Tuesday, June 29, 2010

COPS is Better Live (Distretto di Polizia è Meglio in Reale)

Recently, I was driving home from a film, 'Get Him To the Greek', at around 1 am last Saturday. The film wasn't the greatest, but some parts were mildly amusing.

On the way back home, I happened to take a road that was three lanes on each side, yet had a very slow 30 mph speed limit. At about the time I realized I was going somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% too fast, I see the cheerful blue and red police lights behind me.

Resigned to getting a speeding violation of some sort, I signal and get over to the right. The police officer then shoots past me on the left (metaphorically by driving, no guns were involved) and turns off the flashing lights. So, I think 'Great, I get a lucky warning from the lenient officer tonight.' This notion is particularly reinforced when I see him stopped at the intersection light down the road in front of me, because if he was on a call surely he would have kept driving.

By the time I begin to catch up with him at the light, it changed green and the police officer drove on ahead quickly. As I'd just been warned, I decided not to push my luck and drove comfortably under the limit.

A few moments pass as the officer disappears from sight. I then see a white pickup truck rapidly overtaking me on the left. The truck barrels past me, zooming along at least 45% over the speed limit. Surely the officer was not going to be as kind with a whole 15% more over the limit speed compared to my transgression.

Well, I get to the top of the hill in front of me just in time to see the officer's vehicle parked in the median turn on all of his lights. Incredibly, the truck speeds on and jumps over a curb to the right and drives down below a bridge into a nature park area with trees and dirt and things like that. I can't say that it was unexpected to see the police follow the truck down, but it was still shocking to witness.

When I get on the bridge, my headlights are illuminating a figure in a brown tshirt running as fast as I've seen anyone run in a long time (away from the ditched truck). The officer quickly adjusted a spotlight on the runner and drove after him. I'm pretty sure that he gave the suspect a gentle bump to persuade him not to run anymore, but I couldn't be sure because of all the dust that was billowing up. It was very much like watching an episode of COPS from my vantage point on the bridge above the action.

It eventually dawned on me that I had been slowing down to see the events unfold. I began to wonder if having a running car stopped very close to a possible violent felon on the run from the police was a good personal safety lifestyle choice. Carefully weighing the alternatives of seeing an excellent chase vs. getting violently carjacked, I decide to drive on and read about it in the paper the next day. Unfortunately, as of yet I haven't seen the story printed.

So was this all good karma (not getting the citation) because of my bad experience (having to see 'Get Him To the Greek')? I may never know. Anyway, congrats to the local police for being on the ball and willing to risk life and limb to protect and serve. Although, in this particular case, I'd imagine they were risking the suspect's limbs a bit more than their own. I guess the important thing to remember is do not run from police, you will not win.

Fun 'cops' show in Italian.

Here is a fun police chase.

Another love tap to stop the suspect.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Snake Between the Tanks (il Serpente Tra Serbatoio di Stoccaggio)

It's hot outside here in the Lone Star state today and the scientists who study snakes (herpetologists) are conjecturing that they become more 'bitey' when it's hot. The slithering lizards have never bothered me as much as say, spiders. Just look at that smiling smug scary bastard...

But, I still shun snakes in the wilds on the extremely rare occasions I actually see them.

Even though I'd lived for a while in a tiny oil drilling town west of Fort Worth as a teenager where the snake-to-people ratio was around 3:1, I had only seen one water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus) in the three years there. And that was just at my granddad's artificial fishing lake I went out to to fish all day and play guitar (they call them 'stock tanks' round these parts).

Just for future reference, at 80 yards, it is really difficult to peg a snake in the water with a .22 lr. Or at least it was back then, but I might be a better shot now.

I had heard rattlers in the scrub brush while out on dusty oil leases, sure, but never actually met up with one. My uncle was not so lucky.

One hot day he was out on a lease adjusting pressure at two of the wells flowing into a group of 'tank batteries'. The tank batteries are basically huge steel silos connected to the flow pipes from the wells, whose primary reason for existence is to hold oil until a local processing company drives a truck out to purchase the oil. Sometimes there is also a balsamic vinegar tank so you can make a huge salad with the farmer's lettuce.

Anyway, getting back to the story, another purpose of the tank batteries apparently is to attract diamondback rattlesnakes. My uncle went walking by the point where two tanks came together towards the stairs up top so the fill level could be checked (all part of making sure the oil purchasing trucks are not getting a free lunch of any kind). He heard the rattling noise and when he instinctively turned towards it, he saw the snake partially coiled between the tanks.

From the snake's perspective, the distance to my uncle must have been too far away for a reliable strike. My uncle stared at it for a fraction of a second which I'm sure seemed like forever, and the snake *rapidly* slithered out towards him. He described it as one of those instances in which you don't have time to get turned around because the snake was moving towards him so fast.

He started running backwards to keep the snake from closing the distance too quickly. The snake slowed enough where my uncle could turn around and finish running away properly. After that, my father usually checked that particular lease.

At this point, I'm compelled to mention that in ancient Pompeii, snakes were typically painted on the walls as a weird sort of guardian spirit for the family painted or sculpted around the 'house shrine' called a lararium.

I think I'm ok with ancient art snakes, I'll just be avoiding the Copperheads and other living poisonous snakes this weekend. You guys do know that a pointy or triangularish snake head / skull usually (but not always) indicates that the snake's venom is toxic? What snake stories do you have?

Oh also, Heather gave me a meme for six things I'm a 'master' at.

I guess I have to pick in no particular order:
1) sculpting / carving things (I really wish I could paint and draw better, but still working on it)
2) music related stuff - I compose, have perfect pitch, etc.
3) I have inexplicably strong curl strength, being able to do several sets of 160lbs (and not just with my dominant arm, haha).
4) I have uncanny balance, skateboarding, snowboarding, it's all innate, init?
5) I love anagrams and completely dominate any game of scrabble I'm in.
6) Because of my time working with restaurant managers in a large corporate office, I can grill and cook better than most.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Advertising and Drinks (Alcolico e Pubblicità)

Another hot summer day is winding down in Dallas. As I look out my window, I can see the swimmers are out in force at the downtown Sheraton. I have the strangest urge to mix a martini with ginger Skyy vodka, but I can't exactly put my finger on why.

Ohhh, right, probably because of the twenty story outdoor banner in the right section of the photo with the gorgeous red headed girl with her dress apparently up behind her head?

When did these monumental banners become standard? Sure, in antiquity, emperors like Augustus and Constantine had ginormous statues and monuments made (and probably banners which have long since disintegrated). But, I'll bet they were not visible from Arizona like the one I'm looking at this afternoon.

Computers, die sublimation, and massive vinyl printers are making billboards out of everything. Surely it's only a matter of time before the moon itself is used to sell beer or something. I wonder if advertisers realize that I'm not really going to be paying attention to that ad for toothpaste wrapped on the Hummer in traffic two lanes over. Mostly because there are several other cars with the same type of overly colorful commercial spew all over them before my eyes ever get to that.

Maybe huge monumental advertising and banners could be North Korea's primary export going forward. They must be well positioned for it from a capital equipment and labor standpoint with all the propaganda banners everywhere.

With all of that being said, I still want to buy a die sublimation printer and reams of 52" vinyl so I can adorn my sedan with topical subjects every few days, maybe even every few hours. Imagine the fun of leaving a professional sporting event with the printout on your car with the exact score and some verbiage like, 'I can't believe that Romo threw three touchdowns in the last quarter, suck it Eagles.'

What gigantic advertising have you seen? Or do you just block this stuff out now like I try to? If you are a 'blocker', try my rocks margarita this week to help:

5 parts Sauza Three Generations tequila,

10 parts Sweet & Sour mix (NOT the stuff you dip eggrolls in, the greenish mix such as Jose Cuervo brand, sheesh, really???)

2 parts Triple Sec

2 parts Cointreau

1 part Dole pineapple juice

Lots and lots of crushed ice so it takes away the tart / sweetness.

ps - Increase the tequila parts if you've seen more than 20 monumental ads today.

and stay cool

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Consider the Ivy (Pensiamo di Edera)

I've had quite an ivy problem outside these days, the stuff is everywhere.
Here is a picture of poison ivy, have you ever been affected by it? I think MyLittleBecky posted a while back that she had a brief foray into the exciting world of urushiol oil and poison ivy.

One place on the web claims to have a plant product preventative / cure called jewelweed. To me though, that sounds a bit like some sort of illicit plant substance coveted by a blonde singer with an acoustic guitar.
I think that I might have affected by poison ivy once, but it was probably not from the vegetation. Is that her hair, or is Princess Leia happy to see you?

I've tried Roundup (tm) and other herbicides, but it never seems to affect the ivy like it does the other plants. I even jumped up and down on it in hopes of slowing it down, but it just keeps growing. I've never encountered a two dimensional plant that is so resistant to all the usual control methods, it's as hard as stone.

It looks like a very old vine. And, speaking of that, I think I'll pull a nice old Zinfandel from the cellar this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Local Television Production (i Bravi Ragazzi)

Driving up Greenville Avenue in Dallas at happy hour time one hot afternoon not too very long ago, I happened to notice a boom camera, police directing traffic, dodgy 'roadie' types standing around with microphones and wires, and several 'gawkers' along the opposite side of the road.

Individually, any of these things could be dismissed out of hand. But, all of these items taken in together pointed to some sort of organized activity, a 'production' if you will...
It seemed to center around a local nightspot and this bizarre 1970's style F-body car. So I put down my right window and snapped a quickie with my phone cam.

I supposed it was a motion picture production because we haven't had adult television* produced here since 'Walker, Texas Ranger'. I think the lady that produced the 'Barney' kids show was from Plano, just northeast of Dallas, but I haven't been keeping tabs on those sorts of programs and whether or not they are still being churned out.

* adult television not in the sense of 'plain brown wrapper'... Also, I realize that some people did not consider 'Walker, Texas Ranger' as adult television, although purportedly some people over the age of 18 viewed it somewhat regularly.

It turns out that Dallas has attracted production of 'The Good Guys', which was supposed to be shot in Los Angeles originally. The series seems to be a throwback to late seventies early eighties buddy cop shows.

Despite not usually viewing much television, I feel compelled to watch it because they'll drop in various landmark references like 'Highland Park' and other things which make me chuckle. If you recall the film 'X-Files' they showed Dallas as some sort of West Texas desert plain. It's green people, there *are* trees and grass here.

It's kind of weird that Tom Hank's kid is in this. I hope at some point in the series that he will yell 'WILSON!!!!!' in a vague reference to 'Castaway'. My hopes are not too high, but it's interesting to see that television production has increased close to 100% around Dallas this year.