Saturday, September 5, 2020

Brother Viper

 ... we were out and about a few days back and encountered two hikers - clearly rock climbers (they were totin' some ropes strapped to their packs) - apparently makin' their way back to a small local crag that has become popular following a bit of climber specific "gentrification"... while striking up a bit of friendly passing small talk we noticed that one fellow was wearing open toe strap sandal footwear which evoked us to suggest a bit of caution considering we were in the heart of rattlesnake and copperhead territory - his return was a bit snappy, righting us that "rattlesnakes and copperheads in Pennsylvania are mainly relegated to the Allegheny National Forest and Northern Tier localities" while adding an emphatic and bit sarcastic "there are no rattlesnakes in Pittsburgh"... ???... we let it go at that (and ya' ain't in Pittsburgh)... have a nice day... what do us dumb ol' country boys know...

... we've posted most of these images previously - if not new, then here they are again... a few of many encounters over the years...
... this is what you'd have seen stumblin' down the trail in your strap sandals...

... if you were a few steps behind you would've seen this...

... yellow phase timber rattlesnake from many years ago...

... watch steppin' around that rock...

... that rock too - and watch jammin' those fist cracks at this particular crag ...

... another big yellow phase...

... here's a big pregnant yellow phase - notice the swollen tail end - was probably just about ready to give birth...

... medium size black phase...

... medium yellow phase trailing a black phase which just dropped over the edge of the rock...

... here's a monster black phase - some gorgeous markings on this guy... our partner hiking ahead of us this day stepped in perfect sync dead center right across the top of this snake as it lies in the upper photo and kept walking - totally oblivious to the fact - he about sh*t when we called him back - "hey - hold up - I want to get a photo of something!" - dumb (and lucky) f*k - and we told 'em a thousand times to keep an eye out for snakes...

... another monster - we'll bet he was four inches in girth...

... captured this yellow phase enjoying a dinner of fresh chipmunk - you can see the bite in the chipmunks back in the fifth photo down - would probably have stepped right on this guy if he hadn't rattled a warning - talk about getting your heart pumping...

... this could possibly be a small Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake judging from it's appearance - they're only supposed to habitat the Butler County area here in WPA - so we're not positive...

... thought we'd include this huge blacksnake from years back - a large snake den inhabits this area - we ain't sayin' where...

... another large blacksnake...

... we're actually blood brothers with this particular Northern Copperhead... we find that you gotta watch for these guys locally around water - particularly small ponds and swampy ground... we were pulling a canoe out of the boat dock at the SCRGC one late afternoon and ran into two snake hunters walking along the railroad tracks, returning from a day out - we asked them if they had seen any snakes - they replied thirty-one, all copperheads, while hunting along the railroad ROW on the (west facing) eastern bank of the Youghiogheny River from the SCRGC south to Casparis fishing hole - a distance of about two miles...

... it was a relief to us to finally learn from that guy earlier that there are no venomous snakes in this neck of the woods...

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Road Test

... James Dalton: "pain don't hurt" ...
... Doc Clay: "most of my patients would disagree with you"...

                                                                    - Road House (1989)

... definitely an uneventful summer - lots of time spent tending a fractured knee since mid April... finally showing some significant improvement so we thought that we'd take it for a trial run up over the ridge this afternoon - not too rigorous - not too easy... we conjured up our old buddy Ghost Rider to partner along - hadn't seen 'em in a few years - don't matter - there's no such thing as time in the spirit realm...

... toted along the Olympus TG4 - a few images...

... ride'n the high ground...

... ridgetop pond...

... some nice purple late August wildflowers...

... the notorious root on the old 'Root Hill' hill climb - this image doesn't even come close to conveying the steep nor ruggedness of this f*k'd up climb - the root and line appears to be even more washed and loose than we recall from glory days... maybe not...

... we'll find out first thing in the morning as to how well today's therapy went (when we roll out of bed)...

Saturday, August 22, 2020

You Would Think

... that a (little brown) bat could potentially carry rabies disease...

... You would think that if a (mottled gray) cat put out the lights of the (little brown) bat, the (mottled
gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat could potentially contract rabies disease should the (little brown) bat be infected...

... You would think that the guiding state wildlife authority would readily engage in testing the (little brown) bat that potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat for rabies contagion if the (little brown) bat that potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat was submitted for testing via an ordinary average guy concerned over rabies infection to the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat that has potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat...

... You would think that this testing would be provided as a public service and not require an authorized veterinarian request and fee of $266 + veterinarian fees to the ordinary average guy concerned over rabies infection to the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat that has potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat...

... You would think that the veterinarian clinic would convey a bit more concern for the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat that potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat, other than, being a Friday afternoon, scheduling the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat that potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat for inoculation the following Monday afternoon - especially considering the fact that the current rabies vaccination to the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat that potentially infected the (mottle gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat was due for a booster shot a month ago (ordinary average guy at fault there)...

... lights out...
...the little brown bat that potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat that put out the lights of the (little brown) bat that potentially infected the (mottled gray) cat...

... You would think...

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Fun And Games

... here we be - a bit beyond twenty years into the millennium and the world goin' to hell in a hand basket - pandemics - a bit just under half the population apparently embracing humorless bi*chers and moaners (pod people)... oh well, all beyond our control... screw it... lets have some 20th century fun...

...we were recently searching for an item on eBay when we stumbled across a collection of old 'Continental Classic' novels for sale - "literature" we'd long forgotten... a buddy of ours had acquired a handful of these tales sometime between 8th and 9th grades - 'Adult Only' paperbacks - "action packed" for sure (XXX) - other than the suggestive and often humorous titles and "author" they were all identical in cover art - an adorning graphic of the 'Eiffel Tower' emphasizing their "European" sensibility - each a bright balloon pastel to add some zest... we're sure that the closest these things had in relationship with originating from the "continent" was a little skinny Jersey guy typing away in the basement while his thrice-sized Italian mama was busy in the kitchen rolling pasta noodles, he's hurriedly trying to finish a page or two before she bursts in and discovers how he is actually earning that extra $25 per week, right before she puts a few dumplings on his lid with the rolling pin...

(Internet Image)
... a classic 'Classic'...

... we had a bit of fun with these back in school days - we'd approach a group of gals - there always had to be three or more for ultimate reaction - five was optimum... not drawing attention to, but volume openly in hand... the banter would usually proceed as thus...

... "what do you guys have there!"...
... "nothing''...
... "whats' that book?"...
... "nothing"...
.. "lets see it!"...
... "we can't show ya' this - no way"...
... "why not!? - what's wrong with it!!?"...
... "you gals are too innocent - you couldn't handle it"...
... "give us that book!!"...

... after a bit more back and forth we'd always "reluctantly" hand it over - open to a pre-selected, particularly saucy passage... the gals would always cluster tight - crowding shoulders - dead silence - eyes scanning print... give 'em thirty seconds and all eyes would bug out and jaws would drop before the book came hurtling back our direction...

... "you guys are sick!" (guilty)... "degenerates!!" (guilty)... "perverted!!!" (guilty)...

... worked every time...

... later...

... one or more of the gals would usually corner ya', always alone... after a short bit of small talk...

... "uhhh - do you mind if I (we) borrow that book?"...

... ya' get 'em to beg and plead a bit...

... "ok - but you make sure you give it back and don't let anything happen to it - and don't lend it to anyone else!!..."

... "I (we) won't and I(we) promise to give it right back... and don't you dare tell anyone!!!..."

... always got the book back and never told a soul...

... silence (usually) later had it's reward...

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Tell A Simple Story Simply

... since this past April we've been tending an injured knee that has finally (after three months of "professional medical care" - only because we don't have an MRI machine in our garage) been diagnosed as fractured - don't ask us what took so long - at least we now know what we're dealin' with... have probably read and re-read a library of books throughout that time...

... here's a great short story from old school science fiction writer 'Ray Bradbury' - replace the TV reference with PC (or SmartPhone) and you're pretty much walkin' the streets this evening (or at the least 2053) - a bit of prophetic prose on Bradbury's part (understand that this was penned in 1951)...

(Internet Image)

... have probably read this a hundred times (or at least ten) over the years - never gets old - on the contrary, a near reflection of times forthcoming... brilliant...

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Goshen Hole

... elegy for a modern world...

There on the ridge, beneath the sky,
A cowboy stretched and yawned, 
He slipped into his high heeled boots,
His chaps and gun he donned,
He saddled up his old cow horse,
While his trailing dog stood by,
He turned to take a farewell look,
A tear was in his eye.

He gazed out o'er the Goshen Hole,
And sadly shook his head,
He rolled himself a cigarette,
And to his horse he said,
"The old cow range is gone, pal,
There's barb wire all around,
There's a dry on every section pard,
And they're plowin' up the ground.

"They're plowin' up the grazin' land,
They've wrecked our happy home,
They're killin' all the salt grass out,
Where the doggies used to roam,
Things ain't like they used to be,
In the Goshen Hole, old hoss,
When you was top of all the heard,
And I was wagon boss.

"Do you see that bank of alkali,
Just beyond the squatters' shed,
That's where you caught me off my guard,
And pitched me on my head.
You were just a bronco then,
And your manners pretty bad,
But you've made up for all them tricks,
You're the best hoss I ever had.

"And over there by that new fence,
Is where you split your hoof,
And we sure took a dirty spill,
When I roped that Lobo wolf.
But the wolves like us have gone, pal,
New homes we'll hafta found,
We'll have to find another range,
Where they don't plow up the ground.

"Where they don't mess up the ground,
With their chickens, hogs and plows,
We'll find a brand new range, old man,
And start a-runnin' cows."
The trail dog sensed that things were wrong,
The cow horse shook his head,
The cowboy raised his voice,
And in these words he said,

"Farewell to you, Drys and squatters,
You've settled old Goshen at last,
And we wish you luck in the future,
That us waddies have had in the past.
But you'll never have the freedom,
We had in the days gone by,"
And he stepped up on his old cow pony,
And waved his last goodbye.

---------------

(Internet Images)
... penned in 1933 by champion bronc rider and trailblazing Hollywood stunt man "Yakima" Canutt...

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Thunderbolt (Memorial Day 2020)

... this is a heck of a good World War II documentary - 'Thunderbolt' (1947) - directed by William Wyler and John Sturges, and photographed by members of the Army Air Forces... it's currently been playing on Netflix - is where we first viewed it a few months back...

(You Tube video)

... excellent accompanying narrative voiced by actor Lloyd ("Sea Hunt") Bridges:

- "This is how ya' live when you're an airplane driver fighting an air war..."
- "Major Francis "Spanky" Manda - squadron operations officer... he's 22..."
- "Captain Howard Hickok - flight leader... he's 23..."
- "Gil Wymond - commander... he's 24 - the old man..."
- "Group commander Lt. Colonel Archie J. Knight... he's 27..."
- "57th Fighter Group... three squadrons... 1000 men..."
- "Alto Air Base, Corsica... good steel mat runway - 150ft x 6000ft..."
- "The brass upstairs plans the war... they want something... you do it... don't always know why... 
   don't always care... but you know there's a reason - a good one..."
- "The P47 Thunderbolt... one man - one engine - extra fuel tanks for range - rockets - 500lb bombs - 
   cameras - you've got eight guns - cyclic rate of 800 round per minute - 106 bullets a second..."
- "You're in the air... game of follow the leader - the squadron leader - he doesn't tell you what to do - 
   does it - you follow - wing tip to wing tip..."
- "No bombsight on the P47 - the pilot does his own aiming... last man goes in - drop your bombs - 
   pull out - black out for a second - the blood drains from your head - but you're young - it comes 
  back fast..."
- "A hit - no more bombs... you've got plenty of gas... plenty of ammo... go on the prowl - see what 
   you can find..."
- "Railroad tracks... not a bad way to find a train... you find one... give it a few squirts - might kill
   somebody..."
- "A light house out there... wonder if I got any ammo left - yep..."
- "Radio station... blow out a few tubes..."
- "Somebody in that field - no friends of mine..."
- "Gerry vehicles parked in that farmyard - must be a headquarters..."
- "Houses around here look kind of suspicious... uh oh... whaddya know!..."
- "Heading home... one plane light... nobody saw it happen... maybe he spun in... maybe he bailed
   out... you'll think about it later..."
- "Alto... home..."
- "All you know is, for some the war is expensive... you wish the people back home could at least
    see it..."
---------------

"... the object of war is not to die for your country 
but to make the other bastard die for his..."
                                           - Gen. George S. Patton

Sunday, May 3, 2020

"Aminals is 'Telligint"

... Ig the cat has his own towel which is used to dry him off when he comes in from the rain - one of his favorite things (which he has come to expect)... he came in a few nights ago, and unnoticed by us, soaking wet... he sat there meowing for a while, trying to attract our attention... we were preoccupied with some business... after being told to "BEAT IT!" a few times, he gave up, went over to the towel rack, pulled his towel off onto the floor, then rolled around on it to dry himself off... he's pretty smart...

"... why don't you shove that camera up your ass and do something useful - like dustin' the house!!..."

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Downtime

"... for the team of twenty-nine who man the Calypso life aboard is an incessant labor - repair and re-repair, improvise and re-improvise, and when it's all fixed, all fashioned, re-fix and re-fashion it all over again... the work requires pros... men who got guts and brains - and few romantic illusions... there are no Conrads here, no Melvilles, no Lowrys - only realists , with two or more trades... only men who can endure, ignore or shrug off long confinements, the perpetual rack and pitch of Calypso, the endless cacophony of wind and sea, machinery and other men's work... and when it isn't fix it, it's scrub it or paint it - an endless fight against corrosion, peeling, blistering...  (Rod Serling)

"... whatever the job, complex or mundane, the men of Calypso do it, and they do it well... they all know that they are vital parts of a collective endeavor... that our discoveries will be seen by millions of television viewers, and that our hull will echo in the hearts of young people world wide..."    (Jacques Yves Cousteau)
                                              
                                                                                - 'The Water Planet', Cousteau Odyssey, Episode 12  

... combining a sh*ty winter (no snow) with the current downturn in life, we've had a lot of opportunity the past few weeks, and months, to revisit the highly influential television series, 'The Cousteau Odyssey' (aka: 'The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau') - gotta love YouTube...

(Internet Image)
... the men, Jacques Yves Cousteau (R) and his friend and chief diver of the Calypso, Albert Falco... 

(image from the book, 'Falco, Chief Diver Of The Calypso')
... cross-sectional view of Cousteau's research vessel, 'Calypso'... 

... we hadn't seen these shows since they first aired on television beginning in the late 60's and extending into the mid 70's - beyond then and extending into the early 80's the luster of the adventures began to tarnish as larger corporate sponsors with political agendas became involved - you could even see it wearing on Cousteau...

... highly recommended viewing for those looking to occupy some time, and particularly for the unfamiliar...

---------------

... the September, 1970 underwater cinematography issue of 'American Cinematographer' magazine... again, highly influential... besides articles on Cousteau and crew and underwater filming in practice, there was an article on a surfer/filmmaker by the name of George Greenough, who had recently completed a new surfing film called 'The Innermost Limits Of Pure Fun' - we were most impressed by Greenough's low budget and go-it-alone approach to his work, which included designing and fabricating his waterproof camera housings, mounts, tripods - just about everything he needed - no quest for fame and fortune, he mainly just wanted to be left alone to go about his own business... he was the first filmmaker to film the inside of a tube of a wave while riding a kneeboard of, again, his own design...

... another work of influence was a film titled 'Solo' shot by a skilled climber/filmmaker by the name of Mike Hoover - we saw it unexpectedly in a movie theater (probably 1972) as a short subject prior to the main feature, a typical practice in feature film presentation back then... have no recall what the main feature was - all we could think about was hastening the showing so we could set into the repeat performance and view the short again... the May, 1973 issue of American Cinematographer (which we still have) had a pretty informative production article... the old (before the '85 flood) visitors center at Seneca Rocks, WV used to show it regularly in their theater - don't know if they still do, never been inside the new center subsequent to the fire years back... we finally go a VHS copy sometime in the '90's - a click on the link provided above will get ya' to a YouTube feature - not the best transfer, but good none the less... probably a bit hokey by todays standards, but guys back then had more soul than splash...

---------------

... doesn't hurt to have multiple skills other than pointing and shooting a camera as nowadays - here's a few suggested in the excellent book, 'Secrets of Hollywood Special Effects' (Robert E. McCarthy, 1992)... we could add a few to that...

... we've had probably more fun designing our own equipment and solving the logistics off "getting the shot" as we did with the actual process of creating a finished film... we always took the "rubber air bulb duster" analogy when it came to equipment - if ya' purchase it from a camera shop it's called a "camera air bulb duster" and it costs $15 - if ya' purchase it from a drug store it's called an "ear syringe" and costs $.99... we've fabricated scrims, filters, diffusers, reflectors, mounts - it's a lot cheaper to beat up a modified 100w/12v halogen automotive work light ($10 from NAPA) in a wet cave system than a several hundred dollar photographic Lowell lighting system - and they both work just as good (and use the same bulb)...

... one of a set of four dolly trucks we built from pressure treated 2x4 lumber, nylon rod, steel all thread rod and skateboard wheels - designed to roll along tracks fabricated from flush coupled 4" diameter pvc casing pipe, of which we had access to a free used supply...

... helmet cam fabricated from an old dirt bike helmet - no GoPro at the time - that's an old Hi8 Canon video camera attached...

... learning the ins and outs - an old 'Kodak Brownie 8' film camera and Kalart 8mm film editor... shot mostly Eastman Kodachrome II color reversal film back then and a bit of B&W as well - don't recall the manufacturer of the B&W film stock - do remember that we shot a pretty good pheasant hunting short, probably around '68 - it was tossed long ago, with a ton of other stuff, when mom decided to clean out the attic without asking - we talk to a lot of guys who've had that same problem...

(internet image - 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark')
... somewhere out in the cosmos there's an asteroid orbiting that is home to a warehouse of infinity proportion that stores every item ever tossed by every guys mom... might not be a bad fate spending eternity going thru all those crates - it's all good sh*t... wonder how long before we'd get to our stuff...

... a couple young guys have inquired to us recently with questions (mostly film processing and negative cutting/editing) regarding Super 8mm and 16mm film photography - said that they don't even know anybody that's ever even shot 35mm still photography...  Arriflex, Eclair, Beaulieu - all great cameras each and we've shot with 'em all, and we're still pissed for not purchasing a used 35mm Mitchell years back when we were messing around with stop motion animation (a guy we met in NY was selling it for $500 in perfect condition) - you get just as great results from less expensive equipment and a good lens - pictured above are two Eastman K-100 16mm turret cameras we own - camera on the right is mounted with a Peleng 8mm/f3.5 fisheye lens w/ 180ยบ angle of view, M42 to c-mount adapter... and we've always loved spring wound motor drive - we were reading a biography a while back of a guy who was cameraman on a small expedition to a difficult mountain peak in Pakistan or somewhere - comes time to get the summit shot and he discovers that his batteries have frozen - pretty much ended his career on the spot (f*k it, shit happens  - we'd still use 'em - and most had died attempting that peak) - but he would have done himself a big favor if he would have packed along a spring wound camera as backup - even if he only got twenty seconds of even 8mm footage - we sure would have... anyway, lots of that stuff still out there on eBay in good working order...

... filming with our Bolex H16EBM...

... Strongman Matt checking out an underwater video camera housing...

... ha - inspired by Cousteau we long ago attempted to film a huge, rumored 8ft length, Muskellunge that was lurking in a deep stretch of water along the local Youghiogheny River here in PA - was said to resemble a railroad tie when lying about the shallows - despite swimming probably every inch of that river bottom and hours of surveillance from an overpassing railroad trestle, we never saw the fish -  but many reportedly did - a local guy who was  obsessed with landing that thing was said to have blown it out of the water with several sticks of dynamite - don't know the truth to that story but we ourselves were questioned by the local Fish Warden concerning the incident - suspiciously, the suspected culprit (who everyone knew) gave up his quest for the fish immediately thereafter... we only got as far as shooting a few test still photos of a couple bass and walleye (saw some big ones, too) - those all disappeared - the only remaining image from that adventure is the one above... we suspect that they're all locked up in a crate somewhere in that warehouse...