Friday, July 29, 2016

The Super Cows

Monroe Wisconsin calls itself "The Swiss Cheese Capitol of the USA".  That pretty much tells you what you need to know about the place.  It was settled by Swiss, so the place is quaint and immaculately tidy.  And they really like their cows.

So when we were passing through on our road trip and saw a sign announcing "Super Cows - Historic Town Square", we had to turn off.  What I was expecting to find was, well, exactly what we did find.

Stationed around the old brick central square were carved figures of assorted bovine heroes.  

Batman Cow looking suitably dark and mysterious.  Perhaps inspired by the Black Angus variety.

The Incredible Hulk is not looking happy here.  Somebody has broken off his right horn.  This will not end well.

Superman Cow.  Now admittedly I am a full generation removed from farm life but even I know enough about male bovine anatomy to state with confidence that the skimpy shorts worn by "Supe" and by the Hulk above would not meet any standards of modesty!

On a similar note it probably does not bear thinking about what it would take to squeeze udders into the capacious but poorly located brassiere of Wonder Woman.

The Flash has a bit more "giddyup" than most cows.  It appears he has just received instructions from the Mayor or Commissioner Gordon, or somebody in the Courthouse directly behind him.

Thor, looking decidedly non-Swiss.

One last pleasing bit of art.  Super Girl Cow posing demurely next to a small community garden plot.  Most farm families have genuine affection for their cows and consider them as both "girls" and most decidedly "super".

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

At the Corner of Faith and Judgement - Summer 2016

A few pictures from our recent road trip.  Much more of course to follow in the weeks ahead.

Shullsburg Wisconsin has some fascinating street names:

You can STOP at the intersection of Faith and Judgement.  Judgement is the main street in the town and it also meets up with Friendship, Peace, Truth and Cyclops.

If you had somehow forgotten that Sheboygan is a very Teutonic city that likes to have a good time, just look up as you walk down 8th Street.

I really should not seek out signs entirely for the purpose of upsetting my British pal MooseandHobbes, but it would be hard to find more anti-vegetarian sentiments than this sign snapped through the window of a small town meat market.  They have been turning Bambi into Burgers since 1890.

A 19th Century tobacco warehouse in Edgerton Wisconsin.  It was just after a nice rain shower so the "ghost signs" were visible.  The middle section has scraps of meaning.  "...N FOR MEN" "HENRY"  "5 c".  We thought it was an awful lot of artistic effort for a surface that would only be seen by people riding on the trains.

At their home base in Kohler Wisconsin the eponymous Kohler Corporation has their amazing Design Center.  More high end plumbing fixtures that you can imagine, designer bathroom displays that cost more than I paid for our house, booths where you can turn on a dozen different shower nozzles all at once and so forth.  I especially like the forty foot tall Wall of Tubs and Toilets.

Because she likes puns and I am feeling a little badly about the carcass drop off photo I shall mention to M&H that I dubbed the triumphant figure at the top "The Emperor Commodus".

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Baseball Road Trip '16 - Beloit Wisconsin

My favorite baseball movie of all time is Bull Durham.  Among many gems of wisdom is this line:

"Sometimes you win.  Sometimes you lose.  And sometimes it rains."

We had been looking forward to watching the Beloit Snappers play.  They have a nice vintage ball park, and are a former affiliate of our favorite big league team, The Minnesota Twins.  And the mascot, Snappy D. Turtle, is very good, in our experience second only to the immortal Mr. Shucks.

But it was not to be.  When we got to town the skies were unsettled and radar showed an enormous wall of thunderstorms marching in from the west.  As they were due to hit right when the game was supposed to start it became clear that there would be no game that night.

So our third game of the Road Trip became a rain out.  We went to the movies instead.

See ya next time Snappy.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Baseball Road Trip '16 - Sheboygan Wisconsin

A new stop for this year's Road Trip, Sheboygan.  One of my kids has a job there so we had a place to crash for free.  And Sheboygan has a long established semi-pro team, The Sheboygan A's.

I was looking forward to comparing the quality of play and the general ambiance here versus the actual "official" baseball at the single A level of the professional ranks.  Some random pictures and thoughts.

Wildwood Park is a nice little field.  The plume of smoke you can see in the second picture is where they grill the bratwursts.  Brats are more or less a sacrament here.  The stands don't look very full in this picture but we got there early enough to watch warmups.  A nice crowd was on hand for the game.

Before the game began the announcer - who had a marvelous, sonorous voice - reminded the fans that any foul balls hit into the stands had to be returned....and you got a dollar at the concessions stand for doing so.  Oh, and he also said that nobody should direct abusive language at the umpires.  I have never heard such an announcement made at a ball game.

The ticket taker was a nice lady named Phyllis.  She was in a wheelchair and had a pot of flowers next to her.

At our game in Appleton the flag was brought out onto the field by a bunch of bikers on Harleys.  Here a troop of Cub Scouts did the honors. The National Anthem was a recording.  I think I was the only one singing the words.

It was a blazing hot day and we had eaten pizza not long before, so I can't report on the food served at the park beyond saying it was a varied menu and smelled great.  As to beer, well it was a promo night for "Bud Lite".  Blessed indeed is the beer drinker who does not know what this pallid swill tastes like.  I ordered a pitcher of the alternative, a local brew called Spotted Cow.  All three of us independently came to the conclusion that we had instead been served "Lite".

The quality of play started out well.  Both teams fielded crisply and the pitchers had good "stuff".  But we noticed that the visiting team from Manitowoc had only showed up with nine players.  There were no reserves.  So as the game went on and their pitcher faltered there appeared to be nobody available to relieve him.  Tired arms lose control and the walks, hit batters and pitches just plain left right out over the plate started to accumulate.  Bad baseball karma becomes contagious and the Manitowoc infielders, who had been excellent in the early going, made several embarrassing errors.  Most atypically for our road trips we left before the game was officially over.  It was 10-1 and getting ugly.

I was surprised to find that the "A's" had a mascot.  He wore a team uniform with the number 1 on it and the announcer did call him "A-1" on one occasion.  But he was more of a walking advertisement than a true mascot.  He occasionally engaged with the fans but I saw a lot of this sort of non activity:

In the lower photo the observant will note that all the fans have hats off and hands over their hearts for the National Anthem.  Now I know that A-1's hat is sewn on but I regard a mascot that does not recognize the Star Spangled Banner in any fashion as being sub-par.

Well he seems to be a skinny kid, perhaps high school age.  That would explain why the only times he came over to our section was to chat up a bunch of young gals sitting five rows back from us.

Overall a pleasant evening.  Sheboygan and its ball team go way back and it was good to see this degree of community support for them.  In some important ways it was a return to the roots of baseball, which is always at its best on warm summer evenings in places that lack fancy video scoreboards and other modern distractions.

Keep up the good work Sheboygan.  But lets do a little better on the beer next time.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Baseball Road Trip '16 - Appleton Wisconsin

Appleton Wisconsin is the home of the "Wisconsin Timber Rattlers".   This is single A ball which for my non baseball friends is the lowest level of professional baseball.  

This was our first stop on the annual baseball road trip.  

The stadium is a bit too new and clean, and disconcertingly is next to a large shopping mall. But it was a perfect night for a ball game.  The blistering heat of the day had been relieved just before game time by a brisk shower.  Kudos to the ushers who went around with a towel and dried your seat off for you.

On to the important stuff.


This is "Fang" the Rattlers' mascot.  He was having fun this night as his team was romping over a hapless opponent.  But he has a tendency to hang out in the dugout with the players a bit too much.  A top notch mascot is always out working the crowd.

Most minor league teams have various diversions going on between innings.  They should supplement the game not distract from it.  People racing around the field in these costumes gets my seal of approval:

Speaking of food and drink I must regretfully report that Appleton is still low on our rankings in these areas.  Uninspired burgers.  And the only interesting beer on tap turned out to be some local atrocity made with blueberries.  Shudder.

As I mentioned the game was not close.  The Fort Wayne Tin Caps are at the bottom of the league and their play showed why.  Five errors, several of which my little league teams of the past would not have made.  

So a nice night for a ball game and a good time was had.  More games ahead.  

My new goal is a picture with each mascot.  It was hard to catch Fang out and about but we did get a quick shot.

I give "Fang" the fangs and he gives me a thumbs up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dr. Who Saves the Enterprise

I don't make a big deal out of the fact that I am able to travel back and forth in time.  Most people find my stories implausible.  The ones who do believe me sometimes ask which of "The Doctors" I am but acknowledge that the ability to bounce around and alter time lines makes it an irrelevant question.

In the 1970s I was kept pretty busy.  It was a crummy decade and I did what I could.  Sorry about Pet Rocks and Disco, I tried, oh how I tried.  But there is one success story that I feel I should share.

After the Apollo program NASA was in a real funk.  The Space Shuttle program was teetering on the brink of cancellation.  I mean, it was cool but really less useful than cheaper unmanned vehicles.  

The truth can now be told.  I organized the letter writing campaign that got the prototype shuttle named "Enterprise".  And once we got "most" of the cast of the original series to show up for that roll out ceremony in 1976 the survival of the program was assured by a great tide of public affection.  Ah, good times.

I'm there of course.  I wanted to share the moment without stealing the spotlight.  

That's me standing behind George and Nikky.  Here's another photo of me from about the same time, as if time really has any relevance for the owner of a TARDIS tricked out to resemble a simple garden shed.

Bill Shatner of course didn't show.  What a putz.  You can be sure I remembered that incident when I wrote it into the screenplay for Galaxy Quest 23 relative years later.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lake Pirates

Perfect weather.  Sunny, no bugs.  

Boating, berry picking, fishing and of course the annual treasure hunt.  

The clues were all over the map this year and no adult help allowed.  Puns, hobbit riddles, codes.  One was in Swedish which is actually fair since one of the kids speaks it.  Clues were under water with an arrow made of white rocks pointing the way.  Or nailed high up on a tree trunk.  This one was moored off shore in an anchored milk bottle.

Another was frozen into a block of ice.  This one was buried in a container of dog chow.

Here are a few of the clues.  Note the candle burned edges?  That not being "pirate authentic" enough they were also splattered with ketchup and baked in the oven a while!

After an hour and a half of hard work they finally found the treasure chest.  It contained Wisconsin legal fireworks.  Sadly they were so tired by then that they did not seem suitably impressed.

Kids sleeping well at the end of a long and busy day.