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Boycott Tucson's evil weed

Hemlock may kill you, a giant saguaro could crush your skull and poinsettias will poison your cat. But nothing is as evil as Bermuda grass.

This fast-growing and invasive turf grass should instead be classified as a weed. It’s just as ugly and unwanted.

My experience with Bermuda grass began when I bought a house with a small lawn area infused with the stuff. While at first the Bermuda grass pretended to be user-friendly and green, it soon showed its true colors: brown.

Neighbor's Bermuda lawn/Ryn Gargulinski
Neighbor's Bermuda lawn/Ryn Gargulinski

It also exhibited a number of other annoying idiosyncrasies. Like looking like regurgitated hay.

Although Bermuda grass is supposed to die off in the winter and come back in the spring, mine only seemed to get the first half right.

Yes, I watered it. Tended to it. Treated it with loving care. Then I tried to violently rip it out and re-seed with some “as-seen-on-TV” miracle grass.

Nearly two years later, I’m still ripping.

Bermuda grass has the uncanny ability to snake its roots to depths unknown. One chunk I eventually pulled up may have had some molten rock attached from the earth’s core.

Just as the grass snakes to the deep depths of the earth, roping through palm tree roots and choking anything that dares exist beneath your house, its top layer goes wild on the surface.

Most of the lawn may remain dead, especially where you want it to be lush and green. But long tendrils of the stuff will thrive around the edges, pushing through gravel, onto patios and disrupting ornamental stepping stones and lawn borders.

Bermuda tendrils on lawn borders/Ryn Gargulinski
Bermuda tendrils on lawn borders/Ryn Gargulinski

I think one tendril strangled a pack rat.

After several reseedings and weekly patch-ups, my lawn still has large areas of brown and crispy Bermuda grass. When even Sawyer, Mr. Dig-Dug Dog can’t unearth the stuff, you know it’s bad.

My lawn with remaining Bermuda patches/Ryn Gargulinski
My lawn with remaining Bermuda patches/Ryn Gargulinski

Bermuda grass rating (1-10): Negative 1,056
I bet even bufflegrass is more fun than this stuff.

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Fascinating facts about the death penalty

Arizona hits the top of list twice for fascinating death penalty facts – once for ripping off a woman’s head and again for being the last state to use the gas chamber.

Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration by Ryn Gargulinski

In addition to being featured in a movie I watched last night, the death penalty came up twice this morning. It surfaced as the possible punishment for the driver of the van that crashed and killed 11 illegal immigrants and again as a desired punishment for the alleged killer of the 7-year-old Ajo girl.

I’ve usually been behind the death penalty, although I have to agree with the comment from one astute reader who said: “I have yet to see a victim return to their former state of health by killing the killer.”

Whether you are for or against the death penalty is not the point of this post. The point is to share some compelling death row facts.

Talking about the death penalty also seemed more fun than rewriting another press release. So here we go:

Hanging:

Hanging was the preferred method of execution in Arizona until 1930, when it was outlawed following a mishap. Prisoner Eva Dugan was taken to the gallows where she was dropped down to hang and her head popped off.

Firing range:

Contrary to popular belief, the person about to be executed doesn’t get to stand against a wall with a jazzy blindfold on. He is instead seated, with his head and waist strapped to the chair. He is outfitted with a hood, has a little cloth target stuck to his chest right above his heart and is surrounded by sand bags to absorb the blood as five guys take shots at him with rifles.

Electric chair:

Electric chairs blast people with anywhere between 500 and 2000 volts. A subway system’s third rail averages around 700 volts. Those executed by the electric chair are outfitted with a diaper because they inevitably soil their pants.

Gas chamber:

The first gas chamber experiment failed because executioners didn’t realize they would need the chamber part. Nevada executioners in 1924 tried to pump cyanide into Gee Jon’s cell to kill him, but the thing wasn’t airtight and he kept on ticking. Thus the chamber was constructed.

Arizona was the last state to use the gas chamber in an execution, although it is available as an alternative method in others, with the death of Walter LaGrand in 1999.

Lethal injection:

While lethal injection is the most preferred current mode of execution, it does have its problems. Since doctors are not allowed to perform executions (it’s not ethical), the folks sticking the needles into the prisoner often miss the vein and hit a muscle, causing a big delay and a lot of pain.

Others who are being executed have damaged veins that are hard to find, thanks to years of intravenous drug abuse, again delaying the process.

Much of this information was found at: Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center

Do you know any fascinating death row facts? Please share them by commenting below.

What would you pick as your last meal?

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Ryn: Mules and fools wanted for drug careers

Anyone looking for a career that is exciting, creative and full of surprises can find it right here in southern Arizona.

You can go into drug smuggling.

Drug dog Becky sits atop the 133 pounds of marijuana she sniffed out/AZDPS photo
Drug dog Becky sits atop the 133 pounds of marijuana she sniffed out during a bust in March/AZDPS photo

This lucrative and enticing opportunity will never have you hunkered over a cramped computer for hours on end.

Nor will you be subjected to excruciating board meetings, layoffs due to the recession or those horrible dress code things that always got me in trouble at the insurance office on Madison Avenue.

You make your own hours, wear what you will and earn enough cash to buy fancy sharkskin suits and machine guns.

In a bustling week starting June 5, the Arizona Department of Public Safety seized more than $830,000 in suspected drug cash; 35 pounds of cocaine; three pounds of methamphetamine; and, with the help of some other agencies, 660 pounds of marijuana.

One caveat, of course, is you cannot get caught.

But hauls similar to those could be yours if you use some ingenuity.

All types of strange places have been used for drug smuggling, so you need to come up with something new.

Drugs stuffed in the dashboard, car seats and fuel tanks are old hat. So are drugs stuffed in old hats, wheel wells and vehicle trunks, engines and speakers.

One that could have been ingenuous was foiled because the smuggler got carried away.

A man with a tractor-trailer full of watermelon was crossing the border earlier this month with cocaine stuffed in a very creative place.

No, not in the watermelon. Drugs stuffed in foodstuff is also passé and obvious.

He thought of jamming cocaine into a fire extinguisher. The only problem was, he thought it such a grand idea that he tried to haul seven fire extinguishers through U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Since watermelon are not known for being particularly flammable, border patrol officers decided to have the drug dog check out these fire extinguishers to see what the deal was.

The deal for the watermelon dude will now most likely be jail time. And he doesn’t even get to keep the watermelon.

Another spot that had lots of potential for drug stuffing is dead bodies. The corpse’s stomach can be hallowed out and made into a particularly clever hiding space where not many people would want to search.

In another tale that may or may not be true, a mother crosses the border cradling her baby in her arms. An agent, however, notes the baby doesn’t look too well and asks to take a closer peek. The mom runs off, accidentally dropping the child, who is found to have been brutally murdered and gutted so his insides could be stuffed with drugs.

While this tale may seem far-fetched, similar circumstances have been used to smuggle drugs inside the living.

Balloons, small baggies or condoms are stuffed with drugs and swallowed or crammed in bodily orifices.

Several problems have popped up from using drug balloons. Some start clogging intestines or other places and need to be surgically removed.

Still others begin to leak and the person ends up flipping out or dying from a massive drug overdose.

We never said this career was without its dangers. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it.

In addition to dead babies and a fatal drug overdose, an even greater danger lurks in the land of smugglers.

The drug-sniffing dog. These canines are trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and anything else that makes you high, stoned, spaced-out or is illegal to carry across the border.

Even a juicy T-bone won’t deter these pooches from their mission. Your only hope is not to get them called over in your general direction.

So be frugal with those fire extinguishers.

And be careful. This is not a job for sissies, although it may be a job for idiots. But with all the busts, murders and deaths, at least you know it’s a field where there will always be new openings.

Ryn Gargulinski is an artist, poet and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who never tried to smuggle drugs but once smuggled her pet rat on an airplane. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.Party934.com. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitrizen.com

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Movie review: Glorious gore fest

Not many movies gross me out enough to leave the theater or, in the case of home rentals, close my eyes on the faux-fur-covered couch. Two movies I rented this weekend were horrifically gory enough to do so, and then some.

Gore/Ryn Gargulinski
Gore/Ryn Gargulinski

Above all else, both movies left me in shock. Not necessarily because of their content, but because I picked two awesome movies in a row.

Anyone who has rented movies with me knows I have an incredible knack for picking out pure duds (think My Left Foot).

But Eden Lake and Martyrs were anything but duds. They were good enough for me to pass along to add to your gore list. Warning: these are sick flicks.

Eden Lake – A couple gets stranded at a remote lake where they are stalked, terrorized and tortured by a band of bawdy 12-year-olds. Movie comes complete with burning bodies and realistic stab wounds that gush black blood.
Highlight:
Proves my theory that even a gang of 5-year-olds could kill you.
Lowlight: A dog dies.
Rating (1-10): 8.25
Would have scored higher if the ending were not so predictable although the movie went out of the way to make it seem unpredictable.

Martyrs – A woman who was abused as a child seeks revenge 15 years after the fact. Rather than that being the end of the story, it is only the beginning of a new and horrifying chapter for the woman’s best friend, who ends up worse off than child-abuse victim ever was.
Highlight: Gives you an easy recipe on how to drive someone insane.
Lowlight: It’s a French film dubbed in English that also features English subtitles. This means the actors’ mouths not only don’t match the dubbing, but the dubbing doesn’t match the subtitles. Only after you stop comparing the dubbed words with the subtitles to see which is better English (while wondering if you would understand any of it if it had been left in French) can you begin to enjoy the flick.
Rating (1-10): 11
Sick. Twisted. Grotesque. Shocking surprise ending. Yet it still leaves you with hope. See it and you’ll know what I mean.

See any good, bad or ugly movies this past weekend?
What are your picks for the best gore?

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Sex offender nabbed after sending naked photos to 14-year-old girl

One 14-year-old girl who thought she was simply texting a 14-year-old boy ended up being sent photos of naked body parts of a 48-year-old man.

When the girl’s mom saw the pictures of the private parts and other photos on her daughter’s phone, she went to police, Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said in a news release.

Terry Martin
Terry Martin/TPD photo

Tucson police officers were able to identify Terry W. Martin from the photos he sent the girl and arrested him.

Martin, who just so happens to be a level three sex offender, was booked into Pima County Jail on one felony count of furnishing harmful items to minors, Pacheco said.

Flashers, especially those who flash over the phone to 14-year-olds, have always been a sick lot.

The worst I ran into was in a supermarket parking lot back in Brooklyn. The guy was sitting in his car beeping his horn so folks would look over and notice he was exposing himself.

Don’t these guys have anything better to do?

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