Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wintersongs, Pt. III

Hailing from the gateway to Wisconsin’s North Woods, Justin Vernon made his mark with the seminal Bon Iver release For Emma, Forever Ago. Recorded in solitude in a remote hunting cabin and released to great acclaim in 2007, Vernon followed the release with the gorgeous Blood Bank EP in 2009. Leading off the EP is the eponymous track.

With a photo of a snow-drifted car on the EP’s cover and the song leading off with a wind-blown howl, it’s difficult not to think of winter when the first few notes of Blood Bank hit like a stiff, icy wind. The fourth verse (Then the snow started falling…) depicting getting a car stuck in a snow drift undoubtedly reminds me of driving in the snow and some of the contents carried in the the winter emergency kit in my first car’s spare tire well in case of such emergencies (an old Marine Corps-issued survival blanket, flashlight, German Army surplus folding shovel and a coffee can with a candle, matches and some Power Bars.

(fan-made video, driving I-94 from from MN border to Madison)

Bon Iver – Blood Bank
Well, I met you at the blood bank
We were looking at the bags
Wondering if any of the colors
Matched any of the names we knew on the tags

You said, see look that's yours
Stacked on top with your brother's
See how the resemble one another
Even in their plastic little covers

And I said I know it well
That secret that you know but don't know how to tell
It fucks with your honor and it teases your head
But you know that it's good girl
'Cause its running you with red

Then the snow started falling
We were stuck out in your car
You were rubbing both of my hands
Chewing on a candy bar

You said, ain't this just like the present
To be showing up like this?
As a moon waned to crescent
We started to kiss

And I said I know it well
That secret that we know that we don't know how to tell
I'm in love with your honor, I'm in love with your cheeks
What's that noise up the stairs, babe?
Is that Christmas morning creaks?

And I know it well, I know it well
And I know it well, I know it
And I know it, I know it
And I know it, I know it 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wintersongs, Pt. II

If there is one band that will forever be tied to living in North County San Diego, it’s Fleet Foxes. Even though they're from Seattle, their debut album Fleet Foxes was released in 2008, the year of our relocation. With warm and wistful Beach Boys-like harmonies, White Winter Hymnal is a remarkably beautiful and short, succinct song that sounds like little else that was in heavy rotation on the airwaves during that time.

Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red tied 'round their throats
To keep their little heads
From falling in the snow
And I turned 'round and there you go
And Michael, you would fall
And turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wintersongs, Pt. I

Being an über music dork/snob can have its down sides. For one, there is always a song playing in my head. Always. Mostly good, sometimes annoying, and in rare cases, downright wretched. I also find myself to be a “completest” as well, having to own every piece of recorded music by a given musical artist. But there are good things as well, and I love how different songs and albums play such an important part to my life over different eras of my own life.

With the changing of the seasons, my musical tastes shift. For instance, I can think of no spring since the late-80s that the eternally vernal Skylarking by XTC wasn’t played at least a dozen times. The soundtracks to summer have been incredibly varied, and so many fine pieces of music emanated from different car tape decks, CD players and iPods during road trips while exploring America – usually with a bicycle or boat or two strapped to the car’s roof racks. Autumn often sees warm Americana in heavy rotation – R.E.M., The Decemberists, Uncle Tupelo, etc. Which leads into winter.

Winter generally means Christmas music to most. And growing up I loved it and always looked forward to digging out the LPs and playing them on my parent’s bulky console stereo. But for the past ten years or so, not so much. It’s even more difficult to even get into winter at all living in a place like San Diego County. However, I still try to remember what season it is. And there are a more than a few songs that are winter-appropriate without being tied in the least to the holidays that I greatly enjoy. Allow me to bore you with the list that I’m pecking out in a germ tube 34,000 feet above the icy north Pacific ocean.

Wintersongs, Part I

Galaxie 500’s signature distant, dreamy and ethereal sound reminds me of walking on fresh, crunchy snow on a crisp, bitterly-cold and cloudless night. Their astonishing cover of Yoko Ono’s Listen, The Snow Is Falling is the highlight from their excellent 1990 swan song This Is Our Music. Starting with Dean Wareham’s gentle, echoed guitar strumming and building to a full band arrangement, with bassist Naomi Yang handling vocal duties, it’s nearly eight minutes of sonic bliss.

Galaxie 500 – Listen, The Snow Is Falling
Listen, the snow is falling o’er town,
Listen the snow is falling ev’rywhere.
Between empire state building
And between Trafalgar Square.
Listen, the snow is falling o’er town.

Listen, the snow is falling o’er town,
Listen the snow is falling ev’rywhere.
Between your bed and mine,
Between your head and my mind.
Listen, the snow is falling o’er town.

Between Tokyo and Paris,
Between London and Dallas,
Between your love and mine.
Listen, the snow is falling ev’rywhere.

Snowing, snowfall, snowfall,
Listen, listen,
Listen, baby,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Down On The Street

Pedaling through Del Mar on Thanksgiving morning, my CarDar® spotted a BMW E28 5-series that caused me to make a u-turn and take a second look.
To most, it's nothing more than a dirty 1980s yuppie-era BMW sedan. But to car dorks like me, the mesh wheels, subtle spoiler and faded badge...
...make all the difference. Yep, it's an M5, product of the Motorsport division of the Bayerische Motoren Worke AG.
Making this car special is primarily the 3.5l straight 6, with an output of 256 HP in US guise. Down on power by 26 HP as compared to it's European-spec brethren and saddled with unsightly "diving board" bumpers...'s still a worthy and rare machine. Only 2,191 were built during it's four year model run.
Hope you like black as it's the only color the model was available in.
And while it has a place in the 1980s wing of my fantasy garage (alongside icons such as the Porsche 959, '89 Porsche 911, Audi ur-quattro, Mercedes-Benz R107 SL and more), it's not my favorite M5. I'd rather have a far-more common E39 M5:
A quick search on AutoTrader shows that prices on these Bavarian Beasts are coming down to the mid-$20s now. Too bad the care and feeding is a bit out of my budget.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Shrine/An Argument

Trippy animated video for a track from one of my favorite records of the year:

Miata Mods - Project List

Having owned the Miata for a couple of months now, I've spent enough time evaluating the car and planning what I want to do to it long-term.

Overall I'm very happy with the car - both how it looks and how it runs. I'd feel confident driving it cross-country tomorrow, even if an NA Miata wouldn't the best vehicle to tackle long stretches of Interstate with. However, there are still a few areas that I feel that the car can be improved upon. The theme is quite simple: nothing incongruous, everything reversible. Keep the spirit of a simple, fun, lightweight, low-cost roadster intact. 

A few projects have already been tackled:

Cleaning, polishing and waxing - most happened within 24 hours of bringing the car home. Wheel wells and various suspension parts were cleaned up a few months later when I had the wheels off to bolt on the new set.

Audio - backdating to an OEM cassette deck with modern iPod input and adding a storage cubby to the center console; replacement headrest speaker install. (here)

Headlamp upgrade - E-code headlamps and Hella bulbs. (here)

And now the to-be-done list. This is the plan as it currently sits in my little brain, subject to change without notice and on a whim.

Shocks, springs, bumpstops and NB Miata "top hats" to refresh the tired, twenty year-old suspenders that are currently on the car.

Bracing - significantly tighten up the chassis with frame rails...

...and a rear subframe brace:
OEM front air dam for enhanced high-speed stability and to help finish off the appearance of the front end.

Hard Dog sport roll bar for safety as well as a bit more chassis bracing.
Raked shorty antenna - get rid of that ugly 3' steel whip that currently blemishes the right rear quarter panel.
Top - a glass-window soft top would be a nice upgrade on down the line, but not needed right away.

Component speakers, as more high-range is needed to help cut through the top-down wind noise.
Nardi steering wheel and shift knob, to provide better feel than the all-plastic, base-model wheel and knob that the car currently has.

Maintenance, etc.
When the odometer turns over at 100k miles, resetting the maintenance schedule. Engine, transmission and differential oil and coolant.

And once the current parts are worn out, upgrading the tires...
...and brakes/rotors and adding stainless steel lines and high-performance brake fluid.

Yep, that's a few weekend's worth of projects worth of work. Now to scrounge up the money to pay for it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Down On The Street

Upon exiting a Carlsbad restaurant today I discovered this tiny treat of a Triumph parked alongside my van.
Why it's a 1958 Triumph TR10 Estate.

 Very cool vintage single fog light affixed to the front bumper...
 ...and the hood is adorned by an equally-appealing badge.

But even cooler are the globe badges found on the hubcaps...
(ignore the reflection of the dork)

...and 100% aftermarket steering wheel:

Some may notice the subtle Ford V8 badging on the rear rear hatch, along with the hood pins on the first two images. Hmm, aside from the wide rear wheels, there's not much evidence of an enhanced powerplant.

Patina - it's got it in spades. With the cross bars, I'm certain that it's spent a fair number of days at the local beaches. It'd be a crime to repaint it.
Spending a little time with the Googles tonight I found that San Diego über car nerd (and of course I say that in a good way) Jesse from the Just A Car Guy blog shot the car three and a half years ago. Better yet, the Ford V8 badges are legit, as the owner's web page states that it's powered by a Ford 302 V8.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sunday Best

Lately my garb of choice for my long Sunday rides has been my Moots Riders Club jersey. And the rear center pocket may just be the reason why:
The open road is my sanctuary, my saddle the pew. The Clif Shot gels and electrolyte drink mix my host and sacrament. The music pouring from my ear buds is far better than any church choir. And no praying to invisible sky god.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One That Got Away

Perusing Craigslist for Miata parts last week, I came across this listing:

Okay, so someone had totaled their Miata. What did I see here that I liked? Hardtop + limited-slip rear differential. These parts generally sell for $750 and $600 respectively. I'd like to have both for my own car, but neither were high on the priority list, but if I could get both for a song and have a complete car to pull and sell parts from, why not? I'd also pull the A/C bits for possible future install on my car and the brakes and power steering rack for my friend Keith's project three-wheeled car. Other goodies included Bilstein shocks (at least three were good) and a few small trim bits that I could swap out with my car's parts.

I had negotiated the price down to $1300, on the condition that the seller accept $1100 cash at pickup and the remaining $200 once he received the salvage title from his insurance company. Unfortunately (or fortunately for my garage), someone else snatched it up the day after I saw it, paying full price. Oh well.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

That's A First

Never before have I worn down the teeth on a bike cassette.
Discovered today when the fresh chain was skipping furiously when using my most commonly-used cogs (15, 17, 19 tooth). Some of the teeth on those cogs have been ground to a fine point. I guess I should have replaced that chain sooner as the cassette is quite the pricey piece. And it was only 18 months old.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day Dad

Some scanned slides from his tour in Vietnam.
A "hooch":

Medevac, picking up soldiers that were injured after their truck hit a land mine:
Piloting a trusty Sikorsky H-34:

Hooch maid, washing clothes with Tide detergent:

Aboard the USS Okinawa
Okinawa helm:

Nearby Quonset hut, after being shelled.

Mom and Dad, Pensacola, FL

His squadron, HMM-362, Ugly Angels

Thanks for your service Dad.