Friday, July 30, 2010

Action, Adventure, and Logarithmic Curve of Cauliflower

The owner of S. Parks Computers, Stan, and his brother Xul think they've got a really good idea this time. Stan told me that they'd learned from their attempt to interest Baum Media Productions in "Dino Side Story." First, he told me, musicals probably wouldn't enjoy a revival any time soon. Second, he thinks they have a better chance, working with an existing series of stories.

They've gotten the comic book rights to Galaxy Cadet, heroine of Baum's animated films.

They're taking Galaxy Cadet out of the academy, and promoting her to ensign: a logical choice, considering the remarkably long time that she's been a cadet. How, or whether, they'll call their comics "Galaxy Cadet," when the central character has moved on wasn't clear to me.

What I'm even less certain of is how Xul Parks will fare as a cartoonist. There's no question that he's talented: a gifted artist. But an action-adventure comic is: well, it's not even close to anything I've seen him do.

Stan explained that he and Xul would be collaborating on the artwork, since Stan has worked on the two most recent Galaxy Cadet films. They plan, I'm told, to have Xul provide much of the inspiration for story lines and new characters.

That should be quite interesting. Xul says he developed his style partly by studying the Mike Wallace interview of the late Salvador Dali. And Dali's artwork, like "The Persistence of Memory."

I think Stan and Xul's Galaxy Cadet comic will be memorable.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Crime Wave! Well, It Could be Worse

Several computers, television sets, and a video game set were stolen from three homes on the north side of Loonfoot Lake this week. You've probably read about it already, on the front page.

It's cold comfort to the folks whose property was stolen: but that sort of thing isn't all that common around here.

Loonfoot Falls isn't a crime-free zone. Each week the "Police Blotter" column records some number of traffic stops, loud parties, or other disturbances of the peace. But the theft of property totaling well into four figures is unusual.

What's really embarrassing is that the victims were folks who live in Loonfoot Falls on weekends, but have places in the Cities for weekday living. Which helps explains why it took a while for someone to notice the thefts. The weekend retreats being secluded didn't help either, I think. Still, I feel like we let neighbors down.

That crime cluster reminded me of something I ran across, about five years ago, about crime in rural America. The article made it sound like folks who took vacations in rural America were visiting a hotbed of crime. After a little checking, it turns out that the (comparatively) high-crime areas were around ski resorts.

A little more digging, and I found out that rural areas have less crime because we've got fewer people. No surprise there. Then, there's the per capita crime rate. Back in the mid-nineties, it was lower out here: less than half what it was in metropolitan areas.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time

Clearing brush from that boggy patch behind my friend's place seemed like a good idea at the time. He isn't one of those fussy property owners, who won't rest until their place looks like it came from a cover of one of those 'House Wonderful' magazines.

On the other hand, he figured that he'd mind the smell less, when the wind was from that direction, if the dark, dank, green growths started a bit farther back from the house.

So, last Friday I pulled in the driveway of a place that's between the Twin Cities and Duluth, more or less. This column will be a bit vague about names and locations, by request.

I figured I'd lend a hand until one or the other of us figured we'd done a day's work. The idea was that I'd spend Saturday and Sunday fishing around a lake about an hour's drive from there.

We made good progress, hacking our way through everything from some kind of low-growing vine to a stand of smallish trees or shrubs. Most of them were a bit taller than I am, with smooth gray bark. The leaves were pretty, with red stems.

I was ready to quit by sunset, but we kept going until we had a hard time seeing the trees.

Then, around midnight, my hands and arms started itching.

Those trees were poison sumac.

I'm okay, and so is my friend: but I'm still typing with very thick, soft gloves on.

More about poison sumac.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gone Fishing

Thanks for stopping by.

Ed Brunsvold is on vacation, but he'll be back with another column next Friday.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pair-A-Dice Lost

There's more to Fourth of July celebrations here in Minnesota than just fireworks.

There are flags displayed in front yards, grills set up for traditional cookouts, and mosquitoes. Lots of mosquitoes. The little bloodsuckers aren't good fliers, so the windy weather we had this week keeps them grounded. Except in sheltered spots.

I spent a Fourth of July weekend with friends at a place like that once, a few years back. It was a little patch of water and weeds that might be called a lake in dryer states.

We were staying at a secluded place someone had called "Pair-A-Dice." The owner had set a couple of concrete cubes at the end of the drive. One had five indentations on all five of its visible faces, the other had two on each.

We'd have had more fun, I think, if there had been some wind. Any wind. A light breeze would have helped.

It wasn't particularly hot, maybe 85, but it was humid. Thick. Near-ideal flying conditions for mosquitoes. By late afternoon we'd gone through our supply of insect repellant, and the mosquitoes were closing in.

Someone - we couldn't decide, later, whose bright idea it was - said that mosquitoes don't like smoke. So we should build a fire, and put wet wood on it. The smoke discouraged the mosquitoes: but it wasn't doing us any good, either. With a couple hours left before sunset, eyes bloodshot and skin itching, we conceded defeat and surrendered Pair-A-Dice to the mosquitoes.
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