No snakes on a plane.

When you’re sitting in an airplane and you’re handed a Department of Agriculture declaration form, it’s not a good idea to lie about the animals and/or plants you’ve cleverly concealed in your luggage or carry-on.  In case you were considering it:

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-snakesonaplane

 

Do you see that? Specifically, DO NOT “intentionally smuggle a snake” on a plane. Unless Samuel L. Jackson is on the plane, in which case it would be amusing to hear him yell “I’m tired of this muthaf*cking snake on this muthaf*cking plane!” But it wouldn’t be worth it, because even if it’s amusing… which it might not be… it’ll be too late to realize that you don’t want to share a plane with a snake any more than a snake wants to get on the wrong side of Samuel L. Jackson. Maybe you should avoid smuggling snakes because if you get caught, you’ll get fined a million dollars, or Samuel L. Jackson will kill you, or the snake will kill you. In any case, it would be the end of it all, wouldn’t it, smuggling a snake. Maybe I’m writing this in a sleep-deprived delirium compounded by jet-lag and when I wake up and read this post I’ll delete it in horror. We shall see.

Meanwhile, Happy Friday!

Mood lightning. (I got pics of monsoon lightning.)

We had our first real monsoon of 2016 last Friday night. We didn’t know it was happening until we left the movie theater, because that’s how it works. It’s a monsoon season late afternoon. You go into a building and it’s all calm and benign outside, if not boggy under a sky constantly on the verge of raining. Then night falls and you leave the building to find hell boiling over from the top down.

It is fantastic.

Storms in the desert always hold me in thrall. Some years, monsoon season barely trembles. Other years, the theatrics of a night storm could expunge the banality from a decade’s worth of lackluster monsoon seasons.

I’ve never tried to take pictures of lightning during these monsoons, but that night, I thought I’d film the sky as Callaghan drove. I’ve discovered that taking screenshots from video footage on my phone is a useful way to take “impossible” pictures. I recorded the sky for nine minutes on the way home, and Lo, I indeed managed to capture some lightning!

(Despite the fact that lightning flashed erratically from different directions, so I kept moving my phone between my window and the windshield. And the fact that heavy rain animated the windows in a continuous blur. And that between the dark outside and the glare of interior lights on the dashboard, I couldn’t see what I was recording.)

My screenshots aren’t going to end up as centerfolds in any nature’s majesty themed magazines, or on postcards, or in calendars, or on anything… but I’m thrilled with how they captured the mood of the storm. I’d characterize the storm’s mood as something like Samuel L. Jackson’s character’s mood in the last third of Snakes on a Plane.

Here’s a bolt gashing down to light up the dark around it:

 

Bolt lighting up the sky.

Bolt lighting up the sky.

 

And another supercharged bolt suspended in a flash, looking like an electric vein:

 

Positively charged!

Positively charged!

 

Doesn’t this look to be two kinds of lightning happening at the same time? Is it possible to get a flash of sheet lightning at the same time that a lightning bolt appears?

This next pic shows lightning bolts approaching the earth in a more decorous composition of filigreed branches, but then the branch on the left says “F*ck it” and flumes down like fire the rest of the way:

 

The finger of wrath blow-torching its victim on the ground.

The finger of wrath blow-torching its victim on the ground.

 

And here’s one that shows lightning not messing around at all, ripping through the sky in a war-like blast that would incinerate everything in its path:

 

Lightning on a mission.

Lightning on a mission.

 

That looks like another instance of hybrid flash/bolt action, to me. I’m not sure what that is, but it was definitely angry. Like Samuel L. Jackson in the last third of Snakes on a Plane.

These image results may have come from a matter of timing as one display of lightning overlapped with another – recording the show as video allowed me to capture those split seconds. I’m not counting out the possibility, though, that factors such as glare or curvature of the windows could have created the visual effects of the last two pics.

Regardless, there’s an idea of our first monsoon of 2016 in Phoenix. Raw and unfiltered.

How to Swear in French, New Car edition.

Sadly, we had to give up our 1999 Toyota 4-Runner, Stevie. She was sweet and quite amazing for her age, but a few months ago she’d started stalling while idling, just at random. Even more disconcerting, the frequency of the stalling episodes was increasing along with the intensifying heat. The day Stevie stalled mid-turn, we knew we had to replace her with something reliable, because the REAL heat hasn’t even hit yet! I wasn’t feeling confident driving her, and I didn’t want to find out how she would react when the temperature climbs up into the 110-115 range.

You don’t mess around with potential car trouble in the summer in Arizona. That is one of life’s absolutes.

Such as it was that we found ourselves at a car dealership a couple of weekends ago – a Chevy dealership, because I’m predictable like that. What can I say? I learned to drive in a Chevy truck, and my last vehicle was a Chevy truck. From Corvettes to trucks, I love Chevrolet. So does Callaghan. After a full day of deliberating and negotiating at the dealership, we leased a new (very pale, silvery-blue) Equinox and drove her off the lot.

Since then, we’ve been bouncing names around, trying to decide what to call her. My first idea, “Samaire,” caused Callaghan to burst out laughing when I suggested it. Of course, in that same second, I realized why.

“Samaire” is pronounced like the French sa mère, which constitutes the second part of Putain de sa mère! – Callaghan’s favorite expletive to yell when other drivers on the road annoy him. “Samaire” would be a terrible name for our new vehicle. If we were to call her “Samaire,” Callaghan would always be yelling that she’s a whore, because “putain” is French for “whore.” Her feelings would be hurt.

“‘Sa mère!’ means, like, ‘F*ck!’ – you know?” Callaghan said, launching an elaborate discourse on the versatility of the expression.

And here I always thought that since mère means “mother,” putain de sa mère was somehow the French equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson’s trademark word, even though that’s not what it actually means… putain de sa mère translates as “his mother the whore,” according to Callaghan.

Well, all that aside, I’ve never had trouble naming a car before we brought this girl home. After two weeks, we still had no idea what to call her. Yesterday, just as we were discussing names such as “Libbets” (after Katie Holmes’ character’s name in The Ice Storm), “Jorie” (after Jorie Graham, a postmodern poet whose work I particularly like), and “Persephone” (the Greek Queen of the Underworld, and also the Goddess of spring/vegetation), we went to get the mail. In the mail was a large yellow envelope from the Motor Vehicles Division, and inside was obviously a license plate.

“Yay! Let’s play the license plate game!” I said when I saw it.

“What is that?” Callaghan’s education in American culture is an ongoing process.

“It’s that game where you look at a license plate and quickly say the first word it spells or brings to mind.”

“Maybe it’ll be her name!” He said it just as I was thinking it.

We opened the envelope. The license plate read:

 

New license plate for the new girl.

New license plate for the new girl.

 

“BUGSY!” We shouted at the same time, cracking up.

See how that works? Just as we’re talking about how we don’t know what to name her, her name arrives in the mail! Et voilà.

Happy Friday, All!

PHA!

When Callaghan decided to create an Etsy shop for his art, we got right down to brain-storming names. “First name, Last name Art” wasn’t doing it for us, and neither was “Callaghan Art.” He wanted the word “Art” in the shop’s name, but he didn’t want to use his legal name or his former professional nom de plume.

We mused on the possibilities for a few moments.

“How about,” I ventured slowly, “‘PHA!’?”

It seemed like a logical suggestion, as Callaghan’s been signing his drawings, paintings and illustrations with “PHA!” since he was six years old. He’s gone through phases of signing in other ways, but he always goes back to “PHA!” – in fact, in the four years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him sign any other way. “PHA!” is his original, default signature.

 

Callaghan's signature on one of his latest works.

Callaghan’s signature on one of his latest works.

 

“True! I’ve been signing as ‘PHA!’ my whole life,” he said enthusiastically. “I can call the shop ‘PHA! Art’.”

Silence as his words lingered in the air.

“Oh… no,” I said, the realization hitting suddenly. “You don’t want your shop to be pronounced…”

“PHAART.” He finished my sentence with a low, drawn-out utterance, then repeated it: “PHAART!”

We were in the truck, on the road, laughing wildly into the hot, dusty wind.

It reminded me of Samuel L. Jackson raising hell on Twitter while watching basketball, as he did last week during the Spurs vs. the Thunder playoffs game, and the Pacers vs. the Heat: “Muphuggaz,” “MUFUKKAS,” “Muthaphukkaz,” “MUTHAFUQQA” and “Muhfugga!!” are just a few examples of the creative spellings he comes up with (for his signature word).

He doesn’t just use it for sports, though!

 

CaptureSamuelLJacksonStarWars

 

For Callaghan, “PHA! Art” would indeed be an unfortunate business name. Since you can’t use exclamation points in usernames, his URL would be “www.etsy.com/shop/phaart,” and his email address would be phaart@something.com.

“My address could be “PHAART@yourgeneraldirection.com,” he said, getting into it.

“Maybe you could just use ‘PHA!’ by itself,” I suggested.

He hasn’t decided yet for certain, but we know that “PHA!” will likely be a part of his shop’s name somehow. I’ll report back once his shop is up and running, lest your curiosity slay you.

Happy Friday, All!

Getting Eaten by a Shark in Kansas Never Seemed More Possible.

Last week, I wrote about disaster movies. Imagine my horrified bemusement, then, when I woke up this morning to realize that #SharkNado struck the airwaves last night, and somehow, we weren’t prepared. The gory aftermath was splattered all over my Twitter.

It started with this:

#SHARKNADO (7/12/13)

Which drove me straight into the bowels of the internets. I had to find out all about it.

(This may or may not be related to Callaghan interrupting my train of thought just now to say, “Hey Baby – we need to start making a food stash.”  Seriously! He didn’t know that I was writing about this! The sixth sense is a funny thing.)

 

 

So, a Sharknado is a storm in which great numbers of some species of shark – I’m assuming Great Whites, from the looks of it – come raining down onto the land from a Category 5 monstrosity broiling over the sea. Meteorologists have no doubt already taken note that the eyes of these storms are special. For one thing, they’re lateral.

Now, I’m not a film critic. But if I were a film critic, and if I had the task of reviewing #SharkNado, the first thing I’d do is call out the omission of Samuel L. Jackson. Samuel L. Jackson was in Jurassic Park, and, of course, Snakes on a Plane, two of my all-time favorite disaster movies. Because this was the one thought pounding through my head as the trailer wound down:

WHERE IS SAMUEL L. JACKSON? A MOVIE CALLED “SHARKNADO” MUST FEATURE SAMUEL L. MOTHERF*CKEN JACKSON!!

Major casting FAIL.

That is all.