Saturday, December 04, 2010

Dear Nathan Enderle,

Thanks for the great couple of years. Way to go out on a 23 yard, overtime, endzone pass to lock up a season ending win for the Vandals. Nice 3,291 yard Senior Season. I will miss your long bombs that usually seemed to make it. Good luck!

Nasty and Inebriated,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dear Boise State


Boise is not a State.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

How To Play Stronghold Kingdoms: A Beginner's Tutorial

Stronghold Kingdoms is not Stronghold. It is not even very similar. Stronghold and Crusaders are two of the best RTS games of all time (Don't talk to me about Stronghold 2 - that game never existed). In Stronghold Kingdoms though, the RTS battles are now computer resolved and you are playing more the role of a chess-player than a general on the field. But with that said, the game is extremely fun and easy to play for a half hour or so a day. Your villagers work in real time: each time a woodcutter deposits wood, he drops one plank on the stockpile instead of twelve. Same for stone and iron and all the resources. This is a huge change from Stronghold, but what it allows is me to log on in the morning, use my resources and make some changes (Scout here, send an army there, research this, fortify my castle, build this building) then go to work for eight hours and come home to find that I now have eight more hours worth of resources, so I make my changes again and go to bed. This may be the perfect MMO. Free-to-play, easy to pick up, hard to master, addicting, and not super time-intensive. Here is the YouTube trailer.

There are a couple of different play routes. But both have the same goal in mind. The game does not allow you to “win”, you can only have 10 villages max, I think, but it does allow you to be a powerful political force in an England/Wales/Scotland/Ireland/Germany filled with powerful political forces.

Here are your basic goals:
1. Build up your village so it can
2. build up your castle.
3. Progress to Page and join or create a Faction.
4. Progress to Prince and have ten villages and ten castles and pick fights with people around you.

1. Build up Your Village
First things first: do the tutorial. It will really help you out. I mean, it's been a thousand years since this time period of monks, castles, merchants, and catapults, so you need to learn the basic skills.

When you are setting up your buildings, pay attention to the little numbers that show up on the building. Those numbers are how much your building will produce, or hold, or affect happiness, or whatever. Be sure to try moving the building around and seeing what it should be close to. For instance, the closer you place a fletcher to the stockpile, the more bows he will produce. Some things need to be close to the stockpile, some to the forest, some to the keep, some to the granary, some to the inn, et cetera. But a few need to be as close to two things as possible – a Woodcutter's Hut needs to be in the woods, but as close to the stockpile as possible. This makes sense as the woodcutter has to walk to deliver each piece of wood.

But the more important question is what to build. Three things right off the bat: food, Woodcutters Huts, and Stone Quarries. For food, Apples are a very good early game option: they provide a lot of food for few resources. But as the game progresses, and you can afford it, you want to transfer to Bakeries – they provide a lot of food quickly. A lot. To do any expansion though, of castle or village, you are going to need Stone Quarries and Woodcutters Huts.

You may think to yourself, “but I want my people to be happy! I'm going to spend my resources on ale and more kinds of food so I get honor more quickly.” Don't do that. That's what I did. As you become more honored, you attract stronger AI enemies on a regular basis. You NEED your castle to be strong BEFORE progressing too far in the ranks. Build up your wood and stone production through research and building more production facilities.

Research: wood and stone production, tools, and food. Tools is extremely useful, you know how you are saving up for that next Woodcutter's Hut? Well with Tools you can drop the price of it by 40%, and build it that much quicker. By dropping the price of buildings, you also drop the price of decorative buildings, which can do more for your honor production than Arts research. Plus, by researching Arts you get into Monks early on – they're useful, but first you need to build up your castle.

2. Build up Your Castle
Do this. Seriously. You ramped up your stone and wood production, right? Good. You'll need a lot of it. Here are two images of what your castle should look like while under construction:

As to the castle itself: a ton of archers on walls and in towers will always work wonders. In 1403, during the Glynd┼Ár Rising, a garrison of only 37 archers successfully held Caernarfon Castle. Though this example outlines the importance of archers, you're going to need a lot more. For your castle, archers are key. This requires making Fletchers. Put them close to the stockpile. Then research Fletching and Weapon Making as much as you can to bump up your production. Build some towers and put your archers in them. This will require not only archers, but also new buildings.

To get access to new buildings, Research Castellation, Fortification, and Defenses. Castellation will upgrade your keep, which fires arrows on the enemy, and allow the research of Defense and Fortification. Fortification will give you stone walls and gatehouses and towers that are much stronger, but take longer to build. Defenses will give you guard houses, which allow you to garrison more troops at your castle, as well as various traps for killing an incoming army. Command is also important to research, as it will increase the size of the army you can have. However, you still need more guard houses to station your army at your castle.

3. Progress to Paige
Now that you have Wood, Stone, Bow, and Food production ramped up, your villagers will be protected well. Now it is time to make them happy. You want to make your villagers happy for three reasons: because you are not an evil person; because the happier they are, the more villagers will come to your empire; and because the happier they are the more honor you get. You want more villagers because you need them to train more archers. But as you get more villagers, you need to increase food production to match.

The basic concept here is that you need honor to progress through the ranks. Attaining a new rank also allows you to research new things. There are a few ways to get honor: attack and win, defend successfully (You built up your castle, right?), have happy villagers, use honor multipliers like Arts research or decorative buildings to multiply how happy your people are, and banqueting. Attacking wolf dens and bandit camps and enemy castles – all three of those randomly appear on the map – is a useful way to get used to how many forces you need. You should scout out what you will attack first. Second, siege camps will pop up in your parish from time to time, as you defend successfully they give you honor. As you progress through the ranks, the siege camps send harder and harder enemies, so make sure your castle is strong. Third, simply by making your villagers happy, you get honor. Sweet eh? Pays to be the good, nice guy. Ale works really well to make them happy. As does quadruple rations of food and ale. Arts research and decorative or entertainment buildings are self-explanatory, but require research in Arts, Decorative, and Literature. Finally, Banqueting allows you to gain honor by building production facilities that produce things only the town-hall will use when hosting a banquet. The more things you produce, the more honor you get, and the more types of things you produce the more honor you get. This requires research in Banqueting.

Now those are a bunch of ways to get honor. But I would suggest not attacking somebody else, except the random occurrences on the map, until you are super strong or in a Faction. To be in a Faction you need to be to the rank of Page. It takes a lot of honor to get there, so yeah, you can do everything listed above, or you could just build an awesome army and castle and do some sieging and pillaging. I'm just saying you need to be nice to your villagers so more come and you can have a larger army, but it's just a plus to get honor from being nice to your villagers because having a big army is an unparalleled honor generator. Defend your castle, attack the random things on the map, and try to get in a good faction. Then when somebody in your faction gets attacked, you can beat down who ever did the attacking and get even more honor.

4. Progress to Prince
Congratulations, now go beat the crap out of other princes and try to take the throne. Good luck keeping track of everything.

In Conclusion:
1. Make a Viable Village:
Build Buildings:
-Food Production
-Wood Production
-Stone Production
-Food Production
-Wood Production
-Stone Production
2. Build Your Castle
Check out some Stronghold Kingdoms castles out on Youtube
Build Buildings:
-Guard Houses
-Castle Defenses
-Fletching – Increases Bow Production
-Weapons Making – Increases Weapon Production and allows new weapons
-Castellation – upgrades keep, unlocks Defense and Fortification
-Defense – gives guard houses and castle defenses
-Fortification – gives stone walls and castle buildings
-Command – Increases army size
Stock your Castle with Archers
3. Become a Paige
Get Honor:
-Defend your castle
-Attack Random Map Items:
-----Wolf Dens
-----Enemy Castles
-Have Happy Villagers
-Honor Multipliers – Arts Research, Decorative and Entertainment buildings
Join or Create a Faction
4. Princely Awesomeness
-Get Power

Postum Scriptum
Of course I am not implying that certain things will not also need to be researched, I am just outlining what I wish my main focus was when I started playing. Merchants and Scouts are quite useful. Your Parish is able to help you if you donate stuff to it. Making Armies move faster is a good thing so you aren't beat to a bandit camp by a guy two counties away. Gold is necessary for some buildings but extremely useful for buying more research points. Engineering Research allows you to increase the capacity of everything – stockpile, granary, armory, town hall, inn, and housing. Et cetera, et cetera. There is a ton of other content in the game. Have fun exploring it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Congratulations Sebastian Vettel!

Congratulations on proving your mettle and become the best open-wheel racecar driver in the world! You certainly deserved it after that season of podiums and poles. Good luck next year! Don't let it go to your head like it has so many other young F1 drivers.


And now I feel a little bit older. I'm used to gymnasts being like 14 and better at gymnastics than me, but this is the first time in my life that one of the racing competitions I care about bequeathed a championship trophy to somebody younger than me. I know I'm going to have to get used to it, but to be 23 and win the F1 world championship? That's good on Vettel.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Frank Herbert - Great Science Fiction Author

Frank Herbert would've been 90 today, had he not died in 1986. His contributions to Science Fiction cannot be overstated though. Through reinterpreting the stories surrounding the Ancient Greek House of Atreus while talking about his passion, ecology, and paying attention to Gibbons and TE Lawrence, he was able to create a character-and-story-driven novel, rather than the technology driven SF that was prevalent. The publishing of Dune is one of the defining moments in soft SF history. It is Herbert who finally gets SF past the obsession with human technology and natural sciences that makes the hard SF of the 40s and 50s so hard for a modern reader to go back to. A friend and I always say we like SF stories that are about humans, and the technology and fantastic elements are merely playing around the edges of the story. Dune did this. It fell right into the epic tradition and re-took-up the mantle pioneered by HG Wells that had been dropped by hard SF.

In the 40s and 50s the science fiction placed emphasis on the Science part. America, as a whole, was placing importance on the natural sciences, and Science Fiction served as a propaganda machine for America's preference that little boys and girls become physicists rather than writers. Isaac Asimov was the fantastic writer in the hard SF genre. But sooner or later, examining the effects of possible technology on future humanity isn't exciting any more. Along came Robert Heinlein and Arthur C Clarke. Though Clarke was heavily interested in technology as well, his stories placed more emphasis on Fiction than Asimov's did. Heinlein was fanatical about scientific accuracy in his stories, but his 1961 Stranger in a Strange Land was entirely soft SF and very popular.

In 1963 the first half of Dune was serialized, the second in 1965. The first edition of the book was published by Chilton's, yes, that Chilton's, in 1965. This soft SF masterpiece is the best selling SF book for good reason. He clearly and accurately replaces sf into the epic tradition, proving it a worthy heir to the throne of Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Achilleus, and Hamlet. He took a human story and set it within a fantastical world, then proceeded to talk about big things and big ideas. This was incredibly influential. The ideas that led to Star Wars, Cyberpunk, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, and other soft SF landmarks really took off after his work and gained mainstream respectability. For this, I think that Dune is one of the most important novels of the 20th century. It showed people who associated SF with pulp that SF could give them something other novels were not: epic stories in the sense of the epic tradition.

I am very grateful to Rebecca for introducing me to Dune. I remember when I was first reading it, pretty much everybody around me was surprised that I hadn't read it before. It proved impossible to find a used copy of the book still today, 45 years later. The continuing popularity of Dune, and the rest of Frank Herbert's contributions to the series, is a testament to its importance and quality. If you do not like SF and want to try some out, you could do much worse than starting with Dune. The world is a better place for having known Frank Herbert. Just don't talk to me about Sting's crotch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Herbert George Wells - Great Science Fiction Author

It is HG Wells' birthday today. He is not the most consistent writer I've ever read, not by a long shot. But he is one of the most interesting. His fiction is, in a lot of ways, what science fiction should be: a thinly veiled critique of today's society. He accomplishes this by pushing tendencies of it to the extreme. The things I appreciate most about science fiction are clearly present in HG Wells' work. He also sits within the epic tradition.

I love the part in War of the Worlds when all the people just line up on the street, trying to escape town, and once they are out of town, amongst the fields, they stick to the street. Initially the act is so surprising for the aliens that they don't even target the people all lined up for killing. The protagonist, on the other hand, hides and sneaks and forges his own path, and because of that he has a hard go of it but comes closer to truth and comes out better in the end. If this isn't a parallel to day-to-day life I don't know what it.

The Invisible Man is a story about a man unable to fit into society. Unlike the Odyssey, where the protagonist is a PTSD scarred war vet who cannot re-integrate into the society that sent him out to kill, this is a kid that is poor, and therefore feels he cannot integrate into society. However, like Odysseus, he does superhuman things – becomes invisible – and, again like Odysseus, though it helps him stay alive it doesn't help him in the long run with his overarching problem of being unable to be a part of his society.

As Darwin's ideas hit the scientific community in the 1800s, the idea of degeneration, or the idea that the state of humanity need not be fixed, spread like wildfire. Wells took the idea of human evolution to a logical extreme in the Island of Dr Moreau. In that work a doctor on an island creates humans out of animals, but continues to treat them as animals. When he is done experimenting he sets them free on the island and they form their own society. However, this story is really dealing with the inhuman nature of science: warning against vivisection and human experimentation. The island's compound is a parallel for a lab while the island is a parallel for the memory of prior experiments gone wrong. The animals then become people from this scientific culture attempting to parrot humanity, while really engrossed in something other, something inhuman. Two years after this popular book came out The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection was founded.

But my favorite work of his to read is the Time Machine. This is one of my favorite books of all time – in the top five at least. Sitting right around 32,000 words this incredibly dense story can be read easily within an afternoon. It is Wells' first work in a prolific career. Told by an unnamed man around a dinner table, this is the first major work to deal with the idea of time travel. Some say Wells invented the concept, and though I disagree, he does have a major influence on time travel fiction. In he creates a society where humanity has everything provided for it and no longer has challenges or conflicts. This lack of adversarial stimulation produces a significant lack in intelligence and the two races of human he encounters are neither able to think like humans today. As he becomes stuck and then frees himself, it is clear that these are truly post-human beings, but not in the typical (for 2010 at least) singularity sense, but rather in an evolutionary sense. The two groups are logical extensions of the lower and upper classes. It is a fantastic piece about never shying away from challenges in your life and about the adverse affects of a rigidly classed culture, where rich people cannot communicate with or understand poor people and vice-versa. If this tendency hasn't happened throughout history I don't know what else has. But the story is, in my mind, his best written and one of my favorites. It reads so well.

He has protagonists that, through the distraction, evolution, or stupidity of other characters are superhuman heroes who do what other people only attempt. Their deeds are superhuman in the sense that they are out of the norm of humanity. His setting in the War of the Worlds and in Time Machine are vast settings spanning space and time respectively. Supernatural or otherworldly forces intrude on humanity and the heroes, but sometimes it is just human culture that intrudes. It is overwritten and exciting – explosions, babes, crazy scientific advancements, half-human half-animal creatures, and highly stylized, especially with the triple narrator setup in Time Machine. The only epic characteristic that doesn't always fit is the omniscient narrator. Though that one fits War of the Worlds partially. (These six elements are from Tom Drake's epic page.)

HG Wells is an underrated author who should be read by more people. Yes half of his books are utter crap filled with misspellings and grammatical errors that drive even me crazy. But these four main books of his are cultural treasures that, unfortunately, culture ignores. This is what science fiction should be. This is why HG Wells deserves to be remembered on his birthday. So here's to you, Mr Wells, thanks for the entertainment and interesting ideas. Spot on mate.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Audi Post

First I told you how I feel about Mercedes, then BMW, then Porsche. Now, that ain't all of the German Automakers in the world, so let's talk one more today, that great evil, Audi. Now, it's not that Audi is evil, it's just that they always win at Le Mans. Always. They have lost three times at Le Mans: they lost their first race in 1999 to BMW and a Toyota, but they still took 3rd and 4th, then in 2003 they lost to a pair of Bentleys, but still took 3rd and 4th, and finally, in 2009 they lost to a pair of Peugeots but, you guessed it, still took third. Every race that Audi has ever been at Le Mans, they have been on one of the top three steps, and they have been on the top for 9 of the last 12 races - 75% wins. In the 1980s Porsche took seven in a row, and has 16 overall wins, but Audi and Ferrari are tied for second in overall wins with nine each. Audi's five consecutive wins from 2004-2008 is third only to Porsche's seven from 1981-1987 and Ferrari's six from 1960 to 1965. All this is just to say that Audi is very good on the track - and that statement is key to how I feel about Audi: I want some of that hot track action. The only good cars Audi has ever made have been derived from track-only models and, well, they need to do that more instead of creating their usual drivel. We're going to do this in order of my favorites. Four rings, four cars:

1. Audi Quattro - 1980-1991

In the 1980s, the WRC battles between Lancia and Audi were legendarily awesome. In 1981, Audi's first year, they took fifth, giving the WRC it's first female rally winner in the process. In 1982 they took the championship while Michele Mouton took second, just twelve points off of first. In 1983 Lancia came back with a vengeance and took the title off Audi's hands by a mere two points after 12 rallies. In 1984 Audi beat Lancia by 12 points. In 1985 Peugeot came on the scene with the Quattro inspired 205 Turbo, which took seven of the twelve wins. Audi took 1 win, 5 seconds, and 2 thirds. Group B was dying, and Audi was thinking about abandoning the WRC. In 1986 as the new Lancia Delta came on board for the full season, Audi only managed two third place finishes, ending the season in 4th - the last year of Group B racing was not to go with Audi. But they were prepared for the 1987 season, with Group A cars taking the stage: they took second place, but by quite a few points behind Lancia. In 1988 they took three thirds and third place overall. In 1989 they didn't podium, and ended up in fifth overall after strong efforts from Privateer teams. The Quattro was done, but it had made its name, and made it well. During the 1980s the Quattro also came to America and, at the hands of Michele Mouton, won Pike's Peak in both 1984 and 1985, setting a record in the process and giving Pike's Peak their first women champion.

This is insanity. It is long enough for a five-door, but they only put three in. It is confused between a hot-hatch and an estate. It has that gaudy faded-four-ring emblem on the doors. It has that little spoiler that doesn't do much else but block the driver's rear view. And if you ask me, and since you're reading this blag the question is inherent, this is the best car Audi has ever made. The wheel wells don't so much arch as slump out of the car. The rear is symmetrical but for the twin, offset exhaust pipes and the window washer. There is a vent cut through the top of the gas filling cap. I could go on and on and on about how much I should not like this car, but, well, it's perfect. It's almost so bad it's good type perfect but it gets so much right in the face of so much wrong that it's only partly so bad it's good perfect. I would drive this with pride. And get lots of tickets with it.

2. Audi R8 - 2006-Now

The R8 is perhaps Audi's best known car. In 1999, Audi decided to partake in the biggest race of them all: Le Mans. The competition was fierce with BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and Dodge, amongst others, taking to the track. Audi brought two cars - a closed top and an open top. Audi surprised all by taking two open-top prototypes to third and fourth placed finishes. Then, in 2000, they brought their finalized car, the open-top R8 to a field significantly thinned out as Mercedes went to the DTM series, Ferrari quit, Toyota and BMW decided to try F1, while Porsche, after starting an LMP racer, decided instead to make it into the Carrera GT. This left Audi battling privateer teams, and they swept the podium. This was to be a familiar occurrence. They gave their closed-top prototype from 1999 to their subsidiary company, Bentley, and in 2001, Bentley managed a third place in their first Le Mans - behind two Audis of course. In 2002 the R8 swept the podium and Bentley took fourth. In 2003 Bentley took first and second while Audi took third and fourth. 2004 saw Bentley pull out, Audi sweep the podium, and an Audi take fifth as well - for good measure - while Pescarolo (Privateer Peugeot) took fourth. In 2005 Audi took first, third, and fourth, while a Pescarolo took second. 2006 saw the introduction of the R10, and newer version of the R8 - they took first and third while a Pescarolo took second. In 2007 they took first while Peugeot took second and Pescarolo took third and fourth. In 2008 they finished 1, 4, and 6, with Peugeots in between and Pescarolos behind. In 2009 they brought another new car, the R15, and took third behind a pair of Peugeots. And finally, in 2010 they swept the podium again. What was Audi to do with all of this winning? Why, make a road car of course!

Enter the Audi R8. Not exactly the best looking car on the road - sort of looking like a stretched version of their abysmal Audi TT. Style based off of the Audi Quattro Spyder, rather than the R8 Racecar. But this thing can go. It sounds gorgeous, it is well-put-together, and it is faster than a lot of cars much more expensive than it. This is a car that is stuck somewhere between practicality and supercarality. It is the daily driver supercar. It is the boring supercar, unless you're behind the wheel. And that, friends, is all I can say about it. It's so good that I can't deny that it is a good car, but if given one, I would sell it and buy something with design or style. Unless it was the rumored V12 TDI, that one I would sell only after putting some serious miles on it.

However, in a meta-moment, Audi than converted the R8 to a GT3 Racecar in 2009, when they took second at the Nurburgring 24. In 2010 only two of their seven entrants finished, but they still took the GT3 class win and third and fifth overall. This car is doing very well. Oddly enough, the GT3 is the prettiest one:

3. Audi B7 RS4 quattro Saloon - 2006-2008
It is, like the M3, a hideous and fantastic car. This is the M3 killer Audi has wanted for a long time. It is so good I cannot ignore it. This car is more cockish than the M3: if you live in a fraternity, buy this car. Leave the rest of us the M3. Here's a picture so I don't have to say anything more about this car:

4. Audi Avus Quattro - 1991

This is what I want from Audi - this retro-futuristic orgy of melted aluminum, stupid amounts of power, and a human driver as an afterthought. This is why Audi should be around today. Forget about all the cars they make today - they all suck but for the RS4 and R8. But if you look back over the concept cars that Audi has crafted, you realize that there are talented people there, and when they loosen up a bit they truly do create things that are otherworldly, deliciously stupid, and truly astounding. Audi, please do this more. Lots more. And let me buy one. I feel like this car would be right at home in The Metropolis of Tomorrow:

The Pre-War Auto Union Race Cars: Kings of the Past and Future

Streamlined, melted bodies made out of polished aluminum melded to engines that are stupidly powerful. The pre-war Auto Union racecars are what I wish so badly that Audi was building today. This is what I think of when I am inebriated and convinced that Audi makes good cars. Here is a 1935 Type B "Lucca" that was once the fastest car in the world and is is completely lust-inducing:

In Conclusion:
The Audi Quattro was a spectacular race car and a spectacular street car. The R8 was a spectacular race car and an good street car and then a spectacular race car again. The RS4 B7 Quattro Saloon's quality spoke for itself - because the design sure didn't. And finally, the Audi Avus Quattro and Rosemeyer are the rightful heirs to a fantastic design tradition that Audi continues to ignore. Screw you Audi. You started out the most exciting out of all the German Automakers, and ended up sucking the worst. And with that, I think it is pretty clear why I hate Audi. But, I want the Quattro. That is the one Audi road car I would buy.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Exciting Racing News

Mini is BACK!

After taking third place in 1963, the little car made its name on the slopes surrounding Monte Carlo with wins in 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1967, then capped it off with another third in 1968 as the Porsche 911 took its first win of three consecutive wins.

After Subaru's factory rally effort ended in 2008, Prodrive was left stranded. After competing at the very top, they needed to get back there. Their old buddies BMW showed up with their little car and now, the Mini will return to racing. This week it was testing on tarmac at the Pro-Drive track. Next week it hits the gravel hard in Portugal. Here's a picture to fap to:

And because this is all so very exciting, here is the Press Release:
* 09.09.2010
* Press Release

Munich. The new MINI Countryman World Rally Car has successfully completed its shakedown phase at Prodrive's private proving ground in Warwickshire.

This initial part of the car's test and development programme took place with the engineering team driving the car over four days, primarily on tarmac, but also including several kilometres on loose surfaces and Prodrive's low grip facility. The car will now travel to Portugal for a week of testing on gravel.

"As with any totally new car, it is vital to take time to ensure all the systems are working as intended before embarking on a week long gravel test," said David Lapworth, Prodrive technical director.

This first test car is running with an interim body and aero package, while design of the final World Rally Car bodywork is underway.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Socratic Method

"If I say that it is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living for men, you will believe me even less. What I say is true, gentlemen, but it is not easy to convince you."

I am reading Plato for the first time, in my eighth year of college. I bloody love it. And disagree with about half of it. But it sure is fun reading! If you haven't read any of his stuff yet, you should read some of the dialogues. It's clearly where the idea of othering comes from.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Arcade Fire's The Suburbs

The new Arcade Fire album is actually really deep. Win Butler is talking a lot about a lot of things, and it's obvious he himself is conflicted even as he passes judgment. It's quite interesting the way he attacks pretension and hipsters, his audience base, while at the same time beginning to agree with their opinions. The album is titled The Suburbs which is a lot of what it is about. Initially it seems that he is pro-suburbs and reminding all these hipsters that they grew up in the sprawl they are now trying to forget and argue against. In my own mind I feel like Suburban Developments are a fantastic idea usually done so very very very wrong in America. It seems like he comes to this point as well, but it might just be the poetry in his lyrics allowing me to see my beliefs in his words. However, it then becomes something much deeper where he begins to look at his life through the years he's been alive and can't decide whether it was childhood or the suburbs as the reason why he had a damn good childhood. It seems like he decides it's both:

"Cops showing their lights
On the reflectors of our bikes
Said "Do you kids know what time it is?"
Well, sir, it's the first time I felt like something is mine
Like I have something to give

The last defender of the sprawl
Said "Well, where do you kids live?"
Well, sir, if you only knew what the answer's worth
Been searching every corner of the earth... "

If memory is the thing he has for his own, then this is his most serious attack against the hipster mob. First, he realizes that though everything looks the same in the suburbs, it still feels like home. Second, he realizes that this feeling is something he owns. Third he realizes that what he was searching the world over was inside himself all the time. It follows that trying to fit in too hard (read: Hipsters) is really a bowing down to a man all its own: you've got what you need inside yourself, in short, be real, not trendy.

Win's whole argument is a lot more complex and deep than this quick example of two stanzas gives, but this point is a quiet affirmation and giving up. A silent step in the grown-up direction for a man who, throughout the album is almost obsessed with childhood. His use of the Suburbs to get into this discussion of the Youth of Today, what it means to be from someplace, and humanity is absolutely brilliant. I wish my Tobacco Poetry was as skillful as Win's Suburban Poetry. This album is masterfully lyrical, deep, and literate, all while remaining open and unpretentious in a way that is quite refreshing. After all, growing up in The Woodlands gives him first-hand experience of a better suburban situation than is typical.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tobacco Poetry

We have begun a new writing project. This one is aimed at correcting a massive wrong in the world: a significant lack of fantastic tobacco poetry exists. This is then something we hope to fix. For the rest of the year, us four guys will write a poem a month, then post them. We realize the difficulties of this project, we also realize the possibilities. However, in order to save the world from tobacco poetry that says, essentially, "Golly gee, I sure like me that tobaccee," we must embark on this journey. So, in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling, who won a Nobel for writing the only great tobacco poem ever, I proudly present our roughest offerings to the gods of poetry and tobacco, who really are good friends. They go drinking together all the time. Death and Binky come along most times too. Death is always down for a party.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Derrida Is Eighty

Just saying.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And One More Thing About Racing

At the 2010 Nurburgring 24 hour race, the Porsche 911-Hybrid got scarily close to winning its first outing. I, for one, didn't expect that performance out of that car. After all the media hype I figured its performance would turn out poorly, like that Jeff Koons Art Car did at Le Mans. But it almost won. It had a dominating lead before a maintenance issue trivialized its phenomenal performance.

This is what is sparking the resurgence in Endurance Racing though: new technologies getting tried first. You know, like racing should be, or like it used to be. First it was Diesel in 2006 at Sebring, Audi taking the inaugural win with that technology. Then Electricity at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in 2009, and all electric motorcycle race over the world’s oldest track, the track that tested the first gasoline, diesel, and steam cars at the dawn of automotion. Now 2010 sees the advent of Hybrid race cars – and they almost won it as well. Next year we will see the Peugeot 909 Hybrid racing at Le Mans, and if their win last year was any indication, they could do very well.

But these newnesses are more change in the basic framework of racecars than in the last 100 years. I don't mean to diminish the spectacular advancements made in materials science, safety understanding, technology, space-frame structures, et cetera that racing has provided for so long, but this is a different type of change. This is not incrementally getting faster and faster, lighter and lighter, better and better, stronger and stronger, this is wholly and utterly sinking millions of dollars or euros into completely new ways of thinking, and testing them out on the track. This is what racing should be. This is why racing is exciting today.

Chaparral cars' 2J with the fans for downforce, and the 2F with its insanely large wing; Auto Union's early streamlined bodies mated to huge engines; Lotus' string of Formula 1 cars; Jaguar's disc brakes in '55; pre-war Grand-Prix advancements in crumple zones and aerodynamics – this period of racing outshines all of those awesome moments and advancements. This is, I dare say, some of the best racing, best cars, and coincidentally, the best drivers the world has ever seen: Michael Shumacher, Sebastian Loeb, Valentino Rossi, Thom Kristensen. Forget about adding motor to the front of the word racing, these are the days when things change and are changing. The cars are faster than Class C or Group B ever were, the tracks are more technical and the lines more precise, the breadth of knowledge of the driver is both deeper and wider, the forces on the body and car more severe and sudden, everything is lighter-faster-stronger-better, and it is only going to get better from here. This is, truly, the most exciting time in racing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Le Mans 2010

And so it comes - the greatest race every year. This year marks the last year of my favorite category, GT1. Admittedly, GT1 has been lacking in competition at Le Mans, but at the same time, that's partly the fault of the ACO with some great GT1 cars - Maserati and Nissan - notably absent from the grid, and very dominant around the world elsewhere. So thanks ACO, for killing off my favorite class. In honor of GT1, I'll start my rootings, hopes, and predictions there.

GT1: Goodnight, sweet sweet GT1 racing at Le Mans. I'll miss hearing your loudest and deepest roars rumbling past pit lane on the radio. I already miss you in ALMS.
Rooting: Ford. Honestly, I don't care which Ford GT Matech wins, I just want Ford to slap the ACO in the face by coming in, entering a car for the first time, and winning while the ACO says GT1 is dying.
Hope: You will always see me hoping for a Saleen win. Also, I hope JLOC lasts more than a single lap this year.
Predictions: The #52 Aston Martin DBR9 if it can keep from a major breakdown, which seems pretty impossible for that team. The #70 Ford GT Matech if - or once - the Aston Martin breaks down.

GT2: CHAOS - which, at this stage, is not so much of a prediction, as a pre-requisite every time GT2 cars get out on the track. So closely matched, so fast, always big shakeups.
Rooting: Corvette. First year at the big one in GT2, after being so dominant in GT1 for so long, I'm gonna root for their win, but I'll also keep my eye on Flying Lizard as usual. But this year, gulp, I'll also be rooting for the BMW Art Car. That thing has a nice paint jerb.
Hope: I always keep my hopes up for, in order, Spyker, that beautiful Aston Martin Vantage, and the slow and sexy Jaguar.
Predictions: You know what, even with the penalty and being pushed to the back of the grid, I still think the Risi #82 is going to take it. Honestly, that team is just too damn good.

LMP1: Will we actually have a race this year? The R15+ has been a consistent 2-3 seconds back on the Peugeot. But there may be rain coming and it's a long race - if the Audi get a lap or two more out of their car's fuel tank then it'll be a battle.
Rooting: Really, I'm just rooting for a battle. It'd be great to see Aston Martin come in and take the win from those continental diesel addicts, but if you know me, you know I'm probably rooting for the privateer team with the best chance to win, so Team Oreca Matmut it is this year. I'll miss Pescarollo on the grid this year though.
Hope: I hope for Rebellion Racing BECAUSE OF THEIR GOLD LEAF CARS. I cannot help myself. They are so garish they're right. And a Lola Aston Martin of course. And the Ginetta team because it's driven by three Mansells. Yay!
Prediction: I do think Bourdais, the home-town boy, is going to bring his Peugeot in first for his first home-race win. His #3 is on pole, and for once I am saying the pole car will win. No stupid pit-lane mistakes this year, please. Further, I predict two Audi drivers will not be driving for Audi next year after losing Le Mans two years in a row.

LMP2: Well, looky looky who showed up - Acura brought their fast but unreliable car to the big race. Where are the Porsche's though?
Rooting: RML is going to be my rooting for team. And Oak's Pescarolo car.
Hope: Pegasus Racing's Norma Judd - since when did Norma hit the scene? New body maker at Le Mans gets my hopes. Also the Radical SR9 because it's pretty.
Prediction: Acura. There's two of them so breakdowns shouldn't be as much of an issue, plus they are 5 seconds faster. 5 seconds. I'm gonna pick Highcroft Racing because of Marco Werner. If they break down though, RML can win it all.

So, that's my predictions, my choices for who I am rooting for, and my wildest hopes. Looking forward to a hell of a race tomorrow. I hope everybody is safe and there is good entertainment for the fans. But honestly, after being a fan for this long, I sort of like the way the rain plays with things.

This Le Mans Intercontinental Cup thing excites me a lot too. I'm looking forward to some good racing.


After the Race: After 397 laps another great Le Mans goes into the provisional books.

GT1: So in GT1 the DBR9 broke down and Saleen legitimately won that race! Saleen, then Luc Alphand's borrowed Corvette, then the DBR9 were the only cars to finish. The Saleen only got beat by 2 GT2 cars too! SALEEN WINS!!!

GT2: In GT2 nothing changed in the last two hours for the frontrunners. First went to the consistent Team Felbermayr Porsche (77), second to Hankook Ferrari (89), third to the #97 Porsche (BMS Scuderia Italia SPA). #95 made it back up into 4th with their AF Corse SRL Ferrari. The IMSA Porsche, #76, ended up in 5th with a lap over the non-art-car BMW #78. The Prospeed Porsche #75 managed to stop spinning long enough to complete the race in seventh while the other Felbermayr car came in eight (88). And bloody last overall and in GT2, but still classified, sits the Spyker #85. Eight GT2 cars broke down, including the Jaguar after only four laps, but the Spyker lasted and was competitive to! It's race-best time was only really a couple seconds off the leaders and, well, look at LMP2 to see that slower cars will win. Spyker completed 280 of a needed 277. Good work boys.

LMP1: In LMP1 the Audi podium is deserved because Peugeot proved again how amateur they are. The #4, with two hours left, was about two minutes down on the #7 Audi for third. The #4 closed the gap to a minute, then a safety car split them up to two minutes. Then the #4 closed it down to 8 seconds – spitting distance for a car that much faster – then, guess what, the engine blew between Indianapolis and Arnage with an hour 15 to go. If they could've kept that pace they would've had a podium at least. But no, Peugeot, despite making this car for four years, cannot make one that lasts 24 hours apparently. The 007 in fifth, sixth over all, was the last LMP1 not dead or in the pits. Talk about a year of breakdowns: twelve LMP1s were officially retired, leaving six not-retired. Well, the #4 ended the race broken down on the track and the #11 ended the race in the pits with not enough laps to be classified. So realistically, four LMP1 cars finished the race out of 18. Why are they getting rid of GT1 again? Screw you ACO.

LMP2: In LMP2 things were a bit nicer to the cars this year, which is backward to the usual cluster-cuss LMP2 is and paragon of engineering LMP1 is. The Strakka Racing Acura with an HPD engine (#42) took a well-deserved win. Oak's Pescarolo-Judd, after running third and fourth for so long, was able to capitalize on Highcroft's misfortune and take second (#35). The Lola car with an HPD engine, run by RML, ran into their own problems but still took third. Fourth was the other Oak Car, 24, and fifth was Bruichladdich's Ginetta Zytek, which was on the same lap (#41). Those were the competitive ones. Further down the field were the ones that finished, were classified, but had major problems. The #28 Race Performance Radical SR9 placed better than I had hoped in 6th. The Quiffel-ASM team brought their Ginetta Zytek in 7th (#40). The #37 Gerhard Welter WR-Zytek surprised everybody by finishing. After running in second for so long, the #26 Highcroft Acura HPD ended up in 9th. And tenth was the KSM Lola Judd (#39). You can bet HPD engines will be in a lot more cars next year! Three front-runners and only one breakdown – that's better than a French factory effort in LMP1.

27 cars were classified, with the Drayson not quitting that makes 28 cars. A couple of those were dead in the water but had completed enough laps. The important part here is that nobody finished the race this year. Half of the cars were retired and a bunch more were dead but still classified. Out of 55 cars, it seems like nobody finished.

So yeah, my predictions were shot right from the start. After being 4 for 4 on the last race, I was 1 for 4 on this one.

The Fords were obviously quicker in GT1, but they all broke down - the best one lasting 171 laps - and the Saleen, a ten year old car that they stopped making in 2007, took the deserved win. The DBR9 did undergo a series of breakdowns though. I did not get a single thing right here, but my wildest hope car won!

In GT2 Risi did what I said they would, then cocked it up, while Corvette dominated than died. Flying Lizard, BMW, Aston Martin, and Jaguar all died too. Thank God for Spyker. I got not a single thing right here.

In LMP1 Peugeot had a race to lose and boy they did, hard. The Mansells crashed in the first 20 minutes, Rebellion didn't last, a single Aston Martin survived, and after an Audi 1, 2, and 3 I doubt that two drivers will jump ship. I got nothing right here.

In LMP2 one of the Acura's did not break down and the RML did. But those Pescarolo cars on that Oak team did well! Acura did win, RML did get a podium, and my rooting team Oak did well. I got this one.


Race Recap:

Le Mans 2010
5:54 The Cars enter Mulsanne the first time.
What's with the 2001 A Space Odyssey soundtrack?

The first five minutes:
Starting on time.
#3 seemed to send up a smoke offering at the start of the start/finish straight. Lock-up or something more serious?
McNish is trying to pass Oreca already. But unable to do it yet. Audi attacking Peugeot psychologically already?
0h17 Traffic for the first time! #2 closes on #3, trying to pass.
0h17 Nigell Mansell is off around Indianapolis. Puncture – well, left rear tyre gone. Just where the Merc flipped.
0h18 Safety car is out thanks to the world champion. Again they miss the lead cars. 3 safety cars this year eh?
0h21 #70 takes a pit stop – from the lead. Takes off tape over the radiators. The track marshals wont let it back out on the track.
0h26 the #82 has already taken six places back. Damn Risi!
0h27 Jaguar is already in the pits and 2 laps down – ECU problem.
0h42 #4 into the pits. Down to tenth place from fourth.
0h48 Safety Car is in. ½ hour. Non-leaders see the start-line first. 31 minutes actually. Mansell's out for good.
0h49 Racing box spin at Arnage.
0h54 #83 is still in 13th. #4 is up into 7th. Matech 60 is in the lead while the #70 is two laps back and racing the JLOC.
1h00 Franc Montagny barely into the pits safely.
1h02 One Audi pits while TK watches...
1h02 Corvette into the pits from 2nd.
1h03 Pedro Lamy and Marc Gene both in. Timo Bernhard could get the lead on lap 14.
1h06 GT2 leading Corvette #64 is in the pits and almost hits a GT1 Corvette.
1h06 SALEEN IS IN 2nd IN GT1!!! Best time so far is four minutes and point 880 a second. Everybody else is in the mid-3:58s.
1h07 Strakker and Highcroft in the pits at the same time! And the #40! AND the #35!
1h09 #4 Peugeot is back in fourth.
1h11 Saleen in, and crawling. Out of fuel? Both BMWs are in, Flying Lizard too. Saleen couldn't pick up fuel from its reserve tank.
1h12 Oak racing pushed the #6 Oreca into a bollard at Mulsanne, bollard drops out at Indianapolis.
1h14 Lap 16. The Risi #82 is ALREADY up in 4th. FUCK. Top four GT2 cars into pit.
1h17 “Alan McNish is being careful very rapidly.” I love you Radio Le Mans.
1h17 #70 is up to 2nd place in GT1, behind the #60.
1h19 #2 has gotten four seconds on the #3. Not sure when that happened.
1h20 Corvette 1-2 again in GT2 as the timing has updated after the pit stops. Jaime Melo has done some AMAZING driving to get his car from the back up to the leaders again. He is up in 3rd? I think so. Yes, yes he is. From last to third in 1:20. Congrats Risi!
1h26 Lap 20. Highcroft down by 47 seconds in LMP2.
1h29 #70 is 2 minutes 14 seconds off the #60 – they are one and two.
1h30 Lord Paul Drayson is being interviewed and this is fantastic: he is 15 seconds off pace, in 14th or 15th, and he is SO excited. SO. Super effusive. “I AM LOVING THIS! I just wanted to hand off the car in the same place I found it, and I did. THIS IS SUCH A GREAT RACE!” Spot on mate.
1h32 RML is in and out after getting ahead of Oak. 1st pit was on lap 7. Their first pit was because the dashboard went out.
1h33 #4 in the pit. Comes out just behind McNish in the #7, and just ahead of Bernhard in the #9.
1h34 #70 is 1 minute 55 seconds off the #60 – they are one and two.
1h36 #70 in the pit. Routine stop.
1h37 #70 is 2 minutes 25 seconds off the #60 after the pit – they are one and two.
At some point the 28 spun trying to avoid an Audi.
1h41 Two GT2 cars spin at Mulsanne's corner.
1h42 #2 is in the pits. 12 laps after their last stop. Strategy or is that what they have?
1h43 McNish is in as well, loses a spot to the #4 again, but they are on different pit strategies.
1h43 #8 stopped with 13 laps. #9 with 12 and Bernhard at the wheel.
1h45 Sebastian Bourdais says, “We're racing flat out.” Yeah right. They're trying to get close to Audi's fuel consumption and beat them at their own game. Cute boys, cute.
1h50 Bernhard's #9 in front of McNish's #8.
1h50 Jaguar has nobody working on it, after running 4 laps. The Audis are rotating their drivers in alphabetical order by surname.
1h50 #70 is 1 minute 59 seconds behind the #60 – they are still first and second.
1h54 #79 BMW Art Car is stopped and the driver is looking underneath the car. Gone straight through the chicane. Left rear puncture. Gets back in and tries to limp it home. The #78 has a nasty vibration under braking according to Radio Le Mans.
1h55 Strakka in for fuel and driver change. Highcroft stays out and takes the lead.
1h57 #70 Marc VDS is off into the tyre wall at the Dunlop Esses. Still in the car for a bit. Then they retire.
2h00 Highcroft in the pit. Peugeot still 1-4. A full minute between them and Audi, led by McNish. 30 Laps.
2h07 My internet goes down.
2h26 My internet came back up with... suspension failure? Tyre failure? Something to do with the Audis? Peugeots? What is going on? Internet dies again. The chronos did show that RML took Highcroft to the tune of 15 or 16 seconds.
2h29 Blip of internet: it appears as if Highcroft has gotten their spot back. But they are only 11 seconds up on the #40.
2h30 My internet comes back up. McNish has just hopped out and TK has gotten in. Bernhard was replaced by Dumas. All three Audi's have changed drivers. TK IS IN THE CAR, but behind Dumas. Tyres are triple stinted so drivers are as well. Going to four at night?
2h32 #3 Peugeot has gone into the garage? What the hell happened? Ah, okay, they have a right front suspension problem.
2h36 Corvettes are 6 seconds apart in GT2, while just twenty seconds off them is that AMAZING #82, which started dead last..
2h38 GT1: #60 Matech, followed 22 seconds back by #73 Corvette, followed 7 seconds back by DBR9.
2h41 DBR9 has gotten past the #73.
2h42 TK gets past Dumas – #7 has passed #9.
2h44 JLOC has a right-rear puncture, limping back to the pits.
2h45 Peugeot #3 still in the pits. Car is covered. Checked front-right too.
2h46 JLOC got into the pits.
2h46 24 seconds between #52 and #60.
2h47 Peugeot #3 retired. A suspension pick-up point has pulled out of the carbon tub. Rebellion had the same problem but it was a 24 or 26 hour fix for them. Similar problem to their first Petit Le Mans. Since my overall pick has died, I'm gonna repick the #2 car for the overall win. Oreca is the oldest chassis: 04. #3 is the 06 – new in 2009. The other two are brand new.
2h49 Drayson's #11 being pushed back into the garage. Misfire.
2h52 Highcroft behind Strakka by a mere minute fifteen. Top 3 in GT1 & GT2 separated by a second or so on the same piece of track. The Saleen is consistently lapping under 4 minutes, which is competitive!
2h57 A minute twenty between Strakka and Highcroft.
3h00 #4 is on its way in. My internet dies.
3h06 Internet revives. #2 on Pit road. 12 lap stint.
3h07 50 seconds between the DBR9 and #60 Matech.
3h10 #4 is trying to hold off TK in the #7. Internet goes down. I go to Jon and Keni's wedding.
7h20 Return from wedding. Lap 120
GT1: The #60 is still way in the lead. Saleen is still running and competitive (3rd)!!!
GT2: Risi 82 is still in the lead and the #64 Corvette is less than a second down in second place. The other vette is a minute and 5 seconds down.
LMP1: The #1 has taken over from the #2 and has a minute 15. #4 is still in third but a lap down. Then 3 R15s and the 007 & 009 as usual. Drayon is still running!
LMP2: #42 and #26 are still a little over 11 seconds apart. Awesome! RML is in 5th now. The #35 Pescarolo is in third, two laps down.
7h47 the #1 has dropped off. As has the internet.
7h?? RISI IS IN THE PITS. By 8h02 they are 9th. Ouch. But hey, they came from the back once already, right? They could do it again.
9-10th hour: the #60 drops way down.
10th hour: JLOC breaks down. They fix it.
11h?? #4 drops down to 6th.
12h25 #14 Kolles Audi stopped on track.
16h00 Not much has changed, until the #2 Peugeot catches fire and is abandoned on the course from the lead. Right rear spewing flames and something slick, maybe radiator fluid. Audi 9 & 8 are now first and second. Over the next hour and a half, Anthony Davis in the #1 Peugeot turns in a spectacular drive, gaining a lap and he is coming close to gaining the lead lap at 17h24. Even Gunn was impressed. WE HAVE A RACE AGAIN!!!
17h25 The Corvette #64 spins off into the wall at Porsche Curves it is in the lead and a lap up on the #77 Porsche.
17h26 #64 started and driving again. How long will it take to fix.
17h27 #64 enters pit lane. Luckily he was close to the pits. A lot of rear damage, looks fixable. The team is going to try.
17h28 #1 Peugeot is in the pits, appears to be a routine stop. When are the Audis coming in? Oh, hey, not so routine. They're taping some of the intake.
17h29 #64 is having carbon fibre surgery in the form of ripping bits off the car.
17h30 Safety car is out. Is this for #64 debris and dirt? A lot was spread onto the track. Ah, okay, the #64 was being passed by a Peugeot and was bumped. The safety car is to clean up its debris.
17h36 Seems like everybody is in the pits under safety, but no Audi yet.
17h37 Luc Alphand getting something fixed.
17h38 Green flag, #39 spin. The Peugeot is in front of the two Audis, but is it at the end of the Audi lap, ahead, or a lap down?!?!
17h40 Peugeot getting chased by the #7. P is down 2 laps off lead. #7 down a single lap off him.
17h45 Peugeot has pulled away from the Audi rather steadily. Poor Audi. So slow.
17h49 #4 is in the pits, running in 5th. Saleen still in the lead!!!
17h51 Drayson is in the pits and torn apart. #42 is in the pits for a stop.
17h54 Race leader is in for a routine stop. Audi #9.
17h59 #64 back on track, 5th in class. #4 looks squirly under braking.
18h03 A Porsche, #75, off at mulsanne, 4th car in 2 hours. Drivers are getting tired. Brakes too?
18h04 #26 in pits for driver change. DBR9 back up to 2nd in class, still 10 laps off Saleen. Going to have enough time to take him? Probably not. GO SALEEN!!! Saleen is right on his tail.
18h08 #64 back in the pits for more fixes. Come on boys, you have a race to take back out there.
18h10 #8 in the pits from p2. Routine stop. Gets out in front of the #1 Peugeot.
18h11 #64 back out on track.
18h15 That Peugeot is going like his balls are on fire. No doubt that right now, the #1 and #4 are giving it EVERYTHING they got.
18h19 Driver change In the Saleen. Aston Martin got a lap back.
18h36 Saleen and race leading #9 in pits. Saleen appears to be shedding kitty litter. OH NOES! THEY BACKED THE SALEEN INTO THE GARAGE!!! They're cleaning out kitty litter. They got ten laps. DBR9 got back one lap.
18h42 #64 blowing lots of blue smoke and pulled off to the side. Mashalls push it behind the wall at Mulsanne. #7 in pits.
18h44 Driver change in #42.
18h46 #95 locks up and slides down an access road at Arnage. Back on track with front damage. 2nd place in GT2 currently.
18h48 #95 in pits. Wheeled into garage. Saleen getting wheeled back out. #89 Hankook has taken #2 in GT2. Saleen gave up four or five laps to be cleaned.
18h52 #8 in the pits.
18h56 009 missed the first straight chicane and is SPEWING flame out the tailpipe.
18h58 Got it running again. It's around Mulsanne and headed to the pits. Somebody gets to put more fuel in that. Good luck to that guy.
18h59 #1 is in the pits.
19h00 009 gets to the pits. A couple of bursts of flame for good measure. #95 still being worked on so the #97 Porsche will probably take 3rd in GT2 from them.
19h03 Saleen now only has 6 laps. Will that lead hold?
19h07 Highcroft is going slow on the straight!
19h10 Highcroft just made it around Arnage and the #95 is just starting to get body pieces put back on.
19h11 Highcroft on pit lane... They wheel it directly into the garage, and a round piece of rubber, donut-esque, falls out.
19h12 009 misses another chicane. Doesn't stall it, drives around the tyres.
19h16 Highcroft back into pit lane from garage. 008 spears a tyre wall at Indianapolis.
19h17 Highcroft is under way.
19h19 Leader is in the pit. Another splash and dash.
19h23 The #1, only a lap down, sees an Audi ahead.
19h25 #1 passes #8!!! 008 back on track after being pulled out of the wall with a tractor, limping back to pit lane.
19h27 #75 spins again at Indianapolis. Gets out of the kitty litter again. Highcroft in the garage. Peugeot is pulling away from the #8.
19h30 On the way back in, 008 has dropped some debris in the middle of the Porsche Curves on the racing line. #95 is back out. #52 Aston in for a pit. A radiator is exploding in the Highcroft pits. 008 still not home.
19h32 008 on pit lane. Pushed into garage.
19h35 Drayson is spotted on track running.
19h37 #1 Peugeot sort of cuts and than overshoots a corner on pit lane. By jumping in the air. Stupid. Come on boys, get that car in the lead. Beat Audi. #8 is also in for a driver change.
19h38 009 backwards on the track. Some scary moments as four cars almost hit it and the track marshals. 009 is back going the right way.
19h40 009 on pit lane for a driver change.
19h42 BMW is slow on track.
19h47 BMW makes it into the pits, wheeled into garage.
19h55 #4 in for driver change.
20h03 #1 in pits with a hole in its side. Routine stop. I just went to get a brownie, what happened? Just checked the Chronos and realized the JLOC has retired. Well, they made it to daybreak! If GT1 was around at Le Mans next year and they improved as much as they did this year, they would finish the race! Saleen only has 4 laps over the DBR9. The only other GT1 car left is the Luc Alphand #72 that they were working on at 17h37.
20h07 #7 on pit lane for a driver change.
20h10 Hankook has spotted Felbermeyr ahead. They're 2 laps down, but pushing like hell.
20h22 Both Strakka and Saleen in the pits. Strakka is getting taped. Oak came by to take a lap back, but they're still way down. 5 laps now?
20h25 #15 Kolles into a wall at Indianapolis.
20h27 Tractor pulled him out. Little to no front damage. Back on track.
20h29 #15 on pit lane with a driver change. New back bodywork, then back out.
20h34 #8 into the wall at Arnage. Lots of smoke as it heads back to the pit.
20h35 #8 in pits. New front body.
20h37 #8 out, #1 close. RACE FOR 2nd BEGINS.
20h38 Nose to tail!!!
20h39 first try, no go. Don't screw this up #1.
20h41 Pass complete for 2nd place overall. Now to build a gap before pitting.
20h43 #1 & #9 in pits, #8 gains lap on #9 and retakes 2nd. Splash and dash for #1.
20h53 #1 is 51 seconds down off #8. Let's do this!!!
20h59 #15 off side of road. Bring on the full course caution... please... doesn't look like a caution will be forthcoming.
21h00 Gap down to 45 seconds.
21h01 #4 is in the pits, back body panel is off. Not sure whether they tried to fix the squirly issues or just replaced a body panel or both.
21h14 #75 in for another tyre puncture, pushed into garage.
21h15 #8 in the pits, loses a lap. Peugeot into the second place spot. How do we still have a serious battle for first with 2h45 left? I love you Le Mans.
21h22 The Highcroft pilot has fallen asleep in the cockpit waiting for the boys to decide whether to fix it or throw in the towel.
21h25 #1 Peugeot and Audi #9 in the pits. After the exit, the #1 can see the #9 ahead, but #8 got past again to retake 2nd.
21h33 #1 is 15 seconds back on #8.
21h38 #1 can see him and is just reeling him in.
21h41 #1 takes 2nd place from the #8.
21h45 #1 can now see the #9 leader, but is still a lap down from him.
21h48 #1 smoking and a BIG puff of smoke at Indianapolis. That looks like a blown engine. You've got to be kidding me.
21h51 #1 wheeled backwards into the garage with magic smoke coming out the back – right rear. Is that the race? It tracked oil back to the paddock. They open up the rear, two engineers peek in at it and hang their heads. Looks like the race to me.
21h53 The Peugeot team boss bursts into tears on international live television and the bastards film him crying for a couple minutes.
22h00 So that's got to be the race. Audi 1, 2, and possibly 3. TK is in the 3rd place #7, but on the same lap as the #4. But he is TK. So barring acts of God or major lapses on Audi's part, an Audi 1-2-3 is most likely now. I'm not even gonna finish watching. I think Saleen will get the final GT1 win, they're up by 5 laps. Strakka will take the LMP2 if their car doesn't break down either. In GT2, each car is separated by enough laps that everyone can play it safe from here on in.
22h04 He's still crying and they're still filming it.
22h09 #4 is 2:08 off #7.
22h12 #4 is 2:03 off #7.
As I go to bed: That Peugeot #1 was spectacular. For six hours they made Audi their bitch, taking back lap after lap after the lead Peugeot retired – their cars were at least 2 seconds quicker. That was some of the best driving and racing I've seen in a while. They owned Le Mans. But, then again, Le Mans always finds a way to fight back, and a blown engine on the bad-luck Indianapolis day ended their chances. But, at the same time, it's a FIVE year old car. Seriously having three conk out on you like that at Le Mans? Come on guys. Get some reliability. EVERY factory Peugeot died. That's more than bad luck to me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

There Should Be No Question About Who I Am Rooting For - But There Is

This years Stanley Cup Tournament has been the most epic ever. You are missing out if you are not watching.

So, my rule is this: If my Canucks get knocked out, which they did last round, root for the other Canadian teams. So I am rooting for the Canadiens:

However, the confusion comes from, well, the Blackhawks knocked the Canucks out and they could seriously take it all. They have been playing amazingly. They have really really turned it on. And they're such a humble team too. And it's been so long for them. So I'm rooting for the Canadiens and Blackhawks to be in the final. If one doesn't make it - cough Canadiens cough - I'll root for the other.

Such an epic tournament so far. Looking forward greatly to the last two rounds.


WOW. That was some hockey tournament. Thank you CBC for the awesome coverage as always. Screw you NBC for sucky coverage as always. Congrats to the Blackhawks on their first win in forever. Maybe next year it'll be my Canucks. That Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 was one of the greatest games of hockey I have seen. Thanks Hawks and Flyers for the entertainment. Congrats to Kane on that Stanley Cup winning goal in Overtime. Maybe now he can get a haircut other than a curly mullet.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

WRC Round 5: New Zealand Rally

Loeb, after building a SIZEABLE lead, as always, slid sideways into a one-land bridge yesterday, losing 50+ seconds trying to: first, get his car un-speared from the bridge's railing, second, get his car back on the road, and third, get his door back on the car. This put him in fourth, right behind the legendary Peter Solberg, the kid who is younger than me Jari-Matti Latvala, and the surprised and super stoked Sebastien Ogier. Ogier had never outright won a WRC event, Latvala had won three, Solberg had won 13 times with 1 championship, and Loeb, well, he had 57 wins and the last six consecutive championships, 2004-2009, and he was second in 2003. He is the Michael Schumacher of the WRC. To say he dominates WRC would be a gargantuan understatement.

This is what I like about racing, these type situations: new blood, underrated cars, old blood, and front-running cars all going head to head.

So Loeb drove brilliantly, making it back up to second place, 5.3 seconds down at the end of yesterday. That was some of the best driving I have ever seen. Loeb is amazing and he proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt yesterday. But today was a new day - only four stages. Ogier kept his lead until Loeb overtook him, but Loeb had an off and Ogier and Latvala got past. Ogier was barely holding off Latvala in the sole Ford in the top five. In the final stage, the second round run over the same trail, Ogier spun on the third-to-last corner and Latvala squeaked by with a 2.4 second advantage, the second lowest winning split ever in WRC. The first was Grunholm besting Loeb in 2007 by .3 seconds, oddly enough, also in New Zealand.

Bravo WRC. Bravo. Good show! Loeb needs to lose more.

And Latvala's win makes Ford the winningest marque in WRC history. Ford has just become the winningest marque in WRC history!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Le Mans Series Round 1: 8 Hours Of Castellet: Hopes, Predictions, Rooting List - Results!

So, the first race of the Le Mans Series is upon us. In many ways, with the mass-exodus from the ALMS series, this is now the most important endurance series. This will be the first battle of the year for Audi and Peugeot. Audi have brought a factory works team with their revision of last years losing new car, Dindo and McNish driving, to try and take down the Peugeot 908 customer Oreca team. Peugeot lent Oreca Sarrazin, their factory works driver that I want to be: he's raced Formula 1, Formula 3000, ALMS, LMES, WRC, IRC, WSR, won LMS, and has come in 2nd at Le Mans. That is variety! And to tack on even more, he's driven in two different classes for endurance racing: GT1 and LMP1.

Prediction: Audi qualified 2nd, but I pick them.
Hope: Oreca Peugeot is on pole, but it's their first race in a new car. That spells trouble in the pits.
Hope Beyond Hope: There's some really cool cars this time. It would be nice to see Aston Martin beat both the big guys. Nigel Mansell is there with two other Mansells in a Ginetta. The other Oreca is doing quite well. But I'm going to be rooting for cars 12 & 13 of Rebellion Racing: a pair of beautiful Lola B10/60s that have stolen my heart with their amazingly garish paint job. Is that gold leaf? Why yes, yes it is in fact.

Prediction: Strakka's Acura is on pole, and it's got a damn good shot.
Hope: The Pescarolo-Judd of Oak Racing.
Hope Beyond Hope: Racing Box or RML. Sexy, sexy Lolas. Stealing my hearts again.

GT1: Oreca Saleen. So yes, I am obsessed with the racing Saleen GT1s. But they're the only car which showed up. Which means they get the win if they finish!!! YES!!! For once it's not embarrassing to root for Saleen again! Oh, except for the fact that they're not much quicker than the GT2 cars.

Prediction: AF Corse Ferrari F430.
Hope: JMW Aston Martin Vantage (Not going to happen)
Hope Beyond Hope: SPYKER. Fucking love SPYKER. Like rooting for Saleen usually though: exercise in emotional hopelessness.

This looks to be a VERY exciting race. These drivers spent a two day test weekend on this track, now they've run another four hours on it this weekend alone, and that's just this year. This track gets a lot of use, these drivers are pretty familiar with it, but it's still the first race of the year, and that means excitement. Lots of it. This will also start to flush out the picture for Le Mans, though Audi didn't bring their new car. Looks to be an interesting weekend.

Results of Practices & Qualifying.
Results of the Test Session.


Result: Man can I pick 'em. I either need to start gambling, or become a racing journalist.

LMP1: Audi won, Aston Martin and Racing box took second and third, Peugeot had trouble in the pits and ended up fourth. Now I'm going to finally post a gorgeous picture of the Racing Box cars. Get ready for shiny gold leaf paint job on a Lola. Are you prepared for this? This is their press shot cropped down a bit:

And one more of the car in action at the 2010 Test at the same course this 8 Hour ran over, all dolled up in stickers now, but still gorgeous:

I could not help but root for them. And they got 3rd and 11th. Not bad, gods of gold leaf, not bad.

In LMP2 I called the Podium: Strakka, Oak, RML. That's right: I called the podium. However, what surprised me very much, was Oak finishing on the same lap as Strakka, 33 seconds back. But, we can chalk that up to the Acura's mechanical problems, as usual. No wonder they got out of the racing game - it's not good advertising if your car breaks down every bloody race that lasts more than 3 hours.

GT1: Bear with me here - I've been waiting years to say this and I just might explode from my excitement. SALEEN WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enough Exclamation points? Well, you know, they were the only car to show up, and they still got beat by the top five GT2 cars, but still, SALEEN WINS!!! (I held myself back on the exclamation points that time. Better?) Here's a sexy picture of the Saleen that won:

GT2: Insanity, as always. Did I get anything right here? Nope. JMW Aston Martin dropped out of the race early - 65 laps in. Spyker finished well, 8th in class, but that was dead last of the GT2 cars that finished though. AF Corse was the leading Ferrari, but surprise or surprises, a Porsche 1-2 again. How many years since we've seen one of those? Nice work to Felbermeyr Proton Racing, taking home 1st and 2nd in the same team in front of a pack of Ferraris has got to feel good at the end of the day. AF Corse took 3rd and 5th with the only other surviving Ferrari in 4th. The BMW actually finished, which is nice, taking home a 6th place, while the IMSA Porsche fit into the slot between BMW and Spyker. All in all, a LOT of retirements: Half of the Ferraris retired, three of them, my Aston Martin retired too quickly, and a single Porsche fell. Does this signal the return to dominance of the Porsche? I mean they've been doing quite well over in the Nurburgring Long Distance Championship with their new Hybrid race car. We'll see how they stack up when they come to the ALMS later this year.

Looking Towards Le Mans: Anyways, it's hard to tell from one race alone how good the R15+ is going to be this year, especially since Audi always treats the first race of the season as an extended test, rather than a race. But they did set the fastest lap of the race on lap 221: 1:42.541. The fastest Peugeot lap was 1:43.166. But does that really tell us anything? It's the first outing for this customer car and this team. Peugeot, on the other hand, beat Aston Martin by three laps in the 12 hours of Sebring and Audi beat them by five here. This though, means nothing as these are two very different tracks and racing events. We'll have to wait and see which of the big boys can pull it out.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Another Open Letter: Bravo Wieden + Kennedy!

It seems to me that, based on reviews thus far, your marketing campaign may have been better than the game itself. I applaud your efforts to convince the masses that my favorite book is worth reading. I am sure EA has picked up the check, but from the bottom of my heart, I myself thank you personally. Your unparalleled efforts to frustrate, annoy, offend, and perplex pretentious journalists were some of the high points of news-reporting over the last few months.

I hope that some day a Paradise Lost or Canterbury Tales video game will emerge, and my hope solely rests upon the extended enjoyment of your efforts through 12 books or 24 Tales rather than nine circles. The variety is certainly what had me most tickled. Your surprising diversity in mediums and materials was an excessively exhilarating glimpse of a world not dominated by overly predictable paper- and web-based marketing. The craft, thought, and specific references to the original work was exceptional.

I hope, most of all, that these tough economic times will not get you down and that your genius will be recognized as the exciting and stimulating work that it is. I also hope that some day I will be as good at whatever I end up doing as you are at what you do. Please accept my thanks from the deepest parts of my soul.



The Marketing Campaign Overview - If you didn't see this happen, you missed some hilarious and excessively entertaining confusion and conjecture.


Two Open Letters

Dear Hockey Teams of Both the USA and Canada:

Thank you.



Dear NBC:

Fuck You. I hope to not see you doing the coverage in four years.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Porsche & Me: A Comedy In Ambiguous Parts

So I posted about BMW, then Mercedes, and now it's time for Porsche. Where do I start with you Porsche?

The 911 Classic (Above) and Current (Below)

Not named after a day in 2001, rather, the 911 is one of the most divisive cars in history - but love it or hate it, this car has staying power. First introduced in 1963, the 911 was the sporty version of the Beetle, sort of. (Audi TT anybody?) Designed on the same principles as the Porsche designed Beetle, (I'll get to you later VW) it was intended to replace the hideous Porsche 356 (Below), which was Porsche's first production car. The 356 was a rear-engined car as well - merely to free up space for more seats and save money. So you could say the storied 911 really began in 1948, with the 356 starting production.

Ferdinand Porsche: there are two of them. The elder is a god, I am convinced: he designed the world's first hybrid in 1901 AND the Volkswagen Beetle AND got thrown in jail as a war-criminal. While he was in jail his son took over. The elder Porsche died in 1951. He received a check for every Beetle sold, that's how his son got the money to do the things he has done. So Ferry (the son) had his daddy to look over his shoulder until 1951. Then he was on his own and didn't really do much (besides winning a Formula 1 race in 1962 and class at Le Mans in 1951) until he designed the 911.

It's gone through different bodies. Early on, it was about the only car Porsche sold and today many people, including me, wish it still was the only car they sold. And since I have been asked before, the 930 is the body to get, made from 1975-1989 (above). Porsche's generally look hideous though: the 944 and 928 look like cheap Mazda RX7 knockoffs, while the 968 like a rich-man's Mazda Miata; the Panamerica goes beyond looking like a used bar of soap to looking like stool; the Cayenne is just terrible and the Roxster is worse; the Panamericana looks cheap and trashy, or like a dune-buggy; the Carrera GT looks like a 911 spit out by a car designer who started out making it a low-riding hot-rod, then got confused, terribly confused. So has every Porsche except for the 911 been a terrible thing?

Yes and no. The 911, as a car, is a beautiful example of the German mind: revision after revision after revision after revision after revision after revision to get a bad idea to work, just so you can say you did it. It has become spectacular. It earns its place as the go-to supercar for the nouveau-rich. But the 959 (above), now there was a car. There were only 337 made but dear God, please can I have one of those in my lifetime? They were designed for Le Mans, then transferred to Dakar and replaced at Le Mans. In 1985 the three 959s went to Dakar and DNF. In 1986 they took 1-2. From a standing start the car will cover a kilometer in 21.6 seconds. And of course it has a twin, the 961 (below): the one Porsche did take to Le Mans. In 1986 Porsche took places 1-7 at the 24 hours, with the 961 in 7th place, 3 laps ahead of the nearest car, and 22 laps ahead of the only other non-Group C car to finish in the running. The 961 was a GTX car, and it beat 11 Group C racers, the biggest, baddest cars Le Mans has ever seen. The next year it didn't finish. That, that was a car. But in the end it was just a modified 911.

However, the 959/961 led to the 911 GT1, which was Porsche's most beautiful car since the 60s:

And it was completely impractical on the road. But when it looks that good, who cares?

Speaking of Porsche race cars, they all pretty much rock: the amazing 550 which just looks good from every single angle (above); the 787 F2 car; the beautiful 904, 906, 907, and 908 with the longtail body-kit; the 910 hill-climber; the 914-6 GT with its tiny engine; the 917 and 936 Le Mans runners; the 934 and 935 911 race cars; the 953 predecessor to the 959; and then of course the legendary Group C cars the 956 and 962 (962 Below); then more recent cars like the seemingly accidentally brilliant WSC-95, which won Le Mans twice, the uber-dominating LMP2 RS Spyder, and the secretive LMP project that never raced. There is only one or two Porsche race cars that I do not like. Too bad they only have one good road car, and two good extensions of it. I wish I could get in on some of the beauty and fun of the race cars. And even if you do get that one good road car, you look like a cad driving it. Whether you pronounce it "poor-chuh" or "poor-shh," the brand is a well known car-maker for no reason other than their penchant for winning races and their "Cheapest Supercar" status - oh, and Jeremy Clarkson sticking a lit pipe in his mouth backwards.

Here's a link JR found for some gorgeous posters from the height of Porsche beauty. And some examples. And no, I don't even want to talk about the Tapiro. If you drive a Porsche you look like this guy:

And one last thing, a terrible confession of sorts. I want a Porsche 928 in Gold. I know. It probably invalidates the entire post. They are terrible, but they terribly move me deeply to lust. I know I shouldn't, and I know the color is just strange, but I want it and it's called the Weissach Edition (1982):