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A roadrunner on my deck with its feathers fluffed out.  Then it saw me and came to attention.  As soon as I went outside to ask for a photo op, it scooted out of the yard.  I checked my old posts, and it was way back in 2010 that I had a tamer roadrunner1.  And I wrote about the woman feeding a roadrunner bacon on the outdoor patio at the Catalina BBQ Co. & Sports Bar after a game of golf2 in 2011 but that happened back in 2003 or 2004 when I was building my present house, and after checking out the progress of the construction often went to the Sports Bar for lunch.

Was thinking of another event there involving a roadrunner.  One day I went for lunch and had my Airedale, Lucy, on a leash with me.  Attached her to a chair outside and went inside to order.  Stopped for a minute to talk to a friend; she was looking outside and asked Isn’t that your dog?  Lucy was dashing across the patio, dragging the metal chair.  I was told that a mother roadrunner had her nest next to the patio, and apparently she thought that my dog was infringing upon her space (and not proffering bacon).  Roadrunner can be nasty – they can kill rattlesnakes!

I remember having seen a similar scene in one of the Beethoven movies:

George brings home important clients for a barbecue and while George is inside Beethoven overhears the couple discussing how they are going to swindle George out of his company. While the couple are seated around a patio table, Beethoven, on a very long leash, encircles the pair. When a ball is thrown over a fence Beethoven chases after it, dragging the couple with him.

Anyway, my present roadrunner isn’t tame.

Taxes, Wall Street, and NASCAR

The 11th-hour deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff preserved billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways even as it slashed take-home pay for millions of American workers.

nascarFor 2013 I and the other three instructors on our grant have had our hours of work at the college cut.  That combined with the loss of the payroll tax credit will cost me about $2K a year.  But hey, I’m glad that the Wall Street and those NASCAR guys got a break!

One of the more unusual tax benefits in the fiscal cliff legislation is a longstanding carve-out for racetracks used by NASCAR.

Since 2004, Congress has passed a series of stopgap measures that allow owners of motorsports complexes to accelerate their depreciation expenses. This means that owners can deduct more in expenses, reducing the taxes they must pay.

Supporters in Congress and industry groups have argued that the tax break is necessary to “maintain the current standard expected by our competitors and fans.” According to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the so-called NASCAR loophole will cost taxpayers $46 million this year and an additional $95 million through 2017. 3

Les Mis

Just saw the movie, Les Misérables.  Wish I had seen the musical when it was here in Tucson in 2005.  ‘Cuz when you’re watching the movie you’re picturing the scenes on a stage.  On the one hand, the movie dashed through the book (understandably, as the book is 1,488 pages), but on the other hand, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, the movie seemed very long.  Someone would start singing and it’d go on forever.  I was thinking, Come on let’s get on with the plot.  Guess I’m too used to those 90 minute popcorn films.

One reason to see the play rather than the movie is that with the play you’re far enough back not to see people’s teeth.  On a huge movie screen closeup, those stunning white teeth are startling.  If Jean Valjean was starved and beaten for nineteen years in prison, without even a toothbrush, there’s no way he’d have gorgeous teeth.  jackmanI was going to say that’s the problem with American actors – they all have beautiful teeth, but Hugh Jackman, who played Jean Valjean, is an Aussie.  For the first scene, when he is shown as a convict, he had…

barely eaten for 36 hours and hadn’t drunk anything, not even water, during this period.  Little wonder that [he] looked gaunt, with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes.

‘I’d already shed 20 pounds, through exercise and a very lean diet, before I embarked on that 36-hour period in which I drank nothing and ate very little and I knew I was pushing myself and my body to the limit.  But the non-consumption of liquids is a very clever bodybuilders’ trick for giving one sunken cheeks and sunken eyes and, boy, did it work. Maybe just a little too well…’

cosetteOk, he looked gaunt, but couldn’t they have blacked his teeth?  When I was working in Dublin, I remember a group of middle-aged, probably middle-class Irish going into a restaurant.  Their teeth were terrible!  And, of course, third world people tend to have bad or missing teeth.  When I was in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, thirty-five years ago, there was only one dentist in the whole parish.  He had no time for corrective work; he only pulled out bad teeth.

But I loved a lot of the singing.  I Dreamed a Dream, sung by Anne Hathaway5 was stupendous, rather like the only memorable song from Cats, Memory6.  Child actress Isabelle Allen plays the young Cosette and her voice is crystalline.  (She even looks like the 1862 illustration of Cosette from the book.)  les mis kidAnd I thought that 12-year-old Daniel Huttlestone who played the child-hero Gavroche sang beautifully!  Reminded me of the youngster in the Tucson Boys Chorus who performed as Oliver about forty years ago.

I also loved the choruses, especially Look Down, one of the best-known songs from the musical and repeated throughout, and Red and Black, sung by the students barricading the streets and fomenting revolution.

The June Rebellion was an unsuccessful, anti-monarchist insurrection of Parisian Republicans—led by student societies in June of 1832.

barricadesWhen I was in architecture school we studied Haussmann’s Renovation of Paris.  By demolishing many of the tenements of Paris, creating wide boulevards, Napoléon figured that barricades could no longer block access to his troops.

The Haussmann Plan was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870. Haussmann’s boulevards established the foundation of what is today the popular representation of the French capital around the world, cutting through the old Paris of dense and irregular medieval alleyways into a more rationally-designed city with wide avenues and open spaces which extended outwards far beyond the old city limits. 7


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3 Responses to “Roadrunner”

  1. Lynn Shore Says:

    Love your roadrunner stories-That was my favorite cartoon back in the day. Don’t know if I will go see Les Miserables-saw the stage play twice. Lynn

  2. Jim Says:

    We had a pair of road runners for many years. The male followed me around the yard. When the gray foxes made a home by the house, the road runners disappeared.

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