Saturday, July 23, 2005

150mph Couch Potato

I was vegging in front of the TV recently when I realized something peculiar. I was watching a show called Top Gear, a British automotive show, on the discovery channel. This was after watching another show called Overhaulin’ which was on after yet another show called Classic Car Rebuild. This is when the revelation struck; however to fully explain this I have to take you back a few years.


Ever since I could remember my father would read, watch, and live cars. Some might call him obsessed but that might not give due credit to how far his hobby goes. He is the type of guy every mechanically challenged man wants as a neighbor and every used car salesman dreads. My father to this day has stacks of old Road & Track, Car & Driver, and almost every other car magazine from the 1950’s ‘till now. He has ordered entire volumes of magazines spanning decades from other auto enthusiasts just so he could re-read old articles he remembered and then tuck them away in his closet. When ever one of his kids crossed a state line on a road trip away from home they were required to bring back an Auto-Trader from the states visited for my father’s perusal.

The man has had three sports cars in his garage at one time, that don’t function outside of gathering dust, purely because he likes having them. He also has three motorcycles. He commissioned me four or five years ago to paint him a mural in our basement of, what else, a car in a garage. Once he told me that he could identify any car simply from the silhouette or hubcap, and then he could give a complete breakdown, by the numbers, of every aspect of that automobile. I’ve tested him and he can do it.

When I was young I can remember getting up on Sundays to get ready for church. My dad would already be up in his house robe watching a race. When we got back from church he would be recording one race and watching another. If I wanted to spend any time with him on these days I had to sit down, be quiet, and watch the races with him. After years of this I guess I started building up an appreciation for cars. Not that I am any good as a mechanic. Hell, I have a hard time doing anything with my car. However, I can remember little tidbits of automotive trivia (such as Roles Royce built the engines for the WWII fighter planes, the Corsairs) and I can tell stories that revolve entirely around cars (Link). Also, as I have already stated, I have some deep desire to watch shows about cars. I can’t get enough. Yeah, the shows are good enough on their own, but I wonder if it is somehow attached in my psyche that television shows about cars relates to quality time with my pops.

While some men make time for football games or going fishing, I seem to make an inordinate amount of time for automotive television shows and car talk. Don’t get me wrong, again I couldn’t tell you anything about cars really, but I love talking about them and watching stuff about them. The thing that is really baffling is that cars are in no way associated with any of my hobbies. I’m an outdoorsman. When I do something for myself I tend to get as far away from roads as possible. On that same note, I hate having to work on my car. I absolutely loathe it. But, I will watch shows about cars endlessly. I guess what I am getting at is that our parents do rub off on us, though that may scare many of us somewhat. In some ways I’m glad I can sit in front of a TV and feel close to my dad. Yet sometimes I also wonder why he couldn’t have instilled some of his mechanical know-how too, damn it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Think of the Childrens

I don’t know if you’re up on the current video game scandals but let me fill you in. Supposedly there is a code called “Hot Coffee” that you can input into the Grand Theft Auto; San Andres video game that will allow the player to watch a snippet of a sex scene with some partial nudity. No more than you would get on an episode of NYPD Blue. However, due to this ESRB, the guys who put ratings on video games, have made a new category for games to fall into, AO. This stands for Adults Only, meaning that only 18 and over can purchase the game. As a result many large chain retailers (Wal-Mart) are pulling GTA from their shelves. Also, today Hillary Clinton has started a group dedicated to treating games they feel are obscene the same as alcohol or tobacco.

This is a tricky subject. On the one hand I can see some parents views on not wanting games with over the top violence and sex to fall into their children’s hands. Yet, at the same time why is there all this outrage over things that kids read about, hear about, and see on the news already? Yeah little Billy can watch the news with real car chases and watch shows where people kill each other in fantastic ways, but he can’t play a video game with the same elements? It’s like the argument that violent cartoons breed violence in children. I don’t know of too many people who were killed by falling safes or bludgeoned with frying pans. I wouldn’t want my kid watching porn but I don’t feel that these games are porn. It also seems that most parents don’t care about any amount of violence as long as there is no sex.

Kids today have greater access to unfiltered information than ever before due to the Internet and through television. They are able to tell the deference between fantasy and reality just like kids in the fifties knew that if they were to mimic Bugs Bunny and stick their fingers in the barrel of a gun they wouldn’t have any fingers to pull back out. Normal people can separate video game reality from their reality. I don’t feel that anyone playing these games is going to suddenly decide that maybe stealing cars and robbing people is a good idea.

Though, like I said I can understand why some parents wouldn’t want their kid playing these games. Well, why not get more involved? When I was working at Block Buster a game came out called Conker's Bad Fur Day. This game involved violent themes, bad language and sexual innuendo…it was great. I had to stop parents and tell them this out of a feeling of civic responsibility because they didn’t care to walk over and see what it was their 11 year old was handing them to rent. This got me sour looks not just from the kids but the parents too. “Why would you rent out such a filthy game?” Answer: for the same reason we’re renting you the movie Pearl Harbor (a movie with just as much sex and blood as any video game on the market), entertainment.

Well, the times they are a changin’ and video games are getting more mature to follow the market trend. The youth that started with Pac-Man is now old enough to want something more adult oriented. Video games are no longer the innocent, unrealistic, pixilated things they used to be. I am cool with ESRB’s decision. It seems only right, but get off your high horse Hillary you’re showing your age.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cyclops Drunk

Well we made it through Hurricane Dennis all right. The power was out for a day and a half and nothing was really terribly damaged, not unless you count a four by five foot hole in the side of our house. LJ and I drove over to the pad right after the storm went over to discover that at the top of our place, just under the peak of the roof a large portion of wall was missing. Interestingly there was no water damage in the house…weird. So we’re getting that fixed. Our landlord kinda did a botched repair job on it already so Mike and I will have to pool our un-considerable home repair knowledge to make it right. The dude may as well have stuck two crisscrossing elephant sized band-aids over the hole for all the good it will do.

Anyway, that night we wanted to go out to eat since no one was hurt and our house was in good enough shape to continue living there (an honest concern when faced with any hurricane, trust me). We all go to an Irish pub/restaurant called Maguire’s to celebrate. The place is packed, but hey, no problem they have an open bar. Mike tells me I should try an “Irish Wake” and LJ seems interested so I order two. These drinks are served in mason jars and are filled halfway with liqueur before being topped off with fresh squeezed OJ.

I won’t make any excuses here. I got nailed, and yes on one drink. About halfway done I am already feeling like I have just shot gunned my third beer. With about a quarter remaining I am having a hard time walking strait. When I finish I am totally pissed. I have a confession to make now. You guys know the picture I use of myself on my page. You know, the one where I am holding the dollar in one hand the glass in the other, I have a grin from ear to ear and it appears as though I’m winking? Well, I’m not actually winking per say so much as trying to stem double vision. That look is something you only get when I am wicked drunk. It has only happened a few times because I am not usually a heavy drinker but it has occurred enough to earn me the drunken moniker “Winky”. Moving on, by the end of that one drink I was looking through mono-vision and my wife had to call the hotel she works at, conveniently situated right down the street, so that all of us could stumble over and sleep in a free room (*LJ wasn’t that drunk and drove down herself I feel compelled to add). Mike claims he wasn’t that drunk but I don’t believe it for a second and you shouldn’t either.

Now, I was told yesterday that I am a rather amusing drunk. I am fun to laugh at and with, and have a very jovial disposition. That makes me glad. I have known so many people who respond differently to alcohol that to be a joker is a blessing. Supposedly I’m quite the entertainer. Anyway, it was great to get out and loosen up after Dennis blew through. Incidentally, we are all making bets on what category Emily will make landfall as and where she will hit. My money is on category two and it will hit somewhere about thirty miles west of Pensacola. I’ve got ten bucks riding on it so Emily better deliver.

Oh, and if anyone is so inclined please link over to my wife’s site and wish here a happy 24th birthday it would mean a lot to her.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Mother Nature, You Bitch!

Damn it! I went through hurricane Ivan down here. The aftermath was more than I ever expected and certainly more than anyone else who didn’t live here had ever expected. I would talk to people on the phone 8 months afterward and tell them that Pensacola was still a mess. Most people had no idea. Once the story is off the news everyone forgets. I’d been guilty of it too, but who could know? To anyone who doesn’t know, the hardest part of a hurricane isn’t living through it, it’s the rebuilding after the storm is long gone. Pensacola still isn’t 100%. There are still signs that never got replaced and homes that never got rebuilt. There are many buildings that have just gotten to the point where they could start reconstruction, yeah a year later.

I lived in Georgia most of my life. I am only in Pensacola to finish school. In Georgia all you have to be worried about is occasional flooding, lightning and tornados. A tornado wrecked an area near where I lived once. The devastation was pretty bad, but it was very localized. Nothing could have prepared me for how bad a hurricane is. Let me give you a picture:

The hurricane has past. You wanna hear what’s going on by listening to the radio? You can’t, no towers for miles. You wanna watch TV? Nope, not unless you can pick up a signal from somewhere far enough away from the damaged area which can be a hundred miles or more. Maybe you wanna call your family or friends to tell them you’re ok. Well just hope you have a cell phone whose towers aren’t all down because the landlines are mostly gone. No stores are open for anything, no power, and no clean water. You can’t even flush a toilet for God’s sake. There are trees and debris everywhere, I mean everywhere. The town is, literally, like living in the 1700’s.

Ivan was a category 3, though if you ask anyone here they’ll tell you it was a four. This new hurricane, Denis, could be a solid category four and looks like it is taking the same path as Ivan. Am I worried? No, not really. What’s to be worried about? Yeah, there’s going to be plenty of property damage and a long slow rebuild…again, but I don’t feel like my life or my family’s is in any danger. Most deaths that occur from hurricanes are due to being in a bad location (aka the beach or flood zone). We will be far away from that so I am pretty sure we’ll be safe. Still, my wife and I just don’t want to go through the whole process again. Damn you nature, why must you give with one hand, and bitch-slap with the other.