The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

History Channel Knocks One Out Of The Park

The buzz was pretty low for History Channel's miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. Unless you watched HC you probably didn't hear much about it before it aired. But talk about pulling a rabbit out of your ass! Ratings were thru the roof.

Parts one and two of the star-filled drama drew 13.9 million and 13.1 million viewers, respectively. Wednesday's finale of Hatfields & McCoys was the most-watched of the three nights, with 14.3 million viewers. According to History Channel, that makes it the No. 1 non-sports and non-news program ever on ad-supported cable.

The president of the History Channel, Nancy Dubuc was quoted in a New York Times article as saying "she would have been happy with three million viewers". This was the basic cable original programming equivalent of The Hunger Games.

This was also a huge feather in the hat of Director Kevin Reynolds. The native Texan is best known for One Eight Seven, The Count of Monte Cristo and worked with Costner on Waterworld, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and one of my all time favorite films, Fandango.

I'm pretty sure having a quality cast made a difference, too. Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Mare Winningham, Powers Boothe, Tom Berenger. That's an expensive payroll. The production vales were first rate and the writing was excellent. It was graphically violent, gritty and cold blooded at times. You could feel the hatred between the families first hand.

But it's not all bloodshed, hate and gunsmoke. There's also a bittersweet love story between the clans. Roseanna McCoy (Lindsay Pulsipher) and Johnse Hatfield (Matt Barr) start out innocently enough as young lovers hoping to marry and bring an end to the feud, but their families will have none of it and wind up tearing them apart. A lot of Romeo & Juliet going on there and that could have been a movie all it's own, but the story is more complicated than that.

This was a deeply researched and well written script from Bill Kerby (The Rose, Dead Men Can't Dance) and Ted Mann (Wiseguy, NYPD Blue, Deadwood) full of important and well cast supporting characters with various subplots. This looked more like a long theatrical film that got chopped into a mini series. Hopefully, we'll see more of that in the future and less "reality" productions.

If you don't have cable, there's good news. Hatfields & McCoys is slated for BluRay and DVD release July 31st.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oh Gods Of The Blue Oval, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Some days, it's hard to be a Ford guy. Trust me, you won't find a bigger Ford guy than myself. I was born with a Blue Oval on my chest. But my F350 starting to remind me of when I owned a boat. You know what a boat is, right? It's a big hole in the lake that you throw money into.

I've already replaced the oil cooler (not cheap) and fixed various nickle and dime problems. HA! HA! Fooled you! There are no "nickle and dime" problems. Nothing is less than $10 and consider yourself lucky if what you need is under $50.

Now, more good news. I have a cracked head (the truck, not me personally altho I am beginning to wonder). Fortunately it's only 1 head that's cracked and I caught it before it caused more problems. Unfortunately the parts alone are over $1500 and labor is close to that. In their infinite wisdom Ford designed a vehicle that you have to either raise the cab or pull the engine to replace the head. I guess it looked good on paper.

While it's torn down I'm replacing both head gaskets and upgrading the head bolts to ARP studs to hopefully avoid future problems before they happen. For what I paid and what the truck is worth, I'm still coming out ahead if I sold it. But it suddenly isn't such a great deal anymore. The truck has spent more time in the shop than in my driveway.

Friends gave me a hard time when I bought my Mercedes because it was an expensive, high maintenance car. At this rate, it's an economy car compared to my Ford.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

National Clean Your Computer Day

I've never let one get quite that bad, but I came close a couple years ago when I thought opening the windows would save me $$$ over running the a/c. Pretty sure the cleaning bills and PITA factor wiped out any utility savings I achieved.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

News Flash: People in Austin Can't Drive

Just made a quick trip to San Antonio and a LOT has changed. All the construction that was underway the last time I went thru Austin is done. So they decided to start a bunch of new construction. Yaaaayyy...

But I have discovered a new breed of critter unique to the region, "The Center Lane Driver". There's a 70 mile stretch of I-35 that has a "No Trucks In Left Lane" rule. The purpose of this, I assume, is to keep the left lane moving quickly. On paper this may look great, but let me tell you it doesn't work. Trucks now hang in the center lane and this forces people to merge left or right to pass. Now you have 1 lane pretty much unused and 2 lanes in rolling gridlock. So instead of speeding up the traffic, it clogs up faster than my shedding hair in the shower drain during the 90's.

I guess TXDOT doesn't understand that trucks don't drive in the far right lane in metro areas because of exiting and entering traffic. It's hard to stop/accellerate those 18wheelers, so to avoid a dangerous situation where a car slams on it's brakes to exit or enters the road 20mph slower than traffic, they stay out of the right lane in congested areas. Take away the left lane to pass and it's a game over. It's not just 18wheelers, cars seem to love driving 10 miles under the speed limit and talking on the phone in the center lane, which backs up the trucks and magnifies the problem.

What they should do is make the left lane for passing. Wait, that's what the left lane is for to begin with. And if my memory serves me, we learned that in Driver's Ed along with "Slower Traffic Keep Right". But that was back when we encouraged everyone to "Drive Friendly". Now it's "Drive Like It's You Own The Road".

I really need to get in touch with Vince, the "Shamwow" guy. I have a great invention to market, "The Dumbassador". It's a spring loaded ball pein hammer attached to the car headliner aimed at the driver. The catch is it's remote controlled by anyone directly behind you. Driving 10 miles under the speed limit and won't move over? Call on the Dumbassador! WHACK! I guarantee you our entire nation would become better drivers virtually overnight. Plus, it speaks the universal language everyone can understand... pain. The flaw in my plan is it would have to be mandatory in every vehicle for the idea to work, but it WOULD work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Magical Power Of Duct Tape

A half-naked woman wearing hot pink duct tape attacked and injured three Seattle police officers in a bizarre incident Saturday night outside a lower Queen Anne bar.

The outlandish drama began at about 8 p.m., when the woman began stripping off her clothes inside the bar and sticking hot pink duct tape on her upper body, said Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt.
The bartender ordered her to leave the bar, but she refused.

She then grabbed the bartender's arm, injuring him. After that, she attacked another female customer by clawing and scratching her face and eyes, Witt said.

Police were called. As they pulled up, the woman ran outside and down the street, ducking into a nearby KFC/Taco Bell restaurant and hiding in the women's restroom.

Officers found her and brought her outside, putting her in handcuffs. But as officers tried to place her inside the patrol car, she suddenly "freaked out," Witt said.

She began kicking at the legs and head of one officer. As police tried to pull her back inside the patrol car she suddenly did an over-the-head back flip and tumbled out the other side of the car.

Once outside the patrol car, officers tried to get her under control. She kicked one officer in the head, causing a slight concussion.

Another officer was kicked in the hand, which severed the tendon in his right pinkie finger.

The third officer was kicked in the jaw, causing swelling and slight dislocation, Witt said.

All three officers and the suspect were taken to Harborview Medical Center. At the hospital, the suspect again went out of control and had to be given medication that eventually knocked her unconscious.

The officers were treated and released. The suspect also was treated for minor injuries, then booked into King County Jail for investigation of  assault.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Make It Stop!!!

Please dear sweet 6 pound 8 ounce newborn baby Jesus, make the political commercials stop. Get this election over with already. And I know this is just the riptide rolling out before the tsunami hits when the general election rolls around.

Roll up your jeans, put your hipwaders on and set Material Condition Zebra because it's gonna be mud Armageddon. With unlimited anonymous political contributions allowed now, this is truly the first election open to the highest bidder. The Supreme Court really screwed up in my humble opinion when they allowed that to happen.

And when did being a "moderate" become a bad thing???

That's about all the political opinion you'll get out of me. I will report, but do my best to remain neutral (Littlesister calls me "Switzerland"), on any campaign news this election. You know who you want to vote for and by God it's your right to do just that. I may think you're insane for doing it, but this is a free county and I'll fight for your right to do so.

I promise the soapbox is put away for the duration.

One small consolation is the invention of the DVR. At least I can fast forward thru the mire on stuff I record.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

World's Most Expensive (and worst) Rave

From The Aviationist:
According to “youmustvotenato”, the user who posted it to Reddit, the following picture was taken after the fire suppression system base went off because of a spark from a welder set.

Clearly visible in the image an F-15 belonging to the 85th TES (Test and Evaluation Squadron), an F-16 of the 40 FLTS (Flight Test Squadron), and an A-10 (most probably belonging too to the 46th Test Wing): based on the the tail codes, the hangar must have been one used by the 46th TW at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The foam generators suspended from the ceiling released suppressant similar to soap that submerged the planes in the hangar. It takes two minutes to fill a 90,000 square-foot hangar with more than three feet of  two percent high-expansion biodegradable foam.

Well that doesn't sound too bad, does it? Until you read this comment posted at Reddit:

The A-10 having it's cockpit open isn't even the big one in here. You can see that panels are open on the wing of the F-15. Being in a hanger and having the 2 stands, canopy cover, and speed brake strut installed leads me to believe it's in it's phase inspection. That means that a huge portion of the jet's panels are probably removed. One of the guys I work with had this happen at a previous base (it may even be this exact instance) and it took them at least a month or two to test every system on the jet. It would take a couple months to get the jet fully re-certified for normal sorties after something like this.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Still Got It, Well... Most Of It

Found a sweet deal on a 7" Flip Down Car DVD CD Player GPS HD PIP Ipod Bluetooth Partridge in a Pear Tree Touch Screen for a little over $200 on eBay. After looking at what they wanted for similar radios at CarToys and the like, this was a helluva deal even if it was an off brand. Thought it would be a nice addition to my F350. It's been years since I've installed a new radio in anything but I used to be pretty good at it back in the day.

I picked up a wiring harness and dash adapter at Autozone then went to work. Pulling the old radio was a piece of cake, but getting the new one to line up right with the dash was a PITA. The adapter faceplate opening was about 1/4" too small so I had to bust out the Dremel and an X-acto knife to trim it up.

This radio is very cool for the price. Similar ones by name brands were $500 and up (and they're all made in China). Having a 7" touchscreen for GPS is nice and integrated phone is much better than the plug in hands free I had. Two less wires hanging from the windshield to deal with. It has a ton of functions and interfaces and runs Windows CE 6. Now I need to add XM and a back-up cam so I can see my trailer hitch when hooking up. I'm also going to fabricate a new power point terminal with room for a USB port.

When everything was said and done, it don't look too shabby. My lines are fairly straight, the tolerances are tight and I only cut a small part of my thumb off with the X-acto knife.

Why I'm Not Planning A Trip To Mexico In The Near Future

MONTERREY (Mexico) - Forty-nine bodies with their heads, hands and feet hacked off were found yesterday dumped on a northern Mexico highway leading to the Texas border in what appeared to be the latest carnage in an escalating war between Mexico's two dominant drug cartels.
Local and federal authorities discovered the bodies before dawn scattered in a pool of blood at the entrance to the town of San Juan, on a highway leading from the metropolis of Monterrey to the border city of Reynosa. A white stone arch welcoming visitors was spray-painted with black letters: "100% Zeta."
Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said at a news conference that the 43 men and six women would be hard to identify because of the lack of heads, hands and feet. The bodies were being taken to a Monterrey auditorium for DNA tests.
The victims could have been killed as long as two days ago at another location, then transported to San Juan, a town in the municipality of Cadereyta, about 175 kilometers west-southwest of McAllen, Texas, and 125 kilometers southwest of the Roma, Texas, border crossing, state Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said.

Forty nine hacked up bodies? FORTY NINE?!?! And nobody noticed until they piled them up by the side of the highway? I'm writing a tersely worded letter to The Mexico Tourism Council.

Friday, May 11, 2012


ESPN's Carl Edwards
A little bit of news for NASCAR fans. Roush/Fenway driver Carl Edwards is finally making the long awaited jump to the broadcast booth for ESPN. This was supposedly a done deal before the season started with Carl working weekly Nationwide races for ESPN, then everything went on hold. 

Now it appears they are going to take it in bits and pieces for this season at least with Carl working in the Play by Play booth with Allen Bestwick and Andy Petree while Dale Jarrett takes some time off. That's not a bad pair of guys to break into broadcasting with. AB is unquestionably THE premier play by play TV announcer for NASCAR. Apologies to Mike Joy, but Allen is just a notch above the rest.

Maybe it's because I've watched Allen since the old Inside Winston Cup Racing days on Speedvision. I've listened to him on MRN radio coverage. Those old radio guys just have a more intensive description of the action. They had to paint the race in your mind without the aid of cameras. He also suffered the most humiliating treatment a sportscaster has ever been submitted to when he was suddenly demoted as lead announcer for NBC/TNT's NASCAR coverage after he broke his leg in a hockey game and was replaced with the most annoying man in motorsports coverage, Bill Weber. 

Did Allen complain? No. He took a demotion to pit road and did his job to the best of his ability. After NBC lost the TV rights, ESPN hired Allen as their Infield Anchor and promoted Dr. Jerry Punch to the lead play by play position with Rusty Wallace and Alan Petree. Dale Jarrett then replaced Rusty who was just too hyper and "homer". Then Allen replaced Doc who just never really fit in the lead PBP position and Doc went back to Pit Road where he has excelled thruout his career and continues to do so.

Now, enter Carl Edwards. A former Nationwide Series Champion and the lead Sprint Cup driver for Ford. It's definitely a coup for ESPN to get a driver of his caliber in the booth and Carl has the chops for TV bits. Whether he has the skills to call an entire race is another story. But if there's anybody that can carry him thru this, it's Allen Bestwick.

More insight on this story at The Daly Planet.

Bill Weber is working as a travelling magician now, "It's a passion I hope to turn into a profession,". True story. So the moral of the story is there's justice after all.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On The Radar: Hotel Impossible

The previews for this caught my eye and I've been following Hotel Impossible since it's debut on Travel Channel. Yes, it's another rip-off of the Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares formula reality show, but it's reasonably well done and with a somewhat original twist. It also touches a nerve with anyone that has ever stayed in a hotel. You never forget a bad room and we've all had one.

Anthony Melchiorri is the expert sent in to rescue desperate properties. He knows his stuff and pays attention to the small details. Melchiorri has a proven track record managing major properties like New York's Plaza Hotel, Nickelodeon Hotel and Resort and the landmark Algonquin Hotel among others.

The properties featured are usually older establishments with new owners that have little experience. News Flash: Hospitality is not a sit back and do nothing business. He's hard edged and honest with his critiques which aren't always welcomed by owners in a deep state of denial and that adds enough drama to keep reality fans interested without turning the show into a soap opera.

Beyond teaching staff the basics of acceptable cleanliness, customer service and doing the obligatory room makeover on a time restraint/budget, Anthony shows owners how to maximize profits from unused assets.

It's definitely one of the best of the "business makeover" reality shows on TV, albeit a small category. It's worthy of watching an episode or two to see if it's for you. Having Anthony Bourdain as a lead-in don't hurt.

All I can say is I hope that any room I stay in is up to Anthony Melchiorri's standards.

Monday, May 7, 2012

This Cracked Me Up

PMS, Has her
L'Oréal, copies her skin tones
Clive Christian Perfume. Is based entirely on the smell of her farts 
Blind lesbians fall in lust with her without her ever saying a word
The mere sound of her voice is known to permanently cure impotence. In 80 year old men
She is continuously losing her virginity, just so others can find it.
She's won culinary awards for her preparation of  Ramon noodles
She is. The most interesting woman in the world

"I dont drink often. But when I do its a lot of Zinfandel from a box"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"The first guy through the wall always gets bloody"

An epic battle was waged across The Drag at the University of Texas Friday.
It was Foam Sword Friday, an end of semester stress reliever that has turned into a semi-annual tradition. On the last Friday of classes, students stare each other down from across Guadalupe Street and then attack as soon as the crosswalk light comes on.
However, the student celebration went quiet for a moment Friday afternoon when one of the participants was hit by a city bus.
Emergency officials arrived on scene around 1 p.m. after the bus struck a UT student, later identified as Nick Engmann, on the street in front of the University Co-op. According to Capital Metro, the bus driver ran a red light and has since received a citation.
In a statement released later in the afternoon Friday, Capital Metro spokesperson Erica McKewen said:
"The driver was cited by the Austin Police Department. The pedestrian got up on his own accord and walked to the curb, and was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The operator is a 21-year veteran with only one accident on his record, which occurred approximately 10 years ago. He will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation that will include a drug and alcohol test. If it is determined that the driver was at fault, he will face disciplinary action."
Officials with Austin-Travis County EMS says the injuries were not serious. Engmann even posed for a Facebook photo before he was taken to St. David's Hospital.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Here I Am, On The Road Again

"The Elite Fleet "

Just got back from my first trip with the F350. I took a couple thousand lbs of oilfield equipment to southern Louisiana. Glad I replaced the windshield wipers because I actually needed them. It rained HARD near Alexandria. I was hoping to bring some of it back, but no such luck.

The truck ran great and I confess to stomping on the throttle and choking every Prius I passed in a cloud of black smoke. Other than the cupped front tires that were on it when I bought it, I had no complaints. Apparently that's a common problem with 4x4 F350's and all terrain tires. I was on the way to get them rotated when I got the call for the load, so I got to listen to them "wa-wa-wa-wa" from here to Lower Alabama and back. First thing I did when I got home was get them rotated off the steering axle.

My stainless steel nerf bars I found for 1/2 price + free shipping on eBay were sitting on the porch when I got home. I'll get those bad boys bolted on tomorrow. I'm 6'2" and I have to climb/slide in. It's a tall truck! My new Scangauge II and Escort 8500 X50 were waiting in the mailbox, too. It's Christmas in May! Now I just have to pay for all of it...

I also got to savor the near Anthony Bourdain-esque culinary experience of Cajun country cuisine. I stopped for the night on the way back in the sleazy part West side of Shreveport. I saw a Wendy's across the freeway from the motel and a chicken sandwich sounded good for dinner/breakfast/theonlythingIateallday. 

Keyword: sounded.

I hit the drive thru, waited patiently while Mr. "Pants on the ground" guy in front of me got out of his car and dug thru an ice chest in his trunk for another dollar he had stashed, then drove back to the motel and pulled the hunk of charcoal they claimed was a chicken sandwich out of the bag. It was blacker than the person that cooked it  my truck's bumper.

I was hungry enough I ate it anyway after scraping as much pure carbon off it as possible. I wasn't about to take it back and demand a new one because they screwed up so bad. I think there would have been an extra effort made to season a new one with special sauce. 

I'd rather eat carbon than DNA.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Granny Critiques Kim Kardashian's Sex Tape

Reminds me of a Dr. Ruth joke by Sam Kinison...