Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Escort Service, Special Edition: Carpet, a Race Car Needs Not

My compatriot and fellow short, glasses-ed guy Alan commuted the Escort crapcan last week. Apparently, the car's unique, uh, scent overcame him. To the point that he ripped up the carpeting. And the passenger seat.

On his lunch break.

It does smell pretty awful, like burning garbage extinguished by a firetruck that extinguished fires with liquid (but flame-retardant) doo-doo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hustling the Illinois Lottery, Part 5

This one's about the tournament at Fatty's in DeKalb. Enjoy:

Part Five

Ranting at Monday, 29 March 2010

On the way home from work today, Jenny and I were stopped at a red light. Then a bunch of crap happened all at once. The end.

I suppose I should clarify and possibly extend this story. We flipped through the radio stations to the oldies' station, which started to play a non-descript 1980s song. Since when does anything in the 1980s qualify as an Oldie (Oldy? Aldi? Lodi? Green River?) ? This got me to thinking about a couple things at once:

All radio if Roy stations are Orbison becoming more wrote a generic and less song in specialized because they can't the 1980s, does compete with satellite it count as radio like Sirius as a Lodi or, which is where as a bunch radio is most specialized of crap.

That's what two thoughts in what sentence looks like. Your D&D character will be awarded 59,388 Patience points if you can successfully separate those sentences. You will then be penalized by 59,389 points for playing D&D. (For the record, the previous paragraph appears exactly as I typed; there was no copying, cutting, or pasting involved.)

Then Stone Temple Pilots' new single came on the radio. It sounded awesome.

Wait, did I type "sounded awesome?" I meant "sounded like a squirrels with their scrotum (scrota?) snagged in squirrel-scrotum snares." Yeah, that's more apt.

While typing that paragraph, I accidentally tapped "Control + V," which pastes whatever you last copied or cut. In this case, it was this:


But that explanation is for another post.

At the same stoplight, Jenny and I were stopped next to a Honda CR-V, whose driver appeared like a typical suburban fellow. The CR-V was white and was apparently the "sport model" or something. Remember how cool it was to put the car's trim on side of the car. For example, the awesome mullet guy down the road blasting Motley Crue drives a car that says "IROC" on it. While a statement of personal self-opinion, it also let everyone know how wicked sweet the Camaro was. I can't think of any other examples, except this fellow's CR-V. On the driver's door, I saw that Honda had stamped, in bold black letters, the model of the CR-V: CRV EX. At first glance, I knew there was something funny about this, but I failed to grasp it initially. I sounded out the name and suddenly realized that this man drove a cervix.

Then I drove home in an unexciting fashion.

Say, have you seen my brother Phil's Web comic? It's a serialized comic book about our sister and her husband. While I initially said my Monday rants wouldn't have ridiculous links, I'm going to make an exception here in the hopes of earning a 10-point endorsement from Phil. So here it is. The rest of you can bribe me for links. I take payment in the form of expensive beer, 1991 Ford Escort parts, giant novelty checks, guitars, more expensiver beer, old science-fiction paperbacks, human sacrifices, literary criticism, and car fires.

Of course, I'm kidding.

No one cares about literary criticism.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Running the Long Race

While I was at work this week, Alan sent me an e-mail letting me know that the LeMons site had updated the race information for the Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500. Most of the information was unsurprising: Friday will be tech inspection and track testing, Saturday will be drivers' meeting at 9 and racing 10-5:30, and Sunday will be racing 9-4 with a break at noon for the People's Curse award. No biggie.

Then Alan pointed out that we would have to bring our car home, which means our trailer must function. No worries. And if it doesn't, we'll just push it into a creek or something.

The LeMons Web site also posted a link to the track layout at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, where the race was taking place. The interesting thing about the track is that it can configured as one long 3.5-mile course or as one of two shorter courses. The LeMons link suggests that we will be racing the long course. And while it looks fun and challenging, it certainly presents our ride with a few obstacles.

The most obvious challenge here is the number of long straightaways going into tight corners. The course features three of these. There is also turn 7, which is a slight bend between two short straightaways. While I haven't driven the track, the angle on that particular turn looks obtuse enough that it can be taken at full throttle, thereby making it basically a fourth straightaway.

So why is this a challenge?

Well, to start with straights require the most toil out of our engine, which features less than 100 horsey-power1. Heaping four of them on every lap means winding out the gears and opening the throttle a lot. 20-year old engines typically don't enjoy this.

Additionally, the tight curves at the end of the straights require heavy braking. Even with a nice, clean rotor and good brake pads, braking from 90-100 mph will either wear the brakes out completely within two days or make the parts so hot as to render them completely ineffective.

Happy thoughts. The only consolation is that every other racing team will face the same challenges. I would guess Turns 11 and 12 will see a lot brake fading/failing and a decent amount of contact.

The other intriguing note on the course is the straightaway labeled "The Jump." This is worrying, because if there is indeed a jump, it will most likely knock our car completely apart like the Bluesmobile.

1 Our current numbers indicate that a stock 1.9L inline-4 engine, like that on our 1991 Ford Escort LX, produced 94 horsepower out of the factory. However, we may replace the engine with that from a Ford Escort ZX2. The 1.8L ZX2 engine made 138 HP out of the factory,. so the power difference would be significant. So would the work involved.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hustling the Illinois Lottery, Part 4

Make sure you read this one. It's about the giant check I won.

Part 4

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Watcha feedin'?

A package was sitting by our door when Jenny and I returned from work today. It was addressed to the aparment's previous occupant, whose name suggests a recent immigrant from eastern Europe. The return address indicated it was from "Hare Today Gone Tomorrow" in Pennsylvania, which I figured meant the weirdos who lived here previously had a bunny or two. For whatever reason, it brought to mind a particular scene from "Roger and Me." But I digress...

I found the package interesting for several reasons:

1) Wouldn't "Perishable" be enough on the box? Does anyone really need to know that the contents are frozen AND that it's pet food?
2) Why would rabbit food be frozen? It's vegetables. You can buy them at Jewel, which is 11 feet away if you live in the suburbs.
3) Why the hell would you have a rabbit in an apartment?

It was all kind of mystery.

Until I found the Web site.

It's not food FOR rabbits. It's food FROM rabbits1.

I'm glad that box is out of my house. Sorry, weirdo, your pet food is about to perish. Again.

1 For a moment, please consider the sinister name of the company1A.
1A The advertised "Top Sellers" on the Web site are as follows:

1. Ground Rabbits/Bones/Organs, 5 Lb.
2. Boneless Ground Rabbit, 1 Lb.
3. Ground Rabbits/Bones/Organs, 1 Lb.

The front page of the site also advertises Dehydrated Wild Cod Fish Skins in the "What's New" section.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Escort Service, Pt. 4 & 5

Alan and I met for the past two weekends to do some minor work to get the car roadworthy1.

We met the weekend before last to do some minor work on the car: attach the sway bar links on the rear suspension, change tie-rod ends in the front, change plugs, put on a different set of wheels (No. 4), change the oil, and test drive it.

Alan changed the plugs and oil easily enough. The oil even looked clean in the pan, so we thought that the car may only have the 53,000 miles on it that the previous owner alleges2.

We managed to change the tie rod end that was in worse shape, but we could not get the old one off the other side. It wasn't in terrible shape, so we left it for the time being.

Then it was time for a test drive. Alan took the wheel and proceeded to brake-check a few time to remove some rotor rust. It created a wonderful, metal-on-metal

We took it through Woodstock to pick up some beer3, and all seemed fine. As Alan made the last turn towards home, though, we heard a loud bang. This perplexed and worried us a bit. Neither of us saw the car leave any debris behind, but a close inspection revealed the front sway-bar links were toast. Alan assured me that the car is quite alright without these functioning, provided you don't plan any performing high-G maneuvers at skull-splitting speed4. We decided we'd fix it when we had the engine pulled for the drivetrain swap. Add that to the list.

Last Sunday, I headed out for a couple quick things to tick off the list so Alan could finally commute the monstrosity. We put a "fresh" set of tires/wheels on the car5. We then took a brief interlude to help one of Alan's friends whose car was having brake problems. After a getting the runaround at two places runaround, we dropped off his scoured rotor to be resurfaced and nabbed some replacement lights for the Escort.

Alan replaced the burned-out brake light, and I proceeded to fashion a passenger-side turn signal out of multiple pieces of clear and duct tape. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't. It is a sight to behold.

After, I took the car for my initial spin in it. Having only driven a manual once in my life, it was a trick to "relearn" it. I suppose I'm pretty typical in that I had trouble not killing it in first gear. But I felt pretty smooth finding the rest of the gears after I got going. Which is actually the important part, as I won't be using first gear much when racing. I think I'll get the hang of it. Alan's friend decided to see if he remembered how to drive a manual, and he proceeded to make our already-tired clutch a tired and melting clutch. But it still works, for now.

This Saturday, I may head back to Woodstock to help Alan rip out the upholstery. The carpeting is likely producing the distinctive and persistent funk, which stinks worse than local politics.

Today, I booked hotel rooms in Benton Harbor, Michigan, for April 17 for Alan and I and our respective smarter halves. That day and the day following, we will be spectating another LeMons race in nearby South Haven to get a taste of what we're in for. Alan suggested to his girlfriend that we take our LeMons car there.

Apparently, she said, "Please don't do that to me."

1 This word is used loosely. While the car runs and operates normally, it sure isn't anything most people would be proud to drive on roads.
2 Old Escorts (and old cars in general maybe?) only have a five-digit odometer. So the car could easily have 153,000 miles on it. The wear on the car is supposedly from it being towed behind an RV.
3 It seemed fitting to take our crapcan for a spin to grab some beer. A car this fantastic deserves a toast.
4 One could easily argue this to be a moot point, as the car never achieves such speeds. In fact, burying the needle (the speed-o only goes to 85) may never happen with the current 94 HP 1.9L in it.
5 Alan has a problem. He buys and sells Escort and Miata wheels like they're collector's items. It's some kind of weird compulsion that he must experience while perusing Craigslist. Anyway, he sold the set we'd put on the week before and instead bought a smaller, older, crappier set. Fret not, we'll be changing them again later, as these are not really "raceworthy." But then again, I doubt the car is "raceworthy."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ranting at Monday, 22 March 2010

Yeah, that's how the French write dates. Got a problem with that?

So this is the part where I start rambling on and on about whatever's floating through my brain. Except, as is typical, I haven't had a good Monday. So I'm in a bad mood, and my most of thoughts have to do with how tense I am or how I feel like I'm not doing enough with my life. For example, I should probably be doing some serious writing somewhere rather than piling all of my proverbial eggs in the blog basket. Because when the blog bubble bursts, bytes and bytes of bullshit will be condemned to whatever corner of Internet hell is reserved for things like America Online, with its crappy graphics and dinosaur Web browser. But it wasn't one of those cool dinosaurs, like a T. Rex or an Iguanadon. No, it was one of the ones whose job it was to get eaten by the cool dinosaurs. And that cool dinosaur was, of course, Netscape, who was then eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger. Take that, ship-steering-wheel-browser-thing. Apparently, Netscape still exists somewhere.

So last Thursday, I went to see a particular band I particularly enjoy at a particular venue in a particular city. The show was peculiar in that the band's equipment went particularly haywire and they slopped their way through 50 minutes of music that is usually particularly tight. Oh well, everyone has off-nights. I was particularly disappointed. This paragraph makes you question the meaning of the word "particular," doesn't it?

Then I got pulled over on the way home for having a loud exhaust, and while my car's exhaust is far from quiet, it's not exceedingly loud. Not louder than cars that are intentionally loud. I'm looking at you, fart-cannoned Civic.

So rather than fix the car, which has already absorbed a lot of money this year, I'm going to get a new one. And by new, I mean used. But I am willing to trade; so if you'd like a 1997 Saturn station wagon, I'd be willing to take a used Bugatti Veyron straight up. I'll even throw in the parts that have fallen off the interior at no extra charge.

Please excuse me, my kitchen's on fire. Not in the literal sense. Or even really the figurative sense. In fact, I'm quite unsure why I typed that. Just seemed like the thing to do at the time. And look at you, sucker, you're reading this nonsense. Jesus, this must be almost as bad as reading "Twilight," or as it probably should be better known "The Goth Babysitter's Club."

Srsly. m nt sppsd t b sng vwls. nd md mstk lst wk. t's hrd t vd vwls whn yr grmmrn.

I typed "vd."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Air Hockey Primer

Perhaps some of you read an earlier post where I described how some fellow air hockey players and I won a few thousand dollars from the Illinois Lottery. Perhaps you had the following very logical thoughts:

1. Are there really people who are good at air hockey?
2. How the hell does one get into that?


1. A few hundred people across the globe play air hockey seriously. The current rankings would have you believe there more than a 1,0001, but this number is probably more than a little padded. A typical national or international tournament draws between 30 and 120 people. While the players are distributed throughout the world, the bulk of American players today are in Austin, Houston, Denver, San Francisco (I think), Chicago, and few in Philadelphia2 and New York. There are also players in Venezuela, Spain, Russia, and at least a couple in Singapore3.

2. In my case, my brother-in-law suckered me into it last winter. I've been playing for a little more than a year. In his case, he got good at it to hustle people in bars in Madison. Most of the people who play at the suburban bowling alley that is home to Chicago's air hockey community worked there at some point. A couple more are transplants to the Midwest who used to play in other cities, namely Philly and Atlanta.

So there you have it. You can read more about the Illinois air hockey community here and here. And someone once started to make a documentary but apparently only ended up with nine minutes. Air Hockey's governing body also made a really cheesy early 1990s publicity video (in two parts on YouTube), which mostly made air hockey players look like the dorks that most of us are.

If you'd like to know what I (and the rest of us) look like when I play, you can watch me kicking everybody's ass at Press Your Luck last Thursday night4.


1 I refuse to link to the rankings because I'm embarrassed I'm in the lowest 30% of that number. Of course, now that I've shared that with you, there's not a whole lot of reason to not link it. Yet I refuse. You can find it easily enough.
2 Which Ben Franklin would win in a fight? And what the holy hell is happening here?
sup>3 I feel I've sufficiently reduced these places to stereotypes. It's great to be 'merican.
4 In truth, I've never even come close to winning a game of Press Your Luck. But in this particular round of one game, I scored every single goal. Yeah, I'm kind of a badass.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ranting at Monday:

Hi people1. My Monday sucked today. But rather than discuss that, I'm going to start a new feature, where I rant about some random topic unrelated to anything2. It will likely be poorly reasoned, poorly written, poorly edited, and completely atopical within itself. The goal is to maintain an unrestricted stream of consciousness, so you3 can perhaps understand how my thought process works. You may wonder, "How does this differ from your normal writing?" My completely honest answer is that it doesn't. EXCEPT, I require my readers to score me on how far I depart from my original course of thought (10-point scale with 10 points being complete departure from original topic). Unlike my usual writing, this will contain no footnotes or hyperlinks to distract you from the drivel that is stuck between my ears.

Now, take two preparatory Excedrin and enjoy:

I frequently wonder about the genesis of cinematic mistakes. Specifically, I'm thinking of the epic final scene of "The Karate Kid," where Daniel Larusso is fighting Johnny (Jonny? Gihonni? Giovanni?) of the Cobra Kai. After Johnny/Jonny/Lonnie scores a point on Daniel, one of the Cobra Kai gang (I'm too lazy to look up his name, though he seems like his name should be Barry) shouts in a manner that completely fails at subtlety, "Get him a body bag! Yeah!" While a line like that is supposed to stand out, whoever (whomever? No that's wrong. It's whoever...) edited the soundtrack for the movie completely failed, as the audio on his voice jumps up 20dB (exact figure) above the crowd noise and sounds distinctly like it was recorded in a studio. Of course, post-production sound is nothing new or exciting, but someone, somewhere decided that the audio on that clip should be that loud. Someone audio editor listened to that part dozens of times, said "Hmm...we should make that more conspicuous," and pushed the sliders on track 13 up a couple inches. You'd think someone would have second-guess him or her. I don't get it.

But then again, I don't get a lot of things. Another conspicuous error comes to mind from "Star Wars: A New Hope." Of course, I'm speaking about Obi-Wan's complete omission of midichlorians (mitiklorians? michiganians?) when describing the force to Luke. Oh, sorry. That was one of thousands of mistakes from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," which George Lucas should have buried in the lunar soil with the original copies of the "Star Wars Holiday Carrie-Fisher-is-on-Heavy-Sedatives Special." But that's my $497.83 - $497.81 = $.02.

Where was I? Something about movies...in the first Star Wars movie, a stormtrooper knocks his noggin on a low-hanging door, making an audible sound. How does someone miss that in post-production and not edit it out, reshoot it, or at least remove the sound to make it less obvious? Maybe the actor playing that particular stormtrooper made enemies with one of the editors. Not like it would matter, since the actor is assured of his anonymity, what with the mask and all. Maybe someone told George Lucas, but he was too busy planning on where to spend all of his money while he sat aboard the real Death Star. "What's that? Some guy hit his head on a door in the movie? Hmm...maybe can we market him as a special edition toy eventually? We'll leave it in." Thanks, George. Maybe Indiana Jones can fight Han Solo in your next movie; you can just have your arms around Han and Indy, and ya'll will just laugh at the audience for 105 minutes.

By the way, can you imagine how much damage Luke Skywalker caused to the Tattoinian economy when he killed Jabba the Hutt? If Obi-Wan was right about Mos Eisley being a "wretched hive of villainy," it stands to reason that Jabba had a significant hand in that. On a planet that is allegedly in the middle of nowhere (galactically speaking) with no apparent resources, most of the economy likely came from illicit sources, which again points to Jabba as a driving force in the Tattoine economy. So by destroying Jabba, he essentially annihilated the fulcrum of the planet's economy. And, sure, maybe Luke cast off the yoke of oppression for a few white people dumb enough to live in the dessert, but he also threw the rest of the planet into economic panic. Or worse, he ruined all interstellar trade to the planet. That's quite a claim for the leader of a group of "freedom fighters" trying to improve life in ALL of the galaxy. Way to ruin the economy on your home planet, Luke. But it's OK, because you're going to free the Ewoks by, uh, making a bunch of them die at the hands of the Empire. You know, it really didn't seem like the Empire was bothering the Ewoks. Come to think of it, Luke's kind of an asshole.

Anyway, you know what another word for "freedom fighters" is? "Terrorists," that's what. Luke and his band of "rebels" were really just a bunch of freedom fighters trying to ruin the rule of law. If Luke had turned himself in to our former president instead of Darth Vader, he would have been rendered by the CIA back to a very nearby moon of Coruscant and tortured until he told them everything about Osama Bin Laden. There. I said it. You see what I did there: I mixed my metaphor with the thing I was drawing comparison to. It's confusing, huh? You could probably do it, though. And then you would be a TV news pundit. Hey-o!

What happened? I just blacked out there for a bit. That reminds me someone I met last weekend who worked at a small newspaper. The paper was understaffed one particular day (there were only two people assembling the whole paper). When laying out pages, it's generally standard to write in headlines and cutlines (photo captions to you laypeople...haha, I'm looking down at you from my ivory tower) as something like "XXXXXX XX XXXXXX" or "16-pt. head goes here." Sometimes, when page designers are feeling funny, they write humorous placeholders that are meant for removal later. On this particular day, one page of the newspaper featured a photo of two "adult-learners" using one of the town library's new computers. Unfortunately, the cutline's humorous placeholder made it all the way to the printer with the following cutline: "Two old people look at porn in the library." Those two old people showed up at the newspaper office the next day and set it on fire. And by "it," I mean the porn they printed off on the library's printer. True story. Except it's all fabricated. Well, some of it was.

The end.

[Please join me 4 next Mondays's rant when I omit vowels. t wll b awsm. srsly.]

1 I assume there is more than one of you. Please see footnote 3.
2 Certainly unrelated to anything interesting or intelligible.
3 This is the plural "you." One of the clear problems with English is its lack of a distinguishable second-person plural pronoun. This is clearly a problem that those of the Southern dialect have attempted to compensate for. Of course, I'm speaking of the pronoun "ya'll," which is an amalgamation of "you all." Well done, Southerners! You did something that makes sense. Now please explain NASCAR to me, because that's some damn confounding shit ya'll are into.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hustling the Illinois Lottery, Part 3

My brother-in-law has posted his third part in a series about hustling people at air hockey1:

Part 3

1 Please disregard the paragraph where he says I lost to a random person. In fact, I threw the game to Goran Mitic, who was part of our group and who is better than I am. Jeez, he could at least fact-check.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hustling the Illinois Lottery

In this year's first two months, I was part of a group that garnered more than $4,000 from the Illinois Lottery. Feel free to read about it on my brother-in-law's blog1:

Part 1

Part 2

1 He's only posted two parts so far, though there will probably be a half-dozen more. I will warn you that his writing is more long-winded than mine1A and more profane.
1A Though less tangential1B.
1B I'm having a difficult time convincing myself that "tangential" is an actual word. Clearly, by the plethora of footnotes, you understand what the word means1C.
1C And therein lies the debate over prescriptive vs. descriptive linguistics. Prescriptive linguists would tell you that a word is not a word unless they say so [i.e. It is in the dictionary]. While this sounds intellectually stifling, it promotes regularity in language and allows for such things as clear written communication. However, descriptive linguists say the beauty of human communication1D comes from the fact that humans can create new ideas/new words. So if, say, "tangential" is not a word [even though it is; I looked it up finally] and I used it, you could infer that it means "in the manner of a tangent" or some such nonsense. Therefore, it would be a word, because you know of what I refer. Of course, the actual academic material on this is much more complicated, detailed, and correct, but this is all I can remember/fabricate off the top of my head.
1D In fact, innovation is often said by linguists to be the defining characteristic of language as opposed to communication. For example, a monkey's shriek may indicate "Holy shit! Watch out for that leopard!" or another may indicate "I am going to groom you, fellow monkey." However, the shrieks cannot be placed together to create a new indication, such as "Holy shit, I am going to groom a leopard!" The idea, then, is that while monkeys communicate, they do not use language.

Escort Service, Pt. 3

Well, kids this is a short one. I wasn't there for day 3 of Team Ohjesusthecarisaflameonitsroof, so I'll just link to Alan's blog here.

We'll be working on it again this Sunday, giving it new spark plugs and fresh oil.

Whatever else happens with the car in the coming months, we can always rest assured knowing that it's not a Chevy Cavalier.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Last Saturday [As written by a second grader with footnotes by not a second grader, though my serious writing sometimes resembles a second grader's]

My big sister Amy takes improv comedy classes at Second City in Chicago. She is funny and good at it1. Jenny and I saw her class perform a show on Saturday. It was funny, and she had a bad hand. Jenny is my fee-on-say. Second City is famous, because a pop there costs $2.75.

Jenny and I had dinner at Bennigan's2. We made fart jokes. The waitress was nervous. I had a corned beef sandwich.

Jenny and I went then to see the opera. It was "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart. We were early, so a man talked about Mozart3. Then we went to our seats. We were far away from the stage, but it's OK. The opera was neat4.

Then we went home.

The end5.

1 She just finished the final level of improv classes, which culminates in a 35-40 minute show.
2 To the best of my knowledge, this is the last remaining Bennigan's in the free world, though perhaps one exists in the undiscovered jungles of New Guinea.
3 While I didn't catch his name, the lecturer who spoke before the performance was everything you'd expect an opera lecturer to be: he looked like this.
4 Opera is certainly much more interesting than I had anticipated, but that's natural since I only find high-brow things amusing. It's easy to become engrossed in the story, but it's just as easy to be engrossed in Mozart's music. Also, the overture gave me goosebumps. This version will not have that effect.
5 On Sunday, I got my taxes done.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The one who rules the Rood roost...

This is Jenny Lynn Meyerhyphenrood1. Well, that will be her name by the end of next year.

You see, she and I are getting married next summer. Or fall. Or somewhere in between summer and fall.

Anyway, Jenny initially insisted that I not buy her a ring2. But I insisted back that we find a nice, simple ring that wasn't going to cost a small fortune or weigh heavily on our consciences. So we picked out a pretty basic ring made with two lab-created pink-and-white sapphires. It looks like this:3

Keep an eye out for an evite4 or something when next year rolls around in the mud and then walks across your freshly mopped kitchen tile.

1 Trees only grow out of her head once in a while.
2 Also, Jenny proposed to me. She did the hard part and insisted that I not buy her a ring. Best. Fee-on-say2A. Ever.
2A The spelling here is phonetic so that I didn't have to look up the keystroke for the accent mark2B.
2B Incidentally, to make an "é," all you need to do is hold down "Alt" and then type 0-2-3-3. You may ask yourself, why did you not return to footnote 2 and replace the correct spelling of "fiancée?" And I shall respond that I don't tell you how to do your job2C.
2C But I would if I gave enough of a crap to bother asking you what you do for a living, because, let's face it, you probably suck at it.
3 Please excuse the crappy cell-phone photo; neither of us owns a real camera. But you're welcome to see it in person for the low sum of 11% of your yearly income, plus fees.
4 Unless you suck. Then your evite will be sent to a developing nation where children receive, on average, fewer than two evites per year.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ruining a priceless guitar

Today, I was browsing the Sonic Youth Gear Guide today when I saw pictures of Lee Ranaldo's Travis Bean1 after its return in 20052. If you haven't seen it, brace yourself; it's not a pretty sight:



Side-by-Side with old photo

I've been lucky enough to have never had anything of mine stolen. But if this were me, I'd be pretty upset that someone apparently left my priceless instrument out in the rain or set it on fire or whatever the hell you do to a guitar to make it look like that. But I'd also be glad to have it back.

1 For those not in the know, Travis Bean built guitars in the 1970s in which he pioneered the use of aluminum necks. They are highly sought-after, very valuable, and relatively rare. I've seen them sell on eBay for $6,000 or more.
2 In 1999, ALL of Sonic Youth's gear got stolen2A. Read about it here. It was nearly all one-of-a-kind stuff; they have recovered a total of three guitars. Read the entire list of stolen stuff here.
2A It's not unheard for bands' stuff to get stolen. Just last fall, Chicago's Del Rey had their equipment stolen from a practice space.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What to Expect from LeMons

By now, I assume you've read the brief recollections of Alan and I swapping suspensions for our 1991 Ford Escort Frankenracer. From the brief posts earlier, you probably think that racing a $500 hatchback at the Rod Blagojevich Never-Say-Die 500 is dangerous business1. But it's not. Like all forms of racing, you're not allowed to make contact. So I'm sure it'll be fine2.

1 Please disregard the fact that this is a video of a Ford Escort rolling over. Our jalopy will probably have more awesome problems before we even get a chance to roll over.
2 Perhaps this would be a good time to discuss my racing resume. My auto racing experience is similar to yours2A, though I think I drifted once. Additionally, I have approximately 10 career minutes operating a manual gearbox2B. Despite this, I also make an excellent pit crew member. My skills include the ability to [sometimes] change2C a tire, to change the oil, to change the windshield wipers, and to change my underwear after my seat-time is up. Not to worry, though. Alan and I will do some autocrossing this summer. I envision Alan careening around the the courses in his sporty Miata. I then envision myself trying to coax a rolling shitpile into second gear while I barrel through a plethora of cones, spectators, puppy dogs, and crates full of watermelons2D.
2A Please disregard if you have actual racing experience.
2B It was a Ford gearbox, so that's a plus. However, it was an ornery Festiva, which was a huge negative.
2C And to again split an infinitive.
2D Because autocross events are typically held at farmer's markets, of course.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Beulah, Baseball, Musical Cannibalism and the Twin Cities

Earlier this year, my friend Steve invited me to travel with him to see Miles Kurosky1 on his solo tour. Under normal circumstances, Steve would go see him in St. Louis, as he lives a short distance from there. However, Miles has decided to safely forego2 a show in St. Louis. However, in a bizarre twist, he's instead opted to play at pizzeria in Rock Island.

Which brings me to the travel plans Steve proposed. Our options were essentially limited to the Midwest to facilitate quick and direct travel, which left dates over Easter weekend. The options were as follows:

A) Friday, April 2, in Minneapolis. A hip town with lots to do beside attend a concert. Airfare is relatively cheap, and there should be plenty to do.

B) Saturday, April 3, in Omaha. It's in Nebraska3.

Believe it or not, we seriously considered Omaha. But then Steve pointed out the Twins' new stadium was opening that same weekend with a pair of exhibition games against the Cardinals. So why not work baseball into the equation?

So with a little phineagelling4, we worked out the plan: fly to MSP5 on Friday, April 2. Check into our trillion-star hotel that we have for $3.58/night. Go see Miles Kurosky, who is apparently going to play some Beulah songs, too. Wake up on Saturday, April 3. Go to Target Field to watch Those Darn Twins play the Cardinals. After that, we *could* go see Spoon, who is in town that night, but the show is sold out and tickets are going for amputation-esque prices. Instead, we will probably check out Cymbals Eat Guitars6 on Saturday night. Then we return Sunday evening, probably after spending the afternoon at the airport, as Steve has a couple of passes to the Delta lounge, which may or may not have free (or cheap) food and drink.

Steve's plan was to fly directly from STL to MSP on DL and would return through MKE on a split ticket with YX and DL. But then YX canceled his flight outright, so he had to call YX and DL and expedia and rebook. How fun7.

But now, as it stands we'll both get there Friday afternoon and leave Sunday around 5 p.m.8. My outbound flight leaves from ORD on one of the venerable DC-9s [see below] that Delta inherited from Northwest. The last Delta/Northwest DC-9 I flew on was built in 1968, which probably makes it old enough to be cool again, right? Delta has said that the biggest DC-9s will remain in service for an indefinite period of time, though they will be retiring some of the older ones.

In contrast, my return flight will be on a shiny, new Embraer E-jet (see below9) operated by Compass Airlines for Delta. They're supposed to be nice airplanes to fly on.

Expect a full recap, in multiple parts, in April.

1 Miles Kurosky was formally in the noise-pop group Beulah. They were a swell group. His first music video can be seen here; please refrain from taking psychedelics prior to viewing.
2 To you grammarians who scoff at my split infinitive, I tell you to quickly go straight to hell. Also, everyone who lives in St. Louis gets murdered. Everyone. It's a fact. Look it up. It's in Chapter 4 of the Internet.
3 Sorry for the sound effect. I was expecting it to suck less. But you get the point. How exciting could Nebraska be3A?
3A For the record, I plan on including a link to a car fire in every post from here to forever.
4 And misspelling.
5 Really cool people who are totally in the know speak about airports in terms of their IATA codes. ICAO codes are for losers.
6 This band is comprised of cannibals who play cannibalistic instruments. I'm not sure, but they're probably zombies and they probably just play Queen covers. Or they're a really noisy pop band.
7 In case that paragraph didn't contain enough links, here are a few more.
8 Sorry family, I will be attending the heathen holiday of Opening Day (more or less) this year.
9 This picture is actually of a Shuttle America E-jet operated for United Express. Compass Airlines flies the same type of airplane, but it will be in Delta or Northwest colors.