Tag Archives: Howard Hughes

2-7-1 Contact

9 Feb

Over the weekend, I watched Contact, a movie that I have seen countless times. It is one of those films that I can watch over and over and never get tired of it. This could be for several reasons.

It is Science Fiction placed into the real world.

It portrays the conflict between science and religion.

It has a pre-Alright/Alright/Alright Matthew McConaughey playing the religious soul of the nation falling in love with Jodie Foster, the scientific mind of the nation.

It has one of the coolest Howard Hughes-type characters not named Howard Hughes.

It has a government cover-up.

The list could go on and on, but, in short, the movie has everything.

However, this post is not about any of that. It is about the closing scene.

Before the pictures fade to black and the credits roll, Jodie Foster is sitting on the rim of a canyon and contemplating all that has happened. As the camera scans, the radio antennas that picked up the transmission from space can be seen in the background.Jodie Foster Canyon

I always found the radio antennas fascinating and wanted to see them after my first viewing of the film. A few years ago, I got my wish and traveled to the Very Large Array, or VLA. It was cool to see the antennas stretch over the landscape. I took a bunch of pictures but could not find them. However, I did get a picture of the t-shirt that I bought.image-21

Oh yeah, one other thing was interesting. They bent over backwards to make sure we knew that SETI did not use the facility. I guess people go there thinking that Jodie Foster really got a message from space.

I write all of that to write this. There is not canyon at the VLA. When Jodie Foster sat at the rim of the canyon, she was somewhere else entirely, and I wanted to know where. With a short venture into the Internet Movie Database, I discovered that she was looking into Canyon de Chelly. As it turns out, I have also been there.West 2010 209

The VLA is in New Mexico.

Canyon de Chelly is in Arizona.

According to the GPS, they are 271 miles apart.

When people talk about Contact, they criticize her trip to the wormhole for being stupid. She traveled light years to run into her deceased dad. They are focusing on the wrong thing. The trip to Vega was amazing, but it was nowhere near as amazing as Jodie’s ability to be in two places at once.

Northwest Trek – I Wonder If Howard Hughes Liked Pie, Too

14 Aug

Our journey into the Great Northwest began with a pleasant flight. Well, it was pleasant except for the woman two rows in front of us who lives in San Diego, where her husband is based in the Marines. They just finished a two-week vacation visiting family. The first week was with her family in Oklahoma, and the second week was with his family in Kentucky. They like San Diego, but it was better being based in Texas because it was closer to all of those people. Also, they have a six-month old child who never misses a meal.

How do I know all of this? She spent the entire flight craning her neck and talking to the people behind her. I have a message for her. We all appreciate the sacrifice your husband makes for our country. However, there is an issue. When people tell you that you have a cute baby, they are not asking for your life story. There is no reason to broadcast it to the back of the plane.

With that rant behind me, let us get on with the story. We landed in Portland in plenty of time to make it to the hotel. We knew that we wanted to be out of the city and thought 50 miles would be a good distance. I randomly chose McMinnville, Oregon because it fit that distance and was in the direction we wanted to drive. That decision paid off for a couple of reasons.

First, we found out that McMinnville, Oregon is named after McMinnville, Tennessee. Apparently, a man from here traveled on the Oregon Trail and named his new town after his old one. Second, the Evergreen Aviation Museum was across the street from the hotel. One of my nephews said that we should go. The other nephew looked it up on the internet and discovered that it is the home of the Spruce Goose, the gigantic plane build and flown by Howard Hughes. that is something that we had to see.DSC00262

The next morning, we went to the museum and saw the big plane along with a bunch of other cool planes. At one time, it was the largest plane ever flown. It still holds the record for longest wingspan. This was the plane that Hughes built to transport troops and supplies during World War II. It was not finished in time, and he ended up being called in front of Congress to testify. The day he flew the plane is one of the last times Hughes was seen in public.

We got to go into the plane and took turns sitting at the controls.IMG_2132

Now, all I have to do is lock myself in a room; take my clothes off; watch the same movie over and over; and grow out my hair and nails. Then, I will have had the complete Howard Hughes experience.

After the museum, we drove down the coast on Highway 101. Honestly, we were disappointed with this part of the trip. The land between the road and the ocean was developed more than we realized, and the views were not what we had anticipated. Still, we saw some pretty scenery along the way.DSC00280

The highlight was stopping in Newport, Oregon for lunch. My oldest nephew broke out his GPS to find something good and led us to Local Ocean Seafoods, which sits along the harbor.DSC00274

When I picture a seafood restaurant, I think of something made of wood with fishing nets hanging from the ceiling. It may have that fish smell and saltine crackers on the table. This place was different. It had a sleek, modern motif and great food. In my mind, it was the best meal of the entire trip.

We continued along the coast and turned inland toward Eugene, Oregon. My youngest nephew wanted to see the University of Oregon football stadium and buy a shirt. We also took some time to walk around campus. We saw a lot of students, but I was interested in a couple of faculty members. As we passed, they were having a lively debate, the higher education way of saying that they were arguing.

We could have gotten a room in Eugene but decided to drive down the interstate to have a better set up for the next day. That took us to Roseburg, Oregon, which was low on hotels and places to eat. We slept at the Best Western and dined a Shari’s, which is similar to a place around here called Shoney’s. It turns out that they are famous for their pies, and that those pies were free that night.

The pie was awesome. I got a piece of Marionberry Pie. Yep, I some pie that has the same name as a Washington, D.C. mayor who got caught smoking crack in a hotel room.

As we walked out of Shari’s, we had no idea that we would hit that franchise again and again and again.

A Renaissance Man

2 Nov

A Renaissance Man is defined as a man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field, and it is the rare person who can reach this level of accomplishment. Leonardo da Vinci was probably the original Renaissance Man. An inventor, artist and scientist, his name is synonymous with a high level of expertise in many areas.

History has given the world many people who have qualified for such a distinction. Many, like Howard Hughes, are famous, but many more, like Tom Drake, are not. However, I believe that one man, who gained fame in the mid-decades of the 20th Century stands above them all. Who is this Renaissance Man?

Jimmy Dean – singer, actor and businessman.

Jimmy Dean – Renaissance Man

Dean’s singing career started in the 1950s, but he found more success as a radio host, where he discovered stars such as Patsy Cline. In the early 1960s, he found musical success of his own with “Big Bad John“, a country classic that tells the tale of a miner who sacrifices his life to save others during a mining collapse. The fame of this song led to guest hosting stints on The Tonight Show and to The Jimmy Dean Show.

From television, Dean moved into movies and played Willard Whyte, a reclusive billionaire modeled after Howard Hughes (previously mentioned as a Renaissance Man), in Diamonds Are Forever.

Willard Whyte – Fictional Renaissance Man

More memorable than Dean were his bodyguards, Bambi and Thumper.

Guarding a Fictional Renaissance Man

During this time of entertainment success, Dean co-founded the Jimmy Dean Sausage Company and became successful in the food industry. Although he sold the company, Dean’s commercials entertained television viewers for years and made the sausage a household name. It turns out that he was a talented product pitchman, as well.

Jimmy Dean, a true Renaissance Man, passed away in 2010.