fear-the-walking-deadSo. I had my doubts about it, but most were allayed and I certainly enjoyed the heck outta the premiere episode of “Fear The Walking Dead” Sunday,  for a couple reasons. One, It did as I’d hoped and showcased the unfamiliar REAL Los Angeles as it exists in everyday life instead of in the make-believe city only known for its affluence and high-profile landmarks.

Case in point, as far as the series is concerned ground zero takes place not in Malibu or Beverly Hills or on the steps of City Hall, but as it so happens: in Silver Lake. That establishing shot at the end of the opening sequence after the kid gets hit by the vehicle and the camera gets craned up into the sky? What you’re shown is what’s commonly referred to as Polkadot Plaza off of Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake and bonus: the abandoned church the kid escapes from wasn’t a soundstage on some lot somewhere but rather is an actual abandoned church — one that’s right next to that plaza. PS. You’ve gotta appreciate the subtext of that scene from an L.A. streets perspective. The strung-out punk saves himself from a flesh-eater only to get creamed by the real monster: a car.

Basically for authenticity I give the show high marks. Ditto for the cast, characters and dialogue — although does practically every teen with the exception of the one plowed by the automobeast at the start of the show have to be such a complete and total tool?

The only aspect I wish had been negated (but I knew wouldn’t be) is the perpetuated pretense with both this new series and the original that I intrinsically despise: that in this universe in which these characters exist there has never been a zombie movie —  or worse: no one has ever seen a zombie movie. Gasp: The horror!

Just once I wish a character would recognize what the hell is going on. Is it seriously too much to ask (yes… it is) to have some drunk at a bar watching live breaking news footage of some paramedic getting chomped on by a freshly minted member of the undead who then takes 20 rounds to the center mass and still remains standing and have the besotted sod slur out “Haven’t any of you sunzabeeches seen ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (or “Shaun of the Dead” for that matter)? That’s a freakin’ zombie!”

Having someone/anyone in the crowd make a pop-culture reference and thus winkingly acknowledge an awareness of what’s going on — even if the truth he speaks gets dissed and dismissed immediately by those around him — would make my night. Of the living dead.

This morning we made it two successful skunk meetups in a row. Emerging from yesterday’s way-too-close encounter while walking Ranger was a miracle. This morning’s jaw-dropper of a stand off was something even more glorious: proof that Ranger has perhaps finally learned after at least three previous backyard skunkings that those “funny looking cats” (and the subsequent unceremonious deskunking baths involving hydrogen peroxide, baking powder and dish soap that follow) are to be avoided at all costs.

Awake early but way too lazy to go for a walk, I instead let Ranger out in the backyard to do her thang — but not before first conducting the obligatory flashlight enhanced patrol of the area to make sure there were no critters out and about.

Once I’d cleared it, out went Ranger who promptly found a patch of dirt and laid down upon it, looking at me with a forlorn expression. This is not her normal behavior, which is to do her own urgent patrol, and then after much back-and-forthing in the way-back part of the yard find a spot to pee and then another to poop. This self-imposed “I’m just gonna lay down here until I die or Momma comes home” exile is how she acts in protest to Susan (who’s on a weekender to visit old friends and her mom) not being here.


I tried to encourage Ranger to “go peepee!” but she was having none of it so I adjourned inside to make coffee, freshen the water and kibble bowls and advise the imploring cats gathered in the kitchen that breakfast wouldn’t be for awhile yet.

Roughly five minutes later (and in hindsight pleeeeenty of time for any number of creature — rat, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or coyote — to breach the backyard while seated with my cuppa joe in the kitchen, I saw Ranger was no longer prone outside, but was instead upright and facing north with interest. Simultaneously, a couple cats hopped up into the backyard facing windows I’d opened and were staring intently in the direction of the tortoise hutch. So I went outside to see whatever the object of their collective attention was.

My eyes went wide. It was a skunk. About the same size as the one yesterday. Standing atop the short retaining wall beside the hutch, stock still, facing in Ranger’s direction about 20 feet away with tail straight up.

This would typically be when I would yell out a blood-curdling “Noooooo!” and Ranger would ignore that go all territorial and charge, forcing the skunk to execute a 180-degree turn of doom and release its appropriate and terribly effective counter measures. Past episodes Ranger’s been blasted in the chest and the side of the head. She even took a direct hit in the mouth and eyes on one occasion. That one was particularly horrible with her spastically rolling around on the ground, foaming at the mouth and eating dirt like she’d gone instantly Cujo-level rabid. Poor girl.

And after each of those times while scrubbing her down Susan and I would question when or if she’d ever learn.

That question was answered this morning. Not only did she just stand there showing completely no sign of charging, but when I called her, she headed to me immediately and followed along while I hustled us to the back door and back inside the safety of kitchen. Even when the skunk went frantically mobile and started to probe the north fence for an exit, Ranger didn’t waiver.

Inside I hugged her and praised her for five full minutes, before going back outside to ensure the skunk had gone. Then I came back and hugged her some more.



Miracles DO Happen: On this morning’s walk with Ranger I got an earlier and darker start than usual (owing to Susan being on a weekend trip to Reno to explore her punk rawk past). So we detoured on the back stretch of the walk and came up a block we normally don’t traverse. A few hundred feet in I heard a sharp and short hiss from the curb and I figured we’d passed a cat perturbed by our passing presence.

I couldn’t’ve been more wrong. Looking to my left I found myself realizing that Ranger — for the first time in her life — had chosen to ignore what was a mature skunk standing planted and unmoving less than four feet away from us. Our dog’s entirely uncharacteristic behavior and reaction (she’s been skunked in the backyard at least three times and has showed no signs that she wouldn’t get herself bombed a fourth time given the opportunity) was really valuable given the skunk had its tail in the fully locked-and-loaded position.

The miracle is that I was looking into its eyes and not upon its backside. For whatever reason, probably because Ranger elected not to lunge at it (another miracle — GOOD GIRL!!!), the skunk opted out of nailing us. Despite our arm’s length proximity it deemed us not a threat warranting what coulda/woulda/shoulda been a complete and direct and all enveloping hit. By all rights and laws of urban wildlife, Ranger and I should really be stinking up the place right now.

Suffice it to say I wasted no time giving ground and moving me and Ranger out of range and then simultaneously thanked the skunk and congratulated Ranger for their combined restraint.

What a wonder-full way to start the day.

titoHaving never been to Tito’s via automobile (nor ever planning to), should I find myself attending tomorrow’s CicLAvia and pedaling past it with anything resembling an appetite + a desire for their style/version/class of tacos, I’m of a mind not to continue my unintentional life-long boycott of the place and instead ignore its owner’s stupidity and order up something just to make the ironic point that despite having motored past it scores of times throughout my loooong life, it took a CAR-FREE event they hate to get me to patronize the place.

Upon a beam under The highest most point of the eave on the north side of the house has been home to a nest since mid-spring that I’ve seen occupied on at least two separate occasions, but unknown whether any chicks made it out of there alive.

This is latest of many attempts over the years to utilize this prime bird-raising real estate as a nesting area. This is the first time it wasn’t a failure. That the nest continues not to have been destroyed by jays or pigeons is a bit of a surprise/miracle.

Of course I’ve long wanted a closer look as well as to see if it might presently be occupied by chicks or eggs, so I mounted a cam onto a monopod and from the master bedroom window raised it all up in there.

As the pix demonstrate (click to enlargify): said nest is empty. Bonus: that first shot shows you a section of the north side garden waaaaaay down there, giving you an idea how high up this is.


nest1 nest2


One of the pitfalls of being a (albeit former) blogger of a certain low-level of local renown and influence is that I remain on mail lists of PR firms whose bot admins both:

1) Don’t know I’m a post-middle aged geezer curmudgeon;
2) Have even less of a clue how much I detest anything bandwagon marketed to the wannabe hipster class.

So you can guess my practically visceral reaction to find this pitch in my inbox this morning urging me to gush all OooooooGottaHaveIt over these products like I’m some sort of overly facial-haired and trucker-hatted arbiter of such crap.


biffI really hadn’t given much thought of late to the upcoming film “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” I remember reading that Ben Affleck would be the next in a long line of actors to don the cape and I was left entirely nonplussed at that shred of entertainment news.

I grew up adoring Batman as a child — the campy Adam West version. Then sometime in the early 1980s I absorbed the mythology of the originating comic book hero — the Dark Knight — and my adoration turned to something bordering on idolatry. I loved the concept of flawed archtypes walking awkwardly and outcast on something of a frayed tightrope fighting an inner duality pulling them between sinister and savior. Into that mix you can add The Shadow, the Phantom of the Opera, and what the hell: Darkman.

My favorite film version still remains Tim Burton’s with Michael Keaton as the caped crusader. I thought it confidently treaded that fine line between the light and dark. The sequels that followed grew progressively goofy, until the reboot trilogy with Christian Bale, which restored a certain semblance of order, but also got a bit too caught up in the beauty of its own reflection.

So now along will come “Batman v. Superman” and my entire lack of enthusiasm for the movie — nevermind Affleck’s involvement — was quantified by the premise that a fight between the two couldn’t possibly be waged or sustained; that a battle between the two icons would/could last no more than it would take Superman to melt Batman’s brain with a bolt of his eye lasers.

Than along comes this extraordinary column and it blew a lot of conceptions I’d held straight outta Gotham:

Batman Is A Corny Dingus, And Superman Should Whomp His Ass

Don’t let the headline fool ya, it is one of the most compelling opinion pieces I’ve ever read. Written gloriously bug-eyed and spittle-inflected by a fella named Albert Burneko, he not only succeeds in defending why this movie will suck as an enterprise, but much to my shock and awe he also with more than a few salient points succeeds entirely in stripping away the veneer of Batman that I’ve spent the majority of my life polishing and reveals him not only to not be very super, but also certainly no hero. and I quote:

Even on the terms of his most generous depictions, Batman is a dingus. He is a trust-fund billionaire who puts on a balaclava with ears so that he can do technology-enhanced karate at pickpockets and muggers; who sinks his fortune into paramilitary hardware in support of his one-man campaign to punch a major city into peace; whose concept of justice is throwing on his Goth Navy SEAL costume and terrifying people so they’ll follow the rules better; who evidently has never once considered that Gotham City’s continued awfulness might refute his methods. He throws darts shaped like his brand logo. He’s Jeff Bezos on steroids and paint-thinner fumes. He is a choad.

I wanted to hate Burneko for spouting such Batman blasphemy. But I can’t. Because it’s not. It’s the truth. A giant Biff! and Ka-POW! to all I’d held dear.

I can never look upon Batman with anything but contempt again.


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