Hey Lord Summerisle...Umm, What's Up With The Dress?

    The Wicker Man (the original one) is a good interesting movie. It's not a "horror" movie per se, but an unusual mix of suspense, eeriness, comedy, quirkiness, and mystery. I know it may not necessarily be everyone's cup of tea, but I like it. There where a few "WTF?" moments in there, but this is my favorite:
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    The purpose of all the villagers in their costumes is explained, but...Lord Summerisle in a purple dress? Do I keep missing something? What was that conversation like behind the scenes? "Okay Christopher, now, let's have you put on a mustard yellow shirt and women's wig, throw on that purple dress over there, and go dance around at the head of the ceremonial procession, okay?" "Hmm, *shrug* sure, why not?" LMAO

Because one picture just isn't enough:
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Here is one man who is completely secure in his masculinity. You go man!

Oh My Dog!

     It's been really hot around here lately, we tied a record for number of consecutive days with triple digit temps. My dog, Stitch (so named because of his striking behavioral similarities to the character of the same name in the animated Disney movie "Lilo and Stitch"), enjoys spending some time sitting outside on the (enclosed) front patio when he can. But lately, it's just been way too hot to let him out there during the day. So on Sunday afternoon, when some cloud cover cooled things down just a bit, I thought to let Stitch out for a bit of fresh air. As soon as I let him out, he made a beeline for some old dried leaves that where on the ground near the gate, and proceeded to chomp them down. Stitch is weird, he loves eating leaves, but not just any kind. He prefers the dry crunchy ones that have been on the ground a while, and he won't eat certain types. For instance, he loves the cat's claw leaves, but won't touch the leaves that come off the olive tree. He was really sucking these leaves down. So, thinking he was hungry, I made him come in so I could feed him before letting him back out. But when I checked, his bowl was full of food. I pointed this out to him, but he wasn't interested, and kept insisting he wanted to go back out again. The leaves that he had been eating had come from a plant that grows just outside the patio, I had trimmed it a bit and left the clippings on the patio so I could take them out to the garbage later. I knew he was going to go back over there and start scarfing these leaves down if I let him out again, so I thought I'd just check first to make sure they weren't toxic. The plant in question is called a "lantana", and is very common around here, being very hardy and drought resistant, able to grow in full sun with hardly any water. It's also very invasive and difficult to get rid of, though the flowers are pretty. There used to be some lantana growing inside the patio as well, it had forced itself up through cracks in the cement, and had thrived for years before we finally managed to get rid of it. So Stitch had eaten lantana leaves many times before and I'd never really thought anything of it. Imagine my surprise when I found lantana on the list of plants that are toxic.

    Most of the information I found related to lantana "berries", which are very toxic when green in particular. But the leaves where also mentioned on several sites as being toxic as well. Lantana is said to be hepatotoxic, able to cause liver failure and death in children and animals. The toxic dose for an animal is considered 1% or greater of its body weight, so a medium or large sized dog in particular would have to eat quite a lot of lantana leaves before consuming a toxic dose. Lantana has a pungent smell when touched/rubbed/crushed, usually likened to the smell of stale cat urine (which is pretty accurate IMO), so it's often said that dogs wouldn't be interested in eating them. They also have a lot of little sharp hairs or fine thorns on their stems, and can give you some pretty irritating scratches. So it isn't the type of plant you'd want to dive into, or eat for that matter. Interestingly, I found several other people who say their dogs where attracted to and had eaten lantana leaves without any problems, as well as a few who said their dogs would throw up after eating the leaves.

    I was kind of freaked out that my dog had eaten something listed as being toxic, but on the other hand, he had only eaten about a handful of the leaves before I stopped him, and had eaten them on numerous other occasions in the past and showed no symptoms. Symptoms of lantana poisoning are supposed to include GI upset, photosensitivity, and lethargy. So, I decided to just keep a close eye on him, dispose of all the lantana leaves on the patio, and clip the plant back away from the gate. It's now been more than 4 days, and there's been no change in him, so I think he's in the clear, luckily. So lantana leaves probably aren't harmful in small amounts, but I'll be more careful from now on to keep them off the patio. I figure, why take a chance?

      I love my dog to pieces, he's very sweet, intuitive, and intelligent. But sometimes, he can be a real doofus. When he was a puppy, about 4 or 5 months old, I caught him licking an electrical socket one day. He wasn't hurt, luckily, but I nearly pissed myself when I came into the room and saw that. I grabbed him, stuck him in the car, and made an immediate trip up to the drug store for a package of those childproof plastic electrical socket plug cover things. Of course, I don't think I can blame him too much. After all, my list of "really stupid things I've done" is considerably longer than his.

Mama's little angel dingbat:
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The lantana bush growing right outside the patio:
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A closer view of the lantana's flowers:
Those little green balls are the unripe lantana berries, which are supposed to be really toxic, but recent studies appear to show that most cases of ingestion by children result in only very mild symptoms or none at all. Some people do eat the ripe berries though, and claim that they are perfectly safe.
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   We love zombies in Tucson. Very much. I recently heard about a new thing they have going on at "The Slaughterhouse", which is an "extreme haunted house" type attraction inside what used to be an old meat packing plant. Sounds appropriate, doesn't it? The old Farmer John's meat packing plant shut down in 2001 (opened in 1952 I think), and has been a bit of a Tucson landmark because of the old west themed murals painted on the building and surrounding walls. The building sat abandoned and disused for a time, until it was purchased as the perfect place to make a zombie-themed haunted house type attraction. It really is a great place for it, given it's previous use. Plus, for a long time, "actual" paranormal activity has been known to occur in the building/area. So that adds to the creep factor of the place, and it was plenty creepy before it was "The Slaughterhouse". A lot of the proceeds from "The Slaughterhouse" go to local schools and charities, so you can get your zombie on for a good cause.

  So now they have "Apocalypse: A Zombie Kill Experience". It's still new, and it sounds like there are some kinks to work out and improvements to make, but it sounds like a hell of a good time.

Gimme a zombie killin' laser gun, I'm in!

Oh, and I can't forget Tucson's annual "Zombie Walk", which takes place every October and benefits the local food bank. I totally want to go this year.

Fireworks Are Made Of Hot Stuff

I was hoping to have some pics of the 4th of July fireworks, but it didn't pan out. We ended up going to the Fireworks show in Marana this time, as it seemed the best option. Last time we went into downtown Tucson to catch the traditional "A mountain" fireworks, but meh, you can't get close enough to A mountain for one thing, they block the area off. The closest area downtown just isn't close enough, and of course, there's all the traffic and trying to find parking to deal with. I did get some pics of the fireworks, but they turned out pretty crappy and blurry. Then after the show was over and we were walking along in the big crowd of people leaving, I had a very close call when I tripped over a big row of tire spikes and fell, very nearly hitting my head and impaling myself on said spikes. I'd like to know who thought it was a good idea to leave all these tire spikes up instead of retracting them into their ground slots that evening as they should have done, knowing there were going to be large crowds of people walking through the area in the dark. These spikes are very difficult to see (especially when walking in the midst of a crowd), they blend in to the color of the black concrete, and the area is very dark. I'm lucky in that I was able to react quickly when I realized I was about to eat pavement, aiming my weight away from the spikes and tucked into a roll as I landed (I learned how to fall as a kid, and luckily still remember that stuff). So I was unhurt except for my dignity (however much I had to begin with) and a little scrape or two, but it could have been pretty bad had I landed on those spikes, and even worse had I been an elderly person or very young child. So, if you happen to own a property that has a parking lot containing tire spikes/shredders, and there is going to be some sort of event in the area after sundown, retract the damn things, or at the very least block them off so that people won't trip over them.

So anyway, this year we drove up to Marana for the "Star Spangled Spectacular" and had a pretty good vantage point at Silverbell Park, which is right across the wash (Santa Cruise "river") from where they where shooting the fireworks off. I brought along my cheapo digital camera and my Samsung Galaxy player thing (which has a camera on it), but unfortunately, I neglected to check either before leaving. The batteries in the digital cameras where dead, and my Samsung Galaxy didn't have any space left on it. So I didn't end up with any pictures this time. They did put on a good fireworks show though, and the park was a great place to view them. About 10 minutes or so into the show, I saw some smoke and flames that appeared to be coming from the large wash between where the fireworks were being shot off and us in the park. I had noticed some embers from the fireworks that appeared to remain burning hot as they fell down, and wondered about it. Apparently, some of these must have landed in the dry brush down in that wash, causing a fire, which grew quite rapidly. Within a couple minutes, the flames where quite large and you could hear roaring and crackling noises coming from them. There were thick clouds of smoke billowing up, although a slight breeze blew the smoke south along the wash and kept it out of the park area, luckily. While the flames stuck to the wash and didn't endanger any people or structures, it was an eerie site, especially given that a large wildfire just tragically killed 19 firefighters in this state. Of course, with the fireworks show going on, there were plenty of police, paramedics, and firefighters stationed in the area, so they responded quickly and got started putting out the flames. The fireworks paused momentarily, but resumed after a few minutes, and they were able to finish a pretty spectacular show. The grand finale was great. By the end, the fire appeared mostly contained. It was said to have consumed an area about the size of a football field. My hat is off to the Northwest Fire department firefighters, who were quick to put out the blaze and kept everybody safe, as well as all of the firefighters in the Tucson area who spent their 4th of July on duty in the heat. Applause also goes to those who put on the Marana fireworks event free for the public, and who remained calm when things got a bit hairy and still put on a really nice show.

A video clip of the brush fire down in the wash:

A Disturbing Trend

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Believe it or not, one cop choose answer C. And he's not the only one, there has been an alarming increase in the number of dogs killed by police in the USA, the large majority of them where not a real threat to anyone, simply dogs doing what dogs do. This is something I've been following for a while, and it's definitely getting worse, happening more and more often. This should be a serious concern to all dog owners, no matter how law abiding you are or how well trained your dogs may be. Dogs are being shot by police in their own homes and backyards, in public parks/dog parks, and out on the streets. 99% of these shootings are completely unnecessary. Another very recent case in southern California involving a rottweiler has caught a lot of attention thanks to a video of the incident that went viral.

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Happy Birthday to Me

As of yesterday, I'm another year older, another year fartier. Although I am quite lucky to still be here really, so I should be grateful. I went out for a birthday dinner last night with my mother, we went to the Outback Steakhouse just down the road since we had a gift card for them. We both enjoyed our dinners. I had the sirloin steak and grilled shrimp, my mother ordered the tilapia. The steak was nicely medium rare and delicious, the shrimp where pretty good, though perhaps had a bit too much seasoning on them. There where only, like, 4 shrimp, so I would have liked a few more, but probably wouldn't have been able to eat them all anyway. I actually managed to eat the entire 8 oz steak, along with about half of the garlic mashed potatoes (which where also delicious), and the shrimp. By the end, we where both totally, completely full. It's now been about 11 hours since, and I'm still full!  It's funny, every time we go out to eat, we always have a peek at the desert menu and talk about how maybe we'll have room for desert this time, but it never happens. We always end up so full, we might as well be Mr. Creosote from "Monty Python's the Meaning of Life". You know, that enormously huge fat guy who goes into the restaurant and eats everything on the menu while projectile vomiting, then explodes after John Cleese (the waiter) forces an after-dinner mint on him. These restaurants need a table to car wheelchair/wheelbarrow/stretcher service for those who've overeaten and are about to explode.

The Return of Frankenstein?

I had my regular appointment with my pain management doc yesterday. So I was sitting in the waiting room, reading a magazine, I think it was a "Time", but it was a really thin magazine. Maybe magazines are shrinking the way cereal boxes are? Anyway, there was this article about different languages around the world that are dead/dying, and this psychologist is quoted in the article saying something or other about the disappearing languages (can't remember). But what I found of particular interest was the name of this quoted psychologist. Her name was, I kid you not, Dr. Frankenstein. No really! I did a bit of a double take, rereading the name multiple times, thinking I must have misread or imagined the name or something, but that was exactly the way it was spelled, Frankenstein. So, it appears Dr. Frankenstein is alive and well. This doctor was female though, maybe Frankenstein is masquerading as a women? Could he now be Victoria Frankenstein? Vicki?
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Hmmm. I'm having a hard time picturing that. You're all man, Victor.

Random Weird Quote of the Day

I was at the grocery store a little while ago to grab a couple things, and I'm at the automatic checkout machine paying for the groceries when I overhear this:

"Are those elephants' butts?"

I have no idea.
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    amused amused

Paranormal Activity Yawn

Watched Paranormal Activity 4, got it from Netflix. It wasn't any better or worse than the first 3, just more of the same. The problem with this franchise is that, after the first movie, they where too predictable. All 4 contain the same general stuff, and they all pretty much end the same way. I also think they should have gone a different direction than the old "evil demon" thing. Early on in PA 1, they start in on the whole "It's a demon!" line, at which point it becomes too predictable. I would have kept the nature of the entity a secret, made it really weird and unpredictable. I'd have it do some really bizarre, freaky, unexpected stuff. Because in my opinion, the unknown is a lot scarier than the known.

And why was "Toby" so small in this one? I always got the impression that this demon was quite tall, but in PA 4, he appeared to be like child sized. Maybe demons shrink with age the way people do?  I don't know, but I do hope we've seen the last of the PA sequels. They're cheap and easy to make, but enough is enough.

I did go see "The Croods" at the discount theater the other day though, and it was quite good! I wasn't expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised by the movie. It was cute, funny, and had some interesting fantastical flora and fauna. It was the sort of movie both kids and adults can enjoy.

Trader Joes has the most delicious mango lemonade! I tried a sample today and loved it so much I ended up grabbing a bottle of the stuff. When you take a sip, you get this really nice sweet mango flavor that is followed by a pleasant lemony taste at the end. It's just a yummy, refreshing, unique lemonade.