September 16th, 2009

#1726: The Blue Bomb.

The Blue Bomb. How the hell could I have been blogging for more than three years! and not have talked about my first car?

Hell, I didn't even commemorate the third anniversary of the Fungus. This blog started April 3, 2006, and it's now three years and five months old.

Anyway, the Bomb. Here is a picture of the Bomb's twin:



Dad bought the Bomb new in 1975. We didn't call it the Bomb then; it was a new Chevrolet Impala sedan, and it was a nice car. (It had come down to a choice between the Bomb or a gold Buick convertible, but Dad got a better price on the Impala.) It was the first car I think the family ever had which had cloth upholstery in it, which was a vast improvement over vinyl.

We went on a trip right after taking delivery of the thing; we went to Saint Augustine, Florida. I don't know what the attraction of that place was, but we went there a lot. (The next year we went to Disneyworld.) I clearly remember Dad stringently following the break-in procedure and keeping his speed below 55 until we'd gone 500 miles; then he stepped on it as soon as the odometer rolled past 500.0.

In 1977 Dad bought a sailboat, and the Bomb got a trailer hitch and air shocks so it could tow the boat. It had no trouble towing anything, not with a Chevy 350 and a Turbo-hydromatic 350 auto transmission.

One winter--I don't remember when, exactly--the Bomb's catalytic convertor caught fire. The Bomb had been the first car our family bought which had smog-control crap on it (the last new car had been the Kingswood wagon, in 1970) and something happened to the cat; it overheated. All I remember was waking up stupid-early to panic and pandemonium as Dad was trying to put out the fire under the car. There was a scorched spot on the carpet and it stunk in the car....

The Bomb also got t-boned: my oldest sister, my other sister, and some others were coming back from something or other and a moron in a Dodge van ran a stop sign. The entire left side of the car from A-pillar to C-pillar was caved in. But the car was repaired and returned to service.

My brother got a CB radio for his birthday about the time that CB radio was big--he installed it in the Bomb. I remember right after the thing was in the car, he and I and his friend Rick were in the car taking part in the miracle of non-telephonic telecommunication when Dad came out and knocked on the window...and the sky had gone green as severe weather approached and he wanted us to come inside and go into the basement.

There was the spot on the right front fender where my brother--learning to drive--bumped into one of the trees bordering the driveway.

In 1982 the Bomb started missing on one cylinder. It would rev up, then chug! the whole car would lurch, and then it would rev again, and chug! chug! miss. We were told it was a fautly cam; apparently engines of mid-70's vintage had a problem with cams going bad. (Much later, after it was too late by far to check, I learned that a problem with the smog pump had been the real culprit for many of these failures.)

Dad bought a used car from our next-door neighbor, and the Bomb sat in the driveway.

In 1983 I got my driver's license, and I drove the Bomb...and one night coming home from roller skating I tried speeding for the very first time. The fuel pump blew, though I didn't know it, and that was pretty well the end of that engine. From then on, it took furious juggling of the throttle to keep it running, even after the fuel pump was replaced, and it had the stereotypical beater car sound. (Remember what Sebulba's pod racer sounded like? That noise.)

The Bomb languished in the garage. I would periodically go out and look at the engine, trying to figure out what the hell I could do about it.

...in 1984 we learned that--to save costs--the school day would be an hour shorter. I would have to get to school an hour later, meaning Mom could not drop me off at school before going to work. Several ideas were bandied about but finally my Dad decided to have my brother's mechanic friend Pat put a junkyard engine into the car, and I would drive it to school.

Awesome.

Engine and installation ran $450, and a few days after school started I happily affixed a Crete-Monee High School parking sticker in the rear window of the Bomb.

Understand, at this point, the car was a beater. There were rust holes behind the rear wheels. There were dents and dings all over the place. The grille was messed up. The beltline trim had fallen off most of the car. The forlorn base of a broken CB antenna graced the trunk lid; the CB radio was long gone and the dash radio was AM-only.

(As far as I know, my brother still has the CB radio.)

But it was mine. This was when kids weren't picky about the cars they drove; just having your own car was paradise.

The car served me well for six years. It seemed like forever, but it really was only six years; and they were nice years for the most part. The Bomb failed to start on me only twice, and both times were due to a faulty battery cable. The car never got stuck in snow either.

Trips taken:

* to Mount Vernon, Iowa, to visit a friend at college (this trip included the only time I've driven over 100 MPH.)
* to Millstadt, Illinois, a suburb of Saint Louis (at least twice)
* several trips to Benton Harbor, Michigan, where we kept the sailboat
* to Bristol Renassaince Faire
* to Great America

I drove all over creation in that car. It got about 20 MPG on the highway; but gas cost less than $0.80 per gallon for much of the 1980s and fuel economy never really worried me.

But when I started college in 1990 I drove the car for a month or so before I got a 1977 Impala to commute in, and that was the end of the Bomb; I never drove it again.

The Bomb sat in our driveway; then it sat in our back yard. After a couple years or so the Code Enforcement people got on us about it and we shipped it to Pat the Mechanic's for storage.

I would have driven it one more time, but the brakes didn't work; the lines had rusted: brake fluid poured into the master cylinder reservoir ran right out again through the bottom. I had to settle for starting the car and moving it into the middle of the back yard, and then just sitting in it and listening to the motor run. Once again, the car had not failed me: I put a battery in it, put some gas in the float bowl, turned the key...and she roared to life, just like always.

Later that night I went out there again and started it...and I cried.

The Bomb went into storage; I went on with things, graduated from college and moved to Cedar Rapids.

I had occasion to go back there to get a few things from the car, mementos...and what I saw was not a pretty sight. The entire bottom had rusted out of the trunk; the gas tank had rusted away too. The interior was moldy. The engine compartment had weeds in it. The car was not even remotely salvageable.

The Bomb got crushed not too much later; whatever unoxidized iron was left has now been made into other things.

Good Lord, I miss that car.

#1727: Manga OST's. (Wait, MANGA?)

Yes.

I have this peculiarity about my creative projects; I tend to come up with soundtracks for them.

It started when I was in junior high school; I'd listen to music and think about my stories, and this or that bit of music would inspire an idea or two; and pretty soon the music I was listening to became the soundtrack of the stories I was writing.

When I got the ability to make CDs, though, the whole thing took on a new dimension.

I started with a project that currently has the working title of Renaissance Man; I took the conditions of Larry Niven's For a Foggy Night and extrapolated what it would be like to find yourself in a parallel universe.

I had recently digitized some music by Jim Lillquist (Ernie's Journey was the album title) and realized that the music fit my story perfectly.

I didn't have the song names--I had a copy of a cassette--so I just made up new ones (which fit my story) and saved 'em. And so the story felt more real to me, more immediate, and I was able to write some good stuff while listening to music that came from that world.

...and later, with my manga efforts, it continued. I came up with an OST for American Dawn after deciding that an image song for Magical Girl Pretty Sammy would be the perfect OP for AD ("Magic Door", in case you're wondering and happen to have the OST disk laying around).

So here I am now, listening to the OST for Chicory on my MP3 player.

The OST for Chicory started with Liz Story's "Snowfall" from Winter's Solstice VI. I had the Christmas music channel on last November, happened to hear it, and liked it; and after Chicory started gelling in my brain, "Snowfall" was the obvious OP for it because the story opens with Subaru walking home from school in a snowstorm. When I play the song, I can see what the OP sequence for the first episode would look like.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I found a whole bunch of John Jarvis in my music directory, so I dumped it to the MP3 player. I hadn't listened to JJ's music in quite a while, but in 1990 or so I was really into it; the songs were familiar and relaxing.

...and as I listened to his song "A Month of Seasons", suddenly I had this vivid mental image of Subaru skiing with her friends. I mean, if there was just some way to transfer what was in my brain to video, you could be watching Chicory anime right now instead of having to put up with my droning. The scene was complete with music, sound effects, voices, everything.

There are a few other songs which evoke images for the story: Stanton Lanier's "Awaken the Dawn", for example. All of the music is keyboard music, and it fits as if precision-machined.

Don't ask me why. I wish I could understand my creative process, and harness it for good (or for awesome) but unfortunately I don't. I just know that when it comes to manga, I can't make it happen and I can't rush it...and frequently I can't control what comes out, either. I have talked before about The Hand, how it just rearranges my manga stories to suit its own nefarious plans; but it is a better artist than I am, and seems to have a better grasp (heh, "grasp") of the fundamentals of comic art than I do. It just does things and I look at the result and have to say, "Well, this is better than what I had planned...."

My writing is much more tightly controlled; that flows right from the brain to the screen, almost as if by magic. I still don't know how my ideas form, where they come from; but at least I am familiar enough with the process that it rarely startles me the way drawing does.

(It really isn't a bad thing--I joke around about it being sinister, but really it's just how it works with me. It's not scary at all.)

So when there is music that fits a story, I'll use it: anything to help the creative process work a bit more smoothly is welcome. (Well, as long as it's legal and non-addictive.)

#1728: AAAHHH HA HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

HA HA HA HA HA HA F YOU ACORN!!!

They were going to sue everone for that video of an ACORN person giving tax advice to a supposed pimp with an underage string, but THEY CAN'T LEGALLY OPERATE IN MARYLAND SO THEY CAN'T SUE HIM!

"Any ACORN office in the state of Maryland is potentially operating illegally."

HA HA HA HA HA!

Oh, mercy. It just keeps getting better.

* * *

Ann Counter on Joe Wilson.

Apparently Jimmy Carter has come out and said that Joe Wilson is racist. ABC World News last night was implying (strongly implying) that anyone opposed to Obamacare is a racist.

That's right: we can't possibly disagree with Obama on the issues; we're all just a bunch of racists who refuse to agree to anything he proposes solely because he's black. Yeah.

Democrats frequently engage in projection; they accuse us of doing the very things they do all the damn time. So, they charge us with bigotry because we're opposing Obama's plans because that's exactly how they operate: they opposed Bush's plans solely because he was a Republican.

"No Child Left Behind", for example: that damn thing was practically written by Teddy Kennedy and it represented the single largest increase in federal education funding in US history...and the ink from Bush's pen was barely dry on the thing when Kennedy was out there criticizing the bill as not doing enough for education!

Here's a news flash for Jimmy Cater, the Democrats, the left-wing media, all those stupid fucks: WE DON'T GIVE A RAT'S ASS WHAT COLOR OBAMA IS. HIS IDEAS JUST SUCK.

* * *

See, now this makes perfect sense to me.

Silmarillion is allegedly so boring it can cause permanent brain damage.

* * *

Creative bankruptcy of Hollywood, part 1,683,290: Battleship: the movie.

...

Yet we can't get Firefly back on the air with new episodes?

* * *

Pictures of electron clouds. Now that is cool.

I have no idea how they worked out what a P orbital looks like, but whoever did it ought to be proud of himself: the p orbital looks exactly as the theory says it should.

There is nothing like visible proof that a theory is correct. Dang.

* * *

The Anchoress on the charges of racism.

Let us paraphrase Hillary Clinton:
I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re A RACIST, and we should stand up and say, "WE ARE AMERICANS AND WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DEBATE AND DISAGREE WITH ANY ADMINISTRATION!"
My changes in bold. (I admit I got this idea from Ms. Scalia as well.)

* * *

Obama throws Carter under the bus. LOL.

Same site: "HEAD REPUBLICAN COMMANDS MEDIA TO INVESTIGATE BUSH'S OPPONENTS!"

Imagine how liberals would have reacted had--say--Denny Hastert said, "I want journalists to be all over those rallies and the marches with Code Pink and the war protestors."

* * *

I've downloaded a butt-ton of anime since I got a membership to that one site. Tonight I'm watching anime.