Some Car Thoughts

My first car was a 1987 Volkswagen Quantum.  My parents bought it used for me in 1991 for around $4000.  Over the next 6 years it held together, but I only saw 5 others on the road the entire time I owned it.  It certainly wasn’t cool.  In fact, it sucked all the coolness out of the air anywhere it went, but I loved it and it had power locks and steering, so good for me.

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Today I went shopping for a specific car that appears to be equally rare:  A used Hyundai Equus.

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Looks pretty cool with those mountains in the background.  Definitely a step up. Like my former car, this is not a young man’s car, more of a very comfy car for driving around diplomats and such.  I have always enjoyed cars with lots of headroom, legroom and amenities over the sleeker sportier variety.  Some versions of this car actually have a fridge in the back.  The inside is high luxury, everything anyone could ever want, but there were two things that stood out in particular when I took it for a test drive.  

1.  The back seats were more comfortable than either of the front seats.  I’ve never seen this before.  The front seats were fine, comfy and all, but the back were amazing.  So many controls, you could even open the opposite side passenger window from your door without having to reach across the middle.  Unfortunately, since I love to drive and this could become my car, I wouldn’t spend too much time in the back. The front seat did have a massage option, which is obviously cool. 

2.  Driving this car takes you away from the experience of driving.  It is like traveling in a silent bubble above the road.  Road feel?  Not a bit of it.  I could barely notice I was on the road at all.  You don’t notice your speed, any bumps, anything.  Everything about it is easy.  This is not necessarily a good thing for someone who loves to drive, though it is awesome for a passenger.  At the end of the drive I had no idea what I thought of it, driving it was similar to sitting still in the parking lot, except it brought me places.  Sure it has a powerful engine and all that sort of thing, but this was the first time I had experienced a car whose sole purpose was to make you forget you were driving.

All in all, I liked it very much.  It is a contender.  I’m not sure I want to give up road feel, but I do enjoy a good driving massage.  Since no one has heard of it or seen one before, I would be driving a mystery car. You can’t even find the Hyundai emblem anywhere on it, just the weird Equus symbol everywhere.  I think it looks like a wishbone with bat wings.

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47 Ronin – The Movie

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This weekend I rented 47 Ronin, a movie with some of the same characters as the famous story of the 47 ronin of Japan from a couple hundred years ago.  I would say it is based on the story, but really I would be lying to you.

Rotten Tomatoes, that movie review site, gives 47 Ronin a rating of 13% out of a possible 100%, placing it a solid 16% worse than Tideland.  Tideland was so terrible that it broke the cardinal rule of movies; a sequel to the original would excel it.  But more on that another time as Tideland deserves its own post.  Opinions can differ on many things, but the fact is, Tideland is worst movie ever made.  Ever.  Ever ever.

Keanu Reeves stars as a blah blah, half demon, yada yada, swords, witches, samurai, halfwitted stares into the distance, who cares.  Nobody has ever accused Keanu of brilliant acting, but he makes a fun action hero.  You want him to defeat evil and you turn to his movies for a good time, not for intellectual stimulation.  Go, Keanu, go!  Say your lines and kill the bad guy in cool ways.  Time for some popcorn.

All those reviewers who gave 47 Ronin a poor rating need to remember why the watched the film in the first place.  They wanted action and that’s exactly what they got.  If, as they stated, “…one dimensional roles” is a negative, why did Titanic get 88%?  (Ha, ha, I took a pot shot at Titanic.  Take that, American public that loved it!)

47 Ronin should have received a rating in the low 50s.  If you just want to see a bunch of samurai with swords fight demons (and a witch-fox-dragon-whatever thing) for honor, while facing certain death, buy some milk duds and rent this one.

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Personal note: Milk duds happen to be excellent for removing any annoying dental work cluttering up your mouth.

 

Keep your expectations for 13% and this movie will exceed them with flying colors.

Montaigne, Chess, Eggs and Men of Honor

I’ve been feeling a bit down the past few days and so I did a bit of light and heavy reading.  On the somewhat heavier side is Montaigne.  Montaigne’s essays make for enjoyable reading and his voice speaks directly to me all the way from 16th century France. Then, suddenly, he attacks the game of chess.  I really didn’t see this coming, but in his disparagement of chess he makes a strong statement about men of honor that set me thinking.

Please bear with me as the quote is a bit longish for those looking for quick amusement.  The emphasis in the quote is mine.

“What passion does not excite us in this game: anger, vexation, hatred, impatience, and a vehement ambition to win in a thing in which ambition to be beaten would be more excusable.  For rare and extraordinary excellence in frivolous things is unbecoming a man of honor.  What I say of this example may be said of all others:  each particle, each occupation, of a man betrays him and reveals him just as well as any other.”

Is the study and attempt to uncover the meaning of life a more honorable pursuit than the world’s expert studying rock paper scissors?  In my heart, I feel it must be so.  But, as I consider it more deeply, what of the artist who portrays beauty?  Is that frivolous?  Is a doctor or a priest on the same level as the man who becomes an expert at rolling play-doh snakes?

A little more than a year ago, I went to Per Se in Manhattan.  It was one of my most memorable meals and an early course had an egg in which the top of the shell was perfectly sliced away.  I can’t recall what was inside, but it was amazing and I don’t even like eggs.

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After the meal I discovered that making the egg in exactly this way took a tremendous amount of skill and quite a bit of training by the apprentice chefs.  This egg was one of the best parts of my meal and the beauty of the presentation was perfect.  I consider the course a work of art.  Yet I would found sustenance more easily (and cheaply) if they had just fried it up and put it on some toast.  It is a reach for me to find the egg course anything less than frivolous.

In Chess, there is no luck beyond the question of who plays first, and even that rotates back and forth in a tournament.  Some games and moves were so brilliant they have become famous.  The gold coin game had such a shocking and insightful move at the end that it is rumored the spectators showered the board with gold coins.  Regardless of what happens during the match, all that has physically occurred is moving a few plastic or wooden pieces around and then putting them in a box at the end.  There isn’t even a tear in the AstroTurf or a stray fly ball for a fan to grab.

Unless the category of things defined as frivolous is narrow indeed, I maintain Montaigne is in error.  Extraordinary excellence in anything becomes indistinguishable from art.  In this author’s strong opinion, making art is not unbecoming an honorable man.  In fact, art is one of the greatest impacts a civilization makes upon the world, long after it has crumbled to dust.  Extraordinary excellence is linked to eternal truths

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Author’s note:   When I gluttonously scarfed down the egg and wished I could have another, I was unbecoming for even polite company, much less honor.  Om nom nom nom nom.

By way of thanks for getting to the end of this long post, here’s a Faberge Egg.

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Police Squad!

I just received in the mail a copy of Police Squad! The Complete Series and I can’t wait to see it.  I saw the series many years ago after the Naked Gun first came out, so it’s been some time since.  As Leslie Nielsen was one of my favorite comic actors, I can look forward to a spectacularly enjoyable time wasting 3 hours in my immediate future.Image