A missed opportunity

Yellow eye stared at me; slowly sizing me up as I looked back.  I stood still and stared back in disbelief.  The bobcat was right in front me!  I had been busy hand pruning the inside of a hedge when I saw his legs go by from the other side.  I figured he’d see my UTV and walk around it.  Never did I expect him to walk in between it and open gate I was in.

It was the boy-cat, too.  I had seen him a few weeks ago walking side by side with his mother.  He was smaller and young.  While he had a nice coat, there were no spots on it yet.  Looking at him, I could tell he was roughly the height of my four year old Yellow Lab and weighed about 50 to 60 pounds.  He was lean.  He ate well, but the wild rabbits at work have no fat and this cat was all muscle.

He was also very used to people.  A resident said that the bobcat had brushed up against him early in the morning one day;  Just like a house cat.  That resident now checks his surroundings very carefully now before heading towards his golf cart.

Almost lazily the cat turns his head and strolls away.  It took me a few seconds longer to react.

“Here kitty, kitty.”  I called walking after it.  “Here kitty.”  (I blame The Nomad Grad for this.  If she can stare down full grown lions, I should be able to pet a bobcat that rubs up on people.)

The cat thinks I’m a little nuts and walks a little faster.

I stop, disappointed.  Then realization kicks in.  I was in a fenced enclosure with a five foot wide hedge covering three sides, a wall blocking off any real opening on the “open” side, and a mini canal connecting the wall like an “L”.  I had no where to go and the cat was blocking the only exit.  He is faster and can jump higher with much less effort.  Not a good spot to be.

I watch as the cat walks down the street along the wall until he finds the opening in the woods to cross over to the other residential park.  Then, loud noises from landscaping machinery on that side brings him back.

I see him walking towards me hugging the trees that are planted near the wall. Clearer minded this time, I walk out of my enclosure and put the UTV/Mule between us.  The cat turns into the trees ahead of me and disappears.

I lost him.  I didn’t see if he kept moving or if he decided to just lay down.  Is he behind the trees next to the wall?  Did he crawl under the little bit of chain-link fence that connects the wall to the mini canal? I don’t know.  All I know is that I have to get back to work.

I sneak up the small embankment and peer in between the tree line and the wall.  Nothing.  Maybe he left or decided to walk towards the woods instead.  (Across the street and down the road roughly a block away.) I never found out.  I took a moment and started back trimming.

My only regret is that I don’t have a camera on my cell phone.

That would’ve been one hell of a picture.

Daybreak

The putt-putt sound of the motor keeps time with the small wave rolling on the bow.  Sunlight fragments and scatters all around the little boat as the cool sea breeze keeps the summer heat at bay.  Close to the shore, wave-runners dart and jump like the seagulls circling around in the air.  The buildings behind them fade into the earth as the trees tower over them.  A fish breaks the water in greeting.  The man smiles.  Maybe later he’ll do a little fishing, but for now the moment is perfect.Little Tug

Never Discarded

An elderly hand glides gently over the jagged landscape and her eyes scan the items laid across the tables.  Books, candles, tools, jewelry, toys and trinkets each either neatly arranged in separate rows or huddled together in boxes.  Gift from birthdays or treasures bought on vacation, these items once desired now up for sale.

The grey haired woman finds her way over to the kid section.  A small pile of stuffed animals and rubber cars talks of a toddler who has grown into a kid.  Her hand reaches for a lonesome penguin.  Simple and unassuming, it is clean and looks as if it spent its time being watched and not held.

“How much?”  She asks.

“A quarter.” Is answered.

Handing over the silvery coin, she leaves.

A short drive later, she arrives at a familiar house.  The yard is fenced and decorated with softly colored ornaments.  A cheerful slogan hangs over the front door.  The sound of the bell is greeted by a friendly face.  She enters the house and turns down the hall.

In the room at the end a woman stares quietly at the lady.  Wispy grey hair frames an expression of fear.

Holding up the penguin the lady smiles at her sister.  “For you.”

Her sister takes the toy and smiles happily like a child.

Ketchup With Us #22.

olddognewtits.com

Roller coasters are the theme in this episode of Michele’s and Mel’s Ketchup project.  Whether riding an actual roller coaster or a figurative one in life, write about that experience in 57 words or less.

Sparkling brown eyes locked on to me.

Soft lips smiled at my discomfort.

The girl between us stood unaware.

She just wanted to know why I wasn’t interested.

I tried to gently explain in my awkwardness and wished I was back on the Cork-Screw.

Epic Adventures by Bike

A third of July has come and gone; have you had your summer epic adventure yet?  Don’t think you can afford one?  Have you considered doing an epic bike adventure?

 

A bicycle is usually forgotten when thinking about epic adventures, but many adventures are lived on the humble bike.

Image from ookaboo.com

 

Peter Egan, lauded scribe and editor of Road & Track and CycleWorld magazine, bought a bicycle and rode with his friend from Paris, France to Barcelona, Spain to watch a Grand Prix race after his tour of duty in Vietnam.  They road roughly eighty miles a day through the Andes and had a memorable time doing it.

Not Peter Egan and not France, but you get the idea. Image by http://www.bikechina.com

 

When my friend Ian graduated from High School, he celebrated by flying over to England and riding through the country on a bike.

Not Ian, but England Image by blog.wickedcampers.co.uk

 

With no need for insurance, licensing, or fuel, a bicycle makes the adventure affordable.  If you’re in your mid-teens, a good bike makes the adventure attainable!

Even if you don’t have any gear, it won’t break the bank to build a decent outfit; and that includes the bike.  A quick walk through Craig’s List listed decent bikes starting at $10 and allowing yourself $50 will open up the choices to an unbelievable amount.  (Some will even have baskets and rear racks already installed, giving you more bang for your buck.)  A decent helmet is in the $20 to $30 range and the same goes for a tire repair kit and mini air pump as well.  I found tents as low as $20 and sleeping bags for $10.  School sized backpacks are everywhere and can be tied to the rack with bungees or clothesline if needed.  Cheap ponchos can be had at the dollar store and camping food can be bought along the way if you want to save weight.

 

You could turn gear buying into a mini adventure itself.  Riding around town, checking out the garage sales for discount gear builds up your stamina while adding to the excitement.  If you’re planning a group ride adventure, you could have a contest to see who gets their gear first and who gets it at the best deal.

The adventure itself doesn’t have to be overseas to be epic.  A trip to the next county or twenty miles down the road can be enough to be memorable.  You could ride to a campground and spend the week fishing, hiking, and biking in natures surrounding.  If camping is not your game, you could ride to various cafés or pubs to check out the local bands.  Food, history, architecture, art, sports, scenery; you can make anything the reason for your ride.  It’s all up to you.  An epic adventure doesn’t require a motor, just some imagination and a willingness to go for it.  A bicycle is a great and inexpensive way to get on the road or down the trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s only July, how about an adventure?

http://www.railstotrails.org/index.html

 

Defiance: How to alienate your audience

I hadn’t planned to write a post about a television show, but the choices made by the producers and Syfy forced my hand.

For those that haven’t seen it, “Defiance” is a science fiction show featured on the Syfy channel every Monday at 9PM.   The general plot is that three different races of aliens attacked the earth and changed the nature of the planet by terraforming it while it was still populated with us.  An alliance happened with one of the races and together we defeated those attacking.  The planet is now a weird, post-apocalyptic version of itself with a militant-political group trying to become the new super power.  A small town named Defiance struggles to keeps its collective independence against all those trying to take over while dealing with the cultural troubles that come with trying to integrate all the races together that live within its borders.

(It’s also a video game but I’ve never played it.)

The writing is good with complexities and multiple twists.  The characters do not work in harmony and every single vice and moral weakness is out and used.  There is greed, there is corruption, there is hatred, and there is pettiness.  Call it the anti-Trek.  There’s also a lot of sex so be warned if you have children.  There is so much sex, in fact, that it took me a while to figure out exactly who they were aiming the show at.  (Every space based science fiction show I’ve ever seen was aimed at the 10 and older crowd.  I’d feel weird watching this with my 16 year old – if I had any.)  And yet, the writing is so good in it that it overcomes the sex.  The layering is too good to let go.

That’s why I’m angry.  The producers of the show have committed one of the cardinal sins when it comes to creating a lasting show.  They jilted the fans.

At the end of the season finally cliff-hanger, the announcer invites the fans to come back and find out what happens when the show returns…  June 2014!

That’s right.  The producers of the show and the powers that be over at Syfy want the viewers and fans of Defiance to wait almost an entire year for the show to start again.  That’s a hell of a break!  That’s going to give every other channel out there a chance to create new shows and grab the people that were watching “Defiance”.  Even if every other channel out there shows nothing but reruns for the summer, they still have from September to June to scoop them up.  It would not surprise me if the show loses ½ to 2/3rds of its audience.

What are they thinking?

Do they want the show to fail?

They must because the last time I saw a show do anything like this was Tremors the series and it was done on purpose by the then producer over at Syfy. (The show didn’t fit her idea of what “Sci-fi” was supposed to be, so she deliberately killed it through mismanagement.)

It shocks me to see this blatant act of disregard by people who are supposed to have a brain and experience with entertainment.  They should know better.  I run this little blog and I can say completely that I get physically ill if I add only one new post in a week.  I’ve set up the place where you expect multiple posts and I’m gonna do my best to give them to you.  I write down these posts after doing physical work in the Florida heat for your enjoyment and I know every blogger out there is doing something similar to bring their audience (and me) something I enjoy reading, seeing, or hearing about.  You’d think those that make thousands of dollars in the entertaining business would respect their clientele a little more.

The golden rule is:  Give a damn about your audience.

Maybe someone needs to remind the people over at “Defiance” and Syfy that.

Who was that masked man?

 

“It could be worse.”

The Lone Ranger says this to Tonto during a prickly moment in the film.  Disney, on the other hand, is not so sure.  The Lone Ranger managed to scrape up just $48.9 Million over the holiday weekend.  ($29.4 million if you just count the Friday through Sunday sales.)  Critics everywhere are calling The Lone Ranger a flop.  The reviews were bad and the ticket sales support their voice.  Here’s the problem though; I saw The Lone Ranger and liked it.

I wasn’t the only one.  My wife liked it too, as well as pretty much everyone in the entire theater.  In fact the audience applauded the movie, not once but twice!  (Once during the climatic action scene at the end and again when the credits rolled.)  I have to say, when I saw who was entering the theater to watch the movie, I was afraid they were going to hate it.  I live in the second oldest county in the United States, age-wise, according to the census bureau, which means these people have a lot more invested in this movie than me.  The Lone Ranger is their childhood hero; someone they grew up either watching on television or hearing on the radio.  (Yes some of the people in the audience were that old)  If any group has a right to be judgmental, it’s them.   As I said, they loved it.

So why did it fail then?  Competition.  Pure and simple.  Despicable Me 2 dominated the movies over the weekend.  With a strong cast, targeted audience, and the familiarity of knowing what you’re going to get going in, it was a slam dunk.  Disney put The Lone Ranger up against a known element that had a strong viewer base and tried to compete against it with expected results.  (They might have different ratings, but the wanted age demographics were too similar.)  A similar thing happened with Star Trek Nemesis.  It was released in direct competition with Lord of the Ring’s The Two Towers.  Even Trek’s strong following could not keep up with this awaited sequel.

But did it really fail?  Not when you look at its genre.  Westerns don’t seem to be big block buster movies.  True Grit, a remake of the 1968 original was praised for its more than double expected sales with its opening weekend earnings of $25.6 million.  Cowboys and Aliens, and Wild Wild West also grossed similar earnings.  The flaw in The Lone Ranger is thinking that it would quickly make up its $225 million production costs.  That was as unrealistic and idealistic as Reid’s outlook on society.  Will it make its money back?  Maybe – Eventually.

The Lone Ranger is a movie that needs to be taken on its own merits.  It is not True Grit, Dancing With Wolves, or any other western of the classic style.  It’s a fun movie full of humor and action with a myriad of other Johnny Depp movie cues thrown in for trivia and future drinking games.  If you want to spend a few hours in movie escapism, The Lone Ranger is a straight shooter.