Swing Time (III)

Three-thirty and the beer was long gone, but the sun was still high over the Western horizon. They were back at Bill’s house now, half-crashed in lawn chairs set up on the screen porch. Greg blearily mused that by sundown he would be working on a buzz entirely distinct from this one; getting drunk twice in the same day was hardly frontier territory. Meanwhile, Bill was verbally constructing the World’s Biggest Rope Swing again, including details so incredibly esoteric that not only did he obviously consider the idea feasible, but had seemingly been thinking about it for a long time. Bill’s cat, an affectionate American Shorthair named Hugh Hefner, prowled to and fro on the porch, watching the chickadees flitting about outside with more than passing interest.
“I’m telling you, Malmo climbs trees bigger than that,” Bill insisted. A mutual friend, Harry Malley, had attended conservation college in Maine and now worked for the Fish and Game Department. And it was true – Malmo did climb trees, or at least had; Greg recalled chuckling over Malmo’s description of taking part in some sort of interscholastic lumberjack competition that Greg could only envision as the Redneck Olympics: Not only tree climbing but two-man handsaw, chainsaw, and chopping competitions – wherever ascending trees was not the aim, destroying them in any number of ways was. The faster the better. There was even a tobacco-juice-spitting contest. Greg might have held his own there, though snuff, not chaw, was really his purview.

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Swing Time (II)

“Tree’s only got one branch to speak of,” Bill remarked, dumping about half a beer down his throat to commemorate the observation. He drank almost as much as Greg did during these liquid picnics, but never appeared as drunk as he actually was.
“But it’s a big mother,” Greg noted. He, on the other hand, would be visibly plastered by mid-afternoon, when they would mount their bicycles and wobble back into town and, in Bill’s words, “wait for the world to catch up.” Greg – evidently consigned by his neural circuitry to a life of head-scratching and lagging a step or two behind the world’s achievers – didn’t get that one, either. In the back of his mind, he was still thinking that Coriolis Force sounded like a Chuck Norris-type film with some Greek guy in a tunic playing the lead role.
“If that tree is two hundred and fifty feet tall,” said Bill (in fact, it was more like two-thirty), “that branch is probably a hundred and eighty feet high, and…oh, fifty feet long. More or less parallel to the ground.”

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Swing Time (I)

As the Kiddamoosuc River’s mellow, southward current first bisects Hadley, the lands on either side of it represent opposing chapters of a geography textbook. On the west, a floodplain fans out, a four-hundred-acre expanse nestled in a crook of the serpentine Kiddamoosuc. Some ninth-generation farmer owns the land; occasionally his labors transform the plain into a cornfield, and his cows often venture here to feed and while away their vacuous, desultory days. On the east, however, the land rises sharply: A sandy bluff hugs the river for a stretch of nearly two miles. At the top of this roughly forty-five degree pitch, nearly two hundred feet above the waterline (and for the time being, safely out of range of the bluff’s implacable erosion) the terrain levels off again. Here, a number of pricey homes sprouted up over the years, eventually coalescing into a loose neighborhood – Hadley Heights.
The best vantage point for viewing this fascinating study in topological contrast – a half-valley – is the Route 4 Bridge, which includes a bicycle path along its northern edge, separated from the flow of traffic by a chain-link fence. There, pleasantly stoned on a lazy July morning, two of Hadley’s foremost non-achievers stood slouching over the rusty guardrail like a mismatched pair of gargoyles.

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Xena, Warrior Scientist!

I freely admit it. I routinely destroy my neoencephalon by watching all manner of crap on television. I am not one of those overweening snobs who daintily curl an upper lip as I sneer, “I never watch television.” I love popular culture, and frankly, find a dose of mindless television to be relaxing, and occasionally thought-provoking.

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Eureka: a semi-flaccid thumb’s up.

Here’s a belated follow-up on my previous yammering about the SciFi Network’s series Eureka. As I expected, the show blends the quirkiness of Northern Exposure with the Big Science of the Manhattan Project. I watched most of the episodes and would rank it in the “OK, I guess” category of marginal TV. Keep in mind that my pop culture entertainment bar is set low.

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