Sunday, June 4, 2017

2017/Noob Thoughts (I Get It Now)

In recent years I've noticed something about myself. I seem to have changed my "world view" on people and personalities. For most of my life, as most people do, I always assumed a person was the way they are (how they behave/perceive/value) based on how they chose to be. Basically, they know right from wrong and act accordingly in any situation, based on instinctual or learned processes such as ethics, morals, peer pressure, or even guilt. In other words, if you're standing around and see some guy who's loud, boisterous, and clearly doesn't care about how it affects people around him, you'd point at the fellow and say "that guy's an asshole." But what you'd mean is "that guy is choosing to be an asshole, because he's.....an asshole."

But lately I've changed my thinking on this. I look around and see so much bad or negative from people, just on a day to day basis, it makes me wonder if it's simply DNA and not a conscious choice. I mean, how can so many people who know right from wrong, good from bad, or even polite from rude, choose to be such pricks? I think perhaps they don't choose at all. Maybe it's just who they are. The question is, why are they like that? My not-so-humble opinion? I think it's largely generational/sign of the times. (You could also generalize this opinion/philosophy by just shaking your head and saying "they just don't know any better.")

This brings me to storm chasers. More to the point, today's storm chasers. It's no secret that I've had an issue with many newer chasers for several years, although most of said newer chasers have tragically misunderstood the reason why. The prototypical, stock reaction has always been "he's just jealous," which makes no sense when you think about it because the majority of the time (we're talking around 95%) my trophy wall smothers theirs. But that's not the point. The point is, the reason I have a beef is because they lack appreciation for what they see, which is a direct side effect of Entitlement. Ah, now we're getting to the root of the problem.

In the past I've often referenced this entitlement mindset by saying newbies walk up to the plate and point to the wall, a move in baseball that signals where the batter intends to knock his home run. It's simultaneously arrogant, disrespectful (of the craft, not seasoned chasers - we ain't snowflakes), and shows the glaringly-obvious entitlement mindset (I'm not gonna try to hit the ball, I am gonna hit the ball.) The lack of acknowledgement of potential failure is a key sign of the entitlement mindset....which is probably why so many young people chase now. It's fucking easy.

Now take the 2017 season to date. I don't know that I've ever heard so much grumbling and rumbling over a "lost" year in my entire career. Not even in 2006 (which was a dreadfully bad chase year) did I hear so much bellyaching and whining as I have in 2017. It's no coincidence that most of today's entitlement generation chasers weren't chasing yet back then. If they had, there would have been suicides by now. These little bastards don't even know what bad is. What is bad you might be asking? Well, the best way for me to explain it in terms a millennial would understand is: Bad is something no app can fix. Chilling isn't it?

First off, 2017 hasn't been that bad, in fact I'd say it's been average leaning towards the good side of the fence. This is an opinion from a person who chased before there was mobile data, who's experienced genuinely bad chase years and appreciates all tornadoes because the process is amazing to witness, so my definition of bad is far worse than that of someone who started chasing in 2013. Climatology is not the result of personal choices, mistakes, or results, so the first group of whiners who blame their bad results on the weather pattern (instead of their bad decisions) can step aside, remain quite, and learn something here.

For the next group, refer to the first sentence of the previous paragraph. I know you all have been spoiled to death in recent years, but you have to be realistic. Not every year is going to be full of photogenic tornadoes, easy to figure out setups, or perfectly-timed-with-your-schedule events. Much like the ones who simply fucked 2017 up and blame the weather, you guys need to get over the fact the weather hasn't jibed with you personally schedule-wise or expectation-wise. Expectations are through the roof because all of you are professional photographers now, which means you've subscribed to an existence of constant, futile pursuit of perfection and never being satisfied. Travelers who schedule ahead of time, I get it. I understand. But your personal disappointment doesn't take any of the shine off of 2017. It's had some spectacular days.

But I digress...

I find myself understanding this Entitlement Generation more and more as I get older. No longer do I believe they are spoiled, bratty, pissy individuals who just choose to be that way. No, I honestly believe they just are that way, a product of an environment where everything in life is a button push, a mouse click, a download or an app away. An environment where since birth all they've been told is they can be anything they want, do anything they want, because they exist. A world where participation is as awarded as winning, where hurt feelings take precedence over competition, fairness, and rules. A place where everything they don't deserve should never happen, and everything they believe they deserve should. But that world doesn't exist....and bless their hearts, they just don't know any better.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Back in the Saddle

The funny thing about a drought is, when you're in one, even if you stay stoic and keep a "we'll just keep trying" attitude, in the back of your mind you're constantly wondering "when will this thing end?" But the moment you come out of one, it's like you were never in it to begin with. Right back to business. Not arrogance, just expectation. I expect to see tornadoes, and when we don't, I am more perplexed by why we haven't than I am worried if we ever will again.

This past week and a half has been a very busy and exciting one, not to mention satisfying. The tornadoes are coming once again, in the way they historically always have for me: not in huge numbers, but consistently. It's awesome to be back in the groove of having tornadic success. All it ever really takes is some luck, and the previous three years we just didn't have much. So far in 2017, that's changed, as we're back to having the type of seasons we're used to having.

The drought ended May 10 in extreme SW OK near Davidson, with a brief dust whirl tornado. We observed another brief tornado in the extreme eastern Texas panhandle on May 16, but this one had a condensation funnel, and actually ended in spectacular, fully-condensed pencil/rope fashion. However I was too involved with my phone in report at the time, and allowed the tornado to move out of frame to the right during the rope phase. SMDH. The finale of our hot streak came May 18, with a pair of large, significant tornadoes near Chester/Cedardale, OK. The second of these two will go down as one of the best I have ever seen, even if the contrast was less-than-stellar from our location. The sculpted updraft/RFD region was tremendous, and reminded me very much of the May 3, 1999 F5 tornado's RFD structure.

Three of these four tornadoes were captured outside, on tripods, the type shot I am always aiming for. So on top of the pure experiences, the videos turned out pretty much like I wanted as well. It's a nice, calm, steady-flow type of satisfaction/happiness this brings me, and keeps me feeling alive. Kinda like an IV drip, subtle but there, maintaining pure tornadic bliss within the very fiber of my being. The best drug the Universe has to offer me. I'd been without it for quite some time, and had learned how to cope fairly well (even if it was only on the outside). But this latest fix is magical, just constant joy that resonates with every passing moment, every thought, every memory. It is so damn sweet to be back to being who I am, just an average working class schmuck who lives and breathes to chase and document tornadoes....and does it successfully.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thanks to the help of some awesome friends, the ongoing video "revamp" project continues forward. Six of my seven video releases (formally on DVD) have been successfully redone and are now digitized, ready for flash drive/instant download. The remaining video is complete save for the final chapter, a 2003 event that I had never digitized and hence, had not been able to even watch for almost a decade. My friend Blake Naftel, who is a seasoned professional in the video/radio/news world, has graciously helped me with this problem, digitally formatting my dinosaur VHSc masters. Once they arrive in Tejas, I'll be able to complete the final video. Mickey Ptak, my long time partner in crime, has reached out to me and offered his assistance in setting up my videos for instant download purchasing on my website. With it being the meat of the Spring storm season and him having a big vacation coming up in early May, we have scheduled that project to begin sometime during the Summer. And Tim Patterson, web developer guru, has been hooking me up with great hosting service to make it all live. I'm very fortunate in my friends, and I'm very thankful.

So, things over at Passion Twist are coming together steadily. It's been nice to get the website back to current and (as much as can be now) relevant once again. If you've browsed my site lately, you might've noticed the long, detailed chase summaries are gone. I felt bad nixing them because a lot of people over the years have expressed how much they enjoy them, but the reality is it was still not enough people to justify the time and effort involved in creating those summary pages. I dreaded doing them towards the end, something I had once gotten great pleasure from. I've always said, I appreciate it and am flattered whenever anyone compliments me on my work, but at the end of the day, everything I do is for me. And writing summaries just isn't in the cards anymore.

The summaries have been replaced by simple video captures of each tornado, linked inside that day's statistical display. It's easy to understand and maintain, and takes a fraction of the time. I've found that making it easier to keep my website/blog current makes it more likely I'll keep it current. I've though about adding other pages based around stats, but have yet to convince myself it's really worth the time. I doubt most people would be interested, and I kind of like some things remaining a mystery. Another thing I've been strongly considering getting rid of is my "links" page. Stand-alone websites are a bit of a novelty these days, and the fact is many chasers simply don't have them any longer. Even many chasers who are still active have either let them go to the cyber graveyard or simply no longer update them. I've had to trim my links page down considerably the past few years because of so many dead or broken links. Times change.

Speaking of times changing, I'm planning an upgrade to HD next year. But that's another blog.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bye bye DVDs

After over a decade of peddling those cumbersome, bulky DVDs, I've finally decided to dump the format and move forward into the 21st century. Not only will this move benefit both myself and the customer (easier for me to archive footage and create new videos in the future, plus a much lower sale price), it also allows me to end the nightmare of incorrectly used apostrophes. It has never, is not, nor will ever be "DVD's." The correct written form is "DVDs." Unless it's the highly-unlikely scenario of describing something about a DVD i.e., "the DVD's menu was both creative and easy to use..." an apostrophe is not needed. Plural does not automatically translate to possessive. They teach you that in 5th grade.

The new flash drive format I'll be implementing is stupid simple, cheap to produce, and takes away the stress of having to keep up with master tapes. Now I just have a bunch little plastic & metal sticks that, as long as you don't smash it with a hammer or static shock fry it, will last forever. That alone is a win, and makes the endeavor of redoing almost twenty years' worth of footage all over again completely worth it. I'm also planning (hoping) to offer instant downloads as well, although I will have to self-educate myself on the process, which could mean anywhere from a few months to never as far as making that a reality. I will of course post any updates to this situation.

But for now, it's chase season 2017, and I'm fully-focused on getting new tornadoes and videos.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

NYFSCD

About eleven years or so ago, I came up with the idea to do a chase-related DVD featuring nothing except behind-the-scenes type stuff, basically just a 90-minute mash up of various bits and scraps, mostly focused on "what you never see" or funny type stuff. The inspiration struck while doing production on "A Perfect Spinning Circus." I had decided to place an easter egg after the credits, which consisted of about 5-10 minutes' worth of that very idea. I enjoyed the process so much, I thought "this might make an interesting feature-length video."

Fast-forward to now, past several years of not being able to move forward with the project for whatever reason, and the idea is finally starting to see fruition. As most any artistic endeavor, this one too has morphed from the original idea. What started out as just a video of table scraps has now become a full-on documentary, albeit atypical. I decided to focus on the people exclusively, and leave out anything about the act of physically chasing storms itself. Oh, there's bits and pieces scattered throughout of actual chase footage, but they're used in the context of the original idea, not as a way to show "what chasing is."

Beyond the premise, what makes this project unique happened quite by accident. The aforementioned delays, for literally years and years, that slowed production, have now created a work that despite being released in 2016, features footage shot predominantly in 2007. Add in even older material from 2001, and this DVD will be full of footage that will be 9-15 years old at the time of its release. So you end up with a documentary that's already odd (because of concept/directing) and features still-active chasers, but as they were nine to fifteen years ago. That was never the plan.

Oh yeah, the title is "Not Your Father's Storm Chaser Documentary."

Originally I had intended on giving this production away free, as a gift to anyone who purchased one of my storm chasing DVDs. But then interest seemed to increase the more I mentioned the idea, and it seemed there were enough people willing to pay for it that I then decided to offer it for sale. I took that idea into production, and have been eagerly banging away at the project since. I've been offering sneak previews of certain portions of the project as I go along, but the feedback on these nuggets has been - to be kind - underwhelming. So underwhelming in fact, that I've been more surprised than disappointed. Once again, it seems I took a great idea and simply took too long to bring it to life. I guess it's inevitable, even if I personally disagree: everything has a shelf life now.

I was so blown away with the lack of response that I considered not releasing it at all, and making it a "those involved" exclusive only, just handing copies out to everyone featured in the documentary. I may still do that. I may still offer it as a free gift for those who buy DVDs. But it will definitely not be available for purchase as a stand-alone item.

It's been a cool experience, going through hours and hours of old footage, from a time in my chasing career that seems a lifetime away. Lots of great memories, and a lot of laughs. I see so many parallels between our old footage and much of what is out there today. The difference being, nothing we did was being broadcast live or shared with the world via social media as it happened. We were just living our lives, doing our thing, and the only people who knew anything about it was us. The world didn't know, because the world didn't care. It didn't need to.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

'Til Death

You ever have that moment when you realize that what you had previously thought was just "the worst year of my life" is actually just your life now? It happened to me, slowly, over the last year. After years of repeat blog posts lamenting about how horrible a stretch of a chasing we were stuck in, the only difference being the dates and times they were posted, I finally figured it out: Hey Shane, welcome to your life now.

Chasing dreams (if you're not independently wealthy anyway) is a complicated mix of risk, chance, hesitation, timing, environment, guilt, and lots and lots of deep thinking about it all. When you're young, or just new to something, it's all about the risk. You just say "fuck it" and go hell bent, because you don't have it yet and you desperately want it. It's easy to ignore all other components because you're so singularly-focused on that dream. Then things start to happen slowly over time, and each new thing introduces a new part of the Chasing Dreams Equation. What you'll find you're left with eventually, is a whole bunch of crap you have to look over, analyze, weigh out for pros/cons/relevance, and finally make decisions on. Big decisions. Painful decisions. But also "I did the right thing and I feel good about that at least" decisions.

I had a great run. I chased almost twenty damn years throwing caution to the wind, ignoring my life, and all those other silly parts of the CDE that come after risk. I regret none of it. I still long for it. But those days are over. To rebuild my chasing career, I will have to find a new path, a new method, a new philosophy going forward. Because the old way doesn't fucking work anymore.

For me, the battle I've always fought wasn't dealing with the pain of missing out, hell that's easy (bottle of wine and ignoring social media for a few days). My battle has always been with myself, fearing that becoming responsible and dealing with missing out while taking on more life responsibilities would harden me to the point of losing my passion. In other words, becoming so good at being a good loser that I'd lose my lust for winning. I still fight that battle every day, and the fucked up part is, I honestly don't know if it's even an issue. Part of me thinks I'll always be trying to find ways to get out there and video tornadoes, regardless of where I am in life. Most of me in fact. But that tiny percent that keeps whispering "Hell dude, a few more years of missing out and you won't even care anymore" keeps me on edge. After all, I didn't sacrifice the prime of my life just to get those prime years....I did it for the rest of them.

'Til Death.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Searching

It's been happening for years. I lust for creative energy, ideas, production. I yearn for projects that will keep me busy and bear fruit. I get them, but at the worst possible times, when I'm nowhere near a computer. I make mental notes and think to myself "oh I'll definitely remember this" or "no way this will seem boring or stupid to me when I get home later."  Then I get home, and nothing. Work and life in general have been champions the past few years at eating away everything I ever sought to be or become as an adult....which really isn't much.

Alas, I need to just quit my job, relationship, and forgo all responsibility. Live by my own schedule with not a shred of time influenced by society. That's what it would take for me to update this blog regularly. I kid.

However, the lean chase years have been stacking up with alarming regularity in recent times, and my attempts to seek out chase-related satisfaction have been various, at times interesting, but all have fallen short of sustainable contentment. But I'm still feeling my way around the room on this, groping and hoping I can grasp something with which to pull me out of this chasing/creative funk I've been in.

I even considered trying to write again, albeit very briefly, but I lack both the discipline and (if we're being honest) ability to do the art justice, at least by my own standards. I used to thrive as a child, penning various stories, poems, songs, because it was easy, fun, and I was young with a great appreciation for everything, because everything was still new. Over the years writing became more therapy than anything, until the point at which my moods were so heavy, I couldn't even put them onto paper (or a screen as it were). Nope, writing alone wasn't going to be the cure.

I did enjoy the initial run of DEAD CHASERS SOCIETY, although looking back at the first "season" if you will, it seems it was mostly an exercise in trying to find an identity with the project. Having been away from it for some time now, I find that I'm getting ideas I never had previously, and am open to trying new things that didn't appeal to me prior. And that's the happy ending to this particular entry: DEAD CHASERS SOCIETY will be back, in a new, more polished form. The shows will be shorter, more focused, and include features beyond me just sitting in front of a camera bitching. The biggest change will be the fact the new shows will all be pre-recorded and uploaded at a later time for viewing.

I've said for years I wanted someone to come along and take the torch we created years ago with The Debris Show, but no one ever really has. Oh, there have been other things, but they had their own identities, audiences, and most never lasted. But I don't care about that anymore, because nobody's going to follow me. I'm going to continue blazing a trail that no one's seen before, and I'm going to keep tweaking things until I find that sweet spot. This new phase (season 2 I suppose) of DCS will be my next 'tweak' and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm hoping that by blending three very natural things for me together (chasing, humor, and a video camera) I can break some new ground, and maybe finally crossover into that broad audience appeal that's eluded me forever with previous shows and DVDs. There's certainly enough low-hanging fruit out there in internet land to achieve it. The only question is, will I be too smart for them?


Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Society of Dead Chasers * Back To Basics

Greetings dear reader, as I choke and cough from all the dust in the air created by me brushing this thing off for the first time in a few months. It's been a fun and interesting time recently, as I've successfully found new ways to feed the chase passion that forever burns inside of me like a lantern that never runs out of kerosene.

In the wake of The Debris Show, which had a great run but slowly faded the past few years into virtually nothing, I decided it was time for me to create something new that I alone controlled. Despite the fact I loved doing TDS, over time I began to feel pressure to keep myself in check, because sometimes I can be a bit too over the top and the recoil comes down not only on me, but everyone associated with me. Also, my creative bursts hit when they hit, and when you're working with other people, scheduling conflicts can be a huge issue (and can also kill creative momentum). No, I needed something new, something simple, and something I could do whenever the fancy struck.

So I created a new thing on Ustream called simply "The Shane Adams Show."  It was fun, and ended up being more popular than I anticipated. But after a month or so, I grew bored with it because it started feeling like TDS again....not what I wanted. I walked away from it, but the urge came screaming back to be on camera telling it like it is. I resisted, while waiting for someone else to take the torch. No one did, so eventually I decided to come back, but with a bit more thought put into each show. I didn't want to do Lewis Black type rants exclusively, because I'd done that to death and it gets old quickly, for both me and the audience. I had to find my groove.

The day I decided to come back and do a show was the same day I heard about Robin Williams. I remembered the movie "Dead Poets Society" and thought it sounded cool, so I changed "Poets" to "Chasers" and created a new show. Nobody has ever really asked where the title comes from, but since naming the show based on a Robin Williams movie, I've come to feel it has many other meanings. Mostly now I enjoy the title because I feel it somewhat invites controversy.

Ustream eventually failed me, by not notifying me I was running out of free storage space before simply stopping my live recordings, thus destroying my ability to archive. DCS has become a 95% archive driven show, so my inability to record live broadcasts was simply unacceptable. I slowly migrated the show over to Google Hangouts, which ended up being a great move. Popular platform, great reach, and easy to use. The show has done well, with an average of over 65 views per episode, which is close to what Debris used to hold throughout a 2-hour live broadcast in its heyday.

I've decided to start simplifying my website, partly because I'm lazy and will probably never get around to finishing all the novella-style chase summaries I've still yet to start from years past, but mostly because there's just too much content to keep up with the way I've been doing things. I hate writing chase summaries to begin with, so I tried to make them interesting in the "creative writing" style so as to entertain myself enough to keep me going. However, it's 2015 and I still have summaries from 1999-2003 that have never been written, as well as several more from recent seasons (2010-2013). I simply don't have the time or interest to keep writing detailed chase logs, complete with several embedded links, that few besides myself (while proof reading) will ever see.

I decided to start losing all the hyperlinks within the summaries themselves (an idea I stole from Doswell a decade ago), and just throw the images up on the same page with the text. The text itself will remain as is (after all, if I ditch the complicated reads for simplicity, I still have to re-write them all), although moving forward I may start scaling down the Stephen King type details and just stick to the whens, wheres, and whys. Time will tell on that.

Lastly, for the aesthetic angle, I've decided to do away with my long time color scheme of Passion Twist Purple Blue and Fuchsia. I've reverted back to my roots, back to what has always been my favorite color scheme - black and white. I can never lose the black backgrounds, as IMO those have always trumped anything on any website ever. I've received complaints over the years about how hard on the eyes my bright text on black is, so to eliminate that issue I'm opting for white and gray. Easy on the eyes, visually pleasing to me, and simple enough to not have to change ever again. The only motley shade I'm leaving will be the main Passion Twist purple banner at the top of the home page. Beyond that, I'll let the images themselves provide the color.






Sunday, November 16, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside (And I Love It)

It's cold outside. It's wet and gray and what most people would describe as "miserable."  But I love it. I love an all-day cold, wet, grayfest where you never have to leave the house. You just sit inside and enjoy the warmth, good food, good wine (later), and take advantage of the fact you now have a ton of free time to catch up on some internet stuff. Like writing in your blog.

I actually laughed out loud when I first revisited this thing, well after our 2014 season had come to as unceremonious an end as the entire body had been, because of the title of one of my last entries: "A Return to Greatness?"  Comical, perhaps ironic, that this post was followed by the single worst season of my chasing career. But it's good to be able to laugh at yourself. Besides, one good thing has come out of my recent lack of chasing production: the time for website, blog, youtube, and social media updates is aplenty.

There's been a lot happening in my tiny little chasing corner of the Universe. Website updates and changes, blog revamps, and a webshow on youtube. New things are coming down the pike, and it might be that I'll actually need this blog to provide updates to those things. So check in every so often for new offerings. If it's happening in my world and it's worthy of note, you'll know about it here. Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Video Review:"Full Circle"

Chaser Adam Lucio returns with his sophomore effort "Full Circle" consisting of his best chases from 2011-2013. Normally I like to write DVD reviews just after having sat down and watched one in its entirety, but I've been so busy that's been pretty much impossible this year. However, the chapters on this disc are so captivating and entertaining, they resonate with you. I watched the first third of the video a few weeks back, then a few days later the middle section. I only finished the DVD yesterday morning, and what a DVD it is.

The video begins with one of the best Fall setups in recent memory (November 7, 2011), and Adam & company take full advantage of the opportunity. What at first seems like a last chance desperation run, as their initial target busts and they race back east to catch up with an ongoing tornado, turns into one of the most enjoyable video segments I've ever watched on any DVD. They catch the first tornado as it begins the rope phase, and capture some great colors and contrast as it almost poses for them, having seemingly waited just long enough to offer them a sweet consolation prize. Before this one can completely die, the next one forms to their east. After waiting perhaps a bit too long while shooting the extended rope out of tornado number one (and when you see the video, you won't blame them), they break east for the ongoing multi-vortex and the chase is on.

What follows is a masterful job of getting back into position on the storm, with a multitude of tornadoes ranging from wispy ropes to massive wedges. What struck me most about this chapter were the colors. There's every type of tornado "mood" on this chapter, with beautiful, calm milky blues, grays, and whites. There are darker, brooding tornadoes that conjure up equal elements of envy and fear. And there are difficult tornadoes that play hide-n-seek within wrapping rain curtains, turbine farms, and even mountains. I found myself reliving some of my own Fall chases, as there's just something about Autumn tornado days that are different. My favorite chapter on the disc.

2012 is a quick-hitting, consolidated piece that showcases the brief highlights from a difficult year for Adam. Despite his troubles, a tornado intercept in Kentucky is an example of the dedication and (albeit it brief) success that dedication has produced, as he has no qualms about strapping in and going wherever the storms go, even for a momentary glimpse.

After the 2012 interlude, 2013 roars off the screen with the May 18 Rozel/Sanford tornadoes. Adam's video of the former reminds me of an old NOVA special, great contrast from a perfectly mid-range distance/angle. In some ways it reminds me of the 1979 Seymour, TX tornado that NSSL crews shot. In any case, it's a superb clip, followed by the encore tornado that ropes out to a brilliant pink as the day fades away. But Lucio's not done yet, as this is just the first of a tornado day hat trick. May 19 features some excellent close range positioning/strategy, as he and his group stay close to the action but never really put themselves in danger, while getting some chaotic but cool close up shots. The debris whirl in the field just southeast of them is excellent. Then comes May 20, and the vicious Moore, OK tornado. His crew find themselves on the wrong side of a river that keeps them from following the tornado, but before it escapes their view Adam gets some great video looking north at the tornado. Great contrast and boiling motions, as this monster roars in front of them, gradually vanishing behind a wall of rain. May 18-20 was a fantastic stretch for Adam, as this portion of the DVD confirms.

But then comes May 28 and the incredible Bennington, KS meandering wedge, a tornado so amazing, it will make you forget about Rozel for a while. The entire sequence is shot from one spot, on tripod, and features some of the most incredible rotation and motion I've ever seen on video or reality. The tornado cyclone itself (before the tornado) will have your jaw on the floor. And then it appears, the signature tornado of this DVD. A near-stationary, up to one-mile-wide, perfect contrast beast. Simultaneously deadly and wondrous, this tornado will have you mesmerized, a smooth-sided mammoth dancing over a lush green prairie foreground. The kind of video that forever transports those who were fortunate enough to witness it back to that incredible moment, and stabs the hearts of those who did not. Though this clip is not my favorite segment on the DVD, I think it's arguable the Bennington tornado is the signature tornado of Adam's career thus far.

Following this dose of sensory overload is May 31, which features a rare blunder/missed opportunity for Adam in 2013, as they position themselves out of play to view the historic El Reno wedge. However, they grab a nice consolation prize later in the day, with a brief but close encounter with a tornado in the town of Tuttle just before twilight. Adam is not lost on the tragic yet historic impact of this day despite not being on the El Reno tornado, as a nice tribute to the members of Twistex is included.

This would've been a wonderful ending to a fantastic DVD. But it's not done yet.

It's cool to score an Autumn tornado day and feature it on a DVD. But to have three of them, all on one disc, and two in the same year, is nothing short of downright impressive. Adam was on fire in May and that carried over into the Fall, beginning with a very close call with a wedge tornado near Wayne, NE. I've seen this clip a dozen times, and every time they drive north, even though I know they start backing up south to escape being hit, I find myself leaning forward, my pulse quickening, and my palms sweating, as I imagine myself in that scenario and the adrenaline rush that comes with it. I want to scream "Go south!!" at the screen every damn time. Adam eventually figures it out, just in the nick of time, and what ensues is a scary-close brush with a violent tornado. And it was a closer call than you might realize. I don't think they had 15 seconds more to make up their minds. For those who love close range, dramatic, escaping the tornado type video, you're gonna eat this up.

After what starts to seem like an endless stream of incredible tornado video, "Full Circle" finally does just that, culminating with the marquee tornado of the November 17 Midwest outbreak. Adam & crew find themselves with a large EF4 southwest of them, and as the twister begins to emerge from the rain, he sets himself up for a fantastic shot from north of the tornado, as it roars by to the south in excellent contrast. A farmstead in the foreground (that was not hit) as the huge tornado moves behind provides both an eerie feel and a great barometer for the sheer size of this animal. They eventually get overtaken by backside wrap around, as the tornado disappears back into the precip to their east. Later on they get a brief look at a distant white stovepipe, and the video fades to black.

After viewing this production, it's clear that Adam Lucio has staked a claim as one of chasing's new heavyweights, possessing a rare blend of desire, dedication, and skills necessary to excel. Note that I didn't include "resources" in the last statement, meaning that Adam doesn't have one major component most of today's most successful chasers do: unlimited resources. What makes Adam one of the best (IMO) these days, is his dedication and sacrifice, to be able to hang with the corporate giants and factory teams of chasing. He works a day job, he pays bills, and sometimes he just gets by. But he still juggles a real, working life with the dedication to chasing tornadoes that few "lifers" have. And that, IMO, is what separates him from most of the newer chasers. Add in the fact he's based out of Chicago, and about 70% of his success has occurred multiple states away from his home base, and you've got a guy who's going to be around for a long, long time. And kicking ass the whole way.

Oh, and the DVD? That's the proof. You can see for yourself here.