Wide World Of Shooting.
WARNING: NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH. This mass-shooting script is way too soon, and much too dark, but I think it captures some of the absurd humor in this situation. If we can have a reality-show president, why not turn our recurring national nightmare into a sports reality show?
JIM: Good evening, and welcome to the Wide World Of Shooting. Tonight, we're coming to you from Bumwash, Texas, a small town of about 150 souls near Lubbock, in the northern panhandle. Frank?
FRANK: That's right, Jim. Tonight, we're going to see if Texas can recapture the Guinness World Record title as the "site of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history." The Guinness verification team is in place, the AR-15s are locked and loaded... but first, let's get some background on tonight's shooter. Howard?
HOWARD: I'm here with Billie Bob Buford, an ex-employee of Wilson Widgets, which used to be the largest employer in this gawdforsaken town.
BILLIE BOB: It was the *only* employer in this gawdforsaken town, Howard. And when it closed down, two years ago, my life fell apart. No job, no income, no kids, no wife.
HOWARD: Your wife left you?
BILLIE BOB: She took the kids and ran off with my former supervisor. He was offered a job at the head office of Wilson Widgets down in Houston, so she hitched her wagon to a faster horse. I didn't find out 'til after they'd left that he had been bangin' her for nearly ten years. In fact, some of the kids I thought were mine are probably *his*!
HOWARD: Well, that's certainly motive enough for what you're about to attempt. Do you think you can bring the record back to Texas?
BILLIE BOB: "Remember The Alamo!" That bastard in Vegas is goin' dowwwwwn!!
HOWARD: There you have it, folks. A disgruntled former employee in a jealous rage, trying to knock off the horns planted on his head by a sneaky, underhanded ex-boss. And he's going for a new American record!
CROWD (in bleachers, behind Howard): U! S! A! - U! S! A! - U! S! A!
FRANK: Howard, it looks like the shooting has already begun! (Bullet hits glass, and a circular crack appears.) I'm glad we're up here in the booth, behind this bulletproof glass, Jim.
JIM: I think that was just a ricochet, off the cigarette case of Billie Bob's ex-supervisor.
FRANK: That weasel is back in town?
JIM: Yep, we offered him an all-expense-paid weekend with hookers and crack, so he flew up from Houston on Friday night. He's the first one down, and he's bleeding profusely. The Guinness verification team is examining him now...
FRANK: Oh, no! The Guinness team members are shaking their heads. Billie Bob's first victim is not dead! He's *not* dead, folks! Billie Bob is off to a rough start, here in Bumwash, Texas.
JIM: But it looks as though he's beginning to settle down, Frank. Billie Bob just walked back and squeezed off a couple of rounds into his ex-supervisor's head, at point-blank range. And the Guinness folks... yes, they're giving the thumbs-up, Frank! Billie Bob's mass shooting is starting to pick up steam. And now he's aiming at the windows of the local church, firing off 400 rounds a minute... but wait!
FRANK: Yes, somebody called the cops, Jim, and you can see their lights flashing, off in the distance. But before this goes any further, we should probably explain the bar chart overlay that appears on the viewer's screen. The first rectangular bar shows the population of Bumwash, Texas, and the percentage of its residents that Billie Bob has wasted. A big chunk of the town was at church tonight, so we're starting to see significant results there. The second rectangular bar shows the American record set in Las Vegas earlier this year, and you can see that Billie Bob is very close to regaining the title for the Lone Star State...
JIM: Let me interrupt you, Frank. We have a shocking development in this active shooter scenario. It seems the church choir brought *their* AR-15s to the service tonight, and they're shooting back at Billie Bob...
FRANK: ...and Billie Bob is down, folks! Despite his body armor and flak jacket, Billie Bob has sustained several wounds from the church choir. Those sopranos are surprisingly good shooters...
JIM: ...and why not, Frank? They've got a name and a reputation to live up to. Billie Bob is on the ground, and he's dragging himself, hand over hand, to a nearby car. What's he looking for?
FRANK (using binoculars): I can't quite see... oh, wait. The car door is opening, and a hand reaches out, and Billie Bob...
FRANK/JIM (in unison): ...tags the hand!
JIM: ,,,just as he takes his final breath! What a surprise, Frank! We've got a whole new ball game. I certainly didn't see that coming. Billie Bob had a tag-team accomplice... and it's a woman! And what a shooter she is. She's wiped out the entire church choir, and... can we call it, Frank?
FRANK: Yes! The Guinness team has officially certified that the American record is back in Texas! This is now the largest mass shooting in U.S. history! What a night!
CROWD (in bleachers outside booth, some wounded, some dead): U! S! A! - U! S! A! - U! S! A!
JIM: And I notice that Billie Bob's female accomplice is wearing a hijab head scarf, so that means this is also an act of...
FRANK/JIM (in unison): ...terrorism!
FRANK: What a night! What a memorable night! And with that, we'll throw it back to you, in the studio.
As we cut away, we see the broadcast booth, with a gaudy flashing neon sign: "THOUGHTS & PRAYERS!"
How do I force Facebook's News Feed to show "most recent stories" instead of "top stories"?
Simply create a bookmark on this URL:
How do I access Facebook's computer desktop interface from the mobile interface?
Just open your browser and enter this URL:
Don't forget to add the 'www' in front of 'facebook'...
How do I get the date I joined Facebook to show up on my Timeline?
In the computer desktop interface, click the "Edit Profile" button on your Cover Photo, scroll down to the "Joined Facebook" section, click the checkbox, and click the Save button. The date will show up inside the Intro section, to the left of your Timeline.
In the cell phone interface, go to your Timeline (Cover Photo + Profile Picture at top) by clicking the 3 horizontal lines in the lower right, click your name, click Edit Profile, scroll down to Details, click Edit Details, scroll down to the JOINED FACEBOOK area at the bottom, click the checkbox (or uncheck and check), and click SAVE.
Doesn't seem to work in the iPad interface - watch for updates.
Facebook monthly users: 2004=1m, 2005=6m, 2006=12m, 2007=58m, 2008=145m, 2009=360m, 2010=608m, 2011=845m, 2012=1056m, 2013=1.23b, 2014=1.44b, 2015=1.59b, 2016=1.86b, 2017/6=2.01b. World population: 7.5b. FB/WP: 26.8%.
Donald Trump = Vlad the Impaler?
Was Vlad the Impaler the Donald Trump of his era? Some observers have noticed the uncanny similarities between these two men. In the following excerpts from the eBook linked below, you may compare and contrast the two leaders in three areas: Healthcare/Homelessness, Foreign Emissaries, and Women's Issues. [Warning: violent.]
>>Healthcare/Homelessness. We all know that Trump is firmly committed to strengthening the safety net that protects the most vulnerable members of our society. And Vlad had that same level of commitment.
EXT. TÎRGOVISTE DINING HALL - NIGHT
Vlad stops outside the hall and confers with DRAGOMIR, the Captain of his guards:
VLAD: You have gathered together all the cripples, the poor, the sick, the vagrants and beggars of this land?
DRAGOMIR: Yes, Voivode. They're quite a smelly crowd, but they seem to be having a good time. It's lasted all day, and half the night.
Vlad nods, and walks inside the hall. Hundreds of wretched PEOPLE are enjoying a sumptuous feast. They stuff themselves with huge plates of food, and drink jugs of wine until they can drink no more. Things are getting pretty ROWDY, but everyone quiets down at the sight of Vlad.
VLAD: No one should go hungry in my land! What else do you need? Do you all want to be without cares... would you like to be poor no more?
VLAD: Then it shall be done!
He walks out and addresses his Captain:
VLAD: Dragomir, all my subjects should work, and contribute to the common welfare. Let's make sure these parasites will present no further burden to others.
Dragomir nods, and signals to his MEN. They NAIL planks over the doors and windows, and set fire to the hall.
VLAD (continuing): Remember: no survivors.
Dragomir salutes, as Vlad walks away. The people inside the burning building begin to SCREAM.
>>Foreign Emissaries. In Trump's international interactions, he represents America in a mature and dignified manner. Vlad's dignity was also unparalleled.
INT. TÎRGOVISTE COURT - EVENING
GURAY and FARUK, two Turkish ambassadors, are the guests of honor at Vlad's court. The celebration banquet has attracted a huge CROWD of the Boyar noble class. VLAD beckons ONE OF HIS COURTIERS, and the two men step out into a hallway.
VLAD: Why are the Turks still wearing those stupid turbans? Weren't they told they're required to remove their head coverings in the presence of the Voivode?
COURTIER: Yes, sir. But they *did* bow in front of you. They say they're not allowed to remove the turbans. This is their custom.
VLAD: Is that so?
COURTIER: They say they never remove them, even for the Sultan.
VLAD: Is that so?
COURTIER: Yes, they wear those turbans *all* the time.
VLAD: Is that so?! Hm.
Vlad WHISPERS to the courtier, who immediately runs down the hallway. Vlad returns inside to the banquet, smiles and lifts his wine glass to Faruk and Guray. The Boyars also lift their glasses.
VLAD: To the Sultan's ambassadors!
BOYARS: To the Sultan's ambassadors!
VLAD: I understand it is your custom to wear those turbans all the time.
Guray looks quizzically at Faruk, then shrugs.
GURAY: That's true, Voivode.
VLAD: Well then, I want to help make sure they'll never fall off by accident.
Vlad's GUARDS move in behind the ambassadors and hold them still, while the turbans are NAILED to their heads.
>>Women's Issues. Donald Trump obviously holds women in the highest esteem. Vlad also treated women with the utmost respect.
INT. TÎRGOVISTE PALACE - DAY
Many PEOPLE move in and out of this large hall, where Vlad sits on his throne. One MAN kneels in front of him.
VLAD: Okay, you'll be sitting on a stake later this afternoon. Next!
The man is dragged away, pleading and CRYING. Dragomir hauls a WOMAN in front of Vlad, and forces her to kneel.
VLAD (continuing): Dragomir, I'm getting bored. This one had better be good.
DRAGOMIR: Voivode, she was unfaithful to her husband.
VLAD: Infidelity, eh? We haven't seen a case like this all week. (pause) Let's see, let's see. How can we discipline her?
WOMAN: But sir, I am innocent!
VLAD: Innocent? Innocent?!
Vlad and Dragomir share a hearty LAUGH.
VLAD: A wife is just a whore who's waiting for the right opportunity.
VLAD: No more buts. You've wrapped your legs around too many butts already. Dragomir, did I ever tell you about peeling the skin off the bottom of that thief's foot?
DRAGOMIR: How could I forget?!
VLAD: Yes, it was a classic, wasn't it? But I've always had nagging doubts about that punishment.
DRAGOMIR: Doubts, sir?
VLAD: Lately I've been wondering if we should've taken it further.
EXT. STREET NEAR THE PALACE - 1 HOUR LATER
A CROWD has gathered, and they're all staring up at the unfaithful woman, who is, of course, SCREAMING. Vlad and Dragomir stand in the crowd's front row.
VLAD (continuing): She wanted to spend time with men other than her husband, and she wanted to get naked in front of them. So who am I to deny her wishes?
The Woman is tied to a tall post. Her skin has been removed, and it's nailed to the post above her, flapping in the wind.
FREE EBOOK - Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul
Patti Smith on how she copes with death.
"I have lost many people now in my life, and I know, because I've been through it so many times - friends, loved ones, my brother, my husband, my parents, that I know with each time that we're all going to have this moment - it's part of the human package, it's part of the privilege of being human, is that we have our moment when we have to say goodbye. It's nothing personal, we just all have to pass through it and I've just learned that all of these people that we lose, and this is what I mean by experience, they're all within us. They become part of our DNA. They become part of our blood."
Nobel performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=941PHEJHCwU
Draft obit... is here!
75 Years of Chelmsford High School yearbooks in searchable PDF format!
"The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living."
--Marcus Tullius Cicero (03 Jan, 106 BC - 07 Dec, 43 BC; Age 63)
Class of 1969, Chelmsford High School, Mass., In Memoriam
Class of 1969, Westfield High School, Mass., In Memoriam
Class of 1968, Westfield High School, Mass., In Memoriam
Class of 1970, Westfield High School, Mass., In Memoriam
Class of 1971, Westfield High School, Mass., In Memoriam
Find A Grave profile
A man walks into a bar...
...and sees a sign: "Free Beer For Life If You Can Pass Our Test!"
He asks the bartender, "What's this 'test'?"
The bartender says, "First, you chug a gallon of pepper tequila. Next, you go out back and pull the sore tooth out of our alligator's jaw. Finally, there's a girl upstairs who's never slept with a man, and you gotta make things right with her."
The man exclaims, "That's a piece of cake! Alright, let's do this." The bartender hands him a gallon of pepper tequila, and the man struggles to chug it. He manages to finish, and he slams the bottle on the counter, but he's teary-eyed and nearly fainting. The bartender warily points him in the direction of the alligator.
After several minutes of screaming and growling and ungodly ruckus, the man stumbles back in. His shirt is torn, and he's bleeding profusely. He can barely stand up, but he aims a glassy stare at the bartender and says, "OK, where's the girl with the sore tooth?"
Let's finish the tax season with an old joke.
Grandpa receives a notice that he's going to be audited, and he's summoned into the IRS office. The auditor is not surprised when Grandpa shows up with his attorney.
The auditor says, "Well, sir, you have an extravagant lifestyle and no full-time employment, Which you explain by saying that you win money gambling. I'm not sure the IRS finds that believable."
"I'm a great gambler, and I can prove it," replies Grandpa. "How about a demonstration?"
The auditor thinks for a moment and says, "Okay. Go ahead."
Grandpa says, "I'll bet you a thousand dollars that I can bite my own eye."
The auditor thinks a moment and says, "It's a bet."
Grandpa removes his glass eye and bites it. The auditor's jaw drops.
Grandpa says, "Now, I'll bet you two thousand dollars that I can bite my other eye."
Now the auditor can tell Grandpa isn't blind, so he takes the bet. Grandpa removes his dentures and bites his good eye.
The stunned auditor now realizes that he has wagered and lost three grand, with Grandpa's attorney as a witness. He starts to get nervous.
"Want to go double or nothing?" Grandpa asks. "I'll bet you six thousand dollars that I can stand on one side of your desk, and pee into that wastebasket on the other side, and never get a drop anywhere in between."
The auditor has lost twice and he's cautious now, but he looks carefully and decides there's no way this old guy could possibly manage that stunt, so he agrees again.
Grandpa stands beside the desk and unzips his pants, but although he strains mightily, he can't make the stream reach the wastebasket on the other side, so he ends up urinating all over the auditor's desk.
The auditor leaps with joy, realizing that he has just turned a major loss into a huge win. But Grandpa's own attorney moans and puts his head in his hands.
"Are you okay?" the auditor asks.
"Not really," says the attorney. "This morning, when Grandpa told me he'd been called in for an audit, he bet me twenty-five thousand dollars that he could come in here and piss all over your desk and that you'd be happy about it!"
Medicare Part G.
In case you have become an older senior citizen who can no longer take care of yourself - and the government says there is no nursing home care available for you - you may then opt for Medicare Part G. The plan gives anyone 75 or older one gun (Part G) and one bullet. You are allowed to shoot one worthless politician. This means you will be sent to prison for the rest of your life, where you will receive three meals a day, a roof over your head, central heating and air conditioning, cable TV, a library, and all the health care you need. Need new teeth? No problem. Need glasses? That's great. Need a hearing aid, new hip, knees, kidney, lungs, heart or sex change? They are all covered! As a bonus, your kids can come to visit you at least as often as they do now! And, who will be paying for all of this? The same government that just told you they can't afford for you to go into a nursing home. And you will have gotten rid of a useless politician while you are at it. And now, because you are a prisoner, you don't have to pay any more income taxes! Is this a great country or what? Now that you have solved your senior financial plan, enjoy the rest of your week!
The end of Depth Gauge.
From Waterworld (1995):
Depth Gauge (William Preston): Your Deaconship? [He's paddling a small boat around the oil in the ship's fuel hold, a dark and depressing job.] Hello! Good morning. Or night. Whichever the case may be...
Deacon (Dennis Hopper): What is it? I'm a busy man.
Depth Gauge: I thought you should know. We're down to exactly four feet, nine inches of black stuff... [Deacon spits on his head.] Thank you, sir!
[Later, up on the ship's deck.]
Mariner (Kevin Costner): I want the girl. That's all.
Deacon: Well, what on this screwed-up earth of ours makes you think you're gonna get her? [Mariner takes a flare from his belt, and holds it over a hole leading down to the ship's fuel hold.]
Mariner: You know what this is. I drop it, you burn.
Doctor (John Fleck): We all burn.
Deacon: Now-now-now, let's not do anything rash here. I mean, are you sure this kid is worth it? I mean, she never does stop talking, she never shuts up!
Mariner: I noticed.
Deacon: So what is it, then? It's the map.
Mariner: She's my friend.
Deacon: Golly gee, a single tear rolls down my cheek. You're gonna die for your friend.
Mariner: If it comes to that. [He ignites the flare, and holds it over the hole again.]
Nord (Gerard Murphy): He's bluffing! I'll kill him.
Enola (Tina Majorino): He's not bluffing, he never bluffs.
Deacon: SHUT UP! [to Mariner] I-I-I-I-you know, I don't think you're gonna drop that torch, my friend.
Mariner: Why not?
Deacon: Because you're not crazy. [Mariner smiles, lifts his hand, and drops the flare down the hole.] NO-O-O-O-O!
[Down below, paddling around in the oil, Depth Gauge sees the lit flare falling from above - it's an end to his miserable existence.]
Depth Gauge: Oh, thank God! [KABOOM]
Naked Chicken For Orally-Fixated Perverts.
In the newsroom, we have three monitors at each workstation. Two screens are for computer work, and the third is a TV, so we can keep track of the news channels. The TVs are all muted, to keep us from going crazy with the din. So I've been watching this Taco Bell ad with no sound, from the corner of my eye, ever since the company introduced its "Naked Chicken Chalupa" about five weeks ago. When you can't hear the words, the meaning seems abundantly clear - at least to a pervert like me - supercool Fifties guy is cruising in his convertible with his cute cheerleader girlfriend, when he glances down at his crotch and waggles his eyebrows at his female companion. Then he hands her a piece of food, obviously urging her to "eat it." She's upset for some reason - maybe she's never heard these words from a guy before? But he flashes her a smarmy smile, which induces her to give in, get busy, and do exactly what he wants. At this point, the ad seems to suggest that we've flashed forward twenty years, and the couple has raised another generation of chicken-eating perverts.
I heartily enjoyed this twisted little imaginary scenario, and the incessant barrage of ads finally had its intended effect: I headed over to the nearest Taco Bell today... only to find that THEY HAVE REMOVED THE NAKED CHICKEN CHALUPA FROM THEIR MENU.
Bastards. It's enough to give a guy blueballs.
WILLIE: 57 years I'm in this business, you learn a few things. You know what makes an audience laugh. Do you know which words are funny and which words are NOT funny?
BEN: You told me a hundred times, Uncle Willie. Words with a 'K' in it are funny.
WILLIE: Words with a 'K' in it are funny. You didn't know that, did you? If it doesn't have a 'K' it's not funny... I'll tell you which words always get a laugh. (About to count on fingers.)
WILLIE: Chicken is funny.
WILLIE: Pickle is funny.
BEN: Cup cake
WILLIE: Cup cake is funny... Tomato is NOT funny. Roast beef is NOT funny.
BEN: But cookie is funny.
WILLIE: But cookie is funny.
BEN: Uncle Willie, you've explained that to me ever since I was a little boy.
WILLIE: Cucumber is funny.
BEN: (Falling in again.) Car keys.
WILLIE: Car keys is funny.
WILLIE: Cleveland is funny... Maryland is NOT funny.
--The Sunshine Boys, by Neil Simon
Are You A Gleeker?
So, I'm in the dentist chair this afternoon, flat on my back, and the doc is doing some minor oral surgery. Drill, drill, drill, scrape, scrape, scrape, laser, laser, laser. Eventually, he takes a short break, leaving my mouth propped open. I try to swallow, and a huge geyser of saliva involuntarily sprays about three inches high above my face, falling back to soak everything from my eyebrows to my chin. The doc and his assistant are trying hard not to notice or comment, but it's obvious that a disturbing event has occurred. I've experienced this phenomenon before, but the squirts were always tiny, and they dropped back into my mouth immediately.
So after the doc takes out the rubber chew toy that's been propping my mouth open, I decide to broach the subject delicately: "What the hell just happened? Am I the only one who does this? I nearly drowned!"
They both laugh and say that it's called "gleeking," and a lot of patients do it. The assistant says she sometimes does it involuntarily, while talking to people. Gleeker Extraordinaire. She also claims to have friends who do it at parties, to entertain the crowd. Gleeker Showoffs. She's a veritable fount of knowledge. So to speak.
Evidently, gleeking occurs spontaneously when saliva that has accumulated in the submandibular gland is propelled out in a stream after the gland is compressed accidentally by the tongue.
Wikipedia says 35% of people can gleek, but fewer than 1% of the population can gleek on command. Do you gleek?
I AM NOT PART OF THE CROWDSOURCE, I AM A FREE MAN!
Selected Vlad reviews.
Here are 6 of the 19 Amazon reviews of Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul:
>>I'm an Order Of the Dragon enthusiast... This has absolutely shut my eyes to my love for the notorious impaler. Ugh. Terrifying. I've read some scary stuff but wow, this was almost like an authentic "interview with the vampire" great horror\history read.
>>I loved this book! It was as grotesque as I expected it to be, yet oddly humorous at times. How he can be a hero to some is beyond me. Yep, I'd recommend this story and author.
>>It's a little unusual. It's seems to be a dark comedy screenplay treatment of Vlad Tepes life and times complete with screen direction. It's not a great primary source for understanding the historical Dracula. But it's an enjoyable read if you are already acquainted with the historical Dracula and are just in the mood for some light reading. It sticks with the German perspective, where Dracula is a villainous monster, but I found myself laughing out loud (perhaps inappropriately) as Vlad dishes out his own twisted brand of justice with his henchman Dragomir.
>>Well researched and informative! Learned a lot of facts from this book than by reading online articles about this epic prince!
>>It's almost like National Lampoon's humor but very graphic. Very funny at times.
>>Before traveling to Transylvania, this was a helpful read to understand the mythology of Vlad. Our guides affirmed the correctness of this book.
Writing graphic transgressive violence.
I was very sick while writing the screenplay "Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul." I had a life-threatening illness and needed to carry an adrenaline syringe, so that I wouldn't die from anaphylactic shock before reaching an emergency room. My chances of surviving this ailment were very slim, and as a result, I was deeply depressed and suicidal. The doc gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant, but I stopped taking it when I read one of the listed side effects: "may cause depression." I sh*t you not.
Such was my state of mind during the creative process. Living and dying were more or less equal to me, so writing about the terrible injuries that Vlad inflicted on his victims was right in my wheelhouse. Death, destruction and unimaginable horror became perversely funny, and the dialogue reflects that change in consciousness. Pitch-black humor was the order of the day. I discovered that when one's internal meter of the meaning of "normal" gets pushed so close to the redline of death, empathy goes right out the window.
So the script may or may not be a glimpse into the motives of a 15th-century mass-murderer, but it certainly offers a peek into the mind of a 21st-century screenwriter who's face-to-face with his own mortality.
I was pleasantly surprised when the illness eventually eased its grip, but I'm thoroughly convinced that going through the near-death experience was necessary to unlock Vlad's secrets.
I need a well-connected producer...
Quentin Tarantino, A Band Apart, Zack Snyder, Cruel and Unusual Films, Robert Rodriguez, Troublemaker Studios, Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Roman Coppola, Gia Coppola, American Zoetrope, Brad Pitt, Plan B Entertainment, Summit Entertainment, Charlie Hunnam, Sons of Anarchy, James Gray, Scott Kosar, Anthony Mandler, Dracula Untold, Dracula: Year Zero, Alex Proyas, Sam Worthington, Paul Verhoeven, Verhoeven Productions
...for my script-written-in-the-form-of-a-book (or perhaps vice-versa), Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul. It's been at or near the top of an Amazon Best Seller list for almost a year, and I recently did a YouTube interview about it that's getting 2,000 views per week. If you know A-list horror directors like Quentin Tarantino, Zack Snyder, Robert Rodriguez, Francis Coppola, Paul Verhoeven or their agents, please eMail me at HotTip [at] Gmail.com (replace [at] with @).
Links and video posted here: http://9TimeZones.com/vladti.htm
Interview - Vlad the Impaler: Son of Dracul.
Later additions - podcast versions: iHeart + iTunes + Stitcher + TuneIn.
Benches for oldsters.
Dear National Forest Service:
Why were the benches removed from the trails at Lost Dutchman State Park? I contacted park officials, and they said you had jurisdiction over their trail benches...
Many thanks - ACB
>>Dear Mr. Baird
The Tonto National Forest asked Lost Dutchman State Park to remove the wooden benches that are along the trails on National Forest System land for several reasons:
1) We received complaints from the public that the benches were in poor condition, and giving them splinters,
2) The Forest Service is not able to maintain the benches, and
3) The benches were out of character for the designated Semi-Primitive area. Per Forest Service guidelines, Semi-Primitive areas are characterized by a predominantly natural or natural appearing environment. Any constructed features shall be primarily for site protection. Because the metal benches are also out of character for this area, the Forest Service will be working with Lost Dutchman State Park to relocate these benches to other areas of the State Park.
Sincerely - NFS
>>Dear National Forest Service:
Now that the benches are gone, old people like me won't be able to hike the trails. Those benches were lifesavers, and they were well worth putting up with a few splinters in my butt.
Yours truly - ACB
L'esprit de l'escalator.
I used to live about a half-block away from a shopping mall. The mall was smack-dab between me and the nearest post office, so on Saturdays, I would often walk the mile or so through the mall to check my PO box. About halfway through the mall, there was a fancy escalator with plexiglas sides and a narrow metal ledge that ran from the first floor up to the second. That ledge was a magnet for kids. They loved to stand on the smooth metal, while holding onto the moving rubberized handrails. They would let the handrails drag them up a few feet on the outside of the escalator, before jumping off. Most of them didn't dare to hold on all the way up to the second floor, because that's where the ledge and rubberized handrails stopped. If you didn't execute a quick vault over the handrail to the moving stairway inside, the escalator would peel you off and send you plummeting to the marble floor, thirty feet below.
I knew it was a potential death-trap, and I was surprised that the mall didn't redesign it, to include some basic safety features. There was a small warning sticker, but kids don't pay any attention to warning stickers.
So one Saturday morning, I was walking through the mall on my way to the PO box when I saw a little boy, about three or four, playing on the outside of the escalator. He stood on the metal ledge, and let the rubberized handrail drag him up a few feet, then loosened his grip and slid back down to safety. He did it several times, with no problem. But as I neared the escalator, I could see there was something terribly wrong with his latest attempt, even though he was facing away from me. He was getting too far up, outside his comfort zone, and he panicked, grabbing tightly onto the handrail when he should have been loosening his grip. He certainly wasn't old enough to execute the quick vault at the top of the moving stairway that would save him from a thirty-foot fall onto the marble below.
I didn't even break stride. It was as if my walk through the mall had been precisely timed, so that I could reach up seven or eight feet, grab the back of his belt, yell "Let go," and haul him back down to safety. His parents, standing about thirty feet away, gave me a strange look, but I just kept walking.
I'm no hero. I'm sure if you had been there, you would have done the exact same thing. But I suspect the parents never did figure out what a close call that really was.
I just returned from northern Arizona, where I learned three new things:
1) Never turn your back on a herd of deer - they'll untie your shoes and leave the laces covered in deer spit.
2) If you put your head over the Wupatki Blowhole on a scorching day, be prepared for an icy blast of air from Yaponcha, the wind god.
3) Do not try to keep up with a 5-year-old and an 11-year-old.
They generate 1.21 jigawatts of energy.