Monthly Archives: May 2014

Have a Great Weekend

Thirty years ago tomorrow was a day that will live forever in infamy. Namely, that was the day everything that Lewisville High School, in the expected North Texas town, threw at me failed to kill me, and they had no choice but to turn me loose on the general public. There was no love lost between the school and myself, nor with the rest of the town, and we keep our distance. Any closer interaction, and we’d likely end up like the famed Mongolian Fighting Dinosaurs.

However, there are, inexplicably, people who actually enjoyed their time at Lewisville High, to the point of inviting me and other LHS misanthropes to our next class reunion. Now, this could be just because I’m one of the few alumni to be on the teevee without someone in the background asking the obvious question. It would also be very easy for me to respond with the first thing that comes to mind: “If I wanted to blow a few hundred bucks and a perfectly good weekend listening to a herd of entitled reactionaries bitching impotently about how the universe changed without their express written permission, I’d go to a WorldCon.” (Actually, that’s not as bad a threat as it sounds, at least this year. London…The Colony, Texas…I can imagine which one would be more fun to wander if I got tired of the festivities and went for a walk. In fact, I know which one would have fewer meth labs.)

All of this brings on mixed feelings. On one side, I might actually have fun out there, especially with recreating the “Dick Dent” scene from the film Sid & Nancy with one character, and my best friend yelling “Go get ‘im, Sidney! Gooooooo!” behind me. On the other, speaking from experience, I won’t go until someone finally writes lyrics for our school song:

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Dallas Interlude: Barry Kooda’s Garden

Longtime readers might recognize my constant plugging of the works of Dallas’s own Barry Kooda, and not just because he’s one of the biggest influences on Dallas music in the last 40 years. Oh, I could bring up his music, between his classic punk band The Nervebreakers, the Nineties-era Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!, or the country fusion The Cartrights, but I know him best for his art. Well, that and for the fact that Barry suffers fools barely, and he was really good at hanging me up by my collar and letting the wind blow the stink off me when I was in my twenties. Even today, I don’t think “What Would Barry Do?”: I just think about something really stupid that I’m planning to do, see Barry’s expression of sad disapproval, saying “I thought better of you” without uttering a phoneme, and decide that yeah, it was a really stupid idea.

Well, one of the many good things about having Barry as a friend for nearly half my life is that there’s no telling what you’ll learn by hanging out with him for all of fifteen minutes. A couple of weekends ago, for instance, he passed on word that he was hosting one of his classic “Clear out stuff to make room for new stuff” garage sales, and the Czarina and I rushed out at the best opportunity. Now, I both needed a Chinese fishbowl and a set of big window screens he was selling off (the fishbowl for a big project, the screens to help keep grasshoppers out of the greenhouse, where they’re feeding on my Buddha’s Hand citron tree), and I would have understood if he’d just taken money and sent us along so he could take care of other folks. Instead, he and his wonderful wife Laura gave us both a quick tour of their wonderful house in Oak Cliff (bought long before the current gentrification nightmare that’s doing to Oak Cliff what previously happened to Lower Greenville Avenue and Deep Ellum in decades past), and then showed off the garden. Oh, he showed me the front garden, and the big fossil slab in the front.

The Great God Pan

Those lucky enough to have read the Bob Slaughter book Fossil Remains of Mythical Creatures might recognize his skeleton of Pan. Even if you haven’t, and I recommend anyone interested in deliberate fabricated fossils should pick up a copy of this book NOW, the Pan pipes by the skeleton’s hand is a giveaway. This is how cool Barry is: it’s not just that he has a Bob Slaughter original in his front garden. It’s that he and Bob were friends before Bob died, and Bob’s wife asked Barry if he’d like to take this original home rather than have it destroyed. This is why I want to be just like Barry when I grow up, if he ever grows up. And as always, he’s inspiring me to big projects on the Triffid Ranch hiatus: those familiar with the Frederick D. Gottfried short story “Hermes To The Ages” might get an idea of the trouble I’m planning for my own front beds.

The Trumpetvine That Came to Sarnath

Scarlet Trumpetvine

I’ve commented elsewhere about Some Guy, because you can always connect the worst advice on the planet to Some Guy. Horticulturally speaking, Some Guy can be blamed for all sorts of concentrated vile, but one of the most pernicious involves spreading tales about effective use of scarlet trumpetvine (Distictis buccinatoria).

D. buccinatoria doesn’t sound quite so bad upon first glance. It’s a very enthusiastic climbing vine, sometimes growing as big around as your leg, with a nearly fernlike thick foliage. Its name comes from its equally enthusiastic blooming habit, with bright red blooms that attract hummingbirds by day and hawkmoths by night. It also sprouts from its roots, growing a thick corky rind around an extremely tough and fibrous root core. If you’re looking for a tenacious and full vine that covers just about anything, you can’t find anything better in the Dallas area.

And that’s precisely the problem. Scarlet trumpetvine blooms lead to long, beanlike seed pods whose contents are gleefully spread by birds, so they end up everywhere. They don’t seem to have anything indigenous that keeps them under control, so while their leaves make excellent shelter for lizards and beneficial insects, they also transpire so much water during the day that any wood underneath them starts to rot very quickly. Since nothing seems to trim back that foliage, that means that fences, walls, posts, and sheds are rapidly buried under thick blankets of trumpetvine.

This sounds perfect if you want trumpetvine to stay, but just TRY to remove it. This is where Some Guy comes in, because the trope going through yuppie neighborhoods is that “you should plant trumpetvine around telephone poles so that it’ll cover the pole.” Not only does this make the local utility reps absolutely loathe you, as reaching the pole, much less climbing it, is impossible when sheathed in trumpetvine, but it also guarantees that the seeds will spread elsewhere. Chop it down, and it readily resprouts from the roots. Mow down the new growth, and chunks will reroot and spread through the immediate area. Spray it with herbicides, and the sprays wash off the leaves and kill off everything underneath. In my case, I made the mistake of letting trumpetvine get established along a wooden fence during the summer of 2011, and I’m still cutting it back every week from the roots from that summer.

Scarlet Trumpetvine

Now, Amanda Thomsen of Kiss My Aster repeatedly argues that scarlet trumpetvine is of the Devil. I’d argue that if confronted about trumpetvine, Satan would stand up and profess true innocence, arguing that some things are too foul for him to consider. You could go through other pantheons, and every possible suspect would do the same thing. Loki would swear upon Yggdrasil that he wouldn’t think of doing such a horrible thing. Set would set upon his heels and cry at the accusation. Tezcatlipoca would be found in the bath, repeatedly scrubbing himself with wire brushes. Camazotz would go back to his old cutting habit. Nyarlathotep…Nyarlathotep would just sit back, vomiting silently in utter terror that someone would give him credit for creating or developing scarlet trumpetvine.

This garden season, have some sympathy and some taste. When you’re saturation-nuking the garden to blast out trumpetvine, don’t randomly assign blame for something of such cosmic horror. Instead, just ask yourself “What did those gods of chaos and evil ever do to you to deserve that sort of insult?”

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Cat Monday

Leiber

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014 – 11

Texas Frightmare Weekend

Texas Frightmare Weekend

Texas Frightmare Weekend

Texas Frightmare Weekend

And that about does it for Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014. As always, many thanks to the crew and staff at Texas Frightmare Weekend for exceeding everyone’s expectations once again, and many thanks to everyone who came by the Triffid Ranch booth, either to buy plants or just to say hello. And just wait for next year: when the Triffid Ranch comes back out of hiatus, things are going to go BOOM, and in a good way.

Have a Great Weekend

Both congratulations to a niece graduating from high school this next week, and a tribute to the late Dave Brockie and Cory Smoot, for their parts in one of the best cover songs ever performed.

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014 – 10

Texas Frightmare Weekend

Texas Frightmare Weekend

Texas Frightmare Weekend

Texas Frightmare Weekend