Tag Archives: Some Guy

The Trumpetvine That Came to Sarnath

Scarlet Trumpetvine

I’ve commented elsewhere about Some Guy, because you can always connect the worst advice on the planet to Some Guy. Horticulturally speaking, Some Guy can be blamed for all sorts of concentrated vile, but one of the most pernicious involves spreading tales about effective use of scarlet trumpetvine (Distictis buccinatoria).

D. buccinatoria doesn’t sound quite so bad upon first glance. It’s a very enthusiastic climbing vine, sometimes growing as big around as your leg, with a nearly fernlike thick foliage. Its name comes from its equally enthusiastic blooming habit, with bright red blooms that attract hummingbirds by day and hawkmoths by night. It also sprouts from its roots, growing a thick corky rind around an extremely tough and fibrous root core. If you’re looking for a tenacious and full vine that covers just about anything, you can’t find anything better in the Dallas area.

And that’s precisely the problem. Scarlet trumpetvine blooms lead to long, beanlike seed pods whose contents are gleefully spread by birds, so they end up everywhere. They don’t seem to have anything indigenous that keeps them under control, so while their leaves make excellent shelter for lizards and beneficial insects, they also transpire so much water during the day that any wood underneath them starts to rot very quickly. Since nothing seems to trim back that foliage, that means that fences, walls, posts, and sheds are rapidly buried under thick blankets of trumpetvine.

This sounds perfect if you want trumpetvine to stay, but just TRY to remove it. This is where Some Guy comes in, because the trope going through yuppie neighborhoods is that “you should plant trumpetvine around telephone poles so that it’ll cover the pole.” Not only does this make the local utility reps absolutely loathe you, as reaching the pole, much less climbing it, is impossible when sheathed in trumpetvine, but it also guarantees that the seeds will spread elsewhere. Chop it down, and it readily resprouts from the roots. Mow down the new growth, and chunks will reroot and spread through the immediate area. Spray it with herbicides, and the sprays wash off the leaves and kill off everything underneath. In my case, I made the mistake of letting trumpetvine get established along a wooden fence during the summer of 2011, and I’m still cutting it back every week from the roots from that summer.

Scarlet Trumpetvine

Now, Amanda Thomsen of Kiss My Aster repeatedly argues that scarlet trumpetvine is of the Devil. I’d argue that if confronted about trumpetvine, Satan would stand up and profess true innocence, arguing that some things are too foul for him to consider. You could go through other pantheons, and every possible suspect would do the same thing. Loki would swear upon Yggdrasil that he wouldn’t think of doing such a horrible thing. Set would set upon his heels and cry at the accusation. Tezcatlipoca would be found in the bath, repeatedly scrubbing himself with wire brushes. Camazotz would go back to his old cutting habit. Nyarlathotep…Nyarlathotep would just sit back, vomiting silently in utter terror that someone would give him credit for creating or developing scarlet trumpetvine.

This garden season, have some sympathy and some taste. When you’re saturation-nuking the garden to blast out trumpetvine, don’t randomly assign blame for something of such cosmic horror. Instead, just ask yourself “What did those gods of chaos and evil ever do to you to deserve that sort of insult?”

Taking Out Some Guy

A little interlude. Every one of us has a nemesis, an irritation that makes a person want to recreate the last ten minutes of a Sam Peckinpah or George Romero film. I am just like you. I know one person that gets me roiled to the point of contemplated murder. This is an individual whom, if I ever get in a situation where I’m alone with him for more than five minutes, I’m going to do horrible things to him. First, it’s a matter of nailing his feet to the floor, without taking off his shoes first, and soaking him with a fire hose full of pepper spray. Then it’s time to take off his arms with an angle grinder and cauterize the stumps with a blowtorch. Then I’m going to rig him up with his eyes held open, in front of one of those portable DVD players, A Clockwork Orange-style, and leave him there with the William Shatner movie Free Enterprise running over and over. When I come back in a month, then I’m going to get mean.

It wasn’t always like this. Twenty years ago, I was blissfully unaware of my nemesis. But he kept pushing it. He went out of his way to drive me to this state, and when I take out his tongue and fill the space in his mouth with fire ants, I plan to remind him of this. Slowly. Carefully. With the understanding that it didn’t need to come to this, but he was so damn determined.

My first exposure to him came in the early Nineties. I was dating an ER nurse, and she told me about him. At least once per day, as often as ten on a weekend night, they’d get some poor schlub with gunshot wounds, stab wounds, or a fireplace poker fitted rectally, and they all had the same story. “I was on my porch, minding my own business, when Some Guy came up out of nowhere and shot/stabbed/sodomized me and then took off. No, I don’t know who Some Guy is, and I can’t ID him.” At first, I thought she was joking, considering the amount of stress she was in, and then EMT techs told me the same thing. A few trips to the ER on my own for various reasons, and I even heard it: Some Guy, over and over. He’d come in, wound with impunity, and disappear like the protagonist in the film Bruiser, over and over and over.

At that time, though, he hadn’t actually committed any offense against me. Sure, he inconvenienced my girlfriend, but she claimed she was used to it by now. In a way, Some Guy gave her job security, because the paperwork was less. “Cause of Injury: Some Guy”.

That didn’t last long. Shortly afterward, I started working as a clerk for ITT Hartford’s Worker’s Comp division, and I had to clean up his messes. “Some Guy tripped me at work.” “Some Guy left spilled vegetable oil all over the floor, and I threw out my back slipping on it.” “Some Guy told me that if the adjuster denied my claim, I should camp out in the building stairwell all weekend and confront the adjuster firsthand when she gets into the office on Monday.” It was obvious that Some Guy moonlighted in the building, too, as when a supervisor told us all that comparing notes as to which of us got a raise was grounds for termination, in blatant violation of the Labor Act of 1936. When asked who told her that this was grounds for termination, she answered “Some Guy in Legal.”

Ah, so no wonder Some Guy kept getting away with popping caps in asses. He was a lawyer, so he knew his way around the legal system. Certainly, calling the police and telling the dispatcher “You know, Some Guy works in my office” got no response, so I wrote it off. Some Guy can’t be everywhere, can he?

Ah, but he was. I went from that office to a weekly newspaper, and found that I couldn’t be hired on full-time because they needed to do so for the “humor” columnist. Said alleged humorist was extremely popular according to the editor, based on the fan letters and E-mails received, and they all came from Some Guy. Some Guy even wrote those letters in the editor’s handwriting and with the editor’s IP address, to throw everyone off the scent. I took another job in Portland, Oregon, based on recommendations from friends about how great Portland was. Once I escaped eighteen months later, I asked “Have you ever been to Portland?”

“No, but I was told that it was a great place.”
“And who told you this?”
“Some Guy.”

It just kept getting better and better. After moving back to Texas, Some Guy really had it out for me. My phone number had belonged to a drug rehab center that had shut down five years earlier, and for the next five years I had that phone number, I was awakened at all hours by people calling up asking “Is this Darco Drug Labs?” When I’d ask who gave them this number, the answer was almost always the same: You Know Who. When the answer wasn’t “Some Guy,” I’d get a contact number for the facility, church, or Narcotics Anonymous sponsor who passed on the number, and I’d ask them where they got it. Three guesses as to the person who supplied it.

After a while, I realized that Some Guy didn’t have it out just for me. He had it out for all of humanity, with a deep and obsessive hatred of the entire species. Talk to anybody who works in retail. “Some Guy told me that your manager will give me a discount if I ask for it.” “Some Guy left me a big box full of samples for free, and if you don’t give them to me, I’ll sue.” “Well, Some Guy told me that I can keep anacondas in a ten-gallon fishtank, and all I have to do is not feed them so much so they’ll stay small.” “I can’t believe it. Some Guy told me that you had a bottle of wine that nobody else has ever heard of and doesn’t show up in your inventory database, so you’d better find it NOW.” Talk to anybody who works a Customer Service phone center, and they’ll tell you not just what they’ll do to Some Guy when he’s caught, but how they’ll set the corpse on fire and sow the ashes with salt to prevent him from coming back.

And why do I bring all of this up? At least four times this week, I’ve been contacted by people seeking to buy a Venus flytrap. Not a problem there in the slightest, but then they tell me “We’ve got a problem with mosquitoes in our back yard, and we want to get a flytrap to eat them all.”

“Huh. Interesting. You do know that flytraps generally don’t catch mosquitoes, and even when they do, they actually attract them, don’t you?”

“That’s not what I’ve heard. Someone told me that one plant will eat all of my mosquitoes.”

“And who told you this?”

“Some Guy.”

Yeah. I think I’m going to skip out on the fire ants and the angle grinder. I just need to find out where I can rent a sausage grinder and a cubic meter of live rats. I’m going to keep the DVD player right there, though, because some people are so foul that they deserve the worst punishments imaginable.

A pressing need to buy some land

One of the many reasons why the Czarina and I are coming up on ten years of successful marriage is because we always bounce our insane business ideas off the other before we do anything. (Well, that’s one reason. Another one is that a steady diet of science fiction television shows as a kid meant that I have a decided attraction to women much smarter than I am. Friends went crazy over girls in Slave Leia outfits, while I had much more interest in the Maya/Delenn/Saavik/Martha Jones girls in school. The Czarina, in turn, has one particular type: Rik Mayall.) The idea is that we hone project proposals and show concepts until they’re stable and reasonable, and then let the other burn big holes in those proposals and concepts with acetylene torches and thermite. If they don’t collapse, implode, or catch fire after the interrogation, then they’ll probably work in real life. After a decade of the Czarina giggling with glee as some of my business proposals crawl on the floor, begging for a quick death, preparing for an oral defense of my Ph.D thesis is going to be a doddle.

Don’t think that we necessarily enjoy this. It’s bad enough that we’ve watched a lot of retail concepts, ones that would have worked at any time other than the worst recession in the last 80 years, died because the concept planned for profitability in three years instead of six. We both have equipment purchased from once-successful and once-popular companies at their liquidation sales. Most of all, I was in incredible lust for a defunct garden center in Plano a few years back: the garden center had been in business for 30 years before the founders sold it to their son, he decided to neglect the longtime customers in favor of getting into high-end landscaping, and defaulted on his business loans when the real estate bust hit and his big clients decided not to pay their bills. It’s not just because we wanted to avoid really bad business ideas, such as starting a street-corner circus troupe or opening a bookstore with no money down.

As far as that garden center was concerned, I didn’t go for it for multiple reasons. The least of which was having three-quarters of a million dollars on hand, which is what the property was valued at the beginning of 2009. (The garden center itself was recently bulldozed to clear the land, because any other potential buyers felt the way I did.) The other big reason is that while the Triffid Ranch is nowhere near ready for a full-time retail presence, getting a more serious growing environment is becoming pressing. This requires buying land, and the rest of the garden center can wait.

Right now, two things conspire against me on finding a suitable tract of property, properly zoned for agricultural activities and not harboring hidden munitions dumps or chemical waste caches. (Don’t laugh. Around here, it happens.) The first is that North Texas is flat, meaning that only the occasional creekbed and the even more occasional lake or reservoir prevents farmland from being used for other things, such as strip malls or apartment complexes. In fact, those minor impediments have never stopped local developers unless city ordinances, state laws, and smacks in the head stop them. I once watched as a large apartment complex was condemned because the developer built right to the edge of a creekbed, and a sudden gullywasher wiped out the foundations on five buildings and the tennis court. This means that odd little spaces perfect for carnivorous plant propagation just aren’t available.

The other big part of the conspiracy lies with the owners. The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex owes most of its growth, most of its problems, and most of its desirability on being able to expand outward, and only $4 gasoline has made the idea of living a two-hour drive from one’s place of employment unacceptable. During the real estate boom, developers bought every last bit of farmland they could get, with intentions to flip it to anyone actually planning to use it. Some of these developers are hanging on in the hopes that 2006 land prices will return, because Some Guy told them that it would happen any day now. Others were foreclosed upon, and then their banks went under and their assets acquired by other banks that themselves blew up. The same thing happened during the oil bust of the late Eighties and the bank bust of the early Nineties, when the game was “This is Thursday, so our owner is Hibernia Bank”. If the property has a sign on it, you have a 50/50 chance of the contact name and phone number being four years obsolete, with the realtor returned to a more suitable career in child pornography or regional magazine journalism, and a lot of good lots had the big wooden signs chainsawed down three years ago. They might come back onto the market before 2020, and the Dallas Cowboys might win a shutout World Series pennant this year, too.

This is why I feel particular jealous rage toward the Idiot Gardener, who apparently found his perfect locale. I’m certain that the Czarina can sympathize with his wife: we regularly drive past a failed experiment with Home Depot for a landscape supply outlet, already set up as a full greenhouse, and she has to listen to me whimper about how all I need to do is sell body parts to take over the space. Telling her “I didn’t say they had to be my body parts” doesn’t help, either.

And so the search continues. Licensing and financing issues are entertaining enough, but then we get into the discussions of renting said land versus buying it. Now that’s one route I won’t take unless I can’t help it, as a particular favorite nursery of mine shut down in 2000 when the property owner decided to sell the space and gave the nursery 30 days’ notice. (I’ll note that the property is still up for sale and still empty, as the price quoted by Some Guy as its value isn’t close to a reasonable price.) One thing is absolutely certain, though. If anyone had told me a decade ago that I’d be researching farmland prices and checking for spring flooding, I’d have called that person a loony. Today, I’d hand that person a spare smartphone and said “Call this realtor and see if anyone’s made an offer on that corner lot.”