Thursday, May 31, 2007

barney googled

So I’m sitting in the public library the other afternoon reading old newspapers on microfilm trying to answer my newfound question of whether comic strips might tend to be funnier during war times. It wasn’t long before I convinced myself that I really needed to follow through with a few ideas I’ve had for comics- if for no other reason than to clear the space they are cluttering in my mind.

What follows then is my first offering, which is basically a conceptual prototype. Please remember to click on the image in order to see it in full size. (No, that won’t make it funnier, but it should make it legible.)

To answer the question that one of my readers (a psychic professor) is preparing to ask, the comics included in the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday, March 14, 1943 included the following: Bringing Up Father; The Heart of Juliet Jones; The Lone Ranger; Right Around Home with Myrtle – A Dignified Position!; Ripley’s ~ Believe It or Not; Donald Duck; Blondie; Dennis the Menace; Dick Tracy; Prince Valient; Walt Disney Presents Uncle Remus and his Tales of Brer Rabbit; Mickey Mouse; Henry; Barney Google and Snuffy Smith; Buz Sawyer; They’ll Do It Every Time; The Little King; Archie; Little Annie Rooney; The Katzenjammer Kids; Little Iodine; Thimble Theater starring Popeye; Flash Gordon; Steve Canyon.

Interestingly, the funnies then came in two separate sections as an addition to the 15-cent Sunday paper (along with the ever popular Parade magazine).

Oh yeah…. were they “funny?”

Well, I suppose that is a matter of opinion- except Henry. Mimes are ALWAYS funny!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

goats head stew

Until you’ve stepped on a goathead, you’ve never really experienced agony of da feet. However, if you’ve spent any amount of time in the American southwest, odds are that you’ve stepped on one of these seedpods from hell barefoot, or had one jab you through your shoe, punctured a bicycle tire, or had the misfortune of having gotten one stuck under your fingernail.

Also commonly called Texas Sandburs, bull’s head and caltrop, goatheads are the product of the Puncturevine (or Tribulus terrestris L. for all you braniac Latinheads). First reported in the United States just over 100 years ago, it is believed that the seedpods of the puncturevine were transported from the Mediterranean area as stowaways in imported sheep wool. Stranger things have happened.

This weed is extremely dangerous to livestock, but that really doesn’t impact my garden since the only critters I have in any large number this spring are grasshoppers. Eliminating puncturevines from my yard has been the highest priority since I began working my small urban plot a couple/few years ago. These weeds are so annoying, that I also watch for them on both sides of the alley as they approach my zone of defense. I will drop any task I am doing to grab a puncturevine by the taproot and either toss it into a fire, or into the trashcan. Believe it or not, I am of the opinion that one would find worse things in the city landfill than these monsters.

As I prepared to snap these photographs, I began wondering if perhaps my hatred of these weeds was unique or somehow “over-the-top”- given the fact that I see them all over the city and no one seems to be trying to do anything about them. Imagine my surprise while conducting a little interweb research, to discover someone who hates goatheads as much as I do! Such an informative website, and I admit that I am intrigued by this idea of their Puncturevine Weevils.

The notion that these nasty seeds can remain viable for up to two decades while lying in wait for the proper conditions to germinate is baffling to say the least. Although I do believe I can control the weeds in my yard by staying on top of it, deploying a small army of seed and vine munching grubs in the alley might prove a worthy battle plan- assuming, of course, that the larvae do not mutate into strawberry eating weevils. Unfortunately, the high price of the weevils may force me to approach the board of our neighborhood association to see if they will provide some funds.

As an interesting digression, I’ve also learned that “Waiting on a Friend,” one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs that appeared on the Tattoo You album in the early 80s, was in fact, an outtake from the Goats Head Soup album that was released in 1973- on the 70th anniversary of the first reported finding of the puncturevine in the United States. Who knows… perhaps the “friend” Mick and the boys were waiting on was a puncturevine weevil.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

missed it by that much

I saw a number of interesting items and places while traveling along the road back to Albuquerque upon the conclusion of the recent Midland excursion. One of the themes that repeatedly crossed my mind was how much the landscape and the small towns I passed through reminded me of the beginning of one of my favorite films- Midnight Cowboy.

Once I got home, watching the film again became a priority. When I observed the signage in the opening that indicated Joe Buck (Jon Voight’s character) was living Big Spring, Texas before heading off for the greener pastures of New York City, I recalled the portion of a discussion with the owner of Cloud 9 Sports Cards in Odessa just three days ago when he mentioned Big Spring in passing. A quick Google search revealed that Big Spring is located just about 40 miles northeast of Midland. Nertz! I’m kind of bummed that I failed to realize that I was so close.

I could very easily have been trying to find the location of the Sahara Drive-In (renamed “Big Tex Drive-In” for the opening scene of the film) in Big Spring instead of snapping photos of the modern Big Sky Drive-In located between Midland and Odessa. Triple darn that I failed to have a slice of pie in the diner where Joe Buck once worked as a dishwasher before walking out carrying only his dream and cowhide suitcase.

Rest assured, next time I find myself in Midland for baseball, I will definitely make the side trip over to Big Spring and take several dozen photos of the “downtown” area and anything that is left of the drive-in theater.

One blogworthy site I did see for the first time was a fun Buddy Holly statue in the heart of Lubbock’s Walk of Fame. I was also very impressed with Lubbock’s brick-paved streets that have survived for close to 90 years.

Also just a few miles off the route one encounters the reported gravesite of outlaw Billy the Kid. This location is as interesting as it is controversial.

Friday, May 04, 2007

midland, texas... it's a gas!

Greetings from Midland, Texas!

According to popular legend, Midland’s name is a derivation of “Midway,” the original name given to the point located approximately half the distance between El Paso and Fort Worth as the iron horse flew. Legend continues that “Midland” was adopted as the town name not long after the discovery was made of a number of other small Texas towns named Midway. Undoubtedly, that resulted in some very confusing days for the Pony Express riders before it all got sorted out.

Does that answer your question of what I’m doing in Midland? No it does not.

Am I here to visit what is reported to be the childhood home of the 43rd President of the United States? Hardly, but since I’m already here...

Baseball is what brings me to this part of the country- specifically, Double A baseball. After a couple of seasons of a buddy telling me how enjoyable ballgames are here in Midland, I decided to accept his offer to take a road trip over to check it out.

My first impression is that Citibank Ballpark is a very nice facility. The fans that turn out to support the Midland RockHounds, are typical, if not fewer in number that what I would have expected. It is now my understanding that that majority of the quarter-million people in this area are most likely too busy sitting at home watching Friday Night Lights on tv and getting pumped up for the high school football season than to be bothered to head out to enjoy a baseball game.

It is reported that Midland receives approximately 14.8 inches of precipitation each year. Personal experience suggests that the vast majority of that amount arrives in the form of a single thunderstorm in the late morning/early afternoon hours each May 2nd. Thankfully the field at Citibank Ballpark drains quickly!

A quick glance around reveals very little in the way of scenery beyond a forest of mesquite and a never-ending sea of oil derelicts and pumpjacks. Although I’m in no position to write a travel brochure for the city, it is worth noting to my “Hollywood” readers that Midland’s seemingly abandoned business district would provide a prime location for the long overdue remake of Omega Man.

The Midland RockHounds defeated the Corpus Christi Hooks in each of the three games I attended. The overall production was eerily similar to the Isotopes games in spite of the differences. It was very pleasant to attend a few games as a fan, collect a handful of Texas League baseballs during batting practice and get several baseball cards autographed. I would definitely recommend that anyone passing through the area schedule an evening to take in a ballgame here in the Permian Basin.