This 'n' That

Delang, Nicky             Nicky De Lange

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Question of the week: are you as tired of hearing about Pokémon Go as I am? Or are you one of those people addicted to the latest video game?
This fad seemed to spring up overnight and out of nowhere. It appears to be hyper-addictive. Just look around – you’ll see people wandering aimlessly, their
eyes locked on their cell phones. According to news reports, one Pokémon fan, seriously focused on this new game craze, walked off the side of a cliff. Another stepped on a poisonous snake because he thought it was just a branch until it bit him. You can’t really blame the poor snake. No one enjoys being trampled on because someone isn’t watching where he or she is going.
I won’t attempt to explain how this mobile game works. It’s too complicated to describe it in a column and, to be honest, who cares? Pokemon Go
(Not I – Ed.) If I actually tried to do that, your eyes would probably start crossing after a couple of paragraphs.
If you’re thinking this is some sophisticated big-city form of entertainment, think again. In just the past few days, I’ve seen several folks wandering around our local parks, staring fixedly at their cell phones. They remind me of the zombies on my favorite TV series, The Walking Dead. The only difference is that these people are in search
of a Pokémon character. The zombies are just seeking victims to snack on.
Hmm, I wonder if the folks who develop these games could create one in which players search for Pokémon zombies. Never mind – the people addicted to this fad are already zombies.
Big warning: drive and walk carefully. You don’t want to go to prison for knocking down a Pokémon Go player. Can you imagine being sent to prison for that? Your cellmate would ask you what you’re in for and your answer would have to be: “Knocking down a pedestrian who was playing a Pokémon Go game.”
That would be more embarrassing than falling off a cliff or stepping on a snake, right?

***
Last but not least this week, I want to recommend a book I read recently. Ted Koppel, a 42-year veteran of ABC News and anchor and managing editor of Nightline for 25 years, has written Lights Out. This is a truly terrifying account of what could happen if a major cyber attack were to knock out America’s power grid.
It won’t, he explains in great detail, be simply an inconvenience similar to a power cut caused by a hurricane, lasting just a week or so. Millions of people spread out over several states will be without power. There’ll be no running water, sewage, light or refrigeration. Food and medical supplies will run out in no time at all.
Banks will close, looting will be rampant and law and order will be challenged as it has never been challenged before.
Koppel interviewed a large number of experts in government offices and public companies, probing for answers to what would happen in the event of a massive long-term power cut. He digs deep into the possibility of such an event actually occurring, searching out how – or even if – America is prepared to deal with such an enormous catastrophe.
The answers are pretty terrifying. Solutions are much more limited than you might expect. It would be apocalyptic, to say the least.
Lights Out is a gripping read, in some ways much more frightening than anything Stephen King could come up with. It gives you a lot to think about.

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

This year’s Fourth of July holiday is over, along with its dazzling fireworks. For lots of Americans, the annual celebration also includes barbecue, potato salad, baked beans, watermelon and other traditional foods.

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But, for contestants in Nathan’s famous hot-dog eating contest, the menu is
a lot simpler. It’s just hot dogs and more hot dogs. Lots more. Dozens of them.
This well-known competition takes place each year on July 4 in Coney Island, New York. This year, 16 contestants were fighting for the honor of being the hot-dog-
eating champion of the world. Honor – really? Scarfing down the most hot dogs and buns is an honor to be fought for???
For eight years, Joey Chestnut out-gobbled his competitors. But he lost last year’s contest I what, from all reports, was a crushing defeat. This year, he recaptured the championship by eating 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes, setting a new record.
Why bring this story up now, when the contest took place nine days ago? I still can’t stop wondering why anyone would want to eat such an excessive amount
of food, just to win a title.
Just reading an account of what it takes to down almost six dozen hot dogs was stomach-turning, to say the least.
Just warning you before I divulge all, Chestnut’s technique is pretty gross, to say the least. He removes the buns, cuts two hot dogs into four pieces and uses two of them to push the other two down his throat. He then takes the buns, one by one, dunks them in a glass of water and smushes them into soggy balls of bread before sliding them, too, down his throat.
Yuck! And he managed to consume 70 Nathan’s hot dogs that way.
This is not the only food-eating contest out there, either. Folks also compete in burger, gyro, pumpkin-pie and other eating competitions to see who can gorge themselves enough to out-eat their competition.
Every year, there is plenty of media coverage of the Nathan’s hot-dog eating contest and, every year when I see it on TV or read about it in a newspaper, I have only one thought – what makes anyone want to do that?
Actually, I have one other recurring thought – if I read or see any more about this topic, I know I’m going to barf. Literally.
I think it’s the visual.
I can’t get the picture out of my mind of someone cramming all that meat and soggy bread into his or her mouth, especially at high speed.
I have to remind myself that this event takes place on the Fourth of July, the date on which we Americans celebrate our country’s freedoms. Apparently, one of those God-given freedoms is to gorge ourselves to the point of sickness in order to win a contest that, in my opinion, is utterly meaningless.
While I have to respect someone’s right to gobble down dozens of hot dogs because this is, indeed, a free country, I also have the right to find the idea sickening.
And so next year, I plan not to watch or read anything about the subject. Enough, already.

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Anyone who is a regular reader of this column knows that I am crazy about squirrels. OK, make that “squirrelly about squirrels”.
I became especially attached to them a few years ago when my husband and I started walking every day in one of Texas City’s parks. Seeing them scamper around got both of us hooked. Especially one spring day when two younger ones chased each other through the trees, managing to fall to the ground right behind us.
Luckily, both survived without a scratch and, less than five minutes later, they managed to fall out of the branches again, this time landing directly in front of us. And that’s when I became fascinated with these cute little rodents.

Side profile of a young girl (10-11) feeding a squirrel
Of course, being me, I decided we should take them some of our pecans as a treat. We have two trees at our house, so there were lots of nuts to go around. Each day we took a few more and, suddenly, we had three or more squirrels running down the park paths after us.
We were officially Squirrel Whisperers.
As the months rolled by, the squirrels would come when called. Many times we’d be literally surrounded by the furry little critters.
And that’s when I started joking that I had to pay attention and hand out those pecans fast or one day I might find a squirrel shinnying up the leg of my jeans.
You’re probably ahead of me here – right?
About a month ago, we stopped to feed two squirrels. Then it was three, then four. And that’s when I felt a steady, persistent tug on the leg of my jeans.
I turned around, totally puzzled as to what was going on. And there he was – an adorable little squirrel who had gotten tired of waiting for his turn. He had his little paws embedded in the denim and was tugging patiently away.
What did I do? What can you do at a time like that? I didn’t want to scare the poor little guy, so – as calmly as you can when you have a frustrated squirrel hanging onto your leg – I said: “Oh, hi there! Would you like a pecan too?” The answer was a definite yes. As I waved a nut in his direction, he let go and scooted around me for his treat.
Everything ended just fine. He got his reward and I learned to hand out pecans a whole lot faster. But when this happened it reminded me of Halloween, when you open your door and there’s a bunch of little kids all holding out bags for trick or treat.
Inevitably, that has caused me often to picture my little furry friends wearing Halloween costumes and begging for just one more nut.
I sometimes wonder how difficult it would be to get those trick-or-treat outfits on them …

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

There’s a reason this column is called This ’N’ That. Sometimes you just wind up with a bunch of assorted items that don’t really go together but you need or want to touch on them briefly. Today is one of those times.160629 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster
I’ll start with an apology for an error that appeared here a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about my newest “favorite” TV show, The West Texas Investors Club.
I mistakenly said the program appears on channel MSNBC. It doesn’t. It’s on CNBC.
At least I was sort of close. And I didn’t realize that the show is now in its second season, so be sure to catch last season in reruns as well as the new episodes.
I also tried to quote the really good summary at the beginning of each show but couldn’t remember it all. It’s too funny not to repeat it and get it right this time.
“Deals will be made, lives will be changed, beer will be spilled” – is that a great concept or what?
And, finally, an interesting fact about one of the stars of West Texas Investors Club, Mike “Rooster” McConaughey. He has a pretty famous younger brother; 16 years younger, in fact. Ever seen Matthew McConaughey in a movie?
And now for a really great quote I heard on Jay Leno’s Garage. (Yes, I do have an odd taste in television programs.)
One of Jay’s recent celebrity guests was Robert Herjavec, one of the multimillionaire sharks from Shark Tank. Herjavec is a big fan of sports cars and he took Leno for a ride in his Lamborghini, a car I’ve always loved.
According to Herjavec, Frank Sinatra was known to have said something along the lines of  “People who think they’ve made it buy a Ferrari; people who actually have made it buy a Lamborghini”. That’s one way of looking at it.
Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my son years ago, when he was in high school.
Like a lot of boys, he was completely car crazy. If it had four wheels, he knew who made it, what it cost and how big the engine was.
That was his main topic of interest. While I like sports cars, especially Corvettes, and Jaguars like the XKE, I wasn’t as fascinated as he was.
One day he said: “Mom, you really don’t care all that much about cars, do you?”
I said I didn’t, as long as my vehicle could do what I needed it to do.
He then asked: “If you could have any car you wanted, what would it be?”
Without missing a beat, I answered: “A Lamborghini.”
He looked at me in shock and said: “Do you know how much they cost?”
My reply? “Hey, you
said I could have whatever
I wanted!”
I’m still waiting for my quarter-million-dollar-plus Lamborghini.

Delang, Nicky            Nicky De Lange

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

The tough part of summer isn’t the heat, the humidity or the threat of hurricanes. For me, it’s the absence of my favorite television shows. For at least three months, my favorite programs are on hiatus. Suddenly I find myself desperately searching the program guide for almost anything new or different to fill the void of being deprived of my favorite series.
Warning – before I list them, I should warn you that I’m a reality-show junkie. I have watched every season of Survivor. One of the very first of what quickly became a deluge of reality programming, this show and its host, Jeff Probst, had me hooked from the beginning.
That was about 15 years ago or so. I’ll always remember Richard Hatch, the winner of season one, when no one had a clue what to do to win, Rupert, the loveable teddy-bear-pirate wannabe, and the ultimate villain of all time, Russell Hantz from just up the road in Dayton.
Eventually I discovered the joys of Dog The Bounty Hunter, Hoarders, Hoarding: Buried Alive, My 600-Pound Life, Billion Dollar Buyer and Shark Tank.
But recently I’ve found the all-time best reality show ever. And that’s the subject of today’s column – The West Texas Investors Club.
In trying to describe this funny, addictive series, I struggled with how to convey the theme of it in just a few words. It was a struggle but I can best sum it up as Shark Tank starring Gabby Hayes and the cast of Heehaw.
To set the scene, let me ask if you’ve ever been to west Texas? Maybe you’ve visited Alpine or Study Butte? My family and I made that trip years ago. I still remember the shock of being in the middle of nowhere, seeing coyotes, javalinas, tarantulas the size of dinner plates and vultures who knew how to lift the lids off barbecue pits and steal dinner. Throw in a sandstorm and you’ve got west Texas.
Two multi-millionaires make up the membership of the West Texas Investors Club, Wayne “Butch” Gilliam and Mike “Rooster” McConaughey. Butch and Rooster are self-made multimillionaires who started out at the bottom of the business world and got to the top the hard way – working before they finished high school.
To see them, you’d think they were just good ol’ boys, with chewing tobacco in their back pockets and a dusty pickup parked in front of their single-wide trailer. Their accents and speech patterns are pure Texas. They’re no drugstore cowboys, for sure.
But, like the sharks on Shark Tank, these oil tycoons are smart as they come and excellent judges of character. They invite folks to their barn-like clubhouse, aptly named West Texas Investors Club, where “deals are made and beer is spilled”.
The entrepreneurs are invited to pitch an idea or invention. If Rooster and Butch like them, they give them a chance to prove their project and then the West Texas Investors make an offer.
Sounds a lot like Shark Tank with cowboy boots but it’s a whole lot funnier. Try to imagine Kevin “Mr Wonderful” O’Leary from Shark Tank talking like Gabby Hayes and wearing the same outfit.
It’s tough to convey the factors that make this show such a winner. Maybe you have to be from Texas. Maybe it’s just a refreshing down-to-earth series. Whatever the secret of its success, it works. The series started its second season on MSNBC last week. Check it out at 9:00pm on Tuesdays.
Rooster and Butcher are good ol’ boys. They just have a lot of money.