagney & Lacey, Shadow Chasers, The A-Team, Hotel, Knots Landing, Mr. Belvedere, Dallas (multiple episodes), Dynasty (multiple episodes), Star Trek: The Next Generation, 21 Jump Street, Matlock, Jake and the Fat Man, CIS, The Goldbergs (multiple episodes), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (in opening episode in 2015), etc., etc . -- 71 actress credits in all.

Kathryn Leigh Scott is also a writer and owns a publishing company called Pomegranate Press, Ltd. (New York and Los Angeles). She and her husband live in Beverly Hills and London.

Recently, I sent a few of my books to Kathryn and she sent three of her books to me (listed below)

  • Dark Shadows, Return to Collingwood (by Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson) -- a large coffee table book (photos & stories) about the original TV series and subsequent highlights of the Dark Shadows continual productions through 2012.

  • The Bunny Years (by Kathryn Leigh Scott, with a Forward by Hugh Hefner) -- "The Surprising Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs: The Women Who Worked as Bunnies and Where They Are Now" -- numerous stories of the Bunny personal experience by original Bunnies, including Susan Sullivan (actress), Lauren Hutton (supermodel & actress), Gloria Steinem (writer), Deborah Harry (musician) and many, many more -- it has sold over 165.000 copies..

  • Dark Passages (novel by Kathryn Leigh Scott) -- a terrific piece of fiction about an actress from small midwestern town caught up in the Playboy Bunny and acting scene in NYC while dealing with an intriguing supernatural subplot -- it had my attention throughout -- Kathryn is a superb writer.

Kathryn's recent novel is titled Down and Out in Beverly Heels. She is currently working on another novel titled Jinxed and her memoir titled Last Dance at the Savoy.
Other works by Kathryn Leigh Scott from Pomegranate Press:

  • Dark Shadows Memories
  • Dark Shadows Companion
  • Dark Shadows Almanac
  • Lobby Cards: The Classic Films
  • Lobby Cards: The Classic comedies

Kathryn Leigh Scott is one of my heroes -- she had a purpose in life and made it work

Break a leg, KLS

Quote for the Day -- "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." Bill Shakespeare

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where the purpose in life is food, clothing, shelter, and becoming one with the Universe and beyond.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Pack of Crazed Junkyard Dogs

Once again, fall is upon us -- it’s the time of the year when the sweltering heat of the summer gives way to more moderate temperatures and the leaves turn from a monotonous green to a marvelous mix of reds and yellows.

It’s also the start of football season, when men can be men and women can be cheerleaders.

In the summer of 1961, I was eagerly looking forward to entering my senior in high school in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. In my junior year, the mighty Robbinsdale Robins were Minnesota state high school champions in football and wrestling. But I was too busy hanging out in a local pool hall to join team sports, shooting nine-ball for a buck a rack.

Also in the summer of 1961, the Minnesota Vikings had been created as an expansion team in the National Football League (NFL) -- one year after the Dallas Cowboys became the first expansion team in the modern era of professional football in the NFL.

Norm Van Brocklin was the first Viking coach and the players were mostly castoffs from other teams who were deemed too old or too raw or not good enough to make it in professional football.

Van Brocklin ran one of the toughest training camps. In the end, he was more concerned about character than he was about talent, which was a good strategy considering he had little talent to work with that first year.

Any player who could survive a Van Brocklin training camp was probably capable of eating a box of ten-penny nails for breakfast.

On opening day, the Vikings faced the defending NFL champion Chicago Bears, also known as the Monsters of the Midway, coached by the legendary George Halas.

"Don't do anything in practice that you wouldn't do in a game." George Halas

The expansion team of outcasts played like a pack of crazed junkyard dogs and defeated the Bears 31-13.

Coach Halas was furious.

Everybody in Minnesota, including me, has been bleeding purple ever since.

“Anybody who watches three games of football in a row should be declared brain dead." Erma Bombeck

The Vikings went on to struggle through their first season, as all expansion teams do, but always played hard and left a lasting impression on their opponents.

With the birth of the Vikings, their division, which has always included the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, became known as the Black and Blue Division.

The Vikings have been to four Super Bowls and have lost each time. No big deal -- if you live in Minnesota and are able to survive the winters, you can survive just about anything, including losing a sporting event and coping with swarms of mosquitoes every summer.

Even though I no longer dwell in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I expect the Vikings to be in the next Super Bowl and finally win the big enchilada -- of course, I expect that every year.

Bleeding purple is fine by me, as long as the Vikings still play like a pack of crazed junkyard dogs -- life is not about winning or losing, but rather how hard you try.

Quote for the Day -- “Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” Vince Lombardi

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where football is a great way to avoid your family on Thanksgiving.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Giant Debt Bubble Revisited

Debt Bubble Revisited

I wrote the following piece as a newspaper column in 2004 -- 11 years later, the bubble has expanded and no one seems to care.

* * *

The Giant Debt Bubble

Stephen Roach, chief economist at the Morgan Stanley banking group, presented some alarming facts about the U.S. economy recently before an audience of fund managers. In order to finance the national debt (which exceeds $7 trillion), America has to import $2.6 billion in cash every day, an amount equal to 80% of the entire world's net savings. The debt was about half the size of the economy 20 years ago. Today it's at 85%.

The dollar has hit new record lows against other currencies from the yen to the euro. Household debt is at record levels. Americans are presently spending a record portion of their disposable income on their interest bills. Under these circumstances, Roach predicts a "spectacular number of personal bankruptcies" in the near future.

America is sitting on a giant debt bubble, spending money like a bunch of drunken sailors, seemingly oblivious to the catastrophic consequences of the bubble bursting.

The cost of government is now over $20,000 per household. As a token of their appreciation for being elected to office, Congress has recently passed the 2005 omnibus spending bill (H.R. 4818).

Six years ago there were less than 2,000 pork projects in appropriations bills. In 2005, more than 11,000 pork projects will be appropriated, costing over $23 billion, exceeding the 10,656 pork projects of fiscal 2004.

Some of the 11,000 pork projects for 2005 include:
  • $6.3 million – Wood utilization research (several western states)
  • $3.5 million – Bus acquisition (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • $3 million – Grape Genomics Research Center (Davis, California)
  • $3 million – Center for Grape Genetics (Geneva, New York)
  • $2.5 million – Horse Springs Ranch (New Mexico)
  • $2.3 million – Animal Waste Management Research Laboratory (Bowling Green, Kentucky)
  • $2 million – Kitchen relocation, North Star Borough (Fairbanks, Alaska)
  • $2 million – Replace buses (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
  • $1.8 million – Eider and sea otter recovery (Alaska)
  • $1.75 million – Parents Anonymous
  • $1.5 million – Transport naturally chilled water from Lake Ontario to Lake Onondaga
  • $1.5 million – Wood products wastewater repairs (Canton, North Carolina)
  • $1.5 million – Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)
  • $1.25 million – Train-to-Mountain (Washington)
  • $1.2 million – Alternative salmon products (Alaska)
  • $1 million – Trailways Station revitalization ((Georgia)
  • $1 million – B.B. King Museum Foundation (Indianola, Mississippi)

Apparently drunken sailors aren't the only ones who spend like a bunch of drunken sailors. Congress has a debt ceiling it has imposed upon itself that must not be exceeded. However, whenever the national debt approaches the limit, Congress simply raises the ceiling and continues its merry spending habit.

In a democracy, people tend to elect politicians who promise to give them something. Then the politicians appropriate vast sums of money to pay off the voters who elected them. In the process, the federal government spends much more than it takes in, building a massive debt that must be paid by future generations.

Our collective greed will be our downfall unless we sober up and get our financial house in order. If the giant debt bubble bursts, all we can do is clean up the mess and start over from scratch.

I've started over from scratch a couple of times in my life -- it's a long, hard road back to daylight.

* * *

In August of 2015, the U.S. National Debt exceeds $18 trillion, which is more than $57,000 per citizen and exceeds $154,000 per U.S. taxpayer.

The solution is simple -- less government and living within our collective means.

Quote for the Day -- "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt." Herbert Hoover (U.S. President 1929 - 1933)

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and flourishes in a debt free, modest existence.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Custer & Crazy Horse

Manifest Destiny was a term used primarily by Democrats in the 1800s to describe the concept of expansion of white European settlers in North America, based on the premise that expansion was not only good, but that it was also obvious (manifest) and certain (destiny).

As a result of the belief of the superiority of the White race, Manifest Destiny was used as justification for westward expansion and the adverse consequences perpetrated on those outside of the White race.

George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) graduated last in his class at West Point and became an officer in the United States Army. He fought in the American Civil War, established a reputation as an aggressive cavalry commander willing to take risks and became a brigadier general by age 23.

After the Civil War, Custer eventually became commander of the 7th Cavalry and participated in the so-called Indian Wars, which were a series of conflicts between the federal government and the native people of North America. Apparently, the pesky natives didn't exactly buy into Manifest Destiny. Custer was nicknamed "hard ass" and "iron butt" by the troopers because of his stamina and persistence in the saddle.

Crazy Horse (1840-1877) was an Oglala Sioux who fought against the federal government in order remain free from the white man's utopian dream of conquest through Manifest Destiny. He had fought in many battles between the Lakota and their enemies, including the Arikara, Blackfeet, Crow, Pawnee, and Shoshone. But after the Sand Creek Massacre of the Cheyenne, the Lakota joined forces with the Cheyenne against the U.S. military.

In order to take possession of the Black Hills (gold deposits), the federal government set a deadline of January 31, 1876, for the plains Indians (Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho) who had been wintering in the free plains to report to their designated reservations or be considered to be hostile.

On May 17, 1876, the 7th Cavalry headed into the plains, as part of a larger army force, to round up the remaining free Indians.

In the spring of 1876, Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Lakota holy man, had formed a large gathering of plains Indians to discuss what to do about the advances of the white man. This temporary village along the Little Bighorn River had about 10,000 Indians, with as many as 3,500 warriors.

On June 17, 1876, Crazy Horse led a group of 1,500 Lakota and Cheyenne against General Crook's force of 1,000 soldiers and 300 Crow & Shoshone warriors in the Battle of the Rosebud. This battle prevented Crook's forces from joining up with Custer's forces headed for the Little Big Horn.

On June 25, 1976, Custer's 7th Cavalry attacked the Indian village along the Little Big Horn River. He had assumed the Indians would run when attacked. Consequently, he deployed a battalion led by Captain Benteen to the left to prevent the Indians from escaping and ordered three companies led by Major Reno to attack the lower end of the village whereby the remaining forces led by Custer would provide support.

Just prior to the attack, Custer's Crow Indian scouts told him it was the largest Indian village they had ever seen. The scouts then changed out of their army garb and into their native dress whereupon Custer released them from his command.

"There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry." Gen. George Armstrong Custer

The first group to attack was Major Reno's three companies. They crossed the Little Bighorn and soon realized that the Lakota and Cheyenne were not running away. Soon warriors attacked Reno's men and forced them to retreat.

During this prolonged bloody confrontation, Crazy Horse led various assaults against Custer's main forces.

An Arapahoe who fought in the battle claimed Crazy Horse was "the bravest man I ever saw. He rode closest to the soldiers, yelling to his warriors. All the soldiers were shooting at him, but he was never hit."

A Sioux warrior said, "The greatest fighter in the whole battle was Crazy Horse."

When the dust cleared, the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho had won an overwhelming victory over the 7th Cavalry. The Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the 7th Cavalry's 12 companies were annihilated. The total U.S. casualty count was 268 dead, including Gen. Custer, and 55 injured.

Manifest Destiny was neither obvious nor certain. It was a choice, made by those who assumed they were superior to others, based on the color of their skin.

Perhaps they were mistaken -- perhaps they were simply self-centered, greedy people abusing their power.

Quote for the Day – "All we wanted was peace and to be left alone... If I ever pass away, the white man will take you under their custody as their wards." Crazy Horse

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where destiny is a work in progress.