Sunday, October 30, 2016

Birds at Large: VW Golf Alltrack

Volkswagen is coming out with a new Golf with some thing called Alltrack that I guess makes it better for driving outside or something, and they're promoting it with a bunch of commercials with terrible crap about wildlife.

Here's the first one, where a guy tried to murder a frog.

So, it starts with some guy in a glassed-in office who keeps a tropical frog in a tiny, airless glassed-in mini-office because he's a sadist who takes out his feelings of powerlessness on helpless amphibians. 

The guy goes insane, quitting his job and deciding to release his prisoner as some kind of pathetic act of contrition. Of course, he's an idiot, and tried to release his frog into a river in what looks like northern California. 

This is a terrible idea, of course, because the frog is clearly a Red-eyed Tree Frog, a resident not of rivers in temperate forests of the American northwest but rather of trees in the rainforests of Central America. It would have died in that river before this moron could even get his key in the ignition.

Thankfully, the frog somehow convinces this guy not to abandon it to a watery death, and the commercial ends with the guy driving off with the frog riding shotgun. Or, maybe it was all just a fever dream and the guy in reality is back in his glassy office, convulsing on the floor. Buy Volkswagen!

There is another Golf Alltrack commercial I just saw during a football game that had a CLASSIC, an absolutely CHOICE example of the "show a Bald Eagle but play the call of a Red-tailed Hawk" trope. I'll post it as soon as I can find it online.


Listen for the Red-tailed Hawk scream when the show the Bald Eagle in the middle of this goddamn awful commercial. Just listen, and weep for the future.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

California Trip -- Birds

Hi friends.

Sometimes life is crummy. Sometimes life is good. One of the good times was that I found out sorta last-minute that I'd be able to serve as a staff representative on a group trip last month to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks in California. Good.  My wife then flew out and met me in San Francisco for a few days of travel around the Bay Area. Even better.

Believe it or not, I looked for some birds. Do you want to see photographic proof? Well, I hope so because that's what you're gonna get.

I saw three ABA life birds on the trip: the quasi-nemesis Red-breasted Sapsucker (spent a few hours looking for them last time I was in CA), Sooty Grouse, and the goddamn California goddamn Condor.

Here's the sapsucker. The first one I saw was outside the hotel in Sequoia NP but I was unable to get a photo, this guy was at Lost Lake Park north of Fresno, where I snuck for a few hours before my flight to SF. An attractive bird, looking like a YB sapsucker that dumped his head into a jar of raspberry jelly. 

Two female Sooty Grouse popped out of the woods near the top of the Sentinel Dome Trail in Yosemite. They were ... obliging. Even better with Half Dome in the background.

This is a California Condor, the largest flying bird in North America. (Don't give me any of that swan garbage.)  I saw five of them in total, none closer than this unfortunately. This first one was at Andrew Molera State Park, a beautiful place with an absolutely massive bird list. I saw a couple more condors elsewhere in the Big Sur area, all very high and very far. What an awesome bird.

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