Sunday, November 28, 2010

Does it get any better?

Thurs - J.E.T.S beat the Bengals 26-10. Next Monday night vs. the hated Patriots promises to be a classic. And the Texas A&M fightin' Aggies beat the Tea-sips!!!

Fri - St. John's Red Storm Men win over Drake and the Ladies beat Nicholls State.

Sat - Arsenal win 4-2 at Aston Villa. The Arse went top of the Prem for about two hours before Dimitar Berbatov beat Blackburn 7-1.

Sat - The Southlake Carroll Dragons high school football team defeated the Abilene Eagles 38-24 at Cowboy Stadium. Video to follow! Dragons are now in the District Final vs. Denton after winning three playoff games.

Sun - Early morning, St. John's Red Storm win the Great Alaskan Shootout by beating Arizona State 67-58. SJU may not set the NCAA's on fire this year but apparently Coach Lavin's recruiting class for 2011 is up there with the best of them. And the NY Knicks won this afternoon... Does it all get any better? "Overnight, under the covers, schmoozing s.p.o.r.t.s..." (courtesy of Steve Somers, WFAN).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

So ya, thought ya, might like to go to the show...

And what a show it was. More of a spectacle really. Released in 1979, The Wall has stood the test of time and even though the current iteration is sans Gilmour, Wright (RIP) and Mason, it was still an aural and visual tour de force. Disenfranchised from the other two, Roger Waters looks and sounds well for a 67 year old and when announced earlier this year, I was counting the days until Nov 21.


The American Airlines Center (home to the Dallas Mavericks and Stars) was sold out. Our seats were poor, literally up in the rafters. However, as the usher said, "at least you are in the house". The sound was absolutely perfect. The visuals effects projected on to the wall were awesome. The various puppets that came out on cue were very cool: the schoolmaster, Pink's mother, his wife and of course, an inflatible pig that made the rounds. Oh and the WW2 fighter plane that swoops in over the audience and crashed spectacularly at the end of In the Flesh. It was pure rock theater at its best. Waters interacted ocassionally with crowd but there were no surprises.

It is very much a scripted production with no variation night to night. There is so much equipment and special effects it is amazing they were able to set up again within 24 hours of the Houston show. Two sets perhaps? I took lots of pics and video but while the sound is good, the video is poor, such was our seats. If I had the choice again, I would have definitely paid more for better seats.


INTERMISSION (with those killed in war / terrorism)



Best part: when the hotel room popped put of the wall for Nobody Home, followed by the images on the wall for Vera / Bring the Boys Back Home. See here for yourself:

Not my video of course...

I would have to give the whole shebang a solid 10 out of 10. It really belongs on Broadway, or Vegas.

A parting anecdote. I remember in 1986 living in South Jamaica, Queens. This was before Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the city; NYC was akin to Beirut. Google "Larry Davis", or watch "Do the Right Thing". South Jamaica was as close to the crack epicenter of NYC as you could get and I may have been the only white kid for miles. One hot afternoon I was at a payphone (a what? you say) fumbling with change and I had a Pink Floyd / The Wall t-shirt on. An old black man (he was probably only 40) under the influence of something staggered up and after surveying my shirt (I expected to be robbed) chuckled "Michael Jackson, off the The Wall". He wobbled off, probably thinking I was one strange cat but if I was a fan of Michael, I must be okay. That was the day Roger Waters saved my life.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sold, Sold, SOLD!!!

Life is about taking opportunities. When I found out there was a classic car auction starting this Friday afternoon, it meant bailing out of work a few hours early and heading down 114 a few miles to Big D.

I was not disappointed. SS Chevelle's, Mustangs, Corvettes, big ol' Caddy's, Studebakers, pick-ups... you name it - they were represented.

The down economy yielded some relative "bargains":

- 1965 Impala convertible - $9,750
- 1954 Chevrolet pick-up - $11,500
- 1965 Olds Cutlass convertible - $8,500

Several 1970's era Corvette's ended up under the hammer for less than $8K.

There were a couple of early 1960's T-Birds. A '64 white coupe was bid up to $15K and did not meet the reserve. One nice thing about the Leake auction compared to Barrett-Jackson, is you could get real close to the cars - even sit in them if you so wished. Most were in excellent shape, with very sharp recent restorations. My old '61 Bird would not show well.

I was only there for about three hours and the most expensive car sold was a silver 1964 Corvette for $39,000.

If I had money, I would have bought about ten, stuck them in a nice garage and wait out the economic doldrums. I'll bet the cars sold today will double or triple in value by 2020.

Three American iconic classics from very different eras
The tailfin of a '57 Chevy Bel Air, the stately 1930 Studebaker President, the wackiness that was the rear fin of a 1970 Plymouth Superbird

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Requiem for a Mailbox


Some Errant Driver (henceforth "Ed") was tooling around our neighborhood and had either (a) seen too many of those video's where they blow up old buildings in order to build a Wal-Mart (b) had a few too many Martini's at 2pm in the afternoon (c) was just a really bad driver.

Whichever it was, Ed was on a mission of destruction in his Toyota / Hyundai / Honda (the generic and characterless ToyHyunDa) that fateful Monday afternoon.


The mailbox is a standard bearer for a progressive society. A veritable harbinger of stability and order. The mailman will deliver and pick up mail six days a week in spite of sleet, snow, locusts, Godzilla, etc.

The US Postal Service is mighty particular about mailbox standards:

- Vertical height of between 41-45 inches from the road surface
- Boxes must also be on the right-hand side of the road
- Mailbox should be set back 6 to 8 inches from the front face of the curb
- Your mailbox needs to be approved by the Postal Service
- The name on your mailbox should be at least 1 inch high
- The moat around the mailbox shall be filled with piranha and sharp stakes in case Ed comes rumbling down your block

Clearly, a mailbox is not to be trifled with.

The mailboxes in our neighborhood are of the stout brick variety. They are enduring and hard to miss. They make great markers when playing in the street as in "run a hook pattern and turn at the mailbox", or "the mailbox is out of bounds".

I am sure when Ed woke up that epic Monday, mailbox reduction was not on his mind. Maybe he forgot to sport his glasses. Perhaps Ed had a bad experience as a child and was stuffed into a mailbox. It gets like a pizza oven in there in summer. Maybe his father was Newman and his home was filled with mountains of undelivered mail.

"Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There's never a letup, It's relentless. Every day it piles up more and more, but the more you get out, the more it keeps coming. And then the bar code reader breaks. And then it's Publisher's Clearinghouse day". - Newman.

Ed may have had some kind of post (office) traumatic flashback in our street.

We have all had incidents in the parking lot, backing into a stray shopping cart, a near miss with a Buick. It happens less frequently now because so many new cars have the backup sensors that alert you to trouble. Did Ed hear the beeping and think it meant "Go faster - Ramming speed!"?


So here's the dealio. It is 2pm on a Monday afternoon. The street deserted, spare for a few tumbleweeds. Temperature: around 70F, sun shining high in the sky. No glare. Road conditions: excellent. Visibility: miles.

You rumble down a suburban street. The scenery is not what one would call varied. House, driveway, mailbox. House, driveway, mailbox. We dig repetition. Suddenly, you realize you are not where you need to be. You could drive 100 yards and turn in the cul-de-sac without engaging Reverse gear. Or - and it is a mighty big OR - you could pull an Ed and opt for a moderately difficult three-point turn in the middle of the street.

Maybe Ed had one of those acceleration happy imports. Perhaps Ed has a Shaq size 20 left lead foot. Maybe Ed hates mailmen. Maybe Ed doesn't like Mondays. Or Bob Geldof. It could be that the ToyHyunDa did not have mirrors. Maybe Ed was listening to Symphony for Destruction (likely the Nine Inch Nails remix).


At 2pm on that tragic Monday, Ed slipped his late model sedan in reverse and with all the grace and subtlety of a ten-ton bulldozer, Ed demolished our mailbox. There was bang, a cloud of dust and that very bastion of civilization lay prone and mortally wounded on the grass. No more mail will grace what was once a proud fixture, now reduced to a sad pile of rubble. What took one undocumented migrant laborer hours to construct was annhilated in a split second by a ToyHyunDa wielding maniac.


No none panicked, called the cops or even Channel 9. Ed collected himself, parked the ToyHyunDa and rang the doorbell. He was aghast but also honest. Further description is unwarranted. Suffice to say, he is a man of courage and honor... and a horrible driver. His insurance co. ponied up $700.

The post office refused to deliver mail until the mailbox was repaired. My new best friend Jesus rebuilt the mailbox for $300. I helped him and felt like I was a hoddie from 1985. I used the $400 difference to buy a ticket to see the Rangers in the World Series.

We will not speak of the outcome, except that Timmy made the Rangers look like static mailboxes.

It is indeed an ill wind that blows no good...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Before & After

Cars would be a lot more fun if the dashboard was covered side to side with all sorts of gauges. Kind of like the cockpit of a 747. Gauges for outside humidity, changes in tire pressure, transmission RPM, brake pad wear... the more obscure the measurement, the better!

Since the radio for the Thunderbird is stowed away out of sight in the trunk, it made perfect sense to replace the mundane shiny bird that covered up the slot where the radio should be with some exciting new gauges!



I had to settle for the garden variety oil pressure, engine temp and volt meter... but they beat the heck out of the "idiot lights" that were factory spec in 1961. The installation took me several thoughtful hours in the garage and no fingers were lost or fires started. (I once had a good old smoldering electrical fire going in the Mustang). I think the gaugues in the TBird look pretty good. Drawing 14 volts, engine temp around 190F and at 2200 RPM, I am getting about 50 lbs of oil pressure. (I installed a tachometer as well). Now to find a gauge that measures windshield wiper speed...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Fall Classic

It has been almost 48 hours since Brian Wilson (Blackbeard) retired Hamilton, Guererro and Cruz and brought the Rangers fantastic run in 2010 to an end. While it was no fun watching the Giants do a dogpile on our home field, the opportunity to attend the ultimate game of a World Series with 52,000 others will never be forgotten. My ticket came courtesy of a driver who lacks rudimentary skills behind the wheel. It is an interesting anecdote and will be detailed in another post.

I was at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (RBPIA!!!) by 4.30pm in time to watch the Rangers take batting practice. First pitch was not until 7pm. The seats you see on Fox TV where Dubya and Nolan Ryan sit - well that is where I took up position to watch BP. About 10 feet from the field! Vlady actually looked good in the cage but man did Lincecum do a number on him (and the others) later. Nelson Cruz gave several interviews. Elvis Andrus signed countless autographs on hats, towels, programs, etc, all while perched on the home dugout. Maybe he should have spent more time warming up? And Wash throws BP? What the heck! I guess "that's how baseball go".

Dave Winfield, as imposing as ever, wandered by. Peter Gammons of ESPN was a few feet away, doing an interview. Nomar Garciaparra stood alone, back to the crowd, watching the batting cages. As good as he was, I do not believe he ever played in a World Series and I am sure he was reflecting on his career. "No-Maah" as the Red Sox fan would say, is the only player in MLB history to hit two grandslams in the same game at home. A legend and likely headed to Cooperstown.

The gravity of the situation hit home when some MLB dude wandered out of the Rangers dugout with what looked like a birdcage under a blue sheet. I was the first to recognize the shape - I had seen 27 of them when we went to the new Yankee Stadium in 2009. "That's the World Series Trophy" I said to the guy next to me. I don't think he believed me at first.
Now that I think about it, why would any normal Rangers fan recognize the trophy? It's not like the Rangers ever won it... Anyway, it was then I realized that Bud Selig planned on maybe presenting the award tonight and that meant an L for the Rangers... How come I was so confident we could beat Lincecum and Selig saw it otherwise?

The Giants took over the infield for their BP and when the bluebloods with the $2,000 seats showed up, I made my way up to Section 339 to my perch in the rafters.

Why were Hamilton, Young, Guererro, Elvis, Murphy, Kinsler, Molina so poor? All were stars in the regular season. Are Cain, Lincecum, Wilson et al, that good? Time will tell. All I can say is the Rangers had a fantastic run in 2010 and I am looking forward to 2011 and taking the boys to lots of exciting games at the "RBPIA" in the years to come.

Batting Practice. In the foreground is 6 boxes of popcorn for Dubya, Nolan etc.

Nelson Cruz streches while giving an interview. He would later hit a solo home run to left. One of the few Rangers to actually catch up with the Giants pitching. In the foreground is Nomar Garciaparra.

Elvis is in the building! He signed autographs for at least an hour. Bless...
Not a parrot cage....

View from the cheap seats.