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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wrangling Rick Takes The Stage

Wrangling Rick, Krazy Kirk, Animal Anders, and Whistling Rick

Last weekend at Knott's Berry Farm, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies took the stage with a guest musician. Kirk introduced him as Wrangling Rick. Apparently he is a vegetarian, and earned his name by wrangling with cucumbers. Kirk never explained why Rick took issue with cucumbers, but I suppose even vegetarians must have some vegetables they dislike.

Wrangling Rick and Krazy Kirk jam.

Aside from being a vegetarian, Wrangling Rick has another claim to fame: he inspired Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies to add "Sharp Dressed Man," to their set list. He and Kirk then led the group in a crowd-pleasing rendition of ZZ Top's hit song.

When Animal Anders joined Kirk for a fiddle duet, Wrangling Rick then took over Animal's bass. He laid down a strong backbeat that helped the two fiddlers shine.

Whistling Rick

All this proved too much for Whistling Rick. As a regular, he resented all the attention the new boy was getting. So he challenged Wrangling Rick to a duel.

Wrangling Rick and Whistling Rick: dueling banjos.

While Krazy Kirk and Animal Anders urged them on, the two Ricks demonstrated their banjo prowess. First Whistling Rick would try his stuff. Then Wrangling Rick would follow his lead, and perhaps add a little something extra to get on the regular's pecs. When the competition was over, no formal vote was conducted. Nonetheless, Kirk declared that the victory definitely belonged to, um...Rick.

Krazy Kirk says, "See ya!"

The end of the show came all too soon. Krazy Kirk wished us well, and thanked us for our participation in the show. That's the real secret of concerts with Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies: they're not only accomplished musicians, but they enjoy having fun with the audience. Now there's a fact that no one can dispute. Not even someone with a name like Wrangling Rick.

Dragon Dave

Monday, October 17, 2016

Everyone's Smiling at Knott's Berry Farm

It can be scary to go new places. This is especially true at Knott's Berry Farm during October.

You could find yourself in some real hot water. Or worse, facing otherworldly creatures lurking in the water.

But provided you remain vigilant, you should survive these dangers unscathed.

Smiling helps too. It reinforces a positive mental attitude, which can help you defeat any foe, regardless of how scary they seem. A good rule for life, don't you think? (Not to get preachy, or anything).

Ultimately, Knott's Berry Farm may seem scary during October, but everyone's really having lots of fun.

But then, everyone's smiling at Knott's Berry Farm, regardless of whatever month you visit, which helps with the whole positive attitude thing, I suppose. (Again, not that I'm getting preaching or anything).

Dragon Dave

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Insane Discover America Tour 2016: Destination 4

The day we drove to Bryce Canyon National Park, we had to stop along the way and take photographs of these amazing cliffs and hoodoos. After visiting Bryce the previous day, we decided to skip the crowds, the long lines, and visit Red Canyon instead. We enjoyed walking amid such grandeur, over accessible paths, and taking in the hoodoos and other geological formations. The sandstone in this area of the Dixie National Forest has been carved into all sorts of shapes. It's easy to just gaze around, let the mind wander, and the imagination soar.

Chess, anyone?

No wait! Pass this spot carefully! Don't wake the dragon!

Dragon Dave

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Insane Discover America Tour 2016: Destination 3

We knew we were headed toward a popular place when the road slowed to a crawl a half-mile before entering Bryce Canyon National Park. Traffic like this always gets me angry. It just seems to me that if a place gets visitors in this number, something should be done to prevent such traffic from occurring. By the time we got past the guard shack, several of the first scenic viewpoints were filled, and the entryways blocked off so no cars could enter. Again, I ask: Why? You drive hundreds (or thousands) of miles to see a National Park, you pay your entry fee, and's just crazy, right?

Letting go of irritation and anger can be hard, even in an area of such scenic beauty. Like Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park is a canyon, and the public access areas are all located along the top. This makes hiking down into this scenic wonderland difficult, as you're already at 8,000 to 9,000 feet elevation, and the air is thinner, which can lead to high altitude sickness. So unless you're at the peak of fitness, or feeling real adventurous, you probably don't want to hike down into the canyon very far, as you'll need to hike back up again later. 

My wife tells me I was sort of irritated all day, which is a shame, as there was always plenty of beautiful scenery to glimpse. In the afternoon, we were able to get back into one of the areas that had been closed off earlier, and even do a little art. We sat in our canvas chairs, overlooking the landscape below, while people stopped by to glance at my pencil sketch and my wife's watercolor. I heard quite a few folks tell their friends that they wished they could draw, which made me feel nice. 

Although we had allotted for a second day at Bryce Canyon National Park, gazing down at remote geological features isn't the same thing as walking amidst them. Couple this with the wait to enter the park, the blocked-off areas, and the crowds everywhere when you're trying to "immerse yourself in nature," and another visit to Bryce Canyon National Park seemed more than a little, uh...insane.

Dragon Dave

Monday, October 10, 2016

Jane Austen: Madness Versus Dampness

Several years ago, a saleswoman in a bookstore tried to arouse my interest in Love And Freindship, a short novel by Jane Austen. But the price of the slim hardcover volume seemed steep, and the print was small, so I decided to buy one of the novels that was published during Jane Austen's lifetime instead. 

Reading Love And Freindship now, as part of an ebook collection on Kindle, I think I made the right choice. The story is structured as a series of letters, in which an older woman recounts the major experiences of her life to the daughter of a friend. This story was written by Austen in her early teens, and lacks much in the way of causality. One event happens, then another, with no real reason why one should follow another, and no later recounting of how those events occurred. This may follow the random chaos of life, but a well-crafted novel attempts to make sense out of the chaos. That's the appeal of fiction: it helps us better understand reality.

The story itself, in many ways, reminds me of a farce. Here's one little bit I found memorable. The protagonist and her friend are going here and there (for various reasons) in a horse-drawn carriage. At some stage (I forget why) they leave the carriage and are walking along the road. Then they hear a crash, and rush back along the road to the scene of an accident. There they find their husbands lying amid the wreckage of another horse-drawn carriage. While the protagonist goes mad, and runs about screaming, her friend suffers a serious of fainting spells in the damp grass. By the time the protagonist awakens from her madness, her friend has caught a cold from lying in the damp grass in the chill of the evening. They make their way to a cottage, where the protagonist nurses her friend. Before her friend dies, she extolls the protagonist's wisdom in giving way to madness instead of fainting. This, she asserts, is the best way for a young woman to handle a traumatic event. Then she dies.

Love And Freindship is wacky and hilarious. It reminds me of some of the hysterical and trivial women that populate Jane Austen's novels, such as Elizabeth Bennett's mother in Pride And Prejudice. It's easy to see that kind of character relating the high points of her life in such a fashion. I'm not sure I love it enough to have bought a bound and printed edition, but it was a pleasant diversion, and provides an insight into the young Jane Austen, as she experimented with fiction, and gradually learned her craft.