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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hiya, cyberbuddies!

Hello, friends in cyberspace.  I'm here to let you know that I'm slaving away on a few posts that I hope will eventually see the light of day and be reasonably entertaining.

Right now, I am up far too late on Saturday night and really need to go to bed, so I'm going to say goodbye now.  Perhaps I will add more tomorrow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Posting from my Droid

This is an experiment to see if I can post from my phone. It may be successful.

...and it was, though I made several typos that I have since corrected.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My sanity has returned and other musings

Okay folks, I don't know what the hell was up with yesterday's post, and I have no idea if it even made any sense.  That's what happens when one starts writing at 11:00(ish) PM after being up since 5:30 AM: one comes up with some bizarre, incoherent fever dream.  But it is what is (which is probably crap) and I'm going to leave it up anyway.

Here are some random observations from the world around me:

Our 17 year-old cat Shadow and one year-old toy poodle Bodhi are an endless source of amusement.  They have a fascinating relationship, if it can even be referred to with that term.  Bodhi always wants to play, and tries to engage Shadow in playtime by feinting with him as if he, Bodhi, was a toreador.  Shadow usually sits still, swatting and hissing at Bodhi.  Shadow is completely fearless and usually gets in some good licks.  The cat has faster fists than Muhammad Ali had in his prime.  Bodhi thinks this hissing and swatting is wonderful, and the bigger rise he can get out of Shadow, the better.  Thankfully for Bodhi, Shadow is front declawed, so he can't inflict any serious damage.  The funniest part for me is how differently the two view each other, as there is a definite dog/cat "language barrier".  Bodhi thinks that Shadow is playing with him, when from Shadow's perspective he's merely trying to get the dog out of his face.

Now I don't want to give the impression that Shadow and Bodhi live in constant conflict (at least from Shadow's perspective).  Most of the time they coexist in close quarters with no incident.  It's only when Bodhi decides it's playtime, or Shadow decides he wants to eat Bodhi's food, that the fur starts to fly.  For example, at the very moment that I'm writing this, Bodhi is attempting to eat his dinner, but Shadow moves in when Bodhi is not looking.  Bodhi went on the offensive and chased Shadow away.  Shadow usually is relegated to the basement when it's Bodhi's dinnertime, but I haven't been able to get myself away from the computer to corral the old kitty.  As it turns out, Bodhi, in a rare display of anger, has chased Shadow away for the moment.

Did I mention that Top Gear is one of my favorite TV shows to watch with the kids?  It doesn't require an interest in cars because the show is just hilarious with its dry British wit.  Host Jeremy Clarkson comes across as the constantly put upon smart aleck with an uncanny ability to set various objects on fire.  His two sidekicks are Richard Hammond and James May.  Hammond, with his ever changing hairstyles, looks like an aging British pop star from the '90s,  he could have played bass for Blur or Oasis.  James May, on the other hand, looks like an aging '70s British rock star--like the least well known member of Pink Floyd.  The best parts of the show are the absurd challenges that are featured, such as all three having to buy an Italian sports car for under a predetermined amount of money and having to endure whatever wacky contests are assigned.

Another fun feature of Top Gear is "Celebrity in a Reasonably Priced Car", the title of which is probably self-explanatory.  A famous guest comes on the show and drives around the Top Gear test track as fast and skillfully as he or she can.  The results are often surprising and always fun.

For the readers who are unfamiliar with Top Gear, here's a taste:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Aimless(?) ramblings

It's funny to me that just a few days after I posted my "Grandparents' cars" post,  Josh Wilker, author of the blog Cardboard Gods (and the book of the same name) has a new post about the first rock concert he ever attended (AC/DC in 1979, if you're keeping score at home) in which he writes "...I think my generation, perhaps the most backward-looking generation yet to walk the earth, is the first blessed with ample concrete evidence and artifacts of what, in earlier times, would have been the utterly transient particulars of fleeting youthful experiences."  (Wilker, who is almost exactly my age, is one of the most perceptive and fluid writers around, and I have to admit I am supremely jealous of his talent).  The point he's making is that with the internet and all the far-flung and obscure information it contains, we Gen-Xers (who do seem inordinately obsessed with our youthful experiences) are able to double check and verify all of our ghostly memories.  I did this with my, in retrospect, excessively sentimental post about my grandparents' automotive transportation.  For example, I didn't remember that the '68 Polara had one single band of taillight(s) until I obsessively pored over Google images of various Polaras.

I've got to tell you that I don't even remember for sure if my grandpa's T-Bird was white or not.  Am I confusing it with the Polara, which I know for a fact was white (because I found some old family snapshots where the old car appeared in all of its muscular Mopar glory).

This leads me to the other part of Josh Wilker's statement.  Why does it seem that my generation seem to be so obsessed with our childhoods?  Are we, in fact, more nostalgic than that notoriously navel-gazing Baby Boom generation?  I know for a fact that the World War II generation were not backward-glancing in the least.  When you grow up with nothing during the Great Depression, and then have to turn around and fight a world war, you grow up fast and have neither the time nor the desire to wax poetic about your long lost youth.  My life has been considerably cushier, comfortable, and less eventful than my Grandpa N.'s, so it has afforded me the opportunity to remain in a state of (somewhat) arrested development.  Grandpa spent 1936-1940 looking for full-time employment, then served in the Army Air Force from 1942-1946.  As far as I know, it wasn't until my grandma died that he revisited his childhood by revisiting some of his old haunts in Iowa and Illinois.

Well, once again, I have no real idea where this post is going or the point of it is--but I'm sending it into cyberspace anyway and you can make of it what you will.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My grandparents' cars

1965 Pontiac Bonneville

1968 Dodge Polara

This may be interesting only to me but, hey, it's my blog--so nah, nah.  

In my previous post, I mentioned my grandparents' cars: the first two that I can remember, in any case.  Above is the 1965 Pontiac Bonneville (to the best of my recollection--and upon research, I've narrowed it to the '66 model), and the one featured in this vintage advertisement looks exactly as I remember my Grandma C.'s car.  Oh, how I loved that automobile.  I can distinctly remember the large steering wheel, which was sort of an opaque gold, almost like amber. One could almost see straight through the steering wheel.  And the chrome.  Both this Bonneville and my Grandpa N.'s '68 Polara (pictured below) had a fair share of chrome.  Though they were put of shame by the automobiles of the chrome-crazy '50s, these cars of the '60s had just enough to accentuate their streamlined bodies and interiors.

So why were my grandparents' cars so fascinating to me?  I suppose it's because I didn't see them every day, so they seemed a bit more magical--and, as I've mentioned before, I was a car-obsessed child anyway.

As a kid, I loved the single slender band of taillights that extended the entire width of the Polara and how it looked peering out of my grandparents' garage.  It was hypnotizing--and the times it was parked side-by-side with the T-Bird--even more so.  It's hard to put it into words, but cars had a power and character that seems missing in today's smaller, eco-friendly models--or maybe it's just my sense of nostalgia talking.

It was the architecture, geography, and design of the back side of the car, the way the shadows of the garage played off of the contours that mesmerized me.  Children seem much more attuned to small details, the minutiae of life that adults miss or simply don’t notice.  I notice this with my own children who can immediately tell the difference between a Toyota and a Nissan, where I am simply oblivious to the finer details.  In my nostalgic streak, I insist that it was the older cars that had more character, but maybe it’s actually just the grown-up in me who doesn’t have the time or ability to pay attention to details.

Here I am standing alongside my Grandma C.'s Bonneville, circa 1971.  We were on a trip to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  This was close to the height of my young automotive obsession.  The era in which I memorized the appearance of every make of car, down to the details of their dashboards and windshield wipers.

This is a 1964 Ford Thunderbird, similar to the one my Grandpa N. had.  It was usually parked along the side street of their house in Trenton, Michigan.  I used to go to my grandparents' house and spend weekends when I was a kid.  At that time, my grandpa had a side business as an upholsterer in addition to his regular job at Mobil Oil.  Sometimes grandpa would have to go visit customers and he'd invariably take the T-Bird. I always went with him on these trips and wow, how I loved riding in that car.  Once again--the chrome.  Something about the contrast of the leather interior and the chrome, and all the cool little chrome levers and controls on the dash.  It just get into my young brain and enraptured me.  Am I being a little too dramatic?  Maybe it's just the nostalgia talking.

I've been working on this post off and on for quite some time and now it's just time to publish it.  As usual with some of these posts, I'm not quite sure where I was going with it, but definitely don't quite know how to finish it.  So I send it out to there and you can take what you want from it.