Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Baby you can drive my car

You all know Bob, our beloved 1990 Plymouth Voyager. Bought new by Shellswick's grandfather (in whose honor it was named), we inherited Bob in 2003. Even then, Bob had some problems; the brakes needed bleeding every few months, the driver's side lock wouldn't accept the key, forcing us to unlock the passenger side, then lean over and unlock the other side, and I can't remember a time when the "check engine" light WASN'T perpetually on.

Still, Bob was a workhorse, as long as we kept up the maintenance. Until Shelly's recent immigration woes kept her stuck in the US, Bob was great for making the regular trips between Seattle and Vancouver. And Bob had tons of storage space. We moved ourselves with Bob. We helped other people move with Bob. Bob helped us when we bought furniture, when other people bought furniture, when I moved offices, or when we had to bring stuff to the dump. And Bob did it all without complaining.

This past year, however, Bob's been showing his age. We had to finally deal with the brake problems after a few near-accidents; the cooling system gave out, resulting in the removal of the heater core, which we've really been feeling since the weather turned cold; more recently, the ceiling's been leaking. Then, just a couple of days ago, the door got snagged on a post and now won't close. Even though Bob still runs as strong as ever, we finally made the decision to let the old soldier fade away. It was time to get a new car.

After some research, we found an ad for a 2000 Daewoo, ahem, "Nubira." My last experience with a Korean-made car was my old 1986 Hyundai Excel, which ran great...until everything went wrong at once. But in the meantime, apparently, Korea has built itself a pretty decent auto industry; the reviews for this Daewoo Nubian were surprisingly good. So we went ahead and called.

For the sake of this story, let's call the seller "Chucklehead." We quickly found out he was Russion, his name being short for Chucklevich Headorov. He told us that he had bought the car for his wife, hoping she would learn to drive, but she got pregnant instead. He would be happy to meet with us the next day, provided she didn't go into labor in the morning.

So the following afternoon, Suzy drove us down to Renton to meet with Chucklehead. To our surprise and relief, the car looked good. Nice and clean, in good shape except for a couple of door dings. When Chucklehead let us take it for a test drive, the handling was good, or at least as good as the reviews had led us to believe. Though it did seem to be idling a little sluggishly. We soon found out why that was - the car ran out of gas a couple of blocks from Chucklehead's apartment.

Still, from what we had observed, the Nibblonian seemed in pretty good shape, and the price was right. As we walked back, we agreed that we would buy the car, pending the results of a mechanic's inspection. But first, we told Chucklehead, the car would need some gas. So, armed with an empty milk jug, I hopped in Chucklehead's car and we headed for the gas station.

Chucklehead filled the jug most of the way with gas and we went back to the Nubbin. With no funnel, about a third of the gas seeped back out onto my hand, leaving me smelling of gas for the rest of the day. I didn't think we had put in enough, but Chucklehead assured me it would start.

Long story short, it didn't. Chucklehead was undeterred, though, insisting thagt I try it just one more time. Finally I managed to convince him it needed another gallon to get started, so we got back in his car and returned to the gas station. This time, I left him to it while I went inside in search of a funnel. As I was waiting in line to ask about one, Chucklehead comes in and sheepishly tells me that he locked his keys in his car.

Chucklehead and I formulate a new plan; since he also locked the milk jug in the car, I'd buy a gas can and a couple of gallons, while he would walk back to his apartment to find something to jimmy the lock (because he could have a spare key, but where's the challenge in that?).

I get the can, I get the gas, I get back to the Naboo, and it starts up just fine. I go back to the gas station and fill it up, where I meet up with Chucklehead. He couldn't find anything to open his car, so he asks me to drive him to the dealership. He also mentions something about the sale of the Nabisco needing to be notarized, which doesn't sound right to me. Deciding to worry about that later, I reluctantly agree to drive him to the dealership, coordinating with Shelly and Suzy by phone.

By the time I get off the phone, there's a new problem; now I can't find Chucklehead at all. I finally drive back to his apartment and find he walked back there to get his wife's cellphone, since his - you guessed it - was in the car with his keys.

He's already called the dealership, he tells me, and they can't help. So he called a locksmith and they're on the way. In the meantime, we hash out the details of the sale. He agrees to our terms, to buy the car with the option to return it if it doesn't pass an inspection. He won't take a personal check, insisting on a cashier's check. Well, okay. But he still insists that the sale needs to be notarized, which we can't do today because the local notary has already closed. Suzy finally convinces him that a notary isn't necessary; he looks mortified that a woman is speaking to him so authoritatively, but she tells him that they just sold a car six months ago, and finally gets through to him. So we leave him to wait for the locksmith while we go to BECU for a cashier's check.

I should point out that most of the day's events so far - all the walking back and forth, all the negotiations, and so forth - have taken place outside, in a pretty constant light drizzle. I've had a cold for about a week and this really wasn't helping. I was coughing pretty harshly on the way to BECU and back.

On the way to BECU, Chucklehead called me to remind me that the cashier's check would have to be in his wife's name, since the car was registered to her. But just as he was about to tell me her name, the locksmith beeped in. He hung up on me to talk to the locksmith - or so he thought. He started telling me where his car was and asking how much it would cost for me to let him in. I tried a few times to tell him, "no, Chucklehead, it's still Rich." But he wasn't getting it, and Suzy was laughing so hard I thought she was going to drive off the road, so I hung up.

We get to the bank, I get the wife's name, we get the cashier's check, we go back. That part, at least, went easy. I'm still coughing like an asthmatic smoker, and I haven't eaten since breakfast. I just want this over.

In the car, Suzy tells us that while we were test-driving the car, she was getting Chucklehead's life story. He used to teach physics in Russia, he told her, and now he's starting an eBay business. We're getting the impression he yada-yada-ed over some important stuff in the middle. He had tried talking up the eBay business, saying "some of my friends said they're going to start an eBay business and work for that. I start eBay business and make it work for me." It sounds suspiciously like a sales pitch from the kind of seminars desperate people attend at the Airport Hilton Cascade Room.

Back at Chucklehead's place, he brings his wife out and we sit in the Nabisco to sign the paperwork. The wife is a good twenty years younger than he is, with that strange sullenness that seems to be inborn in Russian women. She spends most of the transaction sitting in the back, yelling at her child in Russian while Chucklehead and I fill out the title.

He adheres scrupulously to the "how to sell a car" instructions he downloaded; I notice frequent use of the word "notification" in those instructions, figuring that's probably where he got the idea that we needed a notary. Finally I hand him the cashier's check, and he hands it back to Mrs. Headorov. She stares at it suspiciously, and they argue in Russian for a minute before he finally gets through to her. "It's money," he tells her in English. "Money for you."

Finally we're done. Chuckle and Mrs. Head go inside, while Shelly and I hang out in the lot, thanking Suzy for the ride and the patience. Chucklehead comes out one more time and heads straight for the Naboobie.

"I can't find my keys," he says.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Feed me!

How about another little preview of my current work-in-progress?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Naturally, I've been playing The Beatles: Rock Band a lot. Like, a lot lot.

And, just as naturally, I've been listening to everything Beatles I can get my hands on. I've listened to all the newly-remastered albums (so far, only in stereo - I still need to get the mono versions), all the singles, the official mashup album Love (the only good thing ever to come out of Cirque du SoBlecch), a bunch of unofficial mashup albums, and tons of bootlegs, full of the kind of studio chatter and infinitesimally different alternate mixes that only a borderline-autistic geek like myself could appreciate.

I can tell you dozens of supposed clues to the "Paul is dead" urban legend. I can tell you where John's voice breaks in "If I Fell," and where you can barely hear Paul say "fucking hell" in "Hey Jude." I can tell you that the spoken bits in "I Am The Walrus" came from a BBC Radio production of "King Lear" that just happened to be airing while the song was being recorded. I can tell you that the piano chord at the end of "A Day In The Life" is 42 seconds long and was played on three pianos, with John, Paul, Ringo, and Mal Evans each playing the same chord. My Beatlemaniac bonafides are unchallenged.

So, yeah, it's a good time to be a Beatles fan right now. I've been so immersed in all things fab that it's gotten me reminiscing about previous high points in my history with the Beatles.

Naturally, there was the release of the Anthology documentary and CDs in 1996. I was already well-versed in Beatles lore, but this was what sent me down the rabbit hole of Beatles boots. A few years later, when Bittorrent took off in popularity, I started downloading copious amounts of unreleased and alternate material.

The biggest time, of course, was in high school, when, after years of listening to the earlier, poppier material, I bought my first copy of Sgt. Pepper, leading me to investigate their 1967-1970 output. That was a real mind-expander for a sheltered Parkland kid. I made tapes of all those later albums, and would keep them in constant rotation in my '72 Gremlin while delivering pizza. I would often time my deliveries so I could sing along with side 2 of Abbey Road - including "Her Majesty," of course.

Before that, there was a year or two after the death of John Lennon; my curiosity had led me to ask my sister's husband, the biggest music lover I knew at the time, about the Beatles. He obliged by giving me an abbreviated history (appropriately for a 10-year-old) and a tape of his favorite Beatles songs. It included a lot of songs from Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be, most of which went over my young head, as well as part of the "Band On The Run" album from Paul McCartney and Wings.

That was also when I found a trove of mid-60s Beatles 45s at a neighborhood garage sale. These were vintage stuff; there's even the Capital Records single for "Help!" with the legend "from the forthcoming motion picture Eight Arms To Hold You." I still have all these old discs, now mostly unplayable, but I'll never part with them.

Of course, it all began when I was about 4, and I happened to see Yellow Submarine on TV. Yes, even before my first exposure to Monty Python (at age 6), I sat, transfixed, in front of our gigantic old vacuum tube tv, the one that smelled faintly of ozone, having my tiny mind blown by this psychedelic masterpiece. At that age, I had no idea what I was watching; it wasn't until two or three years later, when I saw a newspaper ad for an upcoming airing and recognized the art style as "that weird cartoon I saw when I was little."

So, as I've established, I've been a Beatles fan from a very early age. But I've never told the whole story before. Until now.

You see, there was one crucial element that taught me that there was more to the Beatles than I ever knew. In that 1980-81 period when I was listening to the Beatles mixtape and the old Capital 45s, there was another compilation that spanned the whole wide-ranging history of the band.

Yes, Stars on 45.

For those not familiar: Stars On 45 was a studio project that would release medleys of soundalikes of popular songs, intended to be played in discos and clubs. It was a cheap novelty act, and they've rightly been forgotten by now. But their first album, which I got for my birthday in 1981, included a fifteen-minute Beatles medley. I listened to that thing constantly, giving me snippets of the songs I would eventually learn by heart.

It wasn't perfect; some of the songs were sped up or slowed down to match the mechanical disco beat, and the singer gets a little adenoidal at times. In addition to the Beatles canon, the medley includes George Harrison's solo song "My Sweet Lord," as well as, inexplicably, the Archies' "Sugar Sugar," making me think for several years that that was a Beatles song.

But the fact remains, many of the Beatles songs I know, I first heard as part of that gimmicky novelty song. I love you, you magnificent bunch of anonymous session players. And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.

Monday, September 21, 2009

When he told his design team that his figure-hugging outfits would be paraded down the runway by size 12 and 14 models, two of his people were apparently so angry they quit.

Read more:

Look, I'm not some kind size-politics type. But the fact is, if you think this:

is fat...then fucking die.

Okay, I exaggerate. Don't die. But you do suck and should fuck off.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Open For Business

Friday, September 04, 2009


Don't feed the plants!

A little preview of what I'm working on. If I don't bugger this royally, I think I may end up being really proud of the final result.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Pleasant Dreams

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