May 31st, 2005

flavored with age

FIYUH

So, whose car caught on fire over the weekend? Hands? Hands?

What, I'm the only one?

Well what had happened was, I was trucking up to see my gal ninafarina in the ever-reliable ChickWagon, when, somewhere around the bustling metropole of Eleva, WI, my oil light starts to flicker. No big deal, thought I, I'll just wait until I get up to St. Paul and get an oil change. Then about five minutes later, it starts making a hideous noise (I would describe it as "a giant farting out a string of lit firecrackers" if I were of a poetically disgusting mind) and decelerating at a rate perhaps not alarming, but at the least concerning. So I pull over to the side of the road, pop the hood (because, you know, I'm such an automotive genius, I can tell what's wrong just by looking), and...THE ENGINE IS ON FIRE.

Luckily for me, I'm not a coffee drinker, so I always have a bunch of bottled water in my car for road trips. Figuring that 'in the future, I might get thirsty' is a better risk than 'at the present time, my car will be reduced to a melted puddle of white steel', I emptied the bottles onto the fire and doused it. Pausing only to release a stream of several hundred obscenities and have a number of small heart attacks, I called 911 (thanks, cell phone! This is what you were made for, and not taking calls in the movie theatre about whether or not someone wants that one brand of oatmeal!), who called the Highway Patrol, who called a tow truck. The upshot: somehow, and for unknown reasons, the oil line burst in my car, spraying the engine with oil (causing the fire) and causing a total lubricant loss in mere minutes. The mechanics (who, contrary to my last experience with some utterly shifty, incompetent mechanics here in Chic, were extremely helpful and straightforward) said the damage was done before the oil light ever went on.

And what's the damage? It's bad. Basically, I need a whole new engine. I cursed a whole bunch more and repeated some variant of Michael Corleone's "every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in" line (only he was talking about the Mafia and I'm talking about being poor), then headed to a Burger King on the edge of Eau Claire, WI to wait for my girfriend* to pick me up**. The estimate from the mechanics was...well, it ain't cheap, let's be true here, you can't replace a whole engine on the cheap. But it's very, very reasonable for the amount of work, so much so that it's wiser to go ahead with it than dump the car (which is only a '99, and has a mere 44k miles on it). Assuming there's no hidden jump from estimate to actual repair, I'm amazingly pleased that the mechanics -- who, after all, pretty much had me over a barrel -- have been so accomodating (they're not charging me for the tow, they helped get me a rental car, they hunted down a new engine over a holiday weekend, and they're going to have someone stay late so I can pick up the car when it's ready). All in all, I can't say I'm lucky, because it's a huge inconvenience and a big financial hit, but it could have been a lot worse, both in terms of expense and circumstance.

Now all I gotta do is get up to Eau Claire somehow (rent a car? take a bus? fly to Mpls. and take an airport shuttle?) and THEN drive back, AGAIN. Someday in the next week or so, I have about a 16-hour day of driving ahead of me.

Anyway, my weekend was perfect, except for the fire! How was yours?

*: In case I don't say it enough, my girlfriend is awesome. She got someone to watch her kid on very short notice and drove a hundred miles from St. P to Eau Claire to pick me up, and proceeded to show me a very lovely weekend despite the rotten week and disastrous trip that preceded it. If she doesn't sweep the Girlfriendies this year, I'm boycotting next year.

*: The best thing about the wait was that while I was sitting in this Burger King in rural Wisconsin, nursing an iced tea and waiting pathetically for my gal to come and pick me up, calamityjon called me on my cell to tell me a joke he's gonna use in a Doc Homonculous comic. (It was a ten-percenter, is why he called me, and I won't give it away, but it's a pretty snazzy joke). So I laffed at the joke, and he's all "Well, talk to you later, me and superdaintykate are on our way to San Francisco, lah de dah", and I'm all, "that's great, have fun, man, I'm just gonna sit here for three hours in a Burger King in Eau Claire, WI, waiting to be rescued, about 300 yards away from the smoking remains of my car." HA HA, CALAMITY JON, I WIN THE PHONE CALL!
flavored with age

He's just a stereotype, he drinks his Boone's Farm

As longtime readers, friends, and people who have to sit next to me in bars know, I hate stereotyping. As longtime r., f., and p. who have to s.n.t.m. in b. also know, I myself engage in near-constant stereotyping, much to the chagrin of my brain.

Here's an example. On my way back from St. Paul in the zippy little rental I acquired at the Mpls. airport, I found myself cruising alongside a dude in an old beater. He's youngish, maybe mid- to-late-20s, big guy, shaved head, lumberjack beard tied with rubberbands near the bottom a la Rob Zombie, and traveling with a hip gothy-looking girl who bore a slight resemblance to tamisevens. (I was able to notice all this because there was a huge traffic backup near Wisconsin Dells and we were just sitting next to each other, stalled, for about 10 minutes.) And there's two elements to his old beater I find slightly incongruous: on his back window -- the only decoration on his whole car -- there's a huge, banner-style Nine Inch Nails sticker; and, on top of the car, strapped to the roof, is a whole bunch of canoeing gear. He and his girl (wife? friend? sister?) were clearly on their way back from a canoeing trip to Wisconsin Dells.

Now, I don't really get NIN. I don't like them very much and I never really saw their particular appeal. (Possibly prettykate would be able to explain away this whole entry, but she doesn't read my LJ and at any rate she just had a birthday and went to France, so I'm sure she has better things to talk about.) But to my unfortunately stereotype-prone mind, the kind of person who likes Nine Inch Nails -- certainly the type of person who likes them SO MUCH that they put a three-foot-wide sticker on their back window to show how much they like them -- is not also the kind of person who likes going on canoeing trips. I mean, I'm obviously wrong, here, because the proof was right there in front of my eyes, but it's hard for me to picture a guy listening to "Fist Fuck" or "The Beauty of Being Numb" and then saying 'Hey, honey, you want to drive up to the Dells, do some canoeing? Maybe hit the Tommy Bartlett Water-Ski Fun Show?"

But who am I to judge? No one. I contain multitudes. I spent half of yesterday talking to myself in the car in a Russian accent*. I have no moral position from which to ask impertinent questions. You go, wrestler-lookin' NIN-fan canoeist!

*: For some reason, the cigarette lighter in my rental car was disabled, so I couldn't listen to my iPod on the way home, and thus it was either silence or religious radio most of the way home. In one of the latter cases, I heard a guy from the Institute for Creationist Research talk about how the big bang can't be true, because all the stars look exactly the same as they would have thousands of years ago -- there are no young galaxies. (How do we know that's true? Because he said so! On the radio!) That 'supports' the creationist 'theory' that God made the universe exactly as it is now, (a) "for His own glory" -- some ego on God!, and (b) to amuse mankind. (Apparently we would be unamused by new stars.) YOU CAN BELIEVE THIS MAN, PEOPLE! HE IS A SCIENTIST!
flavored with age

Iconderosa

Burnt car or no burnt car, gloomy canoeist or no gloomy canoeist, it's the end of the month, and that means it's time for y'all to help me pick my new icon set! Yes, as always, your vote determines what little pictures will be next to all my annoying comments for the next 30 days, so choose wisely. It's a wide-open field this month! Anyone could win, even ones that haven't won for approximately fifty years running! Here's your choices for the first icon set of the summer:

- Pictures of male porn stars taken out of context
- Guns I have owned or would like someday to own
- Further forgotten cereal mascots of the past
- Heroic athletes of the Soviet Union and affiliated satellite slave-states
- Pictures of objects, places, people, or concepts that rhyme with the word 'June'

Go, cats, go!

Poll #503635 June, moon, spoon, croon, i-coon

What icon set should I use in June?

Porn, porn and more porn
8(18.6%)
My favorite firearms
6(14.0%)
More goddamn cereal
4(9.3%)
Things that rhyme with 'June'
12(27.9%)
Soviet super-sports
4(9.3%)
Some other thing, which I will specify in Comments
1(2.3%)
I don't care, but I'll tell you this: 'Things that rhyme with June' is the most desperate, pathetic choice you've ever offered
4(9.3%)
My vote is ineligible because I am an employee of your organization
2(4.7%)
The bizarre book covers should remain another month
2(4.7%)
Ha ha, the Suns are getting toasted, therefore by extension you are a loser
0(0.0%)
flavored with age

June's icons

Man, you people really did it. You picked "things that rhyme with June", without question the lamest, most ridiculous choice I have ever offered. For the first time, I begin to understand why George W. Bush is president.

Anyway, I did the best I could with this asinine set. It's shaken down, in practical terms, to the "dead or nearly dead rock stars and fat old professional wrestlers" set, which I guess could have been worse. Click on comments, as always, for the full set.