Wednesday, April 25, 2007
My grandfather was in the Merchant Navy and my grandmother was a WAAF during the Battle of Britain, my great-grandmother who died about 15 years ago worked in munitions factories during both world wars and remembered being bombed by Zeppelins during WWI.
We have recently been discovering the exploits of my lady's uncle during WWII. He was a corporal in the 2nd Division (NZ) and fought his way through the North African desert with Montgomery, up through Italy, fought at Monte Cassino and died just north of Faenza in late January 1945 - just a couple of months before the end of the war in Europe. He was wounded a couple of times, fought the German paratroopers (arguably their best troops) twice and his group faced Tiger tanks in early 1945.
His name was Sidney Newton Pitt and is buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Faenza, and has become the focus for one of our overseas trips. Once the kids are a bit older and can appreciate what it means we will visit his grave and say thanks.
This is not the day to debate the rights and wrongs of war, but to appreciate and honour the sacrifices made for us.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
It's school holidays down here in my part of the world and that means the kids are home. I've gotten used to watching NASCAR on my own over the past few years, so having people in the house while I settle down for my weekly fix can be a bit disconcerting. The little ones are pretty good at entertaining themselves, but they can be as demanding as any others.
Texas is one of my favourite tracks and I've been looking forward to this, what with a two week break and all. I had planned to record it and watch the show Monday night, but an early morning visitor just before 6am Monday flogged that. I'd missed most of the pre-race (Dixie and Willard's Garage has full details), but what the hell. I had time to make Brad and the newly woken Sarah breakfast, myself a coffee and my lady could sleep in - she still has to go to work.Perfect timing saw me settle with a strong coffee and a cigarette just before the flag dropped.
NASCAR live is a strange beast down here in New Zealand. The Sunday afternoon (US time) races are broadcast here about 6-9am Monday morning depending on kick-off in the States. This can be a bit of a problem sometimes, but with a bit of dedication and an artist's lifestyle, anything is possible. The Saturday night races are live here about lunchtime Sunday - much more pleasant hours, but kiss goodbye to Sunday afternoon, because the other motorsport programmes are on afterwards here - including the V8 Supercars and I'm usually pretty munted by the end of NASCAR.
Yesterday's (yeah - slack as) race seems to have been pretty unmemorable as I can't really remember much of it apart from the fantastic end. I'm glad I recorded it, cos I'll need to sit down and watch it all again over the week. Jeff B working over Kenseth during the final laps was a joy to behold. You just knew he'd deal to the 17 car, it was only a matter of when. As usual Burton's timing was impeccable and Roush's car was toast. Great to see Mark Martin finish so well too, but was his post-race comment about being the happiest he's ever been in a car a swipe at Jack Roush or just an off-the-cuff statement? I've NEVER seen Mark Martin say an ungracious thing, so I would think the latter. I don't blame him if he was though. His form over past few years (apart from the last two) has been patchy and probably went a long way to making his decision to retire. He SEEMS happier and is fast as hell. What could have been?
Anyway, it's been good to have the kids home and watching at least part of the race with me. I'm not pushing it - NASCAR can be a pretty daunting prospect. The boy as I've said before is obsessed with cars, so that's just a matter of time. Sarah is a bit of a list and stats fiend so there's a place in here for her too. Oh good times to come! I don't think I neglected them too much during the race. They lived anyway.
POSTNOTE: My thoughts are with all those affected by the events at Virginia Tech. I cannot begin to imagine the pain you must be going through, but you heart is with you. Take care. Peace.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Helping my lady and my son clean up his room yesterday I came across his number 20 car amongst the hundreds of toy cars strewn all over his floor. It's a kinda cheap toy, just a tin really. It was a birthday present from a cousin that was filled with lollies (candy) and now makes a sweet pencil case. It's beaten a bit and fairly scratched, so it looks more like the real thing now than when he got it.
It was a funny present because it would have come from a shipment of 'assorted' ends of line crap and been sold at The Warehouse, which is similar to Wal Mart or Target. NASCAR is not huge in New Zealand by any means, don't let anyone tell you different. It's growing, but it's a tiny following.
Anyway, it's funny because Smoke is my favourite driver and this was probably part of a whole bunch of shit that never sold somewhere else in the world. What's the odds?
It reminded me of another 'find' I had at The Warehouse. A few years ago I found a whole bunch of Hot Wheels sized NASCAR die-casts from 1998. I managed to get half a dozen, including Dick Trickle, which I don't know if his name is funny in America, but it sure as hell brings tears to my eyes.
I scored a Mark Martin car, Sterling Marlin's car, a Bill Elliot and a 'race-damaged' Jeff Burton car. There is another one, but I can't remember who right now and they're down in my workshop/shed on the wall above the bar.
These toys had been somebody's elses unwanted stock somewhere and had found their way to me here in little old Aotearoa (New Zealand). Fucking sweet. I think I paid a buck each for them and Dick Trickle has brought no end of light relief to my shed parties.
No disrespect to Dick meant at all, I remember him still racing when I first started seeing NASCAR on a regular basis, but his parents should have stopped and thought a little bit before calling him Richard.
Maybe there's some other story behind his name, but I like the little myth I've created.
Coming across the 20 car also reminded me that boy's toys are the shit. 300 odd toy cars of various sizes, colours, ages and shapes, dump trucks, a toy tool kit (like the one in dad's workshop), hundreds of awesome books, some cool art gear and all the usual detritus that goes along with kids' toys.
I know it's important to let my daughter 'be a girl', but when I take her to The Warehouse going into the pink aisle makes my skin crawl. Not because I'm afraid it's gonna make me gay or soft or something, but because of much of what constitutes 'girls' toys'.
A plastic oven with plastic frying pans and plastic steaks; a pink see-through vacuum cleaner that really 'whirrrrrssss' (big fucking deal), makeup kits with some slutty teenager on the front with barely any clothes on and a 'realistic' doll that actually shits and pukes and cries when it needs feeding!
I had assumed this kind of crap had been outlawed years ago.
The boy's aisle is full of DOING stuff: Kites, science sets, footballs, frisbees, bikes and such. The girl's aisle just plain sucks. Thankfully she's as smart as a pin and loves reading, writing and doing art.
Girls are gonna get to do enough domestic drudge in their lives as it is, why start when they are kids? It's fucking depressing.
Then again, maybe all the toys in the pink aisle are the shit that everybody else in the world didn't want and it's ended up here. Proving there is hope and we're just 10 years behind the times. I hope so.
Either way, tidying my son's room reinforced to me, yet again, that it's great to be a guy. We've got the best toys and the coolest posters, 'finding more horsepower' is in our DNA and our ability to do stupid things never diminishes with age.
As I like to remind my lady as often as possible: "NEVER underestimate my ability to do something stupid."
And bless her, she doesn't.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
In the past week I've discovered Willard's Garage and Always Aroused Girl and fallen in love with the concept. Intelligent musings on serious subjects - NASCAR, sex and the folks and feelings that go along with both.
Today has been a great day. I've finished a piece of art that's been bugging me for nearly two months. An attempt to combine my love of cars with my art. I've never mixed the two before, figuring there are people doing it a whole lot better than I ever can (and no I'm not looking for approval).
It was suggested to me by a writer for a V8 magazine I do some car art for a possible article in the future. This has been a real struggle, so I don't know how many more I'm going to be doing.
While doing The Devil Drives Desoto I've come to realise my love for cars is in the driving - the speed, the power, the feeling of imminent doom - all the stuff that makes it great to be a guy.
I'm much more comfortable with my crazy, fucked up distillations, abstracts and shadows (Stolen Kisses - see below).
The shape, model and year are entirely of my own conception and not dictated by an auto manufacturer.
I'm not some radical left or right anything. I have opinions and will be putting them online though - it's just a journey right? I will also be indulging in one of my passions - foul language. So please don't read this if you are offended by its usage.
Subjects to be covered (not an exclusive list) will be NASCAR, sex, art, people observations, why the hell I've fallen in love with country music and the joys of being male in an increasingly emasculating society. Chaos from within folks, chaos from within ...
For now (the kids are whining, it's nearly bedtime (stories, stories, stories)) - take care.