Favorite Installation Artists

Thursday, November 19, 2009


So, do I have your attention?  After seeing the ad below in Tuesday's 'Yuma Sun', I thought it was a fluke and a pretty funny one at that.  Just to satisfy my curiosity, I ran it through Google and what do you know!  Its a big deal in a lot of western states.  Figures.  Big guys on horses, carrying guns and shooting varmits would just naturally gravitate toward bull testicles, wouldn't they?  Must be a 'manly' thing.  I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around this one.  But I'm not trying very hard.

Have a Ball at the Testicle Festival

Now, these aren't just any old testicles.  No sir!  These are USDA grade bull testicles.  I am not aware of the grading guidelines.  But bigger is better.  There are formal names for this delicacy.
One is 'Rocky Mountain Oysters'.  Another is (groan) 'Montana Tendergroin'.  They taste like chicken.  Well, sure they do.  Doesn't everything?

There is apparently only one  basic recipe and here it is.  Just in case you have the odd dozen or so testicles you just don't know how to cook. Use frozen USDA Grade bull testicles.  Skin them when they are just thawing, because the membrane peels like an orange.  Hungry yet?  Marinate them in beer.  Bread them four times and then deep fry them.  Or, you could just go out to one of the festivals like the one below.  Yuma, Arizona is having one this weekend.

Warning - Some Nudity

Wow!  Bikers, boobs and bull balls.
Good Times!

And people ask me why I stay single. 

Testicle Festival from ulteriorproductions.com on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Valley of Fire

Over 150 million years ago,  in the age of the dinosaurs, shifting sand formed huge expanses of red sandstone over most of what is now the American Southwest.  The same forces that uplifted mountain ranges and the subsequent erosion over many eons then formed faults and valleys leaving the formations we see today.   Other rock formations include limestone and shale. 

Thats the geololgy.  Its not what you first think about when you drive through it.  The sky is so intensely blue and the rocks are so red that it is immediately apparent that this is a unique and mystical landscape.  You just want to get out of the car and walk around in it.  To touch a few things.  To connect.

The Beehive

Your imagination just takes off.  Who were the people that called this home?  How did they live here?  Where are they now?  The span of occupation dates from 300 B.C. to around 1150 A.D.  They were the Basket Maker Peoples.  They predated the later Anasazi Peublo Farmers, but whether they assimilated into another group or just disappeared is not clear.  They were hunter gatheres.  They left rock art behind.  They are gone.  It's just too big a mystery, isn't it?  When they looked at the formations like the one below, what animal do you think they pictured? 

Elephant Rock

This is the West, don't forget.  Full of cowboys and outlaws who needed hideouts.  Follow a trail here to a slight depression in the rocks called "Mouse's Tank".  Rainwater collects here, sometimes lasting for months.  Perfect for a guy on the run.  Along the route, there are many prehistoric petroglyphs.  Did these people come upon the water and stay for awhile?  I wonder if they were surprised when it dried up or if they were somehow able to calculate when the rains came and water would be found here again.

This is near Atlatl Rock.  An atlatl is a fishhook shaped wooden tool that was used to hurl a spear great distances.  They figured that out, as well as peoples from the same time periods on other continents.  How does that happen?  There are many varieties of flora and fauna, even in a place that looks as desolate at this.  The Visitor Center here describes how intimate Basketmaker Peoples were with their environment.  Nothing that was usable for survival escaped their notice. 

People sat around a fire here, long ago, looking up at a blue sky while a meal was cooking.  Maybe they were worried where the kids were, or if they would find water the next day.  Some talented craftsman was making an atlatl for the hunt the next day.  Others were thinking about what to draw on the rocks to tell their story.  

Life went on.

(The Valley of Fire is located an easy 45 minute drive northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.  It used to be on Lake Meade.  The lake isn't here anymore.  A 13 year drought has taken it's toll)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Roadrunners And My Christmas List

Geococcyx Californianus

This is one nifty bird.  They are mostly carnivorous and run like the wind.  Roadrunners can fly if running won't do, but they prefer the desert floor.  Although they have a silly reputation from cartoon images, the sounds they make are a descending series of "coos".  No bird ever made a "beep, beep" sound.  For it's size, this bird is a ferocious hunter.  It can handle anything smaller than it is and can even kill and eat a rattlesnake.  It digests the snake while half of it is still hanging from its mouth. That fact is going to come in handy later in this story.

This country has more consumer goods than any nation on the planet.  We practically import all of China.  And, when the wind is from the west and the stars are in perfect alignment, the price is right too.  Who can resist a sale?  It's unamerican.  I had just one more teensy little thing to find to finish my Christmas shopping.  Don't start with me on being so organized that I could get all this done before the 'after Thanksgiving Day' sales.  I may be a senior citizen, but I'm not out of my mind.

  • So, what's wrong with this picture?  NO SALES CLERKS!!!  And, if you are fortunate enough to actually find one, chances are one of the following scenarios will happen.
  • Clerk has no idea what you are talking about
  • Clerk has no idea where the product is located
  • Clerk has no inking of store's layout
  • Clerk can't speak English
  • Clerk is on the phone and can't be bothered with you
  • Clerks are gathering to talk about boyfriends
  • Clerk can't figure out register
  • Clerk makes mistake and it takes hours to find a manager who actually knows how to correct it and ring up the sale

Enter Geococcyx Californianus, the Roadrunner.  Any bird that can catch and eat a rattlesnake ought to be able to run down and nail a sales clerk.  It can digest the clerk as it's nasty little feet hang out of its beak as it does with the rattlesnake.  Or, it can use it's habit of spearing the prey and beating it to death against the rocks.

Either way, I'm a happy woman.

Monday, November 2, 2009


The most painted and photographed landmark in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon, is Superstition Mountain, rising 3000 feet above the desert floor of the Salt River Valley in the Tonto National Forest - the whole lying inside the boundaries of the huge Sonoran Desert. It encompasses 242 square miles of rocky cliffs.The climate is treacherous. Summer temperatures soar over 125 degrees with little or no water in sight. In the cooler season, snow can cover the peaks and even the desert base can plunge below freezing. Wood to use for fires is scarce, the forest plants here are cacti. Food is questionable, assuming you could catch anything. And, the wildlife is hungry too - you might look pretty good to them.

 Why would anyone care? GOLD. The romance and allure of finding the Lost Dutchman Mine is just irresistable. Jacob Waltz left no clues and has been dead for over a 100 years, yet maps and forays into the Superstitions have continued for all that time.  Interested? 

Well, you're going to need a map. It just so happens that there are dozens of those. There are 62 documented maps on record, even though Mr. Waltz wasn't talking. How tough can this be? Lets take a look.

From an unspecified point which may be along a river, a road or just the bottom of the page, we travel toward some benchmark.  Did someone draw an "X" on the ground there? We know it is after the "deep cliffs", but that's sort of a relative term isn't it; everything is a deep cliff. Now, "facing W of SW third of 4 peaks over right shoulder". Hmmm. Somewhere, with 3 red hills in front of me as I am facing WSW, I'm to look over my right shoulder. I will be looking at the 3'rd of 4 peaks.....behind me? What does that accomplish? Maybe there is a hill shaped like an arrow pointing the way. Obviously, either the map is not to scale, or the kidney shaped pit is both miles and miles away from "X" and half the size of Lake Michigan. This just won't do.  Better try again.

This is a little better. Places have names, but I doubt there are street signs. If we find a place called Buzzards Roost while facing Coffee Mountain there will be a trail heading....up?  Did no one own a compass? Going up, we find "Reid's Water", further along the road forks and if we bear left we will come to "Reid's Silver Queen Mine".  Off to the right of Buzzards Roost are "old markers", but we would just have to know what they looked like, it isn't specified. Then, before the trail turns "up" again, a strange little symbol is off to the right and looks like a shovel. Dig here?  Now we sort of know where we are, but have no idea what to do with it. Lets get another map.

This one has Spanish references, so those will have to be identified.  Other than that, try this one out on a topo map and see where you end up.  It is not easy to find a starting point without some sort of scale.  Well, there are dozens of these maps.  Lets just get another.

Much, much better.  Trouble is, the "Phoenix Don's Club" has had this information for years and haven't had much luck.  I love the detailed description of the sun shining through the two notches of "Horse's Head" in the hills to land on "X" halfway up a mesa some unspecified distance away.  Not sure which mesa, there are lots of them.  Well, that's just crystal clear.

I'm way ahead of anybody looking for gold.  The Superstitions are just beyond Apache Junction, an easy drive from here.  I'll pack a picnic and take a moment to be in the desert air with those mountains as a backdrop and that luminous blue sky overhead.  Just LOOK at the picture.

If that isn't golden, nothing is.

(Blogger has improved it's posting pages.  Consequently, this post, which was written before that, has a few quirkly colors and fonts.  Your PC is fine, it's me, I'll get it right next time.)