The cat’s meow

November 18, 2018

Miss Mia Sopaipilla dares you to make a move on her Q-Tip.

Best. Cat. Toy. Ever.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla and Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein, commander of the 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment (not pictured), put a serious ass-whuppin’ on a couple of Q-Tips this morning.

Herself was busy in her office when the cats decided, as cats will, to sit on the sheet music she was preparing for sale on eBay.

Now, your cat loves nothing more than sitting on something that’s sitting on something; in this instance, sheet music sitting on the floor.

Unless it’s sitting on something that’s sitting on something that’s sitting on something. Or maybe invading a cardboard box or a plastic bag. Or just plain getting underfoot, what Robert A. Heinlein called “following you ahead of you.”

So Herself chucked them a couple of Q-Tips and now we have another hot item in the Instant Cat Toy Catalogue. Just in time for Black Friday, too.

Of wheels and wilderness

November 16, 2018

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

Anyone who thinks Bicycle Retailer and Industry News has gone as dull as dishwater in the absence of my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column hasn’t been reading “Through the Grapevine.”

Interim publisher Marc Sani has taken that rascal over, and what once was originally an industry-gossip collection, and then a news-nuggets amalgamation, has become what management calls “very much an editorial and analysis column.”

It’s now going to be available online, and Sani’s latest sortie, about permitting mountain bikes in wilderness and the Republicans — yes, Republicans — who support the idea, seems to have squeezed the tender grapes of many an outraged reader.

Freelance rumormongers and publishers rarely find themselves in agreement, especially if we’re talking about matters such as prompt payment for services rendered.

But I’ve got to tip the ol’ Sangre de Cristos Cycling Club cap to The Sanitizer on this one, if only for all the trail dust he kicked up. He not only rounded up a whole herd of free-range eyeballs, he blackened ’em for good measure.

I enjoyed the fuss so much I based this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch around it, prowling the Innertubes for relevant tidbits and rolling around in whatever smelled good, including:

• That Grapevine column.

• The Wilderness Act of 1964.

• The House and Senate measures to amend it.

• The Sustainable Trails Coalition.

• Two Outside columns, one from Marc Peruzzi and the other from Christopher Solomon.

Aaron Teasdale’s article in Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club.

Ashley Halsey III’s article about America’s waning love affair with the automobile, from The Washington Post.

• Smithsonian.com’s brief history of America’s complicated relationship with the wild horse.

• And last but not least, Hal Walter’s “The Crash of 1943,” from Colorado Central magazine. Hal and Gary Ziegler of Bear Basin Ranch took us to see the wreckage of that B-25 at Rito Alto Peak, and when it came to transporting camping gear I much preferred Hal’s burros to my mountain bike, or my own back. And for anyone suffering from delusions about the mountain bike’s superiority to simple bipedal locomotion in the high lonesome, Hal once ran away from me and my bike on the upper reaches of Hermit Pass. He didn’t even have a burro with him that time.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Looking Back Over the Hill” by David-Gwyn Jones, from ZapSplat.com. Other sounds courtesy Freesound.org, with an assist from Your Humble Narrator, with his trusty Tascam DR-10L and Sony ICD-UX533 (no longer available, alas). And finally, that faux taxonomic family you hear? Rotae mortis? That’s Dog Latin for “Wheels of Death.” I’m funny that way. Maybe not.

Doppelgrinder

November 15, 2018

Me and my shadow.

The little cold snap we’ve been enjoying finally broke, so yesterday I toddled out for a trail run wearing a not-inconsiderable amount of winter wear, and actually felt slightly overdressed — until I turned around into the wind.

Today the wind was still very much with us, but so was the sun, and when the temps finally slouched into the low 50s I went out to greet it.

Holy hell, was that wind brisk. Once again I questioned my garment selection. Long-sleeve polypro henley, long-sleeve jersey, knickers, and full-finger gloves, sure, but no tuque? No tights? No brains? Eeeeeyyugghhh!

Anyway, long story short, I warmed up pretty quickly because I was riding one of Mr. Steelman’s 20-year-old Eurocrosses on the trails around the Elena Gallegos Open Space and definitely not breaking any speed records, even though I never actually jumped off and ran.

There were a few breaks for conversation. My fellow trail users were a chatty lot, and not a grump in the bunch. Hikers, bikers, joggers, doggers, all and sundry were grinning like jackasses eating yellowjackets under the blue, blue skies. Even one mountain biker who’d blown his rear derailleur took it in stride, coasting back to his starting point.

Albuquerque has its problems, to be sure. But November weather mostly ain’t one of ’em.

(F)ART in a skillet

November 13, 2018

The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers never went electric, but they sure as shit knew their buses. Freak Bros. © forever by Gilbert Shelton

“Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more,” sez Albuquerque to BYD, the outfit behind the famous Little Electric Buses That Couldn’t.

Regulars here at the Duke City Chuckle Hut know the story of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, a.k.a. ART, which has become something of a nutty cluster of fks, as Charlie Pierce might say.

See, our city fathers once dreamt a grand dream of running electric buses down the middle of Central Avenue in order to something something something, possibly because they’d eaten too much posole right before bedtime, or maybe it was the worm in the mescal.

But the buses supplied by Build Your Dreams — which should rebrand to IYD (In Your Dreams), or perhaps BYOB (Bring Your Own Buses) — apparently make my 1996 F-150 look like a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.

“You don’t need a mechanic, you need an exorcist,” a frustrated dealership mechanic said of that fiend-ridden Ford, which began rattling itself into bits and pieces about 30 seconds after I drove it off the lot.

I never test-drove an exorcist. Instead, I sprung for a ’98 Toyota. But I expect that not even Fathers Karras and Merrin, with an assist from Kiichiro Toyoda and Toshirô Mifune, could chase the boogeymen out of BYD’s buses, which are said to suffer from brake failures, problems with operable range and battery life, and electrical issues that multiplied upon inspection like flies on hot horseshit, the all-natural substance at the heart of BYD’s marketing strategery. Also, there remains the basic underlying issue of demonic possession.

And so the alleged buses are being returned, assuming they can make it past the city-limits sign without exploding like a penguin on a telly.

To replace them, the city has ordered up 10 new, non-electric buses from a “well-established American company that makes buses all the time,” says Mayor Tim Keller. Why nobody thought of this earlier remains a mystery, especially since it will be a year and a half before the replacement buses can be delivered.

“Obviously, we are very concerned about what we’ve been put through as a city by BYD,” Keller added. “I think down the road, we’re interested in being fairly compensated for [how] we have been misled on these buses.”

A BYD spokescreature, who declined to be identified because the Great Old Ones had not authorized it to speak with the media, said cryptically, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” This is R’lyehian for “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu has many lawyers.”

Beer run

November 13, 2018

No more PBR? Good Gawd awmighty. It’s like a tariff on beard oil*, running out of gluten-free kale wraps, or finding out that your mom washed your skinny jeans in hot water.

* Gleefully and shamefully stolen from Steve Frothingham of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

R.I.P., Stan Lee

November 12, 2018

A small sampler of the voluminous output of Marvel impresario Stan Lee.

Zzzaaack! KRAAAAK! FOOM!

Stan Lee, true believers, is no more.

The former Stanley Martin Lieber joined what then was called Timely Comics at age 17 and finally left the Mighty Marvel Bullpen for good at 95.

I was more of a DC kind of guy — Superman, Batman, The Flash, The Atom, and Green Lantern and Green Arrow (as envisioned by Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams — but you gotta give Marvel and Lee their props. In 2018 you can’t swing a dead Catwoman without hitting some Marvelista in the unitard, and DC can’t get out of its own way.

“Batman v. Superman?” “Justice League?”

Gaaaaaaaaaaack! PTUI! BARF!

• Late addendum: I should also note the passing of the HAL 9000. Dave Bowman unplugged the Discovery’s homicidal computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but the actor who voiced HAL, Douglas Rain, soldiered on until the ripe old age of 90. He had the greatest enthusiasm for his mission, which was acting.

’Tis the last rose of summer

November 12, 2018

It’s not a poppy, but it will have to do.

This is a very confused rose.

It popped up a few days ago on the southwest side of El Rancho Pendejo, which proved fortunate, because the northeast sector is getting flogged by a light snow driven by a heavy wind. The thermometer tells me it’s 26F outdoors, feels like 16.

If I felt like 16 I might go out for my usual Monday-morning run. But I don’t, so I won’t. It seems a fine day to stay indoors and practice the guitar, script the next podcast, or fiddle with technology.

Over the weekend I hopscotched the 2009 iMac from Yosemite to High Sierra, and while the patient briefly took a turn for the worse yesterday, this morning I am cautiously optimistic.

For some time the auld fella has suffered from a bad case of thermal mismanagement that for no good reason cues the fans to crank up to swamp-boat ferocity.

Neither the Apple Geniuses nor I have been able to find the root cause, so I figured what the hell, give it a Dr. Gumbyesque brain transplant, and if it croaks on the table, well, off to the boneyard with it. Cupertino won’t even take this bucket of bytes as a trade-in; Apple’s GiveBack program deems both it and our 2010 Mini suitable only for recycling.

But ’ee’s not dead yet, and while ’ee may not be foolin’ anyone, it seems ’ee still doesn’t want to go on the cart.

The band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’

November 11, 2018

This classic goes out as an homage to all who served and a caution to all who send them.

• Extra Credit Military History Reading: An adaptation from “The Fighters: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq,” by Pulitzer Prize winner C.J. Chivers.

• Double Extra Credit WWI Poetry Readings: From the Poetry Foundation, whose editors note: “You may notice that more poems in 1914 and 1915 extoll the old virtues of honor, duty, heroism, and glory, while many later poems after 1915 approach these lofty abstractions with far greater skepticism and moral subtlety, through realism and bitter irony. Though horrific depictions of battle in poetry date back to Homer’s Iliad, the later poems of WWI mark a substantial shift in how we view war and sacrifice.”

Rain delay, or a tool entrenching

November 10, 2018

“La Brigade Marine Americaine au Bois de Belleau,” by Georges Scott.

Maybe that orange spray-tan runs in the wet, like the rest of him?

P’raps Il Douche would be more comfortable at Base Camp Donna, in Texas. The chicken-and-noodles MREs come with Skittles, and the body armor is optional … but no, looks like it’s sprinkling.

Winning: a meditation on the midterms

November 9, 2018

Remember how it feels to lose?

We ought to keep that in mind when we win.

The only people who should be dancing in the end zone are the cheerleaders. And they’d best be full of Gatorade, ’cause this game is only at halftime.

Yes, yes, yes, it’s another Friday Afternoon Club(bing) from Radio Free Dogpatch. But you won’t need the performance-enhancing drugs to get through this one. You’ve probably stayed clean through longer political ads.

“Democrats eat babies.” This one features a heavily Photoshopped image of a smiling Nancy Pelosi with a platter full of tiny arms and legs, a hammer-and-sickle bib, and barbecue sauce smeared over her lips.

“Republicans boink babies.” Well, we won’t need the Photoshop for this one.* But still, you get the idea, right?

* Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Comity only goes so far around here.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Tiny Town” from ZapSplat, and the “National Emblem March” was performed by the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band.