Canapeel

can·a·peel (noun) \ˈkan-ə-pēl\ – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

This year marks thirty years since Ghostbusters hit the big screen.  Odds are, if you’re under 40 or so, you probably haven’t seen it on the big screen, but on a 60″ or smaller screen.  That’s a shame, ’cause this thing was big.  Not Star Wars big, but big.

I first saw this in Chattanooga, and remember thinking that it had to be one of the funniest films I’d ever seen.  I literally fell out of my movie seat cracking up at the reveal of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

And quotable.  Man, this has gotta be one of the top five quotable films for me — Airplane, Spaceballs, and Stripes also come to mind.

Today, Darla took me to see the 30th anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters on the big screen.  I hate to say it, but it was sparsely attended.  We settled in, and waited for the magic.

And the first thing I noticed was how incredibly grainy the print was.  I hadn’t thought about how much film has changed in the last three decades.  I think almost everything nowadays is created on digital media, and film has kinda fallen off the map for most studios.  This was shot on real film, and it really looked it.

The film was still funny, although the impact of hearing and seeing it the first time is a one-time gig.  What was funny was to hear some folks in the theatre for whom this was apparently their first time seeing it.  They were definitely getting that “first time” experience!

It was odd, though, to see some of the cultural changes.  One of the moving men at the university had a cassette-based Walkman on.  There was a portable video camera used by one of the Ghostbusters, with a camera separated from a tape deck the size of a briefcase.  Sigourney Weaver’s character had a trimline phone in her apartment.  (And to further hammer home how old that reference is, my Mac has “trimline” flagged as a typo.)

So now, I wonder if this anniversary re-release is the beginning of a new trend, allowing us nostalgic geysers a chance to recapture our youth, while demonstrating just how cool this old stuff is to the young’uns out there.  We’ve got a theatre here in town that regularly holds “retro” film nights.  While this isn’t new — I saw The Graduate on an anniversary release back in the early 80s — it seems like there’s a lot more of it going on.

Maybe we’re just too busy looking backwards.  Maybe some films from my youth really have become classics.  Regardless, I really enjoyed seeing this one, and can’t wait to see the next “old geezer” flick at the nickelodeon.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have No Comments

A Return, and a Farewell

For the last year (and change), I’ve been pretty silent around here. It’s not for lack of having anything to say, but I’ve really just been numbed by so many things… life, the universe and everything, to steal a phrase from Douglas Adams.  My mother taught me that if you couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  Blame my Southern upbringing for roaring silence then, for there’s not been much nice to say.

Or so I’d think.  But there’s nice things to write about.  There’ve been Jeep things and Jeep events.  There’s been my music… refuge, voice, and savior.  (Note the lower case “s” — I know the real Savior, and I’m on the right side of Him.)  Of course, there’s my wife and family and nutty canines, and the new life my niece and soon-to-be-nephew will begin this weekend in Virginia.  And no matter how much war, rioting, looting, plague and just plain ol’ evil is out there, there’s always something nice to say about something.  And that’s something I need to remember on a daily basis.

I’ll try to do better.

And despite the nudge toward the positive, what strikes my muse tonight is a farewell.

I can’t imagine what kind of demons one has to endure or house rent-free to drive you to give up one of God’s greatest gifts — your own life — but Robin Williams obviously found them, and succumbed to them.  I never met the man, and don’t know much about his life, aside from what’s been reported over the last few decades.  He genuinely seemed to be a kind man, albeit with his own struggles.  What I have seen is his work, across more than half my lifetime.

I can remember first seeing him, like so many others, in Mork and Mindy in the 70s, and falling in love with his quick, lunatic style.  To a teenager, that was the right speed, the right topics, and just silly enough to stick.  Your brain would barely get finished chewing on one gag before the next one was hitting your ears.

Oddly enough, it’s not his comedic work that ranks as my favorite parts of his film legacy.

I never saw What Dreams May Come in the theater, but somehow decided to buy it on DVD years ago.  It’s not a film that a lot of folks seem to like, but for me, it really captured a torturous afterlife in which a man whose life is taken too early struggles to come to grips with his own death.  It’s brilliant visually, and includes Williams’ character finding not only his family, but his dog, in the hereafter.  You can’t go wrong with that, and you’ll be emptying the Kleenex box before the thing is done.

My other favorite Williams film is Bicentennial Man.  I’d read the Isaac Asimov story in my teens, and was thrilled to see it come to live, but I couldn’t figure out how in the world someone like Robin Williams could possibly do justice to such a serious tale of a robot finding his humanity.  But he did, and made it a wonderful film.  Williams is appropriately funny, and appropriately serious, and by the end of the film — spanning nearly 200 years of human time — you’re just flat sucked into the tale.  It’s wonderful, and one of my half dozen or so “go-to” films when I just wanna watch.

Another favorite — this time more comedic — was his singing of “Blame Canada” from South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut when the song was nominated for an Oscar back in 2000.  There’s nobody that could’ve danced the line between the humor and bawdiness of that song and film, and bring it all to life on live television.  I remember thinking there was absolutely no way that could be done live.  It was, and it was Robin Williams that did it.  Google the interwebs to watch it.  It’s worth it.

But now he’s gone, and far too early.  I think I’ll miss that ear-to-ear smile of his most of all.  It was a smile that just seemed to engulf you, was infectious, and never seemed to end.

Farewell Mork, Andrew, Teddy and so very many others.  There’ll never be another Robin Williams, and I think the planet was a little better for having had him riding along with the rest of us.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have Comment (1)

NJT: Drake Billet Inserts, or, How I Gave My Rubicon a Nose Job

Yesterday, I spent some time working on the Lil’ Red Rubicon. Earlier in the week, I’d ordered a set of Drake grille inserts. For some reason, Jeeps don’t have any kind of mesh to prevent bugs from ending their lives against the radiator fins… some kind of insect genocide, I guess.

Before

Before

With that, there’s a whole bunch of instructions out there for DIY grill inserts/guards, and I’d thought about going that route — it’s easy and cheap, and can be done with parts from the hardware store. In the end, I wanted something a little more “finished” looking. Enter the Drake inserts.

These things are beasts, built of billet aluminum in three different finishes (I chose black; a choice I would later question), and can be installed with no glue or permanent alterations of the grill. Winner, winner, winner!

As I thought about putting these on the Jeep, I was also looking at “blacking out” the nose. Folks usually do this with Plastidip spray-on coating. This stuff is used for a lot of purposes, but I think it’s primarily for putting a rubberized surface on tools for better grip. It’s also dynamite as a removable coating for things like grills, wheels and fenders. I figured that as long as I had the grill off, I might as well black out the grill too.

Pulling the grill was easy. Drake’s instructions were spot-on, and I had the grill off in about five minutes. And then, I was confronted with how committed I was to changing the nose of my virtually new Rubicon.

I sprayed the first couple of coats on the Drake inserts — no commitment needed there. But, then the grill stared at me, challenging me as to whether I was ready to start blacking it out… and then I pressed my finger on the can nozzle. I was committed, and continued on about my spraying.

After

After

In the end, I used two coats of ‘dip on the grill, and four coats of red paint on the inserts. Starting out with black inserts was probably a mistake. It took a lot of coats to get the inserts to the color I wanted. Had I started out with brushed aluminum inserts, I think the painting would’ve gone easier … it’s just a lot easier to NOT have to cover up all that black.

Installing the inserts was easy, and re-installing the grill was a piece of cake. Frankly, I love the look. It’s unique, and I did it… both good things!

A close-up is worth a thousand words…

Close-Up

Close-Up

posted by Colin Wright in Jeep and have Comments Off

NDD: Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio

(NDD is New Doodad Day, btw…)

Another day, another new toy. Today’s is the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio.

I’ve been thinking more and more about a keyboard for my iPad, and starting to use it more as a mobile communication device, rather than just as an internet consumption device, which has been my primary use for it. Enter the desire for a keyboard. (Note that I didn’t say need!)

Plug it in (to charge it), insert the iPad into the pretty dang secure holder, and it was ready to pair with my iPad. From unviolated box to paired and typing in about 90 seconds. Pretty cool.

I will mention that the keyboard has a funky feel. It’s a covered, slightly membrane-like keyboard, so the keys have a little funkiness to their feel, both from the fabric and from the short throw action. However, it’s definitely better than typing on the glass, and I’m noticing just through typing this up, I’m getting used to the feel a bit.

More to come, I’m sure, as I play with this gadget on a more regular basis!

posted by Colin Wright in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak and have Comment (1)

Spam, By Any Other Name

So, yesterday I started getting some very peculiar emails from the GoToWebinar folks. The messages implied that I’d signed up for a webinar for “The New $2k+ Per Day Method” and that it was to start later in the day. Apparently, I must’ve really been interested, as I was signed up several times, complete with countdown-like notifications telling me was about to start, had started, and was underway.

Needless to say, and despite what anyone from “Platinum Millennium” (the hosts of this funfest) might say, I’ve never signed up for any such thing. (It appears to be some kind of deal to make money playing music, so I suspect my information was sold to them from some guitar/music site or list.) Sorry Ty Cohen — the apparent mastermind of this opportunity to “see money being made live, in front of my eyes”… I ain’t that gullible. Frankly, at first blush, this guy has an awful reputation out there on the wild and wooly internet.

The funny thing is that the emails are legitimate, and really do look like I subscribed to the Cohen webinar-of-the-hour club. Bravo to GoToWebinar — there’s a way to unsubscribe from this wild man’s spam assault through the GoToWebinar site.

I’ll give him credit for this — this certainly is a different level of spam attack, leveraging a perfect legitimate site to do his awful bidding.

Asta la see ya, Ty! :-)

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have Comment (1)
Tags: ,

NJT (New Jeep Toy) : Welcome Distributing Front Grab Handles

Welcome Distributing Grab Handle

Grab Handles

In the old Jeep, I had velcro grab handles to help get in the front/back seats. They worked, but it seemed like they were always in the way. Turn your head to look out the window and … WHACK … your face is sitting against the grab handle. Blecch.

I’d seen a lot of discussion about various grab handles on the Jeep forums I lurk on, and I noticed a new design I hadn’t seen before. This was not a velcro strap on the roll cage, but instead a steel loop mounted up front, toward the A-pillar. Very cool.

Pretty quickly, I ordered up a set of them from Welcome Distributing. After a couple of really cool emails with the CEO, Ken Welke, I had a set on the way. A few days later, I had ‘em in hand.

Grab Handle Mount

Grab Handle Mount

Essentially, they mount to a couple of pre-existing bolt points in the roll cage, using machined spacers to mount the grab bars out where you can get to them. And man, are they sturdy. I don’t exactly blow away in a small breeze, and they seemed to be able to stand up to me using them with no flexing or any feel of them giving way. That’s a pretty cool thing.

And now that I’ve got ‘em place, I’m kinda hankering for a set for the rear — Welcome Distributing has a set specific for the rear seat of the two-door Wranglers. Now, I don’t expect to have a lot of folks in the back seat… mostly because I’m not sure there’ll be a back set in there most of the time. However, those grab bars for the back look like they’d make terrific mount points for cameras, GPS devices, and anything else that could be mounted with a nice grip mount. I like things having multiple uses!

So, in the final analysis, these things are dynamite. They’re sturdy, easy to install — took me about thirty minutes — and seem like they’ll be useful for far more than just getting in and out of the Jeep. Color me sold!

posted by Colin Wright in Jeep and have Comments (2)

Little Red Rubicon

Lil' Red Rubicon

My 2013 Lil’ Red Rubicon

The Little Red Rubicon is now almost 1200 miles old, so it’s probably time to write up the new rig!

First off, I never thought about having a red — make that a Deep Cherry Red — vehicle. As the sun has come out to play for spring, I’ve discovered that this is a really pretty color. I’m really glad I decided to go that direction. Something about the speckles in the paint really jazz me up. (That’s about as street as I get.)

I also chose to get a two-door this go ’round, instead of a four door. That has proven to be a good decision, although there are some definite differences. For instance, I tried to get in the back seat, and that is one tough proposition, even with the tilt forward seat on the passenger side. I thought I was gonna have to call AAA to rescue me. :-)

Frankly, there’s not a lot of storage space with the two-door model. But, the back seat is removable, and I’ve had it out for a few weeks, enjoying the nearly empty interior. I have reinstalled it recently, just to use as a stowage bench until I can put a locking storage box in the back. You see, the stuff I lob nonchalantly in the back tends to roll around, and I figured I’d suffer a back seat for a while until I get a home for the stuff roaming around in the open cabin.

So… beyond the goodness that accompanies a new vehicle, what’s cool about this Jeep, especially as compared to my ’08 Wrangler Unlimited X?

Let’s start at the back of the new Jeep. One of the things that just killed me with the ’08 was with the swing gate. It wasn’t uncommon to have the gate open, only to have the wind or gravity (she’s a heartless old broad, or so I’ve heard Sheldon say) slam the thing shut… hopefully without my body in the way. There have been some aftermarket toys to keep the door open, and it appears that the Jeep folks paid attention. The new swing gate has a gizmo with a stop on it to hold the door open. Wonderful!

The little storage area under the rear carpet has even been improved. In the storage space are indents for the door hinge bolts and the bolts for the hard top, along with a little space for roof straps or other doodads. This is a really nice touch. To my eye, it kinda looks like the storage space is a little smaller, but there is a nice Jeep rug over the storage area, so maybe that’s a good tradeoff. :-)

My last Jeep had both a hard and soft top, and frankly, I got pretty tired of switching them twice a year. In fact, until I busted the zipper on the back window, I’d just kept the soft top on. But I loved having the soft top available so I could drop the top and get the full airflow it afforded. When I first lowered the two-door’s top, I discovered just how much easier it was to raise and lower. The latch system and edging are much, much easier to deal with, and I think I’ll probably bust my knuckles a little less.

The doors also have a new harness latch. I’m not a huge fan of the locking mechanism on them, and I’ve already seen at least one thread on a Jeep site showing the locking parts broken off intentionally to make it easier to deal with the harness connector. While that’s not a bad idea, the good news is that with a two-door soft top, I have three less of those latches to deal with on a regular basis!

The interior on the Rubi is beautiful, sleek and black. It’s comfy, with redesigned seats that seem to hold my back and backside in just the right way. And there’s tons of power in the thing — one 12V outlet at the subwoofer, another in the dash, and a USB-style connector inside the center console. I also like the new autodimming mirror… it’s even got map lights!

I also put a Garmin nav system in the dash. I have two other Garmin systems — one for running and another for hiking — and this one plays right into those. Can’t wait to get it on the road, and see what it can do.

This new Jeep now has automatic headlights, which are pretty dang cool. I had those on my Chevy’s, but having that in the Jeep is a very nice feature. You can even set the Jeep up so that the headlights and foglights come on automatically — excellent!

Rubi also sports the new 3.6L Pentastar engine. I dunno if it’s the smaller body size, or the new engine, but this thing is like a rocket ship! It really has a lot of get-up-and-go, and is nowhere near as sluggish as my ’08 felt. And with the 6-speed, I’m enjoying the heck outta shifting gears while I travel. I’m all about process, and a stick is about as process-driven as it gets. My only complaint is that the shifting pattern has 6th gear being slightly offset as you slide from fifth. It’s very easy to accidentally slide it toward reverse from fifth… which isn’t a good thing. I’m getting used to it, but it’s not exactly natural.

In all, I really love this new Jeep. It’s a huge improvement over my ’08, and moving to a two-door really suits me. Woot!

posted by Colin Wright in Jeep and have Comments (2)

Undy 5000 Course

I finally uploaded the data from my Garmin 310XT for the Undy 5000. Here’s the course map — enjoy!

posted by Colin Wright in Running,Sports and have Comments Off

‘Tis the Season!

The 2013 campaign begins today… Opening day for MLB begins today.  Woohoo!

The Cards don’t open until tomorrow night on the road in Arizona, of all things — you’d think they’d at least open us in the same time zone as the fan base!  Despite that weirdness, the focus tonight is on Texas with a new cross-state rivalry ‘twixt the Rangers and the league-changing Astros.  It’ll be weird not having the Astros in the NL central.  Bunches of history with them and the Cards over the last decade or so…

Tomorrow is only the beginning, and much like the NASCAR start a few weeks ago, I’ll be glued to the twists and turns through the long season that makes up the 2013 season.  Play ball!!!!!

posted by Colin Wright in Sports and have Comments Off
Tags:

I ran my undies off!!!

Undy 5000 runner!

Your intrepid author!

The Undy 5000 has come and gone, and I ran my race.

OK, so I didn’t set any land speed records, and I didn’t run faster than last year — slower by about two minutes, in fact — but I ran a better race this year.  I was crazy nervous about this race.  You see, this was my first race since Race for the Stars last summer, and while I knew I could run the distance from my treadmill work over the winter, it’s a whole different thing when pounding the pavement.

Add to that the cold, cold weather — about 35 degrees at racetime — and I was a nervous wreck.

Becky brought Bailey, which helped ease my nerves, and while we were standing there waiting to get going, a good friend of ours from work, Scott, showed up to run with me.  Now, I’d tell you that I’m probably taking great liberties with the phrase run with me.  I ran my 5km in just over 51 minutes; Scotty blazed the trail in under 30 minutes!

Like they say, even slow miles are better than no miles.  I’ll take my slow miles, any day of the week.

And my slow miles actually went pretty well.  The course is configured with the finish line sitting atop a rise.  Last year, it’s all I could do to sorta jog (and mostly walk) up that rise.  This year, I zoomed right up it.  Part of that’s probably that I’m in a little better shape this year than last year, but it might also be that I paced myself better this year.  Last year, I zoomed through the first half-mile or more in a big ol’ pack.  This year, I didn’t start in the big pack, and I kept a little more consistent pace throughout the whole course.

Once the race was over, I got a little post-race sustenance, and waited for the Survivor’s Ceremony.  This is a special time for me.  All the survivors gather at the stage, and are honored for their successful fights.  And once they’re honored, folks who’ve lost someone to CRC are brought up, and are honored.  It’s a moving, moving ceremony.  This year, though, the folks from the CCA added a little extra touch.

Each of the survivors got a finishers medal to honor us for running our race, and raising our funds.

I’m not one to toot my own horn, and I’m generally a little uncomfortable when someone does that for me.  This was no exception, and I had a tough time holding myself together when the gal put the medal around my neck.

So I’d call it a success, both personally and for the CCA.  I ran well and strong, I raised some money, and I got a medal.  There’s just not a much better way to start a Saturday morning!

posted by Colin Wright in Cancer,Running,Sports and have Comment (1)