Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Man of Steel" review.

"Look! In the sky! Second thought, wait and rent it.

Superman flying over what is left of Metropolis

This week, I’m going to review the new Superman movie, “Man of Steel.” No, you can’t stop me.  While HCN has some exceptional reviewers, they all come across as professionals who really know what they’re talking about. I’ve yet to be accused of that.

The best thing about the latest Superman flick is Russell Crowe, who played Superman’s dad, Jor-El. Had the movie been called “Superman’s Dad” I might’ve liked it better.

Crowe got to ride a really large, flying, four-winged, horned toad creature. The thing died saving his life. Saved his life about four times. The noblest of toads.

When the poor creature finally croaked, Crowe didn’t say thank you or kiss my cool-looking armor. No, he grabbed a stolen black skull and raced off to de-materialize it so he could—  Well, I’m not real sure what that was all about. Had something to do with DNA and his son, Superman.

By the way, Jor-El didn’t call his infant son Superman, ‘cause that would’ve been confusing. Superman’s real name was Kal-El, which is Kryptonian for “Wally.” I researched the daylights out of this thing.

As you should know, Jor-El wanted to get baby Kal-El out of Krypton because of the impending implosion problem, ‘caused by excessive underground mining. I had no idea that was the problem. I doubt Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were even aware.

Besides the impending imploding problem, Krypton had some disgruntled citizenry. Not uncommon during most impending imploding planetary problems. I like saying that… but I’ll stop.

From the previews, you probably realize that Superman (Wally) was not the only one to escape Krypton. Nor was he the only one to make it to Earth. General Zod, played by Michael Shannon, an absolutely fabulous actor, and a few other really mean Kryptonians also managed to escape. How they did that was not made clear enough for me. Some things you’ve just got to spell out. I’m a decent thinker until I start forcing popcorn down my gullet.

Okay, enough of the beginning of the movie. Did I mention it was the best part? So, Wally ends up on Earth with Kevin Costner and a makeup-less Diane Lane, as his new Dad and Mom. When Superman, Henry Cavill, gets grown up, he looks major buffed. During his appearance in his Superman suit, Kay zoned out, making it possible for me to finish off the rest of the popcorn alone. I’d be jealous, but surely Kay has no chance with Cavill. Surely.  

Eventually, Zod and the other bad Kryptonians, make it to earth. Each one of’em possess the same power as Superman, the result of which is a 40 minute knockdown drag-out with no-one suffering as much as a dislocated pinky. They do manage to carry the battle into the stratosphere and maybe even the moon. pretty I slept through some of it. After awhile you’d think they’d realize that each of ‘em can really take a punch, so what’s the use?

There have been two action movies that put me to sleep. One was the last King Kong. I can watch just so many minutes of a Tyrannosaurus chasing Jack Black through the jungle before I nod off. Same thing with Superman and the bad guys destroying buildings. We’re talking massive collateral damage throughout Metropolis.

During the big fight scenes there are thousands of extras in the background standing around gawking like they’d never seen super humans throwing buildings and vehicles at one another. After awhile, I quit rooting for Superman, and started rooting for the buildings. “Please, don’t destroy another one. Pleeeease.

I don’t want to give away too much, but Superman wins. He used a wormhole or blackhole in one instance and an old wrestler’s move in another. I didn’t understand the black or worm “hole” occurrence, but the wrestler’s move made perfect sense.

Regardless, the entire world now knows that Superman and any other pre-implosion Kryptonian-migrants can be killed by either Kryptonite or a particular wrestler’s hold. – I wouldn’t have shared that info, but I do believe you really need to know ahead of time how Superman kills General Zod. I want you to be prepared so you won’t shout out, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Hey, anything to keep you from embarrassing yourself like I did.

There were several other holes in “Man of Steel,” but being an unprofessional reviewer, I spent too much space on the best part of the movie. Now, I have no space left to mention anything about other holes in the movie or about Lois Lane, Perry White, or the hardly present Jimmy Olson. So, please see the movie and e-mail me so we can commiserate. 

As for now, that pretty much ends my short career as movie critic. That being said, I next plan to see “World War Z.” Kay hates movies about zombies and war, but she’ll go see WWZ with me because of two words -- Brad Pitt. That girl could be trouble. I’ll hafta get back to you on that.


You can contact Mark at

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Short visits with Dad

 From left to right: Dad, Dennis, Mark, Cousin Roger Dan.
Notice, how Mark doesn't seem to catch on. Story of my life. 
“Daddy, Dad, Father… Faris”

    If you live long enough, you’re going to reach several milestones. First bicycle, first computer, first Father’s Day gift, first root canal… Just last year I passed the age my father was when he died. A rather somber accomplishment.

Of course, I didn’t have as much to do with this milestone as Dad. He died rather early. All I did was manage to stay alive a bit longer. I did that by not smoking cigars or chewing tobacco or being the breadwinner for a family of nine. That last one would’ve gotten me long before the Mail Pouch did.

That was Dad’s chewing tobacco brand. Mail Pouch. If I were to see a pack of that stuff now, I’d probably start bawling. It’d remind me of my time with Dad. I can just see him pulling out a big gob of that wadded leaf and placing it inside his jaw. A nasty habit, but it was a part of what used to be my dad.

I still remember the smell of Dad. He had the smell of cigars, Mail Pouch and refinery. I believe I mentioned that I recently woke in the middle of the night to his smell and the feel of his chin stubble against my cheek. Just like he was passing by. I know it wasn’t Kay, because she quit chewing tobacco when we got married. I told her it was a deal breaker for me. 

By the way, Dad passed away March 22, 1980.  He had some chest pain and ended up in the ICU in a hospital in Pasadena. When you die of heart failure in a place with a dozen nurses monitoring every breath and heartbeat… well, God’s ready for you. Didn’t make Daddy’s leaving any less painful for us, but it did eliminate the sense of if-we’d-only-done-this-or-that. 

Though I’m older than he was at his oldest, I still look like a kid next to Daddy… uh, in my mind’s eye, of course. With all the goings-on during Fathers Day, I’ve been thinking about what it’d be like to get to see him again and talk to him awhile. You know, like Kevin Costner did in the “Field of Dreams” movie. -- No, Costner didn’t talk to Faris Hayter. I realize that. Sheesh! Some of you are like talking to Dennis. He picks up on everything. 

I do get to talk to Dad quite a bit in my dreams. One thing I want to tell him is that he’s supposed to be dead. It’s weird, but I’m always the only one in the family who realizes that. In the dreams I never find the courage to mention it to him, partly because I don’t want to spoil the moment, and partly because I’m afraid Dad will get mad at me for bringing it up.

Dad did have a tendency to get upset at the smallest of things. We’d be having a great time when all of sudden he’d focus on something said or done that touched a nerve. Massive mood shift. We just never knew which Daddy was going to show at any given moment.

I imagine part of Dad’s depression was due to all the stress he was under, but also because of my Grandmother Pearl. If you analyze a part of our family’s DNA, you’re gonna find some bad Pearl. I’m not sure she was depressed, but my dad’s mom had some serious issues. And, that’s all I’ve got to say about that. (Forest Gump – 1994)

But, even without Pearl’s hand-me-down genes, Dad would’ve had fair reason to be depressed. He was the sole provider for the nine of us Hayters. I’m not sure there was ever a time that we didn’t owe the finance company money. My part of the loan went for stuff like gym fees, Keds, Lee Rider blue jeans, Grape Nut Flakes, one toothbrush and a bar of Dial Soap.

Yeah, I never cost the family much in soap or toothbrushes. If I remember right, I used the same toothbrush from first grade through twelfth. A lot of accumulated toothpaste beneath the surface of those deranged bristles. -- By the way, when I typed “twelfth,” the spelling looked really odd. Does that ever happen to you? Mind mysteries like that are common among those of us in our 40s. That’d be today’s 60s.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, depression. People didn’t talk much about depression when I was a kid, except for The Great Depression. The word anti-depressant wasn’t used until 1983. Maybe. Before that, people used the word “Valium.” It was quite common.

Dad did take Valium one time, after a bad experience at the plant. It didn’t make him feel any better; it just made him not care. “Daddy? Dennis and I are playing army; can we dig a couple of foxholes in the front yard?” -- “Hey, you can pretend you’re fighting in WWI and dig a trench for all I care.” -- Fortunately, like I said, he took it during the one spell. I do so wonder, how he would’ve been had he had access to today’s antidepressants. Might’ve altered his moods. Brain chemistry can really mess a person up.

Truth be told, considering his own upbringing Faris was a great father,. He was an only son whose Mom ran off when he was just a kid. My Grandpa Ed raised him best he could, but Dad never picked up any tips on how to raise more than one kid. Grandpa Ed let him chew tobacco when he was nine. It was a milestone.  – Happy Fathers Day, guys.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Click picture to read.
“One hundred-year-old predictions”

    Do you have any idea how much research I have to do for this column? Any idea at all? Well, not very much, but -- and it’s a big BUT – before writing last week’s article about June weddings I actually did some serious Googling.

    You wanna know what I found? – Any of you? Sheesh. – I found a list of 100-year-old predictions for what America would be like in 2011.  The predictions were written by a John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., and appeared in a 1911 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Elfreth?

    I would have found some predictions for 2013, but it would’ve taken more Googling than I cared to do. The 1911 thing just landed in my lap.

    So, 102 years ago it was predicted that Nicaragua would be applying for statehood, automobiles would be cheaper than horses and there would be no city streetcars, because traffic in cities would be either underground or elevated. I call all of that remarkably canny.

    In 2011 all cows were supposed to be hornless, and horses nearly extinct… thus making them more expensive than cars. No more mosquitoes, flies or roaches in 2011. Nor, wild animals in the U.S. That includes rats and mice. Nothing was mentioned about the fishes in our lakes and streams. Or birds. Knowing Watkins, he meant to kill ‘em off.

    And, speaking of cold -- by 2011, cold and hot air will be released through spigots in our homes. Almost like central air and heat. Well, just like. Watkins was genius. Oh, and he thought college would be free to all citizens. That there would be no poor children. The poor kids would be afforded free clothing, meals, eyeglasses, dental work, and medical care. – Okay, genius status revoked.

    In 2011 we would be able to get from to New York to San Francisco in 24 hours, due to the innovation of trains that travel 150 mph. And, we would be able to cross the Atlantic in two days aboard massive electric ships that travel on buoyant runners pushed slightly above the waves by “apertures” shooting jets of air beneath the boats.

    Airships will be used mostly for war, because they will not be able to compete with our super fast ocean vessels in the public transportation industry. Nor can they apparently compete inside the country with our bullet train system. Watkins is falling apart here.

    Phone lines will run everywhere. He said that in 2011 we would be able to call China, and it would be possible to telegraph photos over the wires. And, life expectancy in the U.S. would go up from 35 years to 50. Pneumatic tubes would deliver groceries, cooked meals and mail to each home. Watkins was obviously 200 years ahead of himself.

    By 2011 the need for coal would all but cease.  It would be replaced by a massive increase in the number of dams constructed throughout the nation. Electricity from hydro-electric plants would run this country.

    On screens inside our homes, cameras would be able to project events taking place all over the world “…allowing us to view wars overseas just as they’re taking place” Watkins apparently thought that the greatest use for such technology was watching wars.

    And, my favorite? By 2011, the letters C, Q and X would be eliminated from our alphabet due to lack of use. Spelling would be based exclusively on phonetics. “K” and “S” would apparently cause the death of “C.” I’d say that “Z” probably added to the superfluous nature of “X.” The word “X-ray” was likely not invented in 1911. And, “Q?” I’ve got nothing here. Google that if you want. I don’t really care.

    Our new spelling scheme will greatly condense the English language. Books will be considerably thinner and newspapers less bulky.--  R u srs? (I did hafta do some research for that text message.)

The last one of his predictions seems the most bizarre. Watkins predicted that in 2011, strawberries would be as big as apples. Not grapes, or blackberries or cashews. Strawberries. Begging the question – Why?

    So, what should we gather from this 100-year-old conjecture? You wanna know what I gather? Anyone? -- Sheesh! – I think Watkins did a lot better than I would’ve done. Question is, did he do better with his 100- year-old predictions than you will?

    And that, boys and girls, is your assignment. I want you to come up with predictions for the U.S./Texas/Montgomery County/Portugal… wherever, 100 years from now. That’d be the year 2113, unless our calendars get changed.

E-mail your predictions to me at I’ll come up with an article in about a month that will contain as many predictions as space allows. I’ll include your first name with your prediction(s).

    Please, don’t leave me hanging. If I get nothing, I’m gonna make up a buncha stuff myself… including first names of the fictitious people who submitted it. Believe me, that’s more effort than I care to exert.

So, that’s your assignment. I suggest you get started right now ‘cause if not, you’ll forget. -- One hundred years from now. I don’t care if you’re srs or not. Just send me something. – Next time.


Again, send to

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What's the deal with June Weddings?

“You call that a marriage? This is a marriage!"

November 26, 1971 -- Kay is the one on the right.

     Hundreds of articles about weddings will be appearing in newspapers across the country for the next few weeks. Maybe millions of articles. That’s because we’re now in the month of June, the wedding month. – Excuse me a second, I feel a swoon coming on.

    If you’ll give me a second to look through my Internet research, I’ll tell you why so many couples find it necessary to get married in June. Let’s see here.

One writer explains that most men propose around Christmas or New Years and it takes them at least six months to pay off the engagement ring. In such case, the prospective groom obviously has no credit, and the bride needs to consider a prenup.

A few other sites mentioned June as being a month of pleasant weather… at least in non-Texas locales. Somebody else mentioned that, in June, flowers are so much cheaper. I’m not sure that’s a viable excuse. From the looks of some of the weddings out there, cost seems not so much a consideration.

No, the most plausible reason I’ve come across for June weddings has to do with the month being named after the Roman Goddess of Love. That’d be Horatia Fluvius. I mean Juno. I always get those two mixed up.

Apparently, from way back when, couples considered it good luck to be married in the month of the Goddess of Love. Actually, only the brides felt that way. The grooms didn’t give a rat’s posterior. Over the years, the tradition made its way into the Twenty-first Century. Those Romans.

Kay and I bucked all odds and got married in November, the month named after the Roman God of Wine Casks, Noviembarrel. I had a few days off around Thanksgiving, so we said, oh, what the hey? A practical couple, the Hayters. One of us, anyway.

While I could go on and on about the weddings, I think it much more helpful for me to pass along a few helpful pointers for those who get married. Kay and I have been married for 41 years, and let me tell you I have changed absolutely nothing about that girl from the time I met her.

I take that back. She is just now able to bring home something from the grocery store that wasn’t on the list. In the past there were no surprises. “Bread, milk and ketchup? That’s it? Those are only necessities!” -- No candy, nuts or ice cream?

Last month she surprised me with a half gallon of Blue Bell Moolenium Crunch. I had to lean on the cabinet for support. I had changed something about her. And, for the better!

Kay has managed to change me a bunch. She has molded me into the personification of the ideal husband… uh, in everything but appearance. Won’t even tell me when I’m walking around with my pants unzipped.

Fortunately, she does let me handle the remote, which is only fair, ‘cause it takes her 90 seconds to bring up “closed captioning.” That’s her record – 90 seconds.

Other than that one peculiarity, I’ve learned to tolerate the odd stuff about Kay. You absolutely have to. It’s hard at first, but after a while you just give in. I think it’s because of love. Ol’ Horatia Flu— uh, Ol’ Juno.

Speaking of which, how long does it take you to brush your teeth? Thirty seconds? A minute? Kay can take up to 15 minutes. Of course, she’s not brushing that whole time. She’s walking around the house, folding clothes or working on a grocery list with her toothbrush in her mouth. Something about a toothbrush in her mouth makes her want to wander.

A couple of weeks ago, she interrupted my paper reading by saying, “We need some Stargerlister.” – I said, “How many?”  -- She took the toothbrush out of her mouth and said, “Dishwashing liquid.”

Something like that might irritate some spouses, but I think it’s cute as all get out. Just last weekend, I mentioned the time we went to the Giant Kroger in Willis. Kay said, “Oh yeah. That’s where we got our sopapillas.”

I said, “Sweatpea, I don’t think we’ve ever purchased sopapillas outside a Mexican Restaurant.” – She said, “I agree. But, I said sofa pillows. That’s where we bought our sofa pillows. At Kroger!”

First of all, I’m not only shocked that the giant Kroger sold sofa pillows, I’m also shocked that Kay would remember that’s where got ours. The girl is phenomenal.

We were watching the old British series, “As Time Goes By” with Judi Dench last night. Kay up and says, “Do you remember where we were when we saw our first episode of this? We were on Sanibel Island in that condo.” – That was from a trip we took 11 years ago. And she remembers what we watched on TV.

That girl is absolutely fascinating. And, that’s the stuff of a long marriage. There is nothing about her character I want to change. And, there are absolutely none in mine that she needs to change, ‘cause she’s pretty well molded me into the perfect husband. See? – Next time.
To view Mark in some short inspirational videos, go to

And, that's pretty much the wedding pictures.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tell me you haven't thought of this.

“Am I the only one?” 

    Am I the only one who is upset that they’ve yet to make a “Have Gun Will Travel” movie? Am I? The Lone Ranger has a new movie, but not Paladin.

There have been movies made of Car 54, Addams Family, Dragnet, Popeye, Dudley Do-right, Wild Wild West, Scooby Doo, The Flintstones… But no Have Gun Will Travel. What kind of world are we living in?

I generally stew over stuff like that while Kay is away. So much of the stuff that captivates my mind is completely lost on that girl. Since she’s not here at the moment, let me ask you this. -- Am I the only fan of the “Mentalist” who would really like for the whole Red John theme to die. Five seasons and we’ve yet to meet the super smart, super efficient killer. He’s brainwashed maybe a thousand or more people to work for him.

End it already, so Patrick Jane can loosen up a bit. He gets way too somber while investigating Red John murders. At least on the CBS series “Elementary,” Sherlock Holmes got to find out who Moriarty is. Even put her in prison… for now.

And chase scenes? Am I the only one who is bored sick of ‘em? Car, motorcycle, horse, bicycle, feet… I hate to watch anyone chase someone. The chase scene in “Bullet” held my attention, because it was the first cool car scene. But, after that, everybody had to up the scale. More is not necessarily better. It’s just more.

You wanna know who’s behind all the chases? The old Westerns. There is always a big fight going on in town. Maybe a few thousands shots fired. The only outlaws that get hit are those who step out from behind a barrel for a better look.

After 12 minutes of that, the bad guy jumps on his horse and rides across the most forlorn acreage in California. The good guy jumps on Trigger or Silver or Champion or Tripod and it’s off to the races… for the better part of 10 minutes.

Then the stunt guy knocks the bad guy’s stunt double off his horse and they fight for another 12 minutes. Not a mark on either one of ‘em, but they’re throwing some serious roundhouses.

Enough of that one. Am I the only one who doesn’t care to own an expensive car? I’d take one if you give it to me, but I’d turn around and sell it. A sharp-looking car attracts attention from all types. Among the types are carjackers and muggers.

I watch a lot of those Dateline-type shows where they drag you through repetitive scenes of a two-decade investigation into who killed somebody. In one episode, a guy in a snazzy car stopped at a quick stop for some ice cream… or something, and a couple of thugs followed him home and killed him for his car.

If anyone ever follows me home and kills me, I assure you it won’t be for my set of wheels. Might be for my spiffy-looking shorts, but not my wheels.

Along those lines, am I the only one who doesn’t care to win a big lottery? Nothing over $10 million. Anything more than that and you’ve got some serious responsibilities. There’s no way I could stay in my current rut with anything over $10 million. Fifteen tops.

I’ve got time for only one more. (Yea!) I heard that. -- Am I the only one who would not be too upset if we got invaded by extraterrestrials? I think the only thing that can bring this country… this world together is an attack from outer space.

Hey, it’s happened in a bunch of movies. Attacks from deep space bring the whole world together. Everyone turns into one big Coke Commercial. Instead of standing in a circle singing, we’re side by side blasting away at some pretty gross-looking creatures.

Can you imagine? The people in the U.S. would temporarily forget our differences and fight alongside the French, Venezuelans, Russians, Chechens… New bonds would be formed for the sake of human survival. Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, Israelis would be fighting side by side. Impossible, you say? Hey, rent a movie.

One thing is for sure, the aliens would have to be really, really mean and ugly. If not, different nations, states, communities… would choose sides between the humans next door that they know they don’t like, and the Lizard People that they’re not yet certain about.

Yeah, I’d just as soon aliens not show up if they’re going to come in peace. That would just confuse the daylights out of us. Yes, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who thinks that? – Next time.

View some video clips of something called “Just a Moment.” Inspire you I hope it does.