My First Car

My favorite television program, my can’t miss, never get sick of it show is “Top Gear.” I never miss it, discovered courtesy BBC America a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. The next season of new episodes returns on February 7th and to celebrate that and my birthday on the 8th (although I suspect more likely the former), the producers put out a call for first car stories on the Top Gear website. to tell your tale of automotive woe.

Presenting mine:

Gruesome, isn’t it. That isn’t the exact car. Mine was black and and the black paint job couldn’t cover up for what a bad idea this was. When I picked up the car, the radio was the easiest thing to fix. When I got rid of the car 16 months later, it was the best part of the car. In the intervening months, I believe it was trying to kill me.

Ford had a good thing going with the mustang, but the 70s were not the best of times for that brand. With an alarmingly regularity, various parts of the car daisy-changed their ineffectiveness to  rob me of sanity and spare change. While both my judgement and Mustangs in general have righted themselves, I think it took experience for both of us. The car had a thing. It didn’t like Maple Road to get me to my bookstore job, always hitting the red light by UB, all the better for the 4 cylinders of the engine to scream in pain and torture as the car made it up the hill. The patch of ice that sent me for a 100 foot or so skid on Sheridan Drive. The seat that lost its latch while I was driving, while my Mom was in the car. Yes, kids, the days before Carfax were not pretty ones. In between those incidents was a steady display of mechanical revolt, a impressive daisy chain of automotive uprising. I was almost a believer that FORD did at one time stand for FOUND ON ROAD DEAD. At the time, it was a 50/50 split on whether that would be the car or me.  Since those days, we’ve both smartened up. The mustang still intrigues me. It looks more like it should, back closer to Carroll Shelby instead of Carroll O’Connor.

In the meantime, my current GM product is sailing along just fine, finally got it some dry pavement to go on here on the ice planet Hoth, and it went like a puppy on a romp in the park. But I think about that car periodically, a bad idea wrapped in a decent paint job. When a vehicle’s main attribute is looking cool in the windows of Casey’s Nickelodeon, that should be a problem. Lord knows the Mustang thought so,


Mackenzie Brackman, where for art thou?

Remember L.A. Law, from the first few great years to the last season or two, one of the standbys was the case where somebody in the case snapped their cap, lost their marbles, their train stopped moving, you get the idea. I catch the coverage of the Hassan trial and the only thing missing is Harry Hamlin giving Hassan a stern talking to. The whole thing is an accident that you should just drive by, but can’t.



Wintertime Blues

This winter and I have not been getting along. Maybe its days like Monday, where we get a little sun, but lung crushing temps of -4 to start the day. I mean after the holidays, it loses a little something, just snow and anybody prone to using phrases like “Winter Wonderland” should be smacked with the nearest available bag of hammers. I mean, give me sun and 25 and I’ll be gripe free until spring arrives. Soon, I hope. I’m glad we are embracing the winter with the festivals and whatnot as we are what we are in that regard, so I signed up to bartend at the Powder Keg Festival next month. At the moment though? Feh!

But sometimes you just need a different perspective. I went to a networking event at Templeton Landing this evening on the waterfront. Typical of me, I was grousing to myself about the truck that hogged Elmwood Ave, refusing to pick lane, I mean, nobody was going MY speed…bastards. When I rolled up at the restaurant, a rare snow was falling, no wind, just light flakes, like somebody had gently shook the grand cosmic snow globe. It was soothing, almost, but not quite, in the way summertime water lapping the shore can mellow the harsh. Not sure, but it lightened my mood.

Found myself staring out the window a bit at the marina. The lights had a softness to them. The snow was falling without sound, one of those serene moments, that I suppose you have to hang onto when the temps get back in single digits this weekend. Next time I ask for a sunny day I’ll make sure it is temp specific, but that area had a beauty to it tonight that it has probably already lost, but it was nice to clear the slate for the moment. Might even amp me up to get the son sledding this weekend.

Grumpy Old Man

If you are 36, or older, you might think this is hilarious! (reprinted from my in box)

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning…. Uphill… Barefoot… BOTH ways…yadda, yadda, yadda And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it! But now that I’m over the ripe old age of forty, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today.. You’ve got it so easy!

I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!

1) I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

2) There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter – with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

3) Child Protective Services didn’t care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

4) There were no MP3’s or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

5) Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We’d play our favorite tape and “eject” it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that’s how we rolled, Baby! Dig?

6) We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that’s it!

7) There weren’t any freakin’ cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn’t make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your “friends”. OH MY GOSH !!! Think of the horror… not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there’s TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

8) And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent… you just didn’t know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

9) We didn’t have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like ‘Space Invaders‘ and ‘Asteroids’. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen.. Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

10) You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what’s the world coming to?!?!

11) There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

12) And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that! 13) And our parents told us to stay outside and play… all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside… you were doing chores! And car seats – oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on.. If you were lucky, you got the “safety arm” across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling “shot gun” in the first place! See! That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!

Regards, The Over 40 Crowd

I wonder

I wonder:

Winning cures a lot and sells a lot of merchandise. As a long suffering Sabres fan, I’m eternally grateful to Larry Quinn for going out and finding Tom Golisano and saving the franchise. That was a remarkable thing. But the shortsightness in the long documented contract botchings of Chris Drury, J.P. Dumont, Daniel Briere among others is still baffling to me. Perhaps you do have to draw a line in the sand in terms of salaries and whatnot, but I think the eventual Cup win that team would have had would have sold enough merchandise to make up the differences. Remember all the many trips we all took to Trench printing outlets during the Bills Super Bowl years? I wonder what Terry Pegula’s first actions will be for a team that has been more consistently interesting off the ice than odd, hopefully before more of Ryan Miller’s prime goes completely to waste. It wasn’t so long ago that the Arena was a tough building to come into and play, like a mystique was in the making.

But alas